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Commentary :: Education & Youth : Peace & War

OPINION: Supporting The Troops? Not On Campus

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OPINION: Supporting The Troops? Not On Campus

Cinnamon Stillwell

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

It's been a tough couple years for America's antiwar movement. Unable to effect change at the ballot box and frustrated by the lack of popular support for its agenda, the antiwar crowd has turned its sights on the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and other military recruitment on college campuses across the country.

It's becoming increasingly common for antiwar activists to stage protests and disruptions at college job fairs involving military recruiters. The greater Bay Area, in particular, has become a locus for such activity, with recent protests at San Francisco State University, UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley.

Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong or illegal with exercising one's First Amendment rights and staging a peaceful protest on campus. But activists are not content to simply protest the presence of military recruiters; they have taken to adopting stronger measures. In San Francisco and Santa Cruz, mobs of protesters disrupted job fairs, forced military recruiters to leave and succeeded in either significantly delaying or shutting down the entire event. As a result, students looking for career advice and opportunities, whether military or otherwise, were largely prevented from doing so.

If one chooses not to join the U.S. military, that's a personal decision. But to stop other students from exploring all their options is bullying at its worst. Besides being unfair, such tactics are unlikely to lead to increased support among fellow students. If anything, the opposite is true. As UC Santa Cruz student Chris Swanson put it, "If they want free speech, they should let people speak to the recruiters."

Nonviolent Pledge Rings Hollow

Antiwar protesters from the Berkeley Stop the War Coalition apparently had the same goals in mind for the UC Berkeley job fair last month. According to their announcement at, they pledged to remain "nonviolent" but also to "march into the career fair and peacefully escort the military recruiters out." How one can nonviolently escort law-abiding citizens out of an event against their will is beyond me. Carrying signs that read, "U.S. Out of Berkeley" and "Get the Military off UC," it was as if the protesters inhabited a separate country. Anyone who's been to Cal may be tempted to come to the same conclusion.

In the end, their plans were stymied by the visible presence of the UC Berkeley police, not to mention an energetic group of counterprotesters also in attendance. Members of the Berkeley College Republicans and Protest Warrior, as well as wives and relatives of soldiers and others fed up with the thuggish behavior of antiwar groups, provided a lively counterpart to the protesters. Wielding American flags and signs with such messages as "Free Speech at Berkeley … Except for the ROTC," the counterprotesters chanted and sang patriotic songs. Their effort seems to have worked, because the antiwar protesters' plans to disrupt the job fair apparently fizzled. Instead, a group of them calmly got in line at the ROTC table and lectured the recruiters on the evils of the military. That must have made a big impression.

One of the reasons the Associated Students at the University of California (ASUC) gave for its opposition to ROTC recruiters on campus is that the military's enforcement of the federal "don't ask, don't tell" policy clashes with UC's nondiscrimination policies against gays. Because of that policy, the ASUC passed Resolution SB 107 last month prohibiting the use of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union (which it owns) by military recruiters. Though one can debate the wisdom of the Clinton-era policy, it has little to do with antiwar opposition to the ROTC. In fact, it's simply a fig leaf to conceal the true motives, which are antimilitary across the board. If the military suddenly decided to stop enforcing the policy, would antiwar activists then stop protesting recruiters on campus? Somehow I doubt it.

An organization called the Campus Antiwar Network serves as a clearinghouse for this growing student movement. Adherents call themselves "counter-recruiters" and gleefully boast about the U.S. Army's dwindling recruiting rates. Whether their activities have had any effect on recruitment rates is doubtful. But if they were to succeed in their goal, which is apparently to undermine the U.S. military, it's they who would ultimately pay the price. Who do they think is going to protect the very freedoms they exercise so thanklessly?

Searching For An Injustice

Despite the fact that there is no draft and that those signing up for the military do so voluntarily, the antiwar movement is determined to locate some perceived injustice. People have a variety of reasons for joining the military, various career and educational opportunities among them -- not to mention serving their country. But protesters seem unable to comprehend that people do so because they want to, not because someone forced them to sign up.

Although the idea that military recruits are disproportionately minorities (a claim campus antiwar protesters still make frequently) has been proven false, income may be a factor. It's hard to know for sure, because the military doesn't keep track of recruits' income levels. But based on education, which is often a sign of economic status, it seems likely that a fair amount of recruits come from low-income backgrounds.

The military can indeed provide a welcome escape from the bleakness of the inner cities, as well as from impoverished rural communities that offer little in the way of career opportunities. Many a young man or woman heading for trouble has been able to turn things around after joining the military and experiencing real discipline for the first time in their lives. But this is empowerment, not victimization, so why would anyone lambaste the military for providing opportunities for young people?

