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Greetings of peace: I thought y'all should see this. ==forwarded== The following is a summary of what happened in Berkeley during the commencement last week. The whole event, and Fadia's actions in particular, should be a source of encouragement and motivation for all progressive people, particularly Arab-Americans! Fadia Rafeedie and her "Since they kicked most of my friends out, I'll have to speak for them" commencement address. Well, it's been exactly 24 hours since Albright's battle in Berkeley and I still have tingles running down my spine. The protesters were out in full force well before the 4 pm ceremonies, with a commendable showing by IAC, the Muslim community, and of course, our very own ADC-SF. As Albright's motorcade arrived I don't think she had any idea what she was in for. She arrived looking very prim and proper in a graduation gown, hat and tassle. Just as she emerged from her car she was blasted with one of the most horrendous, blood-curdling chorus of boos I've ever heard....enough to probably make you feel sorry for her if she weren't a war criminal. She scurried off to take refuge in the amphitheater which I'm sure she expected to be a relatively safe haven given that only graduates and immediate family members were allowed inside. Of course, if you've read the newswire you'ld know that nothing could have been further from the truth. Recognizing that this whole event wasn't quite shaping up the way they had intended, the organizers decided to have Albright speak first and whisk her out of Dodge before things got ugly. They also decided to not have her sit next to Fadia, the top graduating student, as is tradition in Berkeley (perhaps it had something to do with the fact that, when asked, Fadia likened her sitting next to Albright to a holocaust survivor sitting next to a Nazi). So, Albright gets introduced as "the greatest woman of our time", at which point all hell breaks loose never to be restored. I've heard mainstream media claim that Albright was "unfazed". On the contrary, I can't imagine anyone could have been more "fazed". She literally could not get out more than one or two sentences without being disrupted by this or the other protester, who used their 15 seconds in the limelight to yell the most vile curses at her, "child killer", "murderer", "war criminal". The police were everywhere, so no one got more than 15 seconds before being forcibly subdued. Like clockwork, every time she took a breath, you'd hear some courageous lone voice castegating her for her crimes in Iraq, followed by murmers, a small commotion and a gang of police hauling the next protester off. They say there were 59 brave soles forcibly evicted that afternoon. But that's only because her speech ran out before the protesters did - had her speech gone on another 10 minutes, there would have been 50 more. I suppose what made the atmosphere different than Kent State (though I wasn't there to compare), was that the general audience at Cal was so disgustingly supportive of Albright. The graduates were constantly yelling at the protesters to "shut up", "go back to Iraq", and to generally "stop ruining my day" [yeah, well there are 1.5 million dead Iraqi's that aren't exactly having a good day either, pal]. No, this is not your father's Berkeley, let there be no mistake about it. The reason I believe Albright was really taken by surprise is her reaction. She looked at each yelling protester with sincere curiosity, as if to ask, "why are you yelling at me?" I really think, in her mind, she must believe the nonsense she spewed in her commencement address about her being the defender of human rights around the world. Did she learn nothing from Kent State? Anyway, the scene was a real mess. The protesters ranks were slowly being decimated - about half our ADC board of 10 was hauled off by police...which was kind of too bad since Fadia managed to score us some VIP seats (I had to stay to videotape the whole thing of course :) ). Meanwhile, Albright muddled through her speech trying not to look too befuddled while the graduates were just generally pissed off. And, that's how things pretty much stayed, until Albright was whisked off the stage after her speech and was last seen lying face down in the back seat of her car as it sped off. What followed was a very forgettable slew of standard, boiler-plate speeches, including the ever-present "When I was your age we hid beers in our gowns too". Then it came time for Fadia's speech. By then, attrition had taken no less than half of any group of protesters. To be honest, the wind had really been taken out of our sales. The administration had attempted to completely marginalize us, or, worse yet, to co-opt us into the "diverse Berkeley culture". With the sanction and support of the conservative Berkeley grads and their parents, they appeared to have succeeded, at least to some extent. But, by her very first utterance, Fadia managed to lift all our spirits and changed the whole dynamics of discourse. After being introduced in the most glorious manner (with reference to her 4.0 gpa, 14 A+'s, quotes from professors that she was their best student ever, acceptance into Yale Law School, etc.), she immediately gave all of us credibility, by making that unforgettable remark I quoted in the title of this e-mail. Can you imagine what it was like for us? We were verbally assaulted (yes, the name calling against the protesters was very personal) and physically beaten and only scattered remnants of our many groups were left lingering in the crowd. For the few of us who remained, to hear those most remarkable words bellowing over the loudspeaker was like an oasis in a desert. "Since they kicked most of my friends out, I'll have to speak for them". Then she proceeded with a most eloquent and fluid ad-hoc speech, that she spoke without once referring to notes. !! ! Certainly there were graduates who stood up in the middle of her speech and walked out. And, yes, the school paper chastised her the following day, calling her tactless and her speech inappropriate. But, for the rest of us...for those of us who had been phsycally silenced by a heavy-handed police force sanctioned by a self-absorbed audience....to hear all the thoughts and ideas we had so dearly wanted communicated spoken over a loudspeaker to a mainstream audience was a release of years of pent-up frustration. It was a great moment...for all of us. And, as Dennis Bernstein of Pacifica radio said, if you want to know who won "the battle of Berkeley", just look at who had to be rushed out cowering in the back seat of a car and who marched off, head held high, to a standing ovation! -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi