From: Berkeley Daily Planet [FORUM] -- October 30, 2001
I am proud to live in Berkeley. I am proud to be a citizen of the city whose
congressional representative resisted assigning unlimited discretion for war
and peace to the president, and whose Town Council recommended stopping a
brutal and largely gratuitous military exercise.
I am not proud of the many, many leaders of this country who have labeled
any analysis of the etiology of the nature of the events of September 11, as
condoning the attacks, and as disloyal.
In her strikingly courageous refusal to follow the moment's common will,
Barbara Lee was the true and loyal citizen, at that moment the most loyal
citizen of the constitutional democracy. She was the only one to show by
voting that an undefined sequence of military commitments of such importance
and complexity must be openly tested and discussed. Instead of publicly
castigating the council "radicals" for their support of Lee and [an end] of continued
bombing in Afghanistan, the mayor could well have shown respect for council
resolutions with which she disagrees.
Civil liberties, open discussion, a multitude of perspectives, opinions,
voices, have been the essence, and, so far, the salvation of this country.
The threat now is not book burning, and scissors. The threat is more
insidious - total and freely offered submission of will. The will not to
see. The will not to know. The will not to discuss. It extends from New York
Time's relative suppression of accounts, figures, or images of the assault
on Afghanistan and its censorship of comments by Bin Laden, to hysterical
verbal whiplashing of unpatriotic "traitors", and to many instances of
physical attack on Middle Easterners, any Middle Easterner. From Council to
Congress, elected representatives must remember and support the principals of
social and economic justice, protection of the environmental conditions of
life, a fair and reasonable technical and social infrastructure both locally
and globally, the freedom to think, talk, and criticize . . . They must
continue to support the principles for which, presumably, they were elected.
Now is the time for the concept and observance of The Loyal Opposition to be