While Dennis Kucinich remains "my 'poster child' for chutzpah with a positive connotation," I was pleased to see his spirit surface this week in Berkeley, leading me to wonder only why it took so long for Berkeley finally to win an award for such chutzpah. Nevertheless, better-late-than-never still prevails; so I am pleased to announce that the Chutzpah of the Week award winner for this week is the Peace and Justice Commission, based in Berkeley, California. As Carolyn Jones reported for the San Francisco Chronicle, this group has brought the audacity of hope to the Berkeley City Council:
The City Council will vote Monday on the five measures [introduced by the Peace and Justice Commission]. In addition to demanding that Yoo be charged with war crimes, the city will decide whether to order Boalt [Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley] to offer alternatives to Yoo's courses, so no student is forced to take a class from him if they don't want to. Yoo has taught constitutional and international law at Boalt since 1993.
While this raises justifiable question about academic freedom and free speech, it also reminds us that crimes against humanity should be treated seriously, whatever the context of the accused may be. After all, Radovan Karadzic was working as a well-respected doctor when he was arrested under his indictment for genocide. He may have been a citizen in good standing, but he was still a fugitive in disguise. All the Peace and Justice Commission is trying to do is make sure that Yoo's role in the atrocities invoked by the current Administration in the name of its "Global War on Terror" are called to account before being obscured by the cultural amnesia responsible for our ignorance of history. It is certainly quixotic to assume that the Berkeley City Council can contribute to this goal in any substantive way, but Kucinich has show us that this would not be the first time in which chutzpah deserves to be recognized on the basis of a quixotic act!