Antiwar activists routinely accuse recruiters of lying to prospective recruits about what to expect when they join the military. Protesters give no evidence for such accusations and have no problem impugning the integrity of the U.S. military with wanton abandon. But if one bothers to consult military recruiters, they will tell you that the last thing they want in a recruit is ignorance and unwillingness. Besides, one would have to be incredibly naive not to be aware of the nature of the armed forces before joining up. It is, after all, the military, and war and combat tend to come with the territory.

Glorification Of Deserters

For those who do manage to stumble into the military and then experience a change of heart, conscientious objector status is an option. Unsurprisingly, soldiers who take this step are the ones the antiwar crowd rallies around. One has only to locate a born-again pacifist or a deserter to find a hero of the Left. Antiwar activists simply cannot fathom that a person might actually be willing to fight and, if necessary, die for his or her country.

It's a far cry from professing pacifism to supporting the so-called resistance in Iraq, something the antiwar movement has taken up with increasing regularity. Kidnapping, beheading, disemboweling and suicide bombings are hardly acts of peace, so cheering the perpetrators on seems a tad hypocritical. Rather than being pretend pacifists, antiwar activists should just admit they're rooting for the other side.

The antiwar crowd is fond of proclaiming its "support for the troops" while simultaneously accusing the U.S. military of all sort of crimes against humanity. The good work U.S. soldiers do in Iraq (and the good news in general) is rarely, if ever, referred to. But the obsession with Abu Ghraib never ends, as demonstrated by protesters' recent commemoration of the one-year anniversary of online dissemination of photographs recording torture and mistreatment of Iraqi detainees by U.S. contractors and military personnel at that prison.

Saddam's Atrocities Ignored

Activists routinely summon the imagery of those isolated incidents and ignore the fact that it was the U.S. military itself that exposed, investigated and punished the offenders. You would never know this by witnessing antiwar activism on campus, where protesters accuse the U.S. military of "atrocities" and even "genocide" as a way to stain recruiters. About the atrocities committed by the terrorists against Iraqis and Westerners alike and the mass graves left by Saddam Hussein's barbarous regime, by contrast, they have little to say.

If antiwar activists really want to show support for the troops, they can attend local Veteran's Day parades or Memorial Day commemorations. Or join the cheering crowds of family members and well wishers who greet returning soldiers across the country. Or perhaps volunteer to put together care packages with the Blue Star Moms or countless other organizations. How about corresponding with a soldier serving in Iraq or Afghanistan and getting to know why he or she joined the military? Perhaps the real reason you don't usually see antiwar types taking part in such activities is that it would require showing support not only for the troops but also for their country.

These days, the preferred mantra of the antiwar movement is "Support the Troops, Bring Them Home." But this is simply another way to couch antiwar sentiment in pro-troops language. There is little thought given to the implications of such action on the people of Iraq or the opinions of U.S. soldiers themselves, many of whom want to complete their mission and not just abandon the Iraqis to tyranny and slaughter.

For me, antiwar support for the troops was exemplified during the protests in San Francisco leading up to the war in Iraq. Among the various anti-American, anti-military slogans, one particularly forthcoming sign stood out: the one reading, “We Support the Troops When They Shoot Their Officers.? This offensive sentiment was captured in a photo that spread all over the Internet, surviving in infamy to this day. This is the real face of antiwar "support for the troops."

Cinnamon Stillwell is a Bay Area writer. She can be reached at

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News :: Media Criticism

Wireless World: Rethinking passport chips

A story about how the state department wants to track people using passports.
Chicago, IL, Apr. 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. government may be rethinking a plan to imbed wireless tracking technology in the passport of every citizen after hearing objections about potential civil liberties violations, experts told UPI's Wireless World. The State Department plans later this year to install wireless radio frequency identification or RFID chips in all new passports it issues, but it is receiving flack about the amount of identifying information those chips will contain and whether that data will be secure from hackers."It is not backing away from the use of RFID in passports, it is rethinking the decision not to encrypt the data on the tag," said Mark Roberti, founder and editor of RFID Journal, a leading industry magazine in Hauppauge, N.Y. "The State Department is now looking at ways to secure the data on the tag." By Gene Koprowski

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News :: Education & Youth

UCSC PR SpinMeister Liz Irwin Tells activists how to protest

Not content with telling lies about how Tent U activists were conducting themselves, UCSC PR maven Liz Irwin now is lecturing activists on how to bring about real social and political change. Apparently, the failure of Tent U is because of one groups fervour for civil disobedience... Read more of Liz, "Mahatma Gandhi" Irwin's critique...

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News :: Media Criticism

The Web: Search engine privacy threats

A story about how Google threatens our privacy.

