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The Weathermen

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posted on Oct, 18 2008 @ 11:34 AM
Given all the sound and fury about the Weathermen, and Ayers and terrorism, I thought I’d give it another look.

And of course, as it turns out, the popular view is highly distorted and inaccurate.

The Weathermen was formed as a violent protest group because in their view, non-violent protests were ineffective at the time.

Initially formed as a splinter group which believed that peaceful protests were ineffective, the Weathermen were widely criticized for their use of violence as a means of social and political change.

But for the Weathermen, violent action was nothing short of necessary in a time of crisis, a last-ditch effort to grab the country’s attention.

How did the Weathermen arrive at this point? Some of the group’s former members, interviewed in THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND, cite the murder of Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in a December 1969 Chicago police raid as a turning point. What many believed to be a government-sanctioned killing in an effort to wipe out militant groups such as the Panthers was, for the Weathermen, the final straw.

Question to Ayers and Dohrn:

How do you feel about what you did? Would you do it again under similar circumstances?


I’ve thought about this a lot. Being almost 60, it’s impossible to not have lots and lots of regrets about lots and lots of things, but the question of did we do something that was horrendous, awful?… I don’t think so. I think what we did was to respond to a situation that was unconscionable.
Two thousand people a day were being murdered in Vietnam in a terrorist war, an official terrorist war… This was what was going on in our names. So we tried to resist it, tried to fight it. Built a huge mass movement, built a huge organization, and still the war went on and escalated. And every day we didn’t stop the war, two thousand people would be killed. I don’t think what we did was extreme…. We didn’t cross lines that were completely unacceptable. I don’t think so. We destroyed property in a fairly restrained level, given what we were up against.


I can iterate four or five things that I have profoundly complex feelings about. I wish that we hadn’t been hierarchical, and had a concept of leadership. I wish that I had bridged the feminist movement and the anti-war movement better than I did. I wish that we hadn’t used the language of war. You heard me saying a declaration of war. I wish we had used the language of resistance.

Obviously, we didn’t stop the war. We were part of an authentic, aroused opposition to the U.S. empire and to racism at home. Those were two issues we had a grip on…. Of course, I wish we had done better, and I wish we had stopped the war earlier, and I wish we had been more effective, and I wish we had been more unifying. Or at least fought for unity even when we couldn’t achieve it.

OK. Up to this point, I've let PBS and the Weathermen speak for themselves.

But what have we learned?

- The Weathermen adopted violent protest when they believed that the non-violent approach was ineffective and being ignored.
- There is no evidence that the Weathermen 'hated America'. To the contrary, there is evidence that they were acting out of a sense of Patriotism -love for one's country- and that they hated not the US, but the way the US leadership was behaving at the time.

Now we can say that their tactics were unacceptable and to be denounced. However, given the environment of the time, it is clear to me that they did not choose violence as a first resort, but rather as a last resort.

Which means simply that their line between violence and non-violence had been crossed. We may agree or disagree with where their line was, but we all have such a line.

To those who unequivacably denounce the Weathermen's tactics, I ask:

Where is your line?

Is it the re-instatement of the draft (keeping in mind there was a draft in the 1960s)?
Is it the launching of yet another war on flimsy, possibly manufactured evidence?
Is it when conscription squads come to your house and take your teenage children for the army because "don't you know we are at war?!?"?

Where is your line?

Source for all external quotes

posted on Oct, 18 2008 @ 12:25 PM
reply to post by Open_Minded Skeptic

I was 11 years old when the Vietnam War officially ended in January 1975 with the invasion of South Vietnam by the north. Barack Obama was not much older than me (a year or two). I did not understand what it was about until much later. Most of my Vietnam Vet friends have many horror stories to tell about the war, and became "hippies" when they got back.
The war back then is like the modern war on terror, with the you are either with us or against us mentality. It took a decade after the war to start getting all the facts about that era. Time has a way of healing, or making enemies out of people or movements. I do know that Ayers turned himself in and faced his consequences.
I think this is ironic that David Letterman brought up G Gordon Liddy to Sen McCain, and the Senator immediately stated that Mr Liddy paid his debt to society. This shows how divided many people still are about a war that ended over thirty years ago.
Did Barack Obama know the extent of the background of Ayers? If he was like me, it was probably no. Does it matter? To Barack and my generation, it is a difficult era to understand. My parents were extremely conservative, and some of my friends had extremely liberal parents. As kids, we took on our parents ideology although we did not understand any of it. I remember my brother telling me our family was Republican, like our religion was Catholic and heritage was French.
I use the above to try to inject some kind of reason into what is going on now. The Vietnam War is still too close to many of our citizens.

posted on Oct, 18 2008 @ 12:34 PM
My brother practically lost his mind in Vietnam. If given the opportunity to protest his being there, would I? Yes. How far would I go to try to make his life different? Would I have gone so far as bombing something to try to get things to change? Who knows?

All I know is that many lives were ruined and lost to a senseless war. That's not right.

Where is my line? I hope I never have to find out.

OMS, that PBS link is very informative and interesting.

posted on Nov, 1 2008 @ 01:17 PM
This is really telling my age, but I had friends in the Vietnam era who were radical enough to go underground. Some of them joined Weatherman cells. Of course, I never heard from them again because they were "underground." They never got on the news. I sometimes wonder what became of them.

The weathermen grew out of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society--but they weren't referring to the Democratic party), a radical left movement mostly made up of college students and other young people who were very idealistic and believed they could change the world. I had a lot of sympathy for the SDS, though I was sometimes put off by their militancy. I did not actually join.

But often one's ideals are not immediately realized, and we were a generation that was impatient--as a generation we were called "the brightest and the best" and great things were expected of us-- a generation that was accustomed to instant gratification. The war in Vietnam did not end after a few protests, though it eventually did, poverty and racism were not immediately eradicated, women did not become completely liberated fast enough, the society of peace and love was not created in a few years of effort.

The Weathermen were formed out of the most militant elements of the SDS. Many of them really believed that they would be the spark that would start the revolution.

Here is where I differed from my more radical friends. I believed (and still do) that change must be incremental. A period of anarchy usually follows a revolution, a period in which the most violent and brutal elements rise to leadership (for ex. the Russian revolution). In the wake of a civil war there is no guarantee that the ideals I would fight for would be realized, and something worse than what we had could--and probably would--result.

I was in the Mobil Oil building in New York the day it was bombed. The bomb was left in the lobby of the building. It killed a few secratries and clerks and a couple that was in a travel agency planning to take a cruise as soon as they retired. The bomb wasn't even aimed at the executives at Mobil--those who might be held at least partially responsible for the crimes of the big oil companies--it only affected "little people" who could in no way be held accountable for the state of society. It could have been me. The bombing was attributed to the Weathermen.

That, in short, is why I rejected and still reject the tactics of the Weather Underground. That is why I would align myself with the saner elements in the wake of a revolution. I will work as hard as anybody to bring about needed social changes, but I draw the line at violence.

I do not believe Barack Obama is in any way sympthetic to the acts and intents of the Weathermen. He has denounced them. And so do I.

[edit on 1-11-2008 by Sestias]

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