Contents: The Sir! No Sir! blog is an information clearing house, drawing on a wide variety of sources, to track the unfolding history of the new GI Movement, and the wars that brought the movement to life.
Where applicable, parallels will be drawn between the new movement and the Vietnam era movement which was the focus of the film Sir! No Sir!
Disclaimer: In accordance with title 17 u.s.c. section 107, this material is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.
The Sir! No Sir! Blog has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is the Sir! No Sir! Blog endorsed or sponsored by the originator. Links are provided to allow for verification of authenticity.
Posted, by Malcolm Shore, to Op Ed News, March 13, 2008
Here’s a story about Robin Long, a young American whose father, aunts and uncles, and cousins are all military veterans. When Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell and the gang told him they needed to invade Iraq in order to destroy weapons of mass destruction and prevent further al-Qaeda attacks, it seemed to him only natural to answer their call; Long joined up in June of 2003. “I felt great about it,” Long would tell a radio interviewer years later. “I was finally doing something with my life. I was serving my country.”
But when Long began his basic training, he was shocked by what he saw and heard. Officers sang cadences about blood, death and destruction, and referred to the Iraqi people over and over again as “ragheads.” When Long raised objections to using these slurs, his superiors encouraged other soldiers to ostracize him. Eventually, he was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, and soon began hearing reports from soldiers coming back from Iraq on temporary leave. These soldiers proudly displayed photos of civilians they had run over with a truck, showed him pictures of the head of the first person they killed, and told war stories of watching human beings explode.
And then, one day, Long was given orders to report to Iraq on his 21st birthday. By that point, his opposition to the war had mounted steadily, but he knew there would be some steep consequences if he followed through on that opposition. “If I don’t go,” Long remembered thinking in that same interview with Courage to Resist, “my family’s going to disown me. I’m probably going to get a dishonorable discharge and have a hard time even getting a job at McDonald’s.”
Still, when the time came for Long to leave for Fort Carson, Colorado (where he was to briefly train before going to Iraq), he knew refusal was the only moral option. Long fled to Canada in June of 2005, where he has lived ever since. But now, the Canadian government is trying to deport Long, and if they are successful, he faces jail time and potentially a long separation from his Canadian-born son. The Courage to Resist interviewer asked Long if he had any regrets about his decision.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Long said. “I made the best decision, I know that. And regardless of what hardships I go through, I could have easily put a family or someone else in that country into way more hardship.”
Is this the first time you are hearing the story of Robin Long? If so, why do you suppose that is?
“Support the troops, not the war.” By now, this phrase has been repeated so often inside the anti-war movement that it is the stuff of cliché. There are many reasons this slogan is misguided, and worse. One of the most immediately obvious of these reasons is that this position—regardless of the intent of the person advocating it—ultimately takes the suffering of the Iraqi and Afghani people out of the equation. A recent article in Revolution newspaper —“The Battle of Berkeley: This War Must Stop”—captured this point very well: “How can you ‘deeply respect and support the men and women in our armed forces?’ the article asked, “and at the same time support the Iraqi or Afghani people they are killing? This makes about as much sense as saying you ‘support the rapist and not the rape.’”
But there is another related, yet often-overlooked fundamental problem with the “support the troops” argument: the motto utterly discounts the many troops who do not support the war. Depending on who is articulating the refrain, it either inadvertently ignores or deliberately masks the reality that while all U.S. soldiers are brainwashed at the beginning of their service, they don’t all stay that way. Robin Long is not alone. Rather, he is part of a buried legacy of men and women who came face-to-face with the unspeakable atrocities the American government asked them to carry out, and said: “NO FUCKING WAY.”
The film “Winter Soldier” chronicles a January 1971 gathering in Detroit of more than 100 Vietnam Veterans whose conscience demanded not only that they personally refuse to commit war crimes, but that they expose these crimes to the world to in order to bring them to a halt. Yet, like Robin Long, when these soldiers first entered the military, they did so because they believed in their country strongly enough to die for it. “I was the average middle-class American,” said the last soldier pictured in the film. “It was just the thing to do.”
“I wanted to go into the service,” explained another, earlier in the film, “because I really believed the war was right and I think one of the main things was I wanted to see for myself if I was really a man or not.”
