Panthers don’t roar

Berkeley Got Back

Nicole Kim Mug

Steer away from UC Berkeley,  a home for the radical commies!

Some people genuinely fear and detest this place. Perhaps the most ridiculous claim I have heard about this campus was that the mere association with this environment is conducive to leftist identification. Interestingly, people fail to extend the same logic when someone visits Louisiana, the heart of the Tea Party. There are no stories of them returning as racist rednecks who joined the Ku Klux Klan.

To be fair, Cal has a unique history of protest and is known to lean more to the left in comparison to the rest of the nation. In the midst of anti-Vietnam protests, University of California President Clark Kerr was criticized by a California State Senate subcommittee for permitting the infiltration of communists, and the New York Times reported that protests at UC Berkeley consisted “of obscene entertainment, marijuana smoking, homosexuality, and plotting.” Arguably, nothing has changed.

But these claims of radicalism at UC Berkeley or the campus community’s supposedly excessive predilection for “political correctness” or our function as “home of the alt-left” permit those who disagree and their name-calling to avoid scrutiny. This is because they can undermine rising, challenging ideas simply by labeling  them “too radical” or nonsensical or engaging in other name-calling. Personifying “the other” as extremists out of discomfort only serves as an escape from confronting issues that do not affect the privileged, affluent and the ignorant. Even UC Berkeley is guilty of this. In fact, protests in Berkeley back then were frowned upon by the administration, when now they are celebrated as a proud tradition of this school because of its legacy.

Take the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense as a local example. Its methods to highlight police brutality and economic inequality against Blacks were undoubtedly controversial. But John Hulett, a sheriff of Lowndes County, Georgia, Civil Rights activist and chairman of the party, argues that the black panther is an appropriate symbol because if “attacked, it would not back up. That (they) would fight back if (they) had to” — that the Black community would no longer accept oppression through economic exploitation and police brutality.

Now, looking back, some disagree with the party’s possession of guns in front of police as party members marched into the California State Legislature in Sacramento to reinforce the point that Blacks, too, had a constitutional right to bear arms and would defend themselves if the state and Civil Right laws refused to recognize pandemic police brutality in America.

Yet today, many omit and refuse to recognize self-defense as a reasonable aspect of the Black Panther Party’s mission. By painting the Black Panther Party as a merely violent and irrational group, most miss the self-defense clarification behind the purpose of this organization: Protect Black Americans from police brutality and systematic oppression.

In Sacramento, no one from the party came in with the intention to shoot, nor did they actually shoot. They made a statement by peacefully possessing arms in self-defense of the Black community. The party even provided community support through “Survival Programs” that distributed resources such as education, tuberculosis testing, legal aid, transportation assistance and ambulance service, so as to fill a gap in government assistance. To claim irrational, unprovoked violence as the face of this party is wholly inaccurate with regard to its history and miscalculates its influence on social justice in the modern day.

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense exemplifies an unconventional, surprisingly effective and startling wake-up call for an older United States that was intentionally ignoring the Black working class after the Civil Rights Movement. As students of UC Berkeley, being mindful and aware of our protest culture and history is a priority. Narrowly believing the status quo and refusing to challenge accepted norms revolving around social movements that have shaped our livelihood today is dangerously one-dimensional. Our goal is to engage in a holistic narrative of social change.

White supremacists marching in Charlottesville, Virginia seemed to receive less criticism than UC Berkeley students protesting the “alt-right,” because somehow, society still permits white supremacists to organize nationwide racist platforms despite the naive belief that racism is in the past. Yet, their need to distinguish themselves as a minority in an American political reality while the Black Lives Matter movement is criticized for “exclusivity” and “discrimination” actually reveals their own discomfort with efforts to reduce the inequality gap between white people and people of color.

In fact, undermining the Black Lives Matter campaign with #AllLivesMatter to divert attention from real police brutality and persisting racist policies affecting Black Americans only fuels the very discourse of identity politics and polarization the “alt-right” claims the leftist campus community is fostering.

It is important to recognize that discomfort is progress, that claiming radicalism of one side is hardly the whole picture and ignores the task at hand of working together on fundamental American problems. If the UC Berkeley community is known to be the “commies,” the “snowflakes” and the “libtards,” so be it — but these labels will not hamper our tradition of questioning the status quo and the world as it exists today.

Dohee Kim writes the Friday column on UC Berkeley’s past and present. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @dohee_nicole ‏.

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  • Rollie

    “The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense exemplifies an unconventional, surprisingly effective and startling wake-up call for an older United States that was intentionally ignoring the Black working class after the Civil Rights Movement.”

    Unconventional…yes. Effective…no.

    Perhaps because so many college professors are old lefties, it’s somehow come to be believed by younger generations that the Black Panthers and other militants have been effective in the fight for civil rights. Many even believe that these groups were more important to advancing the cause in 60s and 70s than were MLK and the others who chose peaceful tactics.

    This is a romantic notion, and a mis-reading of history. During the time of the Panthers, America was compelled to recognize civil rights and change laws only because its guilt was exposed by peaceful leaders who appealed to the nation’s’ better angels, and who refused to lower themselves to the level of their oppressors. America was moved and shamed by seeing non-violent marchers under attack by fire hoses and police dogs, but was largely repelled by gun-toting militants roaming the streets and the hallways of the Capitol. In this way, the Panthers arguably set back the civil rights movement. Ultimately it was humanity, not threats of violence, that changed hearts and minds.

