Guess Who's Coming to Graduation!
--- On Thu, 4/24/08, email@example.com wrote:
Subject: Fire, Disbar, Prosecute John Yoo: Protest at 5/17 Graduation,
Boalt Law School
Date: Thursday, April 24, 2008, 9:42 AM
Friends & fellow-activists, You've probably followed this month's
revelation of the contents of John Yoo's legal brief of March 14, 2003,
advising the White House how it could get away with torture. Jameel
Jaffer, director of the ACLU's national security project, said Yoo's legal
reasoning puts "literally no limit at all to the kinds of interrogation
methods that the president can authorize. [...] The whole point of the
memo is obviously to nullify every possible legal restraint on the
president's wartime authority. The memo was meant to allow torture, and
that's exactly what it did." In the wake of the memo's release, the
National Lawyer's Guild has called for Yoo's dismissal from his position
at UC Berkeley, his disbarment, and his prosecution for war crimes. The
Center for Constitutional Rights has released a letter in support of this
call. While John Yoo is no longer deputy assistant attorney general for
the Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel he is still a professor
at UC Berkeley's Boalt Law School. And Boalt is having their annual
graduation on the morning of Saturday, May 17th, at the Greek Theatre on
the east side of the campus. A reception at the law school, just around
the corner (southeast corner of the campus) will follow. We're going to
be there to demand he be fired, disbarred, and prosecuted. Will you join
us? Where: Hearst Greek Theatre, Berkeley California (east side of
campus, on Galey Rd) When: Saturday May 17, 2008 8am
(ticketed guests will all be inside by 9 -- you can take a nap in the
afternoon!!!) PLEASE RSVP by writing to ActAgainstTorture@riseup.net !!
We're looking for a major presence at this event now that John Yoo's full
complicity in attempting to grant the torture-administration immunity has
been revealed. The graduation ceremony starts at nine, but our protest
will happen BEFORE the ceremony, beginning at 8 am when the gates at the
Greek Theatre open to guests (only folks with tickets will be allowed
inside, but we'll have plenty of opportunity to make our point as
students, faculty, and families arrive through the two entrances to the
Greek Theatre). During the ceremony we'll take a coffee break, and will
return to line the route between the Greek Theatre and the Boalt Law
School where a reception will be held. We plan to have the usual orange
jump suits & our cage, lots of orange ribbons that we'll ask people to
wear inside the graduation, and excellent signs for the many of you we
expect will come out for this action. Please come out on May 17th!
Yours, Act Against Torture http://www.ActAgainstTorture.org
I'm deeply ambivalent about this. On the one hand, of course, I don't like that all of us students, who have worked so kind of hard for three years, and who are just looking for one morning to celebrate our accomplishments, and who have elderly and possibly not-quite-ambulatory grandparents in tow -- that we have to wade through a mass of shouting and screaming and...politics. Just to graduate.
But even in the larger context, this protest seems...well, 'counterproductive' is too generous. How about 'stupid'? In my post below, I think I made clear that I, like almost everyone at Boalt, disagree deeply with this country's torture policy that John Yoo helped instantiate. But if there's one lesson the last seven years have taught, it's that you have to VOTE to change things. The courts aren't going to save the liberals. Neither is the New York Times. Or Keith Olberman. Or YouTube. Liberals have to convince the rest of America to change.
Disrupting the graduation ceremonies of 3,00 well-educated, well-informed, wealthy, politically moderate parents and relatives with a raucous and inflammatory protest does NOT seem like a very effective way to do that. It seems like a way to piss off a lot of people who should be allies.
This isn't terribly surprising though. The American left has specialized and perfected the talent of alienating those who should be its strongest supporters. See, e.g., "Bitter, clinging to." This protest is part of a long tradition of digging the whole deeper.
Of course, on the other hand, to be fair, I can sympathize with their instincts. Yeah, this will generate a lot of media coverage. Yes, it'll keep torture in the news. It'll 'get their message out there.' And are we so sheltered as to need cover from a little political antagonism on a Saturday morning?
So I can see where they're coming from.
But it's important to remember that goading is not the same as convincing. Shouting is not strategizing. Disruption is not persuasion. For once -- for just one goddamn moment -- I wish these people would think about whether they're making more enemies than friends.
But perhaps I'm giving too much credit to people who have a canvas orange jump-suit hanging in their closet, at the ready.