But then, much like Robin Long, these and many other soldiers were confronted quickly and brutally with the truth of their mission, and with the gap between that truth and the lies they had been told going into their service: Young women raped in front of their entire villages. Soldiers trading decapitated ears of Vietnamese civilians for beers from their commanding officers. Prisoners thrown out of helicopters to their deaths. Entire villages burned to the ground.
The film ends with the words of a soldier who describes reaching a threshold past which participation or complicity in these horrors was simply no longer an option. “All of the sudden I realized, ‘No, there is no justification, man’” he says. “What I have done is wrong. I have to face it, I have to admit what I’ve done is wrong, and now I have to try and tell other people before they make the same mistakes I made.”
Fast-forward more than thirty years, to horrific wars in Afghanistan and Iraq based on utterly-transparent bullshit the subservient major media nonetheless refused to look through. U.S. soldiers who enter the military steadfastly believing in the good of their country and the evil of the enemy again are given a quick dose of reality, which compels them to speak out and to resist. In July of 2007, the Nation published “Iraq Vets Bear Witness"
An article by Chris Hedges and Laila al-Arian in which more than fifty Iraq veterans spoke about witnessing and executing routine slaughter of Iraqi men, women, and children; and about terrorizing the people they were supposedly liberating through home raids. In the article, Sergeant John Bruns described a typical raid.
“You go up the stairs. You grab the man of the house. You rip him out of bed in front of his wife,” Bruhns said. “ You put him up against the wall. You have junior-level troops, PFCs [privates first class], specialists will run into the other rooms and grab the family, and you'll group them all together. Then you go into a room and you tear the room to shreds and you make sure there's no weapons or anything that they can use to attack us.”
Bruhns went on to say that these raids frequently uncovered nothing in the way of weapons or even anti-American literature. “So you’ve just humiliated this man in front of his entire family, and terrorized his family and you’ve destroyed his home,” Bruhns said. “And then you go right next door and do the same thing in a hundred homes.”
Another veteran interviewed in the article, Spc. Michael Harmon, described very vividly the moment at which he fully realized the horrors he was taking part in. “I’ll tell you the point where I really turned,” Harmon said, going on to describe witnessing a 2-year-old child with “cute pudgy legs” who had been shot by fellow U.S. soldiers. “And this baby looked at me, wasn’t crying, wasn’t anything, it just looked at me, like – I know she can’t speak.” Harmon continued. “It might sound crazy, but she was like asking me why. You know, why do I have a bullet in my leg? I was just like, this is – this is it. This is ridiculous.”
Soldiers who, like Michael Harmon, have witnessed up close the complete immorality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan —and who have further embraced their responsibility to actively resist them—have formed organizations like Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). According to the IVAW Web site, (ivaw.org) the organization has more than 800 members nationally and more than 40 chapters. From March 13-16, IVAW will draw on the inspiration of Vietnam Veterans’ groundbreaking testimony from 1971 and hold new Winter Soldier hearings, with soldiers testifying about the crimes against humanity they witnessed and carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Groups like IVAW, soldiers like Robin Long, and veterans like those who spoke out against the Vietnam War in 1971, expose the crippling lie that military servicemen “don’t have a choice”—either to fight wars in the first place, or to carry out the orders once they arrive in the country their military is invading. Indeed, when confronted with the sadistic carnage of unjust war, every soldier—every human being—has a basic moral choice about whether or not to take part. And many more people than the media and government would like us to know about have made the right choice.
Of course, there is a reason the “support the troops” line persists so strongly. In an era when the architects and defenders of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars have not been successful at molding majority opinion into supporting these wars outright, they instead have done their best to take the wind out of the opposition. Most recently, of course, we have seen powerful expression of this in the right-wing response to the courageous stand taken by the city council and citizens—particularly the youth—of Berkeley, and in the city council’s subsequent abandonment of language classifying military recruiters as “unwelcome intruders.”
As the aforementioned article in Revolution newspaper pointed out, the council explained its retreat by saying they “strongly opposed the war and the continued recruitment of young people into this war,” but also said they “deeply respect and support the men and women in our armed forces.”
The initial resolution, which also awarded a parking space in front of the recruiting station to Code Pink, touched off howls of outrage from those who are intent on seeing the American military follow through at any cost in its quest for empire, and who are therefore determined to declare true resistance to this quest off the table. It also generated an outpouring of hundreds of Berkeley high-school students who refused to be intimidated into silence.
