What torture advocate John Yoo really thinks of Berkeley

John Yoo, the embattled Bush administration official who authored the memos sanctioning torture, compares his residency in Berkeley as akin to living in West Berlin during the height of the Cold War.

In a interview with the Los Angeles Times, Yoo, who teaches at the Boalt School of Law, said “I think of myself as being West Berlin during the Cold War, a shining beacon of capitalism and democracy surrounded by a sea of Marxism.”

Then he quickly shifts time periods, moving from the days of the Berlin airlift through the Free Speech Movement to the anti-Vietnam War period, calling Berkeley residents “a natural history museum of the 1960s.”

“It’s like looking at the panoramic displays of troglodytes sitting around the campfire with their clubs,” Yoo told the Times. “Here, it’s tie-dye and marijuana. It’s just like the 1960s, with the Vietnam War still to protest.”


Well, a number of Berkeley law students have been protesting Yoo’s presence on campus. Maybe now they will be joined by all those graying, tie-dye wearing hippies he thinks are the only group living here.

But even a fierce conservative like Yoo apparently can’t escape Berkeley’s charms.

“My wife has forbidden us from moving. She likes it here,” Yoo told the Times. He was referring to Elsa Arnett, the daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning and liberal former foreign correspondent Peter Arnett.

The two met while undergraduates at Harvard.

The Times concludes: “Yoo seems at peace living in Berkeley, even though he disparages the community as an enclave of self-satisfied extremists intolerant of those who think outside the liberal mind-set.


“But that doesn’t mean I don’t like it here,” Yoo told the newspaper.

Update Thanks to commenter Matthew. We are, of course, writing about Berkeley law professor John Yoo, not Hong Kong director John Woo.