Monday, June 13, 2016

Still Pissed Off at Weatherman After All These Years

There’s a review in the New York Times of a new book about the radical times of 1969-70 that devotes a lot of space to recollections of the Weather Underground.  The usual suspects are interviewed, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Mark Rudd.  There is some contrition, some bombast.

But listen to this quote from the review by Jon Wiener:
Reading these interviews, it’s not hard to understand what you might call the Weatherman temptation. S.D.S. had held the first antiwar march on Washington in 1965, but four years later the war was bigger than ever. Over those four years, Bill Ayers says, “we had tried everything that we could think of: organizing, knocking on doors, mass demonstrations, getting arrested, militant nonviolent resistance.” None of it worked to end the war — and the Weathermen understood why, as one of its leaders, Mark Rudd, explained: Ordinary Americans, especially white workers, were morons — except that’s not the word he used.
And this is the part that really, really got me at the time and gets me still.  Many, maybe most, of the Weather honchos came from upper income, corporate families.  They grew up thinking workers were stupid, and when they became “revolutionaries” they still thought this, although now they had new reasons.  The apple doesn’t fall very far, does it?

Those of us who came from less exalted stock and still dreamed of a majoritarian, radical movement were simply plowed under.  The media, transfixed by glamor and violence, ignored us, and before long we had become invisible even to ourselves.

Incidentally, in the mid-70s I had occasion to look at my (heavily redacted) FBI files.  In it was a claim that I had harbored a Weather fugitive earlier in the decade.  I can remember how upset it made me that I had been targeted on the basis of a supposed act that I never would have committed,  since I regarded the Weather folk, pound for pound, to be more reactionary in their political effect than the most violent cop in riot gear.

8 comments:

Jim Rose said...

They were a bunch of angry trust fund babies

MaxSpeak said...

We called them liberals with bombs.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Always nice to know how competent the FBI is or was...

Bill H aka run75441 said...

Peter:

You little radical you. I would have never thought that of you. Maybe PGL or Barkley; But, you?

Wallfly said...

And I believe there is lots of historical research on working class communities negative opinion of the war.

Sandwichman said...

"except that’s not the word he used"

Then what word did he use?

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Bill H.,

Of course Sandwichman was a suit-wearing conservative accounting major, :-).

Bill H aka run75441 said...

Barkley:

Sixties Coffee House X-Marine Sergeant here. I went both ways. I used to point to "Full Metal Jacket" and tell my kids; "hey," there really was a Private Snow Flake, Joker, Gomer Pyle, etc. and whale defecation. I never got close to the battle of Huế. It happened before my arrival in 68.

Sandwichman could have been a card carrying accountant who just had enough and changed his mind too. I enjoy reading you also Barkley. Thanks for making me laugh.:)