Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Days Of Rage

An interesting review of Brian Burrough's Days of Rage by David Z Hines over at Status 451.  I don't know anything about the site or Hines, and I had somehow missed the book when it came out almost two years ago. It points up a puzzle which keeps emerging and subsiding for me over the years - how everyone seems to have forgotten the violence and extremism of the left in the 1960's and 70's, watering it down to flower children plus a few loud bearded guys shouting stuff but never doing anything. The latter is the left we kept telling people was the real one, just wait, someday soon; but the former had the star power, at least at college and in the alt-press I read.
SDS is a nationwide organization. And college campuses are receptive to radical messages. How receptive? In fall of 1968, there were 41 bombings and arson cases on college campuses. We’re not talking letters under doors or vandalism, here. We’re talking about Molotov cocktails setting shit on fire. Here’s how radical SDS was: Burrough notes that Weatherman’s opponents for leadership in SDS elections were “Progressive Labor,” who were literal Maoists. To distinguish themselves, Weatherman called for white radicals to live like John Brown: ie, to kill the enemies of black liberty.
That's what comes to mind for me, Bernadine Dohrn making repeated visits to meet with the SDS at Kent State, telling them to be worried and be ready to be ready to fight; Eldridge Cleaver claiming his rape of a white woman was a positive revolutionary act; people who talked seriously about bombing stuff.

So off and on I have wondered if I am the crazy one, because everyone else remembers protests being Peter, Paul & Mary concerts, Woodstock, wearing armbands; my mind goes to Chicago 1968, Pentagon bombing, Columbia students actually taking people hostage. So sometimes I go a little crazy, disproportionately suspicious. Recent events are nothing near as severe, but the trend is to more violence, under-reported and even excused.

We still remember the violence of the status quo against the protestors of the left (which we should), but not the context.

Also:  About halfway through he starts talking about how left-wing and right-wing tactics, including violence,  are different, down to the root, stemming from different mindsets.  We have discussed this here beofre.  I think Hines is informative on the topic.


RichardJohnson said...

It points up a puzzle which keeps emerging and subsiding for me over the years - how everyone seems to have forgotten the violence and extremism of the left in the 1960's and 70's, watering it down to flower children plus a few loud bearded guys shouting stuff but never doing anything.

Several months ago the book club I am in read Gogol's Lost Souls. We had a guest speaker from Ukraine, which was also where Gogol was from. In the discussion afterwards in a cafe, he talked of being a college student during the Glasnost years. A fellow book club member replied that Glasnost in the USSR could be compared to the hippies several decades previously.

I kept my mouth shut, but I thought to myself of a discussion on the college quad when I was a freshman. An SDS honcho told us that university curriculum should be changed to include Lenin.The worshipful tone in which she said "Lenin" indicated to me that she didn't intend students to study Lenin in the sense that one should know one's enemy. On the contrary, she considered Lenin to be one of the great minds. That showed me that SDS was a dead end.

This was an era when the SDS turned into the Weathermen. The SDS honsho didn't go that way, and instead took a challenging but low-paying job related to her degree. She is now a tax-and-spend Democrat state legislator. Reference to her can be found on her alma mater's website - not mine as I dropped out and went to Berserkeley- as a Vietnam war protester. No mention of her Lenin-worship.

Roy Lofquist said...

In 1965 I was a tech rep for Scientific Data Systems. One day a colleague and I were on a call to UCLA. We were walking across campus, our SDS ID badges on our lapels, when we walked by a group of students. We heard one say "Wow! I didn't think they were THAT organized!".

dmoelling said...

The recent set of pardons by President Obama brought this back. Aspiring Leftists still hold the SDS and other 60's terrorists as hero's. This also applies to Puerto Rican nationalists. I think this is a way to cast yourself as a serious person who admires those who took their activism (?) to the ultimate limits. Otherwise is was relatively ineffective anti-war sit ins and protests. The same nostalgia for civil rights activists exists, only in this case there is a huge amount of "stolen valor" among many.

If you escaped the draft and Vietnam by going to college, but didn't really take up other serious (and dangerous) actions, you are just another regular guy.

james said...

I was out of the country for some of the worst of it. So all I heard was what was in Time et al and BBC.

It is strange how little reporting the FALN got--and I was here for a lot of that.

I don't have the office in Chamberlin anymore, but it had a good view of the new brickwork in Sterling Hall--a regular reminder.

I hadn't thought of the organization aspect, but I think Hines is correct. The net is full of "bring it on" warriors, but they seem to expect the violence to come to where _they_ control the battlefield. Riots down residential streets would be suicide. Demonstrations in some spineless administrator's office to induce him to fire you--yes.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I had also forgotten about FALN. I heard about it and forgot about it in the 1970's, and went "oh, yeah, I forgot about them" when Clinton pardoned a bunch as he exited in 2001. I suspect because their cause was narrow - most people didn't know anything about Puerto Rican issues and didn't care - it didn't stick in memory even when violent. I think that was partly true of violence by or against blacks as well in the 60's. Unless it got to be more than two black guys killed, or unless a riot in a whole downtown broke out, people didn't care that much. That's still somewhat true, and it is a legitimate black complaint. When a pretty (and/or rich) white girl goes missing and it looks like it's violence, not a runaway, the news coverage is big. Black girls, not so much. It's a sad state of affairs.

Part of it is because the violence rate is greater in the black community we are a little numb to it. But there is also a "not my tribe" aspect that is one of the very legitimate aspects of accusations of ongoing racism. (Note, BTW, that this is not that favorite meaning-bender "systemic" racism, unless one means the news outlets.)