But it is worth noting the terms on which the Berkeley City Council and anti-war protestors were attacked: even the most zealous right-wingers did not mainly blast the protestors for dissenting against the war per se—not openly, anyway . These right-wingers are, unfortunately, not that stupid, fully cognizant that even many within the American mainstream would not have their backs. Instead, they slapped the council and the protestors with the label of betraying U.S. soldiers, fully cognizant that even many within the progressive community would have their backs, or at least would be too fearful of being labeled “traitors” to speak out.
Michelle Malkin’s February 6 piece on townhall.com begins: “The troop-bashers in Berkeley are at it once more.” Or consider the January 30 press release condemning the actions of the Berkeley City Council issued by Move America Forward, the thuggish organization who physically attacked teenage anti-war protestors in the name of “free speech” for recruiters (hmm…) While there is a reference to “hundreds of military men and women serving honorably overseas to protect our freedoms,” the release— tellingly-titled “Marines Attacked In Berkeley, CA ” (not “War Attacked In Berkeley, CA) offers no specific refutation of criticisms against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In fact, the words “Iraq” and “Afghanistan” do not even appear in the release .
Ditto for Move America Forward’s petition against the Berkeley City Council.
Debra Saunders, in her February 5 editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle, even sought to appeal to the anti-war faction: “I know many Berkeley residents oppose the war,” Saunders wrote, “and still are embarrassed that Berzerkeley has once again gone over the top.”
Those not cursed with a short memory will remember the neocons and their Democratic buddies in Congress employed the very same strategy during their vicious censoring—errr, censuring— of Moveon.org’s “General Petraeus or General Betray Us” ad in the New York Times. And it is the need to “not abandon our troops” that a Democratic Congress repeatedly cites in justifying sending billions of dollars to a war it supposedly opposes.
Enter the critical role of those who actually do oppose the wars. As long as anti-war activists insist on “supporting the troops”—as if there is no difference between soldiers who commit war crimes and those who resist them—they are playing into the hands of those who want to continue the wars. Why? Because of the fact, well-established by history, that both resistance and complicity feed on themselves.
Every day, more and more American soldiers are exposed to the vicious realities of the duties they have been assigned, and face a basic moral choice as a result: To resist or to comply. Sending these soldiers the message that they will be supported no matter what guarantees an increase in those who choose the latter option. On the other hand, putting forth a bold and uncompromising demand for everyone—including soldiers—to resist crimes against humanity will inspire many more to do just that.
As just one small example, consider one final interview from the Winter Soldier film. One of the veterans is asked why he decided to testify. He replies that he probably wouldn’t have come forward had it not been for the fact that a fellow Lieutenant was speaking out; this soldier felt compelled to back up the Lieutenant’s testimony.
So a good question to ask when somebody says they support the troops is “which ones?” The soldiers who refuse to carry out heinous and despicable orders , or those who continue to do so? And “support them how?” By struggling with them to see the atrocities of what they are doing, saving them from committing further atrocities, and urging them to help others do the same?
Or by patting them on the back and telling them the 2-year-old child with a bullet in his leg or the girl raped in front of her parents isn’t their fault because they were just following orders?
For our generation, the percentage of veterans is incredibly small compared to other conflicts in our nation's history. I don't think anyone here is going to dispute that. So to effectively alter the course of nation's politics, it will be necessary to win over the support of our civilian counterparts in our democracy. Therefore, it becomes important for us to effectively communicate with our civilian friends through various channels of media to encourage folks to understand some of our opinions (as diverse as they may be). While making fun of chickenhawks is quite hilarious and entertaining, I still maintain that we shouldn't put people on a guilt trip because they never served. I'd be battling with a large swath of the population if I chose to attack anyone who wasn't a veteran. If combat veterans were to say that only those who have experienced combat were allowed to talk about Iraq or Afghanistan, well I'd have to stop blogging (I don't count indirect fire as combat). I think we should give respect where it's due, but I'm afraid of trouncing into the "Moral Authority" realm, which can effectively stifle any sort of dialogue. Also, this can lead to personal attacks on your integrity and credentials from the opposition, since you would be attacking someone else simply based on your previous military experience without reason and rationale to back it up.
