Is San Francisco anti-military? Mayor Gavin Newsom said Saturday: "I am sick and tired of this city being depicted as anti-military. The extreme right exploits the exception, when I believe there is a predominant respect in this city for the military, vets and those serving today."
Newsom had a point when he said that critics of The Special City will not "allow the facts get in the way." Stories about Ess Eff turning away a crew filming a Marine recruitment ad apparently were much ado about nothing. The city did issue a permit -- if not for the day the Marines wanted -- with the result that the production company shot the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin County side. As locals well know, TV and film crews frequently make that call.
All true. And still, I'd say San Francisco is anti-military -- or at best, pro-military and anti-military. The city has its share of solons who respect U.S. troops and the sacrifices they have made. Newsom is one. Former mayor and now Sen. Dianne Feinstein is another. Even the Board of Supervisors voted eight to three against a resolution to ban the Blue Angels during Fleet Week.
Here's an impressive statistic: In city public schools, some 1,500 students are enrolled in Junior ROTC. But those kids are bucking the establishment. Last year, the San Francisco Board of Education voted four to two to end JROTC. While the program continues because the board has not come up with a replacement, the school board made it clear that San Franciscans do not want their students to enlist.
Board members Dan Kelly and Mark Sanchez explained in The San Francisco Chronicle that they eliminated the program because they opposed the "militarization" of schools, "the prominent presence of uniformed cadet units," homophobic comments made by cadets as well as a curriculum that relies "upon memorization and rote repetition rather than critical thinking."
Two years ago, the San Francisco supervisors voted eight to three for a measure that rejected berthing the mothballed World War II battleship Iowa in San Francisco, where it would house a museum. They didn't want to memorialize WWII during the Iraq war.
Last year, Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval made national news when he appeared on Fox News "Hannity & Colmes" and suggested the country would be better off without an active military.
I'll stipulate that today's military haters are more sophisticated than the spit-on-combat-vets peaceniks of the Vietnam era. They know they are supposed to say they oppose the Iraq war, but also respect the troops.
Yes, many war critics really do support the troops. But some, who say they do clearly hold a low opinion of those who risk their lives in service to this country.
Note this Saturday a Chronicle letter to the editor on the Blue Angels by Robert de Vries: "There is a difference between supporting the military and supporting the glorification of the tools of war, destruction and death." After calling the military "a necessary evil," he added "that watching these planes fly around is not an appropriate weekend family outing."
The city's anti-military image fits with City Hall's habitual nose-thumbing of federal law. Newsom heralded San Francisco as a "sanctuary city" as he announced he would not "allow" city workers to "cooperate" with federal agents attempting to apprehend fugitive immigrants.
As a newbie, Newsom directed City Hall to conduct same-sex marriages -- despite laws that prohibit them. Newsom didn't first try to change the law, he simply decided to ignore it.
It's one thing for city liberals to dissent on policies enacted by a Republican president. It is another for the city to announce that rules do not apply here. City leaders can't pass resolutions to deter teens from joining the U.S. military, or to direct city employees not to help federal immigration agents or to violate on-the-books marriage laws, then complain if others see San Francisco as -- I'll use it for lack of a better word-- anti-American.