My father attended the University of California at Berkeley in the 1930’s and early 40’s studying nuclear physics from undergrad through Ph.D. under Robert Oppenheimer and Ernest Lawrence with Nobel laureate Emilio Segre as his doctoral thesis advisor. His family lived near the university so he took the tram for seven cents, or walked a few miles to campus when he wanted to save the money. It was the Depression, after all.
Dad has a few favorite stories to illustrate the intellectual bankruptcy of Communism — I’ll tell the ones about George Gamov and The Grapes of Wrath soon, I promise — and one of them involves the Communists who swarmed around Sather Gate, the main entrance to the campus, handing out pamphlets and proselytizing. Thomas Sowell’s column today at the National Review Online examining why so many members of the intelligentsia, both liberal and conservative, hate Sarah Palin with no substantial evidence, reminded me of Dad’s Sather Gate story.
The emotional responses to each [Obama and Palin] — especially by the media and the intelligentsia — go beyond anything that can be explained by the usual differences of opinion on issues of the day.
That liberals would be thrilled by another liberal is not surprising. But there are conservative Republicans who voted for Barack Obama, and other conservatives who may not have voted for him, but who are quick to see in various pragmatic moves of his since taking office an indication that he is not an extremist.
Anyone familiar with history knows that Hitler and Stalin were pragmatic. After years of denouncing each other, they signed the Nazi-Soviet pact under which they became allies for a couple of years before going to war against one another.
OK, digression: Obama is not a pragmatist, he is a sociopath (see my previous posts here, here and here — I mean this in the clinical sense that he has no conscience and therefore adopts any pose that will get him something he wants even though he has no intention of upholding his side of the bargain).
The Nazi-Soviet pact was dated Aug. 23, 1939, but signed on Aug. 24, according to Wikipedia. The Nazis and Communists were arch enemies, so the agreement between Hitler and Stalin made the Berkeley Communists’ heads explode. Dad says that for a few days after the pact was announced, there were no Communists proselytizing at Sather Gate. Why? They did not know what to think of the pact. Or, more accurately, they had not yet been told what they thought.
Dad doesn’t remember the “stupid excuse” they gave for their about-face and is now quoting me in German lines from the Horst Vessel song ( “Comrades shot by Reds and Reactionaries/March in spirit within our ranks”) — where was I? — anyway, after a few days the party line had filtered down to the Berkeley Commies and, once it was fully assimilated, they were back at Sather Gate with their pamphlets, not much the worse for wear.