Boadicaea brought up an interesting tidbit of information concerning the protests in Berkeley providing an example of the use of "moral authority".
The woman with the Marine son on his 4th deployment that gets her photo all the time, clutching his picture, made a young woman next to me cry when she came over, found out the woman's husband was Muslim (American, 3d generation) and snarled at her that he should be tortured. Her photos are always so beatific. She called me a liar about my son's service and screamed that al Qaeda was watching me and they'd go out and kill more service people because of me, REAL soldiers not lies like my so called son. It was said very nasty and it hurt for a long time. She ain't what her pitchers look like!
Of course I respect a mother who has a son in harm's way, but does that give her the right to start calling Ms. Boadicaea a "liar" because they had a political disagreement? Am I not allowed to disagree with Cindy Sheehan when she hung out with notable dictator Hugo Chavez, because she lost a son in Iraq? I maintain that someone's personal integrity should be respected, but I fail to see why it can be used to silence any dissenting political opinion. Mainly, putting up a barrier between "us" and "them" is counter-productive, since that is probably not going to help change the way things work in our country. I'm curious as to people's thoughts on this.
I wish Conservatives were more imaginative in their labeling of legislation. After the Patriot and Protect America Acts stripped us of our constitutional rights, now comes the Semper Fi Act of 2008, which wants to strip Berkeley of all Federal Appropriations. This description of the bill was released by one of its co-sponsors, Senator Jim DeMint's Senate office.
SUPPORT FOR SEMPER FI ACT BUILDS, YET DEMOCRATS PLACE SECRET HOLD
Berkeley Refuses to Apologize, Continues to Urge Code Pink to “Impede” Military Recruiters
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) made the following statement in response to the decision by the City Council of Berkeley, California not to apologize to the Marine Corps and their families and reaffirming their support for radical anti-war protestors to “impede” military recruiters from conducting their work.
Senator DeMint introduced the Semper Fi Act to rescind over $2 million in hidden earmarks for Berkeley, California in the Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill, and transfer the funds to the Marine Corps. Until yesterday, Senate Democrat leaders used parliamentary maneuvers to block consideration of the bill. Last night, Republicans asked to pass the Semper Fi Act by unanimous consent after no Republican member opposed its passage, but Democrats have placed an anonymous hold on the bill.
“It’s a national embarrassment that these officials refuse to apologize to our troops and their families and continue to support actions against military recruitment. It’s time for Berkeley to realize that actions have consequences,” said Senator DeMint. “Americans across the nation are outraged at Berkeley’s insult to our troops who have fought and died for their ability to live in freedom. It’s truly heartening to hear the outpouring of support for the Marine Corps in South Carolina and throughout the nation.”
Berkeley City Council members voted to rescind a letter to the Marine Corps recruitment office asking them to leave town, but left in place a provision that encourages “all people to avoid cooperation with the Marine Corps recruiting station, and applaud residents and organizations such as Code Pink” that “impede, passively or actively” the work of military recruiters. Berkeley also voted against a formal apology to the Marine Corps and will still allow Code Pink a special parking space in front of the recruitment office to conduct weekly protests.
“Let’s be clear, it’s not a question of the sincerity of anyone on either side of this issue. However, some of the hateful rhetoric and official actions against the Marine Corps that have come out of Berkeley has had real consequences on our troops, their families, and our recruiting,” said Senator DeMint.
The bill is cosponsored by 10 senators including Republican leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and John Cornyn (R-Texas). U.S. Congressman John Campbell (R-California) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives and now has 71 cosponsors, including Republican leaders John Boehner (R-Ohio), Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), and nine other members of the California delegation.
“In Saddam Hussein's Iraq or the Taliban’s Afghanistan, such opposition would not be allowed a voice at all. But thankfully we live in a free democracy under the protection of our brave Marines. Protestors have the right to vocally insult our troops but patriotic Americans also have the right to seek a democratic response to discourage activities that actively impede the legitimate functions of our military.”
“I will continue to work with my Senate colleagues to stop the special taxpayer favors Berkeley has received through unnecessary earmarks,” said Senator DeMint.
One Berkeley earmark provides $243,000 in taxpayer dollars for the organization Chez Panisse to create gourmet organic school lunches in the Berkeley School District. Another earmark would spend $975,000 in taxpayer dollars for the University of California, to create a new endowment and cataloging the papers of Congressman Robert Matsui. U.C. Berkeley already has a $3.5 billion endowment.
