The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday rejected efforts to bring the battleship Iowa to the waterfront as a museum, saying the peace-loving city is no place for a warship.
The supervisors voted 8-3 to rebuff a plan by supporters . . . to berth the World War II-era ship at San Francisco's port and turn it into a tourist attraction. . . .
[Some supervisors] cited several reasons why the ship doesn't belong in San Francisco: the widespread opposition to the war in Iraq, the unequal treatment of gay and lesbian enlisted men and women, and the city's reputation as the home of the peace movement.
"It's important that we have for our children, for those who come here, a vision that is uniquely San Francisco in terms of what, for decades, has been a city represented again and again in the foremost positions of peace movements," said Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who opposed the plan. . . .
[The ship] first set sail in 1943, and its long career included tours during World War II and the Korean War. . . .
The debate turned Tuesday's meeting into a political free-for-all, with supervisors standing up to express their dislike of the Bush administration's policies and the war in Iraq.
Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Bevan Dufty, both openly gay, said they would not support bringing the ship to San Francisco because of how the military treats gay people.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said permanently berthing the Iowa on San Francisco's historic waterfront is not something city residents would want.
"If I was going to commit any kind of money in recognition of war, then it should be toward peace, given what our war is in Iraq right now," he said. . . .
Just appalling. This ship helped protect America and the Free World from the Japanese and the Nazis. It helped protect the South Koreans from being overrun by the North. Yet somehow that's all outweighed in the Supervisors' minds by the Iraq war and of the military's policy on homosexuality. What a shocking lack of perspective and lack of respect for the institution that has helped (and continues to help) to protect San Franciscans -- and, I should mention, gay and lesbian San Franciscans, who would have suffered far worse than exclusion from the military in the hands of our WWII-era enemies, or of our modern enemies -- alongside all other Americans. (For more on a similar lack of perspective on the part of law schools that refuse to let the military interview on campus, see here.)
Naturally, I should stress that the city had no moral duty to allow the berthing of the ship here; there may be all sorts of good practical reasons not to do this, even if, as the museum's supporters say, "they would cover the cost of moving the ship and remodeling the piers where it would be located . . . as well as any other annual fees the city would charge to berth the ship." But at least some supervisors' reason seemed to be essentially their lack of respect for the symbols of the U.S. military -- and what an awful reason that is.