UC Berkeley Chancellor Interjects Politics Into Arizona Tragedy

Thursday, Jan 13, 2011  |  Updated 8:42 AM PDT
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UC Berkeley Chancellor Interjects Politics Into Arizona Tragedy

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BERKELEY, CA - OCTOBER 03: UC Berkeley astrophysicist professor George Smoot (L) shakes hands with UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau during a press conference announcing his winning of the Nobel Prize in physics October 3, 2006 in Berkeley, California. Smoot will share the Nobel Prize in physics with John C. Mather of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for bringing new light on the details of the Big Bang theory and attempting to explain the origin of galaxies and stars. The two will split nearly $1.3 million in prize money. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Leave it to a city known nationally more for protesting Marines and debating whether to honor a WikiLeaks' leaker than being home to a world class public university to turn the tragedy in Arizona into a political issue.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau has come out and sent an e-mail to his campus linking the attacks in Arizona, that killed six people and seriously injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, to "discrimination against undocumented persons."

The San Francisco Chronicle's Matier and Ross report that Birgeneau, who unfortunately knows a thing or two about being attacked, wrote in an email that went to faculty and students, "it is not a coincidence that this calamity has occurred in a state which has legislated discrimination against undocumented persons."

Tuesday the reporters reached out to the chancellor's office and were told the message "spoke for itself and he would have no further comment."

The office was correct in one thing: Birgeneau was quite clear in how he felt about the tragedy.

He wrote further, "this same mean-spirited xenophobia played a major role in the defeat of the Dream Act by our legislators in Washington, leaving many exceptionally talented and deserving young people, including our undocumented students, painfully in limbo."

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