Given their overt love of country and the Marine Corps, I decided to check how many of the co-sponsors named above served in the Marine Corps or any other branch of the US Armed Forces.
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) - did not serve
Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) - did not serve
Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) - did not serve
Senator DeMint (R-South Carolina) - did not serve
Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) - did not serve
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) - did not serve
Senator Vitter (R-Louisiana) - did not serve
This transcript was posted to WWNO NBC24.com website, February 9, 2008
1-24th Marines were scheduled for weekend urban warfare training in downtown Toledo, when Carty gave them the boot
TOLEDO, OH -- Mayor Carty Finkbeiner on Friday ordered some 200 members of Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines from Grand Rapids, Michigan, out of Toledo just before the unit was supposed to start a weekend of urban warfare training downtown.
The mayor’s spokesperson, Brian Schwartz said, “The mayor asked them to leave because they frighten people. He did not want them practicing and drilling in a highly visible area."
Toledo police said they knew about the training and had approved the unit’s use of the Madison Building and the Promenade Park area. The training was scheduled to start Friday afternoon and last until Sunday. Police said the unit’s presence would have a minimal impact on the city. Police issued a press release earlier in the week saying the Marines would be wearing green camouflage uniforms, operate military vehicles, carry rifles, perform foot patrols, and fire blank ammunition during the exercise.
Schwartz said there was a breakdown in communication between police and the Finkbeiner administration that led to the mayor’s action.
“The Marines drilled here three times during the Ford administration and once under the Finkbeiner administration. After the last visit, the mayor told then police Chief Jack Smith, that he did not want the marines back. Smith failed to inform the current police administration of the mayor’s feelings,” Schwartz said.
NBC24 spoke to Jack Smith who recalled that after the Marines last visit, he and the mayor had a heated exchange about the training.
“He told me he did not want them, as he put it, 'playing war in Toledo,'" Smith recalled. "I told him, as a former Marine, that if one young Marine’s life is saved because of training he or she received in Toledo, Ohio, then it was worth the inconvenience.”
Smith said if the mayor objected, then he should have been the one to convey those feelings to police. Smith took his run-in with the mayor as an objection to that last visit and not future training in Toledo. As a result, the Toledo police went ahead, granting approval to the 1-24th Marines to conduct the routine exercise. The police notified members of the Finkbeiner administration who were not aware that the mayor objected to units training in Toledo.
When the mayor found out, he sent a member of his staff to tell Marines they could not conduct urban operations in Toledo. The unit was notified about 3:30 p.m. after an advance team arrived in Toledo. Five buses carrying some 200 Marines traveled four hours from Grand Rapids, only to find out the training had been shot down.
The unit briefly stopped at a 1-24th Marine base in Perrysburg Township, then returned to Grand Rapids where training was expected to be held this weekend. A spokesperson for the Marines said they were disappointed by the mayor’s decision especially after the city had been so helpful in the past.
Finkbeiner held a news conference Saturday night to address the growing controversy. Finkbeiner says bad planning and communication breakdowns led to his decision to bar a Marine Corps unit from training in downtown Toledo. Finkbeiner spent much of the twenty minute news conference explaining what he didn't know, and when he didn't know it.
“I don't know when we were first asked,” he says, “were we asked Tuesday or Wednesday of this week?”
This was posted to the Free Republic, February 12, 2008
DELBARTON – The Delbarton City Council is ready to go to war with Berkeley, Cal.
Apparently the Berkeley City Council told the Marine Recruiting office to get out of its downtown office. The city officials also voted to give the protest group “Code Pink parking space outside of the recruitment office and urged them to impede, passively or actively, the work of the Marine Corps. recruiters.”
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates agrees with the decision. Bates is quoted as saying that the Marines “don’t belong in Berkeley.
Delbarton councilman Albert Totten is appalled by this decision and asked the city council Monday to pass a resolution to send a letter to West Virginia Senators John Rockefeller and Robert Byrd urging them to back the Semper Fi Act of 2008.
