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Occupy Cal time-travels back to the ’60s

November 16th, 2011 - 10:05 am

The privileged Occupy kiddies of U.C. Berkeley were back in action again yesterday, play-acting at revolution to entertain their professors.


The purported thesis of this particular Occupation is “more money for secondary education,” but that’s just a veneer (a very very thin veneer, as the above photo shows) for a more radical agenda.


The Occupiers very self-consciously posed under various campus landmarks to echo the protests of their 1960s predecessors.


They took a supervised field trip off-campus and marched around town under a Che banner. Just like Grandma and Grandpa did! So cute.


In case there was any doubt that the Berkeley version of this whole “Occupation” thing is just an opportunity for this generation of kids to re-enact Berkeley’s 1960s “Free Speech Movement” halcyon days, some of the march leaders carried a sign reading “FREE SPEECH – Then and Now.” The other sign in the photo, with the mystifying message “Oops didn’t see the broken ribs – I was in Tokyo,” is more typical of contemporary thought disorders, whereby kids are taught that repeating some anecdote about themselves earns them respect and lends gravitas to their opinions. This being Berkeley, of course, she also blends it with subtle bragging about her exotic travels.


Only in Berkeley is Angela Davis is still considered a cutting-edge philosopher worth quoting.


One of the marchers was even carrying — no, could it be…?


Yes, as I feared: Looking at the sign right-side up, I see that it is a 1968 Eldridge Cleaver for President poster.

It is 2011, people. What relevance could a 43-year-old Black Panther Party campaign poster possibly have?


(In case you’re curious: The poster design really is from 1968. Here’s a clear picture of what the original looked like.)


Speaking of 1960s presidential campaigns…Back then, the students were protesting against President Johnson (for sending troops to Vietnam); but these days, the protesters emulate Johnson’s infamous “this little girl will get killed by an atomic bomb if you don’t vote for me” ad, now updated to “this little girl will get decapitated by a guillotine unless you give us more money.”


And yes, even some of those crusty old original 1960s protesters themselves were on hand. Why re-live your youth vicariously when you can do it for real yourself?


Some of those 1960s kids have now become professors (see lower left of the photo), and they joined in the march too. I can only laugh about the calls to get rid of Proposition 13 (California’s landmark voter rebellion scaling back astronomical property tax rates).


One of the original sparks that ignited Berkeley’s radical transformation in the 1960s was an (ultimately successful) drive to get rid of the University’s “loyalty oath,” in which professors had to declare loyalty to the United States and non-membership in any communist group. Now that the oath is gone, this is the result: U.C. Berkeley now has its own on-campus Communist Party (named in Spanish here, for extra PC points).


Anyway, back to the present. We marched through the streets of town, reveling in the piquant joy of blocking traffic. (BTW, I agree with the sign “Police brutality, pathetic fallacy,” though perhaps not in the way its owner intended.)


As we passed City Hall, workers came outside and gave black power salutes, and leaned out windows giving the “thumbs up” sign. It kind of makes it hard to feel revolutionary when the establishment is on your side. Sigh.


More fists in the air as we passed the small and rather uneventful municipal Occupy camp of the city of Berkeley (as opposed to the much larger U.C. Berkeley campus Occupation).

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