Berkeley Radicalism Invites Critical Media Coverage

Richard Stanaro is a UC Berkeley alumnus living in London. Respond at [email protected].

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Kevin Deenihan offers an interesting picture of the depth of thought and emotional maturity of UC Berkeley students-let's hope it is not reflective of the whole ("Berkeley and the Media," Sept. 13). If I understand it correctly, his view is that media portrayal of UC Berkeley as a radical, bizarre campus is inaccurate and that anyone who seeks that kind of attention is destructive and wrong. Another view is that most students, in this instance I suppose, don't give a damn about what color the ribbons are.

I would hope that most UC Berkeley students cared a great deal. Though ribbons are intrinsically insignificant, symbols are not. Symbols matter a great deal-they always have and they always will. In this case, symbols reaffirming our patriotism are not only appropriate, they are vital. We have no better weapon against terrorism than our strong, unambiguous stance for whom we are as a nation and our underlying values. We express that through symbols, speech and action. UC Berkeley students are not "excused" from this civic duty. A call by Mr. Deenihan to do just that lies at the heart of why the media take on UC Berkeley.

The depth of thought on this issue from Mr. Deenihan and like-minded journalists, and on how such a visceral miscalculation should be addressed is appalling. But perhaps his thought is that the media coverage is just not fair-don't complain because Berkeley and the value of his degree will suffer. I'm sympathetic because I love UC Berkeley too and want its reputation in all respects to be above question. But this attitude displays a degree of selfishness and self-centeredness that is depressing.

How has, or will, Mr. Deenihan speak out in a similar manner the next time Berkeley's reputation is besmirched by sympathizers to Palestinians who murder innocents and themselves? Or professors and students that demonstrate to blame the United States for these attacks?

Berkeley is not an organism that exists outside its social and political context. Its leaders make decisions-to act or abstain, and there are consequences. The difference here is that the consequences have so often run against the interests of what I'm sure Mr. Deenihan would characterize as the silent majority-perhaps the moderates. This, however, was a bridge too far and therefore drew angry reaction, as there should have been. If the university wants to start shedding its reputation as an incubator that spawns radicals antithetical to the underlying values of our country, or as a place where only leftists may thrive, then students who feel differently need to start speaking up and taking the offensive.

This is exactly what the California Patriot and Berkeley College Republicans did. No matter how much Mr. Deenihan wants to whine, it was the right thing to do.


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