This bill would rescind over $2 million in hidden earmarks for Berkeley in the 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill and transfer the funds to the Marine Corps.
t was introduced by U.S. Senators Jim Ment (R-South Carolina), Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Oklahoma), John Cornyn (R-Texas), James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and David Vitter (R-Louisiana).
“I have no problem with anyone against the war but I have a real problem with what Berkeley did,” said Totten. “If every city council said the armed forces can’t recruit here, we would be in a heap of trouble.”
Mayor John Preece agreed, as did the entire council. The resolution was passed unanimously.
“The Marines do make men out of boys,” Totten pointed out.
RECOMMENDATION: Send a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diana Finley and Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion requesting that the government of Canada establish provisions to provide sanctuary for U.S. military service members who are living in Canada to resist fighting in the Iraq War. BACKGROUND: Throughout the Vietnam War era, Canada provided a place of refuge for United States citizens seeking to resist the war. Because of Canada’s rich tradition of being a refuge from militarism, approximately 200 U.S. military service people have moved to Canada to resist fighting in the Iraq War.
However, it has become more difficult to immigrate to Canada and these war resisters are seeking refugee status in accord with United Nations guidelines. Unfortunately, their requests for refugee status have been rejected by the Canadian Refugee Board. Several resisters have appealed the Refugee Board decisions to the Supreme Court of Canada. While a court decision is pending these resisters are vulnerable to deportation back to the United States where they may face years of incarceration or even worst penalties.
There is strong support among the Canadian people for the war resisters and the Canadian House of Commons is currently considering legislation to provide sanctuary to war resisters. A number of anti war organizations have been urging the Canadian government to adopt the proposed legislation and take additional steps to provide refuge to war resisters.
Berkeley has a proud tradition of promoting peaceful means of intervention in international issues and has strongly opposed the war in Iraq. Recently, the City Council adopted a resolution making Berkeley a City of Sanctuary for Conscientious Objectors. The City should continue in its efforts of providing refuge to conscientious objectors and urge the Canadian government to establish provisions to provide sanctuary to U.S. war resisters.
The Right Honorable Stephen Harper Prime Minister of Canada 80 Wellington Street Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2 Canada
Dear Prime Minister Harper,
The Berkeley City Council strongly urges you to approve measures to provide sanctuary for United States military service members who are living in Canada to resist fighting in the Iraq War.
During the Vietnam War era, more than 50,000 Americans moved to Canada in order to avoid fighting in what they considered to be an immoral war. Today Canada again faces the moral choice of whether to give refuge to resisters of an unjust war.
There are approximately 200 war resisters right now in Canada. However, unlike the situation forty years ago, it is much more difficult to immigrate to Canada. So many of these war resisters are seeking refugee status in accord with the United Nations guidelines which read “Soldiers who refuse to fight in wars that are widely condemned by the international community as contrary to standards of human conduct should be considered as refugees.”
Unfortunately, the Canadian Refugee Board has refused to hear arguments that the war in Iraq is illegal and has not supported war resisters requests for sanctuary. The first two U.S. objectors who applied, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey have appealed the Refugee Board’s decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Another war resister, Robin Long nearly became the first war resister to be deported but luckily Canadian officials have put his deportation on hold. Nevertheless, despite the fact that their cases are pending before the Supreme Court, it is still possible for these resisters to be deported.
Regardless of the decisions of the Refugee Board or the courts, the Canadian government should not be a party to the persecution to war resisters. These resisters are risking their lives to stand up to an unjust war. If forced back to the United States these soldiers face years of incarceration or even worst penalties. Nearly two out of three Canadians are in favor of the US war resisters being allowed to stay in a recent poll and many have opened their homes and hearts to the resisters. Please continue in Canada’s rich and just tradition of being a refuge from militarism.
The City of Berkeley has a long history of advocating for peaceful means of resolving international conflicts. The City is on record as strongly opposing the Iraq War and in response to the growing number of war resisters, last year the City Council adopted a resolution making Berkeley a City of Sanctuary for Conscientious Objectors.
We understand that legislation is currently being considered in the House of Commons to provide sanctuary for Iraqi War resisters. We ask that your government take immediate action to prevent any deportations of war resisters and adopt measures to provide sanctuary to these soldiers of conscience.
Thank you for your consideration.
