Remembrance of a War Past

An unfond look back at Freedom Toast, TV jingoes, and a pro-war bully called Tony Hall

Lacking any other meaningful public forum, the arrestees flocked to the Finance Committee hearing to say they'd been arrested falsely. San Francisco's Police Commission and its Office of Citizen Complaints, they understood, make a policy of avoiding confrontation with the police.

The Finance Committee scene seemed like democracy gone mad. Hall stalked the chamber in a sour, I've-got-no-time-for-this mood. He snapped at one protester, the one who broke down crying.

Though he'd like to portray himself as such, Hall is no fiscal watchdog on a rampage: He's an apparent fan of Gulf War II with what looks like a distaste for dissent. In late March, according to news reports, he was the only elected official to attend a pro-war demonstration at which speakers said things like, "If you don't support the troops, you are anti-American, you are subversives, you are terrorists." Hall, for his part, sang "America the Beautiful" and thanked everybody for being there.

A democratically elected public official who seems to misunderstand the American tradition of pluralism, Hall brings to mind the sort of politician who'd have punished the peaceful street protesters who brought down Slobodan Milosevic. Although there have been exceptions in public life, Hall has had plenty of company during our jingoistic wartime spring.

Is this really the sort of national character we should make the world succumb to?

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