[sixties-l] Re: sixties-l-The Black Panthers

From: Jeffrey Blankfort (jab@tucradio.org)
Date: Wed Jun 14 2000 - 12:27:14 CUT

  • Next message: David Horowitz: "Re: [sixties-l] a plea (Horowitz replies)"

    What I have always found curious about Horowitz is that be became
    involved with the Panthers in 1973, at a time, two years after the
    split, when most of the serious activists who had previously supported
    the Panthers had long since distanced themselves from the party based on
    much of information that Horowitz has made his new career wallowing in
    and was common knowledge among much of the left at that time. The split,
    for those with short memories, was initiated by Newton expelling a large
    number of Panthers from the BPP including the entire International
    Section, following his release from prison, at which time he obviously
    was a serious coke addict, something that Horowitz, with a background as
    an "armchair revolutionary" had apparently never encountered.

    While wishing Newton freed, I was nevertheless troubled by the news
    reports (I was in Europe at the time) that THREE judges had reviewed the
    case and decieed that Huey should be freed. One, maybe, but the thought
    that three judges in a judicial system that has historically been
    weighed against political activists with an FBI that had made the BPP a
    number one target for destruction, indicated to me that it was part of a
    plan to destroy the BPP from within. And who better for them to do it
    than its co-counder and most famous member?

    Horowitz must have been aware by then of Newton's involvement, abetted
    by FBI agent-infiltrator Melvin 'Cotton" Smith" in the arrest and
    imprisonment of Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt, and how he prohibited BPP
    members from the Oakland section from testifying that Geronimo had been
    in Oakland at the time of the Santa Monica tennis court killing. And
    that Newton, acting, apparently on COINTELPRO provided "information" had
    accused Geronimo, who had led the defense of the BPP hq in LA against an
    attack by Horowitz's beloved LAPD, of being a CIA agent, with no other
    evidence being offered.

    Was Horowitz ignorant of the fact that when the trial on that shootout
    took place in the Spring of 1971 that (1) all of the BPP members in
    Huey's faction were out on bail while those relating to Eldrige Cleaver
    were brought into the courtroom shackled together like a Southern chain
    gang, (2) that Huey had put the "word" in the Black community that
    people should stay away from that courtroom, despite the fact that
    thouands of peoppe had turned out in the streets to support the BPP
    office when it was under attack and (3) Huey had apparently put the word
    out among his friends in the white community Bert Schnieder, Jane Fonda,
    etc., to also stay away. Having returned to LA and not being aware of
    that reality, I was one of two persons attending the trial (and was
    arrested shortly thereafter for an "unpaid" parking ticket in Santa
    Moncia that had been paid a month before, taken, handcuffed, to the
    Glass House, photographed and fingerprinted and thrown into a cell. I
    guess the LAPD and Huey had the same agenda for that trial. When I
    asked Jane Fonda, at a Fuck the Army party in Beverly Hills a few days
    later to make a short announcement encouraging people to go to the trial
    she refused to do so. I didn't know she was then tight with Huey. Was
    Horowitz ignorant of all that?

    Two other statements that Horowitz keeps throwing around also need some
    response. That the Panthers were "criminals" and the Black community
    dodn't support the Panthers. First, what was the situation in Oakland
    for young black men when Huey and Bobby Seale founded the BPP? They
    were being shot down in incredible numbers by a police force largely
    recruited from the White South, not an unusual situation in any of
    America's large cities where the police have served as an occupying army
    whose main job is to preserve the interests of property holders and
    those with Horowitz's mindset.

    I remember one day standing on the corner of Vermont and Washington and
    in a space of a few minutes I watched three patrol cars drive by, LAPD,
    LA Sheriff's and the CHP. Was the area a high crime area? It certainly
    didn't seem so, and the papers didn't report that it was. In those days,
    when a Black or Latino couple would attempt to leave Watts,Compton or
    east LA, to go to Hollywood, or Beverly Hills, they would be
    systematically stopped by white cops and the man would would be put
    against the all and searched and humiliated in front of his wife or
    ladyfriend. It was all part of a containment that exists in other forms
    to this day, or maybe Horowitz hasn't heard of Driving While Black or
    Brown. I know it hasn't happened to Horowitz but is happened to me a
    number of times in the late 60s and early 70s in LA and SF when the
    police thought I was Chicano.

    So we had and have a system that criminalizes young Black and Brown men
    simply on the basis of the color of their skin. Those victimized by "the
    law" responded in different ways, depending primarily on their class
    background, and it was from these folks, and those who came out of
    prison, that the Panthers recruited their members who found in the BPP a
    way to organize and fight back, and their success and the support they
    received from their communities--despite Horowitz's know-nothing claim
    to the contrary-- inspired other victimized communities, Chicano, Puerto
    Rican, Asian and Native American, to follow their example.

