Thursday, May 13, 2004

The California Patriot 

It's gotten to the point where the word "patriot" immediately makes me suspicious. So when someone tries to hand me a magazine called The California Patriot as I'm walking down Sproul Plaza, it's with a bit of wariness that I reach out my hand to take a copy. It turns out that The California Patriot is "Berkeley's conservative student voice." As you can imagine, Berkeley Republicans are an exceedingly rare and exotic breed of political animal. Most of the articles were good for a few laughs. I learned how diversity programs are actually racist, and how country music is "a genre not afraid to embrace American values." The entire issue can be found online here. But I'm sorry to say that one article wasn't funny. In fact, it was disturbing.

In a piece titled "Rules of Engagement," subtitled "Left capitalizes on brutal attacks," one Errol Tremolada tries to make the case that "the anti-war crowd" was happy that four American contractors were mutilated, killed, and dragged through the streets of Fallujah on March 31st. I'm not even going to touch that part of his argument. What bothers me is Mr. Tremolada's attempt to contrast this crime with the behavior of American troops:

This kind of action is not war, nor was it done for any reason other than the opportunity to rejoice in death. It is nothing the American soldier would ever do or of which he would approve. The American soldiers and civilians in Iraq are not there to torture and mar their opponents or demonstrate total disregard for human life...

Our prisoners of war are fed, clothed, sheltered, and never threatened with barbaric death or gratuitous violence.

If only that were the case. Evidently this article was written before the stories of the Taguba report hit the press. But the article appears in the May 2004 edition of the magazine, and was handed to me yesterday afternoon. It might have seemed reasonable at the time it was written, but in the present context this article is just offensive. The insensitivity shown by The California Patriot's editors in allowing this piece to go to press helps explain why "Berkeley's conservative student voice" remains such a pariah on campus.
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