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News :: Environment & Food

Tuolumne County groups protest forest lawsuit

About 100 people, most of them from Tuolumne County, yesterday went to Sacramento to protest California Attorney General Bill Lockyer's lawsuit challenging the U.S. Forest Service's Sierra Nevada management plan. Teresa Schilling, spokeswoman for the attorney general. "The Bush administration wants to cut down more trees. ... We want to make sure the forests are healthy for the future."


The Union Democrat
Sonora California - Tuolumne County

Tuolumne County groups protest forest lawsuit

Published: April 26, 2005


About 100 people, most of them from Tuolumne County, yesterday went to Sacramento to protest California Attorney General Bill Lockyer's lawsuit challenging the U.S. Forest Service's Sierra Nevada management plan.

Participants included members of the Tuolumne County Alliance for Resources and Environment (TuCARE), the Highway 108 FireSafe Council, Western Council of Industrial Workers, Local Lumber and Sawmill Workers 2652, the Blue Ribbon Coalition and the California Equestrian Trails and Lands Coalition.

TuCARE, a Twain Harte-based group made up primarily of ranchers and loggers, promotes "the wise use of forest resources."

The groups have joined in filing a motion to intervene in Lockyer's lawsuit.

Tuolumne County Supervisor Mark Thornton also attended and spoke at the rally.

The protesters, including some from Camino, South Lake Tahoe and other Sierra Nevada communities, rallied at Cesar Chavez Park in Sacramento, and then marched to outside the attorney general's office.

They want to halt Lockyer's lawsuit against the revised Sierra Nevada Framework, which manages logging and other activities on 11.5 million acres of Sierra Nevada forest land. The framework, drafted during the Clinton administration, has since been revised to triple the amount of logging allowed on national forests in the Sierra Nevada.

Forest Service officials say the changes are intended to cut the risk of wildfire.

But Lockyer has said the revised plan puts the forests at risk in favor of timber harvesting.

"It's a plan based on politics," said Teresa Schilling, spokeswoman for the attorney general. "The Bush administration wants to cut down more trees. ... We want to make sure the forests are healthy for the future."

The protesters said the lawsuit holds up work that could be done to keep the forests healthy and secure jobs for timber industry workers. The forests are not healthy because they are overgrown and could be taken down by wildfires, they said.

"We want to put the pressure on the governor to keep his staff under control," said Melinda Fleming, TuCARE advocacy consultant. "We don't have to sit down and take it. I'm sure there will be some kind of response."

The protesters, however, did not get as fast a response as they had wanted. They asked the attorney general to come down and talk to them, but he didn't, Fleming said.

Schilling said Lockyer wasn't in the office when the protest started about 10:15 a.m. yesterday.

"We didn't know they were coming, so we couldn't respond," she said. "We have a lot of values in common — we both want to protect the forest."

Contact Dhyana Levey at dlevey (at) or 588-4530.

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News :: Alternative Media

Terrorists In Santa Cruz -

The Hippie Museum:
Live report from Tent U, Santa Cruz
terrorists in santa cruz:
(The Hippie Museum live report)

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News :: Education & Youth : Police State

UC Santa Cruz Protesters Tell of Riot Police Brutality

UC Santa Cruz Protesters Tell of Riot Police Brutality

By Matthew Cardinale
Monday 25 April 2005

Over 80 student protesters are reported wounded by Riot Police and 19 students were arrested, according to phone interviews with two "Tent University" organizers at UC Santa Cruz.

"Students had numerous bruises and contusions. And figures I heard were 20 arrested and 80 wounded. My girlfriend caught a baton to the chest unprovoked. And numerous people witnessed a cop go into a frenzy and basically dive forward into the crowd with a baton and that's how my girlfriend caught a baton," Indigo Moonstar, 23, a recent graduate of UCSC, said. Moonstar is not his real name, but this is the name he also gave to the Associated Press.

The seemingly pointless arrests and acts of state violence occurred because of the University's concern the students were violating the "No Camping Ordinance."

The students had set up a Tent University to protest student fee increases as well as the exploitation of AFSCME service workers. The Tent University, which was conducted all this week, April 18-22, included workshops on such topics as environmental sustainability, nonviolent activism, social justice, politics, and even yoga.

The arrests on Monday, April 18, prevented the students from holding Tent University at the base of campus during evening hours for the rest of the week like they had originally planned, but the daytime events proceeded without incident.

"For one, that's the most traumatizing thing I've ever been through in my life," Austin Harless, 21, a student organizer at UCSC, said. "Myself and others have been changed. The effects have been extremely pervasive."

"It's causing a lot of us to question our lives," Harless said.