The rumble in Berkeley, between those vicious angry peaceniks and pinkos , who make up Code Pink, and the few and the proud, the Marine Corps has been largely ignored by the mainstream media but become an obsession among those who brought you the Bush Presidency and the war in Iraq. Reading their descriptions of the battle for Berkeley makes it seem as though that city is awash with al-quaedistas who are picking on the poor old Marine Corps and the patriots who rushed to their defense. Here for example, is the description of the Battle of Berkeley, from FreedomsWatch.org, February 13, 2008.
If I were a headline writer I would describe the situation as CHAOS AND ANARCHY IN BERKELEY today.
Not by our side –by the Marine haters and American traitors.
The cops were openly hostile toward the people who showed up at 5:00 a.m., never stepping in to protect the patriots from the assaults that took place against elderly folks, Gold Star parents, Blue Star families and Joe and Jane Citizen who were waving the flags and showing their pride in the Marines. The police allowed hundreds of Berkeley High School kids (accompanied by their teachers) to gather with CodePink, receive their mandatory face masks and F---k Bush t-shirts, and allowed them to mill around our PA where they tried to cut the power cords to the system.
Berkeley police repeatedly allowed CodePink to violate our permits, and never lifted a finger to stop their crowd from interfering with our activities until the very end, after we screamed blue bloody hell.
When Catherine Moy, the Executive Director of MAF called the police to tell them a riot was erupting in the early hours –THEY HUNG UP ON HER.
Cat called the Highway Patrol, who referred her back to the Berkeley police –WHO HUNG UP ON HER.
It was positively shameful.
Move America Forward’s attorney Jim Sweeney took depositions from ten people who were assaulted by CodePink, International A.N.S.W.E.R. and socialists who showed up en masse.
The City Council has been notified by fax that we are filing a federal lawsuit for deprivation of our civil rights.
We didn’t start this fight, but we are damn sure gonna finish it.
The pro-troops demonstration is still going strong at 7:30 p.m. PST, with all streets around the Berkeley City Council closed off as the CodePinkos continue to receive preferential treatment by the Berkeley PD.
Move America Forward’s sound permit was turned off at 5:00 in the afternoon, while the Pinkos were allowed to use their system to sing Kumbaya and other 60’s peace chants.
Berkeley, the birthplace of free speech, is now officially the center of intolerant hatred for anyone who sticks up for the men and women who are fighting and dying to protect THEIR rights.
Before our sound system was nearly sabotaged, a young man posing as a pro-troop supporter asked to speak to the crowd. I allowed him to talk (about his family’s ‘service’, when he started spewing obscenities about the ‘illegal, immoral, unjust war’ . I grabbed the microphone back, and he tried to clobber me with it.
Gold Star Dad Mark Crowley knocked him to the ground, where he found a faceful of dirt to keep him company.
Our side sang God Bless America, America the beautiful and other stirring songs that seemed to enrage the elderly commies.
25,000 petitions were collected by Move America Forward with the help of other pro-troops groups like Gathering of Eagles, EaglesUp, Vets for Freedom and others. There were Eagles EVERYWHERE today. And Patriot Guard Riders. And American Legion vets. And members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
5,000 petition signatures were also collected by an organization in Washington headed by Nicholas Provenzano, who flew out to Berkeley on the red-eye to deliver to the City Council announcing an economic boycott of Berkeley until it reverses it shameful treatment of our Marines.
Red, White and Blue Americans rushed to our side from Atlanta, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado, San Diego, and other parts of the United States.
Our crowds numbered into the thousands throughout the day.
So gratifying. So humbling.
People of all ages, races, and political backgrounds (yes even some incensed liberals) honored our active duty service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in other parts around the world.
We spoke of the sacrifice and the nobility of the military families who support their sons and daughters, husbands and wives.
And we gave a HOOO-AWW especially to our Marines, who find themselves prevented from speaking while under assault, not from a evil enemy abroad, but from the insurgents here at home.
We should be proud and exhilarated by the turn-out and passion of so many people who set aside their lives, showed up, and spoke out.
I don’t know what will happen with the Berkeley City Council, but I would be you that dollars to donuts, they’ll issue some mealy-mouthed WE SUPPORT THE TROOPS, JUST NOT THEIR MISSION crap, and then keep in place all the restrictions that make recruiting on Shattuck avenue all but impossible.
