Occupy Cal time-travels back to the '60s
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).
"By Any Means Necessary," the ultra-radical pro-Affirmative Action group, helped lead the march.
This generation's "vanguard of the proletariat" got in some good training for the real revolution, which should be happening any day now.
"Occto-py Cal." I'm all in favor of puns in theory, but a pun has to have some kind of purpose or secondary meaning, something which eludes me in this pitiable example.
See, this is the core of the problem. The reason that I and countless people like me feel uncomfortable pouring more money into California's public universities is that they have been fully radicalized, and all I'd end up paying for with my tax dollars is more indoctrination. If you naively think that the rot only affects certain specific liberal arts departments, I have sad news for you: the infection has spread. As we see in this example, even the architecture department is now an arm of the revolution.
If our educational system hadn't been transformed into a cauldron of political extremism, I (and most Californians I'm sure) would be more than happy to keep it afloat with our tax dollars. Until and unless things get back on track, however: tough luck trying to convince voters to redistribute their own money to overpaid hypocritical leftist educators.
"Progressive stacking" applies to sign-holding as well, not just waiting in line at General Assemblies.
Back through campus we went, with Che leading the way.
As we arrived back at Sproul Plaza, what joy! Occupy Oakland, evicted from their camp the day before, had voted to join forces with Occupy Cal, and marched all the way from downtown Oakland to join us! Cheers and tears.
The two Occupations merged, and our numbers were suddenly tripled. Sproul Plaza was completely filled.
Of course, when you merge with Oakland, playtime is over and things quickly become a bit more hard-edged. This Oakland Occupier, for example, came ready to battle the cops with anarchist-black shield and helmet, sporting yet another of those unnerving orange tape symbols.
Oakland brings its own unique style.
This picture encapsulates the difference between Occupy Cal and Occupy Oakland. In the foreground we have two clueless 19-year-olds with a stereotypically Berkeley-style sign, a muddled self-indulgent metaphor about economics involving "banana stands" (apparently a reference to the appropriately-named TV show "Arrested Development") which of course also has a message Arabic ("The people want the system to crash" according to a commenter), to prove our commitment to diversity. And in the background, an Oaklander with a sign declaring "NOT nonviolent." Culture shock.
I always laugh when the the daring cutting-edge anti-authoritarians burn paper money to prove their dedication to total revolution...but they always manage to only burn $1 bills, because...well, we still need money, at least for now!
When they start burning piles of $100 bills, then I'll take them seriously.
In case anyone tries to claim that the Occupy organizers were simply unaware of the major communist presence in their midst, here we see a revolutionary socialist booth right next to the "Official Occupy Cal Information Table." Side by side. Physically and philosophically.
Eventually the "General Assembly" started.
I managed to get ahold of the agenda. To prove beyond any doubt that this whole thing is just a dramatic re-enactment of the 1960s, the very first order of business is "Excerpt read from Mario Savio's 1964 speech." The rest of the agenda is shown here for cultural anthropologists to analyze.
Communists, BAMN, and ¡¡CHEMTRAILS!!
The obsession with bête noire Fox News continues unabated.
An spectrum is haunting the United States: the OCCUPY MOVEMENT.
I couldn't have said it better myself.
After I left, former U.S. Labor Secretary and current U.C. professor Robert Reich came out and riled up the crowd with a rousing anti-capitalist diatribe.
Afterward, as planned, the Occupiers once again set up some tents in defiance of the University's anti-camping rules, hoping to initiate another conflict with the police. Which I'm sure is happening as I type. Stay tuned.
Here's the full speech from Robert Reich from later in the evening:
A follow-up article in the S.F. Chronicle says that the Occupiers only put up 10 tents.
Having a protest in a place and then going home afterward does not count as "occupying" it. If you leave afterward, then it's just another protest, to which you have affixed a grandiose name. Ten tents for 2,000 "occupiers"?
I guess they had to call it an "occupation," otherwise everyone would have rightfully called it "just another random day at Cal with yet another random protest, like every other day."
For those curious about the on-campus shooting that happened at the same time as this march and rally: I didn't mention it because from initial reports it seemed to be a completely unconnected incident. Turns out I was right. A new student at the business school for some reason went berserk and brought a gun to the computer lab; when police showed up, he acted threateningly and waved the gun with several innocent people around, so the cops shot him; he later died in the hospital. The incident seems to be completely apolitical, so it was not included in the report, despite the freakish coincidence of it happening at the exact same moment as a major protest nearby. Must be quite a stressful time to be a U.C. police officer.
Police in riot gear surprised campers with an early morning raid on the Occupy Cal encampment in Sproul Plaza today, arresting two protesters and removing about 20 tents.
Police surrounded the 40 or so campers at 3:30 a.m. in front of Sproul Hall, UC Berkeley's main administration building, and gave them 10 minutes to grab their gear and go. All but two did.