Sometimes on the UC Berkeley campus it is tough to go ten feet without a Palestinian or Israeli trying to get your attention, crawl down your ear, and eat the tasty nutmeats within. With all the activism on campus, you’d think that this was an activist campus, and if you thought that, you’d be right! Activism has a rich and varied history on this campus, with political dialogue always being on the tips of everyone’s tongues. Free speech this, divest from South Africa that, free political prisoner X, support the crazy hot chick chained to Sather Gate: whatever cause has come about, UC Berkeley students have cautiously and objectively viewed the situation, analyzed the moral implications, and then pragmatically selected the side of the greater good. What is often forgotten is that this activist history goes back further then anyone can even remember. I invite you to take a step back in time to the University of California, circa 1902…
[Two young men sit on a bench reading newspapers.]
Phineas: Say Silas, the new straw boaters are in! I do think we ought to visit the haberdasher and start selecting our new spring wardrobe.
Silas: Phineas, how can you think about clothes at a time like this? What about the terrible atrocities the Jews are performing? This very day thousands of Jews refused to eat pork. This cannot be good for our economy!
Phineas: Perhaps it would be best if we round up all the Jews and sent them to some patch of desert somewhere far away. That should end all the problems.
Phineas: Oh Silas, did you know that the university owns sheep that graze on the lands of the Ottoman Empire?
Silas: The very same Ottoman Empire that united with the French against the Hapsburg rule in Austria and Spain? The very same Ottoman Empire that released the Barbarosa to become the scourge of the Mediterranean Sea?!
Phineas: The very same.
Silas: Well, we must call for divestment from the Ottoman Empire! Divestment, I say!
Phineas: But why?
Silas: We cannot support a regime that forms an alliance with the hated French! It will be many a year before we fight on the same side as those degenerate jack-ninnies.
Phineas: Agreed. It is fortunate that we have such a good friendship with the Germans, they will surely join with us should the French ever invade our shores to violate our women and make our American blood impure.
Silas: A most terrifying prospect, Phineas.
Phineas: But enough of such heavy topics, have you heard the latest ragtime pianist down at John Blake’s brewery? I tell you, he plays marvelously for a Negro.
Silas: Phineas! Don’t say that. Haven’t you kept up with the times? Those folks no longer appreciate that term and the rich cultural history associated with it. Today, they prefer to be called “those amusing colored folk.”
Phineas: Thank you Silas, I would have been ever-so-embarrassed to have made that faux-pas at the President’s luncheon this afternoon. That shall be a marvelous luncheon, President Wheeler serves such great wine.
Silas: I do love wine. I know they’ll never ever make that illegal. Speaking of which, perhaps we should be moving along so as to get ready for this important dinner with President Wheeler.
Phineas: Indeed. But before, shall we play a little squash followed by some utterly platonic sodomy?
Thus we see that Berkeley students have always been very well-informed about the issues, and have also always been equally clear and intelligent in making their social and political decisions. Never have their emotions led them to join a cause without first stopping to think about what the cause is that they’re supporting. Not much has changed in 100 years; Cal’s student body is as well-informed, thoughtful, and activist as ever. So get out there, grab some poster board, and paint up your face. One, two, three, four, we don’t want your racist war!