I have no idea how the media will portray this historic event –I can only tell you that 3 TV helicopters were overhead almost all day long, every major media outlet in the Bay Area, as well as national TV and print reporters–but OUR people spoke eloquently, passionately, and with conviction about the hateful attitude that the City of Berkeley has displayed toward the USMC.
This article was posted this morning by the San Jose mercury News. What is odd about their description is the use of peaceniks to describe those opposed to the presence of the Marine recruiters in Berkeley.
A pre-dawn confrontation broke out this morning in Berkeley between peaceniks and pro military groups, more than 12 hours before the City Council considers to rescind its statement telling the U.S. Marines they're unwelcome in this leftie town.
Police were forced to form a line between the two groups to keep them apart shortly after 6 a.m. at the park across Martin Luther King Jr. Way from old City Hall, where the City Council meets.
An hour and a half later, the shouting continued, but there had been no arrests, a police dispatcher said.
The Berkeley City Council tonight is scheduled to revisit the council's Jan. 29 approval of a resolution calling the U.S. Marines' recruiting office on Shattuck Avenue "uninvited and unwelcome intruders." The vote was 6-3 in favor.
The 6-3 vote on that item caused a nationwide backlash against the city, prompting Republicans in Washington and Sacramento to introduce legislation to take away money for things like school lunches and police communications equipment.
Just about every City Council meeting in Berkeley includes protesters who show support or disdain for whatever is on the agenda.
But tonight, the city is likely to host the mother of all meetings in its recent history. Councilman Gordon Wozniak, who opposed the council's actions two weeks ago on the recruiting station, said he received 26,000 e-mails on the subject in the past 10 days (24,000 supporting the Marines, 2,000 against), and he is just one of nine council members.
"On a hot issue, we sometimes get a couple hundred e-mails," Wozniak said. "I've never seen anything like this. I'm getting one every five minutes. It's huge."
Today's protests could bring upwards of 500 people from both sides. And hundreds of union members also are expected at the meeting to protest a separate item seeking to regulate a local steel foundry. Sacramento-based Move America Forward and a handful of other pro-military organizations are set to have several hundred protesters in front of council chambers starting at 5 a.m. On the other side, Code Pink, a women's peace organization, was planning to camp out for 24 hours to argue the U.S. Marines should get out of town.
Meanwhile, union workers are protesting a move to put restrictions on Pacific Steel Casting, which many in Berkeley blame for a persistent odor and health problems in some neighborhoods.
All that for a meeting space with a capacity of 123.
To accommodate tonight's expected crowd of protesters and reporters, the city will broadcast the meeting outside on speakers.
Move America Forward is already unhappy with what council members are not planning to do - rescinding four other items the council passed that are seen as a swipe at the Marines. Those items asked the city attorney to investigate whether the Marines are violating city law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation; urged people to 'impede' the recruiting work of the Marines in Berkeley; and gave Code Pink a free parking space and sound permit to protest once a week in front of the recruiting station.
The proposal by council members Betty Olds and Laurie Capitelli to rescind the item sending the Marines a letter asking them to leave is No. 25 of 28 items on tonight's agenda, and could come up for debate near midnight. What's more, pro-military supporters will have to sit through another item likely to make them seethe: urging Canada to provide sanctuary for U.S. military war resisters.
"Our organization has taken a stand that the council needs to apologize and rescind all the resolutions," said Danny Gonzalez, communications director for Move America Forward. "We can only hope that one of the council members has the sense to make a change and re-evaluate their stance on all the issues."
By only rescinding the one item, the council, in effect, is still "attempting to get the Marines to leave," Gonzalez said.
"They're just trying to get the heat off, and that's not going to work," Gonzalez said. "It's empty; it's not a genuine apology."
Code Pink is going to the meeting to thank the council for its actions against the recruiting station.
"We're so pleased the council is taking a strong stand for peace, and we intend to be there in full force to let them know we support them," said Zanne Joi, a Code Pink activist. "We trust the council will not be swayed by this vicious right-wing attack."
Joi said the reaction by people across the country angry the council asked the Marines to leave town shows the tide of public sentiment has long since turned against the war in Iraq.
"This violent reaction of the pro-war forces shows how threatened they are by a small group of people working against recruitment," Joi said. "They claim the Marines fought for our freedom of speech, and how dare we use our freedom of speech against them."