  • Pat Nguyen

    How you tell a girl you sorry without sounding like a bîtch?

  • The_Bishop_of_D

    The Black Panthers were originally not politically radical, but were radicalized, at least in part, by their treatment at the hands of the municipal authorities of the city of Oakland and the Oakland police. One of their original objectives was hardly politically radical: it was the improvement of the lives of some of the poor black children of west Oakland by providing school lunches. The obstacles placed in their way were some of the things that contributed to the eventual radicalization of the group. In many ways, the city of Oakland bears proximate responsibility for the creation of what eventually became the thoroughly radicalized Black Panther party.

  • Killer Marmot

    Interestingly, people fail to extend the same logic when someone visits Louisiana, the heart of the Tea Party. There are no stories of them returning as racist rednecks who joined the Ku Klux Klan.

    First, Louisiana isn’t the heart of the Tea Party. The Tea Party is/was is made up of many independent groups that sprang up in numerous places around the country.

    Second, is Kim saying that the Tea Party is/was overrun with racist redneck Klan members? I have no doubt there are some odious members, as there are for any group, but it’s a ridiculous and disgusting generalization of the political movement.

    • lspanker

      I have actually seen the Tea Party folks in action, and to their credit, they do a better job of policing their own and chasing off trouble-makers than most “progressive” groups such as BLM and Occupy Whatever, and certainly have a stellar record compared to Antifa.

      • Clark Sullivan

        You really need to get a life and stop trolling people. It is obvious all you seem to care about is the negation of others with whom you disagree with. Please stop the hatred and find somewhere to post your hateful comments.

        • lspanker

          You really need to get a life and stop trolling people. It is obvious all you seem to care about is the negation of others with whom you disagree with. Please stop the hatred and find somewhere to post your hateful comments.

          My posts include facts, personal experiences, and are relevant to the conversation. In addition, my posting history on Disqus is public and open for anyone who wants to take me to tasks for what I have said.

          Do compare that with YOUR posting history, which is comprised of unsubstantiated accusations, non-sequiturs intended to divert from the topic at hand, personal attacks and incessant whining directed at people who you disagree with, but are incapable of refuting in an open discussion. In addition, your posting history is locked, as if you’re either embarrassed or afraid to have other review what you have posted in the past and be in the position of having to defend your silly comments.

          Now, who’s the troll again, Clark?

          • Che

            Spanky is a legend only in his own mind.

        • SecludedCompoundTTYS

          why don’t you try to debate something? Seriously though? Why not? You can’t you? you call his opinion hatred, except you can’t debate a single topic based on facts and logic. Sorry you are a little baby child troll. Clark, lets debate a single topic. We can talk debate almost everything you believe and you will probably find out that most of it is wrong if you actually cared to open your brain to common sense and not group think.

      • Che

        LOL. You’d actually have to go in public to know that.

        • lspanker

          I have seen you left-wing idiots in action, and know damn well how you losers roll…

          • Che

            Say “hi” next time.

  • California Defender

    “Some people genuinely fear and detest this place. Perhaps the most ridiculous claim I have heard about this campus was that the mere association with this environment is conducive to leftist identification.”

    Some? Most.

    Fear? Laughably, no. Just detest.

    Ridiculous? Such might appear that way from inside the Berkeley Bubble.

    Why don’t you venture out into the real world, RIGHT HERE! Just inches below your article, you may discover why it isn’t as ridiculous as you think. Debate is hard and truth can sting. But such effort is rewarded with enlightenment.

    • GHS08 ⏣

      nothing good ever happens in internet comment sections, mate

      • California Defender

        Not very optimistic for your first comment, mate.

        Stick around and perhaps you’ll be impressed with the quality of dialogue here.

      • SecludedCompoundTTYS

        Serious question: Why can’t a single Cal Berkeley liberal student debate a single political topic? Seriously, I have a debate with them and they can’t seem to come up with any facts. It’s far worse in person and almost embarrassing. Why is there so much political conviction without knowledge from Cal students these days? It’s glaringly obvious that it is group think, but I’m curious what you libs thiniK?

  • Man with Axe

    It’s worth mentioning the various murders that the Panthers committed. It’s a detail that will provide verisimilitude to your story.

    • lspanker

      Factoids that are inconvenient to the advancement of the progressive agenda are conveniently ignored.

  • lspanker

    Interestingly, people fail to extend the same logic when someone visits Louisiana, the heart of the Tea Party. There are no stories of them returning as racist rednecks who joined the Ku Klux Klan.

    Equating the Tea Party with the KKK merely shows your own prejudice and ignorance.

    • California Defender

      And, humorously, she speaks of failing to extend logic by failing to extend logic:

      Must tourists to Louisiana stay for four years and be required to attend daily state-sponsored courses that present the policies of the Tea Party as a moral absolute?

      • SecludedCompoundTTYS

        Lol…very good point. It is lost on her and we are all idiots to her. That is the liberal mindset. Anyone who disagrees is stupid.

    • SecludedCompoundTTYS

      Comparing a city to a state is stupid in it self even if the city has a large population, IMO.

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