    Sure. some BPP members, who had been in the prison system went back and
    did some criminal acts. but a number who I remained close to in the
    years following the split, didn't despite the harassment by Horowitz's
    "law and order" forces, but mainly these acts occurred after Huey was
    released from prison.

    As one example of community support, I can look back at my "heroic
    portraits" of the black women and men of all ages who filled the Oakland
    Auditorium, 7000 seats?, applauding the Panther leaders and supporting
    political officials such as Ron Dellums and Jesse Jackson, to celebrate
    the then-imprisoned Huey's birthday in 1967. You were in the Bay Area,
    then, Horowitz. Were you there, or were you waiting until 1973 when
    because of what was then the BPP in name only had done and was doing
    and when the community knew better than you did?

    It is worth recalling the last conversation I had with Horowitz. It was
    in Sept. 1969 and he had called to offer me the job as Art Director at
    Ramparts. In addition, to requesting that my salary be put in a bank in
    advance, given Ramparts' unparralleled history of ripping off its
    contributors (another story altogether, but not without humour), I told
    Horowitz that I wanted to be a member of the editorial board, having an
    equal say as to what the magazine would run. Horowitz then asked me if
    I still felt the same way I did about People's Park, of which I had had
    a number of criticisms, not the least of which the area selected in
    Berkeley, was already surrounded by a two parks that went virtually
    unused. Horowitz, who could be characterized as a "true believer," and
    worshipped the whole idea of People's Park, then replied that if I still
    felt that way I couldn't be on the board. And so, happily, I turned down
    the job.

    As for Horowitz' comments about the Vietnam War, and how the left, and I
    guess, Mike Klonsky, in particualar, were responsible for the two and
    half million dead Vietnamese and Americans and for the US losing the
    war. With all of our efforts, we were unfortunstely unable to stop the
    US airforce from dropping more bombs on that country than had been
    dropped on all of Europe in WW2, and we dropped more on Laos, then we
    dropped on Vietnam. Perhaps, Horowitz believes that was not enough.

    Horowitz reminds me very much of JB Matthews, who in the 30s was a
    leading left political economist who authored or co-aithored some
    critical works on the evils of US capitalism. It seems, however, that
    Matthews had a business, and one day the workers there decided to form a
    union. This so outraged Matthews he went over to the other side and
    appeared in later years as Joe Mcarthy's main source of information that
    the protestant clergy was controlled by the Communist Party. I guess we
    can call this the Matthews-Horowitz syndrome.

    Jeff Blankfort

    > Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 07:07:41 -0700
    > From: David Horowitz <Dhorowitz@earthlink.net>
    > Subject: Re: [sixties-l] Re: sixties-l-The Black Panthers
    > Jeffrey Blankfort was one of the propagandists for the Panther gang. As a
    > photographer he took many of the pictures that created the heroic images of a bunch
    > of street thugs. Apparently he has no regrets for the damage he did. His comments
    > here are typical fantasies. The Panthers never had support in the black community,
    > which was well aware of the Panthers' criminal activities. The Panthers were
    > strictly the heroes of the white readers of magazines like Ramparts which ran
    > Blankfort's heroic images. The Panthers' criminality, as Newton and Bobby Seale
    > write in their autobiographies, was there from the outset. They recruited gangsters
    > quite consciously. The Party was launched nationally when Newton murdered a 26
    > policeman. As I pointed out in a previous post, 348 Panthers were arrested in 1969
    > for strictly criminal activities, while Newton was in jail (and the Party according
    > to Blankfort was free of his bad influence). The charges against them ranged from
    > wife-beating to armed robbery and murder. The personal smears directed at Hugh
    > Pearson and myself (Rockefeller life style -- yeah -- and "government-serving
    > propaganda pieces") are typical and traditional Stalinist tactics: everybody who
    > disagrees with the party line is a sell-out or a government agent. Discrediting
    > witnesses is how leftists were able to kill so many people in the 20th Century and
    > keep the support of "progressives" like Blankfort.
    > ------------------------------

    >> Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 17:36:34 -0700
    > From: David Horowitz <Dhorowitz@earthlink.net>
    > Subject: Re: [sixties-l] Re: The Black Panthers (Horowitz reply)
    > I defend the war because it was anti-Communist war but because losing it cost the lives
    > of two and a half million poor people in Indo-China whose blood is on your hands Mike,
    > along with all the rest of us who forced America's withdrawal. You supported the
    > Communists (I'm sure you're capable of this level of candor) and the Communists
    > slaughtered millions. Surely you've had some second thoughts about this.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Jun 14 2000 - 21:27:43 CUT