Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Marines in Berkeley? Get Out of Town.

From the San Jose Mercury News: The Berkeley City Council "voted 8-1 Tuesday night to tell the Marines that its Shattuck Avenue recruiting station 'is not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders.'" A member of the National Lawyers Guild, Sharon Adams, is also working on local legislation that would limit where recruiters could set up shop - the same way liquor stores, porn theatres and other entities that may be harmful to young people are regulated.

The backlash has of course been typical - left coast crazy commies out to get our poor, oppressed Marine recruiters. Move America Forward is claiming the mayor of Berkeley is stealing "the free speech rights of the United States Marine Corps by harassing the recruiting center into abandoning its lease." Yes, somehow the mayor of a relatively small city is stripping a branch of the U.S. Military - the same military that is matched in spending by every other military in the world combined - of its free speech rights. Last I remember, the Constitution grants liberties to "We the People," not some of the most powerful sectors of our government. Their press release announcing "Marines Attacked in Berkeley, CA," made me laugh. As if the women of Code Pink protesting with bullhorns and a few liberal city councilmembers acting on pretty modest legislation amounts to an "attack" on a multi-billion dollar military wing of the most powerful nation on earth; a group of soldiers, some of whom may have good intentions, but who nonetheless are trained to kill.

The simple fact is that Berkeley has every right to try to limit where recruiters can set up shop and they ought to protect the young people in their community from the tactics of military recruiters and the serious harms caused by warfare.

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