In some ways, it reminds me of Colonial Williamsburg, where a microcosm of a bygone era is carefully maintained: so "That the Future May Learn from the Past."
The problem is, few people seem to realize that Berkeley is more of an open-air museum of the Sixties than an early-Information-Age city.
The latest bit of weirdness happened last night. The CNN headline read, " Berkeley City Council moderates anti-Marine position"
CNN.com (February 13, 2008). Excerpts from the article:
- "The Berkeley City Council voted early Wednesday to rescind a previous vote that said Marine recruiters are "not welcome in this city," but held tight to its anti-war stance."
- "An American flag was set aflame outside the City Council chambers, damaging a pair of bicycles, police said."
- "Inside, members of the anti-war group Code Pink lined up at the podium to speak. Their salmon-colored signs read, "Berkeley says No to War" and "City Council - We have your back.""
- "Protesters with Code Pink have been camped outside the Marine recruiting office on Shattuck Avenue for the last four months, singing peace songs and chanting slogans for an end to the Iraq war."
The little matter of a taxpayer-supported protest parking place doesn't seem to show up in the national news: but the "San Francisco Chronicle's" SFGate.com reported it: "The [Berkeley] council voted late Tuesday to give Code Pink a designated parking space directly in front of the recruiting station, as well as a sound permit for once-a-week protests." "SFGate.com" (February 1, 2008)
Now that's what I call free speech, Berkeley style! A group on one side of a debate getting its very own designated parking space, courtesy of a city government. Somehow, though, I rather doubt that Berkeley will provide a group like the VFW with the same level of service and deference: unless the VFW has the correct opinion, of course.
I wrote about Berkeley and the Marines earlier: "What a Country! Flower Children vs. the U.S. Marines" (February 1, 2008).