"You have your assumed notions you hold about freedom and the safety of the community and you see the police choking your friends, you think, Who can I call? But the police are the ones who are supposed to be upholding the peace," Harless explained.

"I think it was atrocious. I think it was pure fascism," Moonstar said.

"It was a completely unnecessary and inappropriate response on the part of the University. There's been a lot of discussion amongst us on what happened and why. And the conclusion we've come to is it appears to be a premeditated show of force on the part of the University administration in response to the recent resurgence of radical activism on our campus," Moonstar said.

"The way it works at UCSC campus is that from 7am to 8pm, those are the hours of free speech. So we were allowed to assemble in the field until 8pm," Harless said.

"We also had two big shade tents in the morning which were allowed because they are open air shade structures. People had their own individual tents, but they didn't put up the tents until after the 4pm vote," Harless said.

"At 8pm we gathered again. Two administration reps came in. Jean Marie Scott (Associate Vice Chancellor of The Colleges and University Housing Services) and Gail Heit (Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs)," Harless described. "They said, look, there will be repercussions. Let's talk about [relocating to] the quarry or camping someplace else. And people were like, no, we decided earlier," Harless said.

"People started taking out individual tents and putting up tents. People were playing drums," Harless said.

"At that point they gathered in a group of Administrators, and they started gathering and giving the official order to disperse," Harless said.

"I was standing back and watching Administration going through the crowd and giving the official order to disperse, and they'd only talked to about 25% of the people when a line of police cars rolled up in the street, at least 8 to 10 of them, vans and stuff too," Harless said.

"It's interesting to note the Berkeley Police were brought in to deal with us," Harless said.

"And there was a Paddy Wagon sitting on our campus that said Berkeley Police on it, and so they'd been preparing all day with riot police," Harless said.

"Some of us had police whistles. I ran into the big tent and said POLICE ARE HERE, and people started blowing their whistles," Harless recalled.

"In the fervor we said INTO THE NOME, which was our Big White Tent Structure," Harless said. "Everyone ran into the Nome. We had held Nonviolent Direct Action Training. There were those prepared to civilly disobey, or lock down, and the rest were to observe on the side of the tent," Harless said.

"At this point there were maybe 150 of observing protesters total, plus 80 ready to lock down," Harless said.

"There were 8 circles in the Nome that were locked down to each other," Harless said. "We created circles where you're gonna sit down and link arms between people to your right and left and you take your hands and clasp underneath your legs," he described.

"At that point, the Riot Police moved in and made a circle around the Nome, about 30 of them. They all had Plexiglas helmets, shades, and they all had batons," Harless said.

"There were 150 protesters surrounding the police. Those police were facing outwards towards the protester with their backs towards us," Harless said.

"At this point they proceeded to bring in groups of 4 to 5 police. Including one guy who video filmed everything," Harless said.

"And 3-4 police with thick gloves on. They would come in, everyone would be shirking. And the police with the gloves on would come in and start applying pressure at people's throats and pressure points around their jaw and started trying to pull people upward. So they would do that to get you out of the circle," Harless said.

"So they would do that and another would try to break the clasping of your hands. All this, the pain treatment, is an effort to break you from the circle," Harless said.

"A lot of people at that point went limp and basically laid down on the floor not to be taken out of the tent. Police would push your hand down trying to fold it on yourself and twist it behind your back," Harless said.

"Our video of this [online at Santa Cruz Indymedia] has had 60,000 hits in the last 12 hours. It's 6 minutes long and shows you everything I'm talking about," Harless said.

To learn more about Tent University, readers may also visit the activists' official website at

Matthew Cardinale is a freelance writer, activist, and MA candidate at UC Irvine in Sociology. He may be reached at

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News :: Police State

Police Handcuff Five Year Old

Video Captures Florida Police Handcuffing 5-year-old Girl

Posted: April 25th, 2005 01:42 PM EDT

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- A 5-year-old girl was handcuffed by police after she tore papers off a bulletin board and punched an assistant principal in kindergarten class, according to a video released by a lawyer for the child's mother.

The 30-minute tape shows the child appearing to calm down before three officers pinned her arms behind her back and put on handcuffs as she screamed, ''No!''

The camera was rolling March 14 as part of a classroom self-improvement exercise at Fairmount Park Elementary, attorney John Trevena said.

Trevena, who provided the tape to the media this week, said he got it from police.

''The image itself will be seared into people's minds when you have three police officers bending a child over a table and forcibly handcuffing her,'' said Trevena, who represents the girl's mother, Inga Akins.

Police spokesman Bill Proffitt said an investigation into the matter would be complete in about two weeks and the findings would be made public.


* Watch the Video

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