Radical Son is not a polemic, and no reasonable person would mistake it for one.
You make a lot of points, which I regret I don't have time to answer in this email.
Let me take two. 1) I single out SOME of the Panthers. Actually I mentioned all of
the significant Panther leaders, nationally, except Eldridge. And everyone knows
Eldridge was a criminal. 2) you describe the Panthers as the "collective effort of an
abused population" -- abused by the police etc. In what way were Huey Newton and
Bobby Seale, to take two examples, abused by the police or by America. They were both
going to college. Huey was actually a criminal going to college, by his own
autobiographical account. His father wasn't a criminal. His brother Melvin wasn't a
criminal. How was he abused? And please, don't insult my intelligence by giving me
the race line. Read Huey's autobiography. You won't find a lot of grievances about
racial discrimination. His biggest problem as a kid was other black kids beating him
up because he had a sissy name.
Ted Morgan wrote:
> Ok, against my better judgement, here are a few responses to David's
> response.... The key reasons, in my view, that people unsubscribe(d) is not that
> they disagree with David but that (1) they sense --from your (David's) current
> writings on the list as well as books like "Destructive Generation" and "Radical
> Son", that you are first and foremost a polemicist, convinced you have the Truth,
> and that your writing shows this again and again....and that (2) it becomes
> enormously time-consuming to read through all the verbiage your posts generate
> (responsibility is shared there) so, in combination (1 + 2) it doesn't seem
> worth it.
> Nonetheless, here goes, as briefly as possible
> You say,
> > You agree with Stew Albert but you don't agree -- which is it? Albert says
> > everyone on the left knows the Panthers "turned pure criminal". Are you not
> > on the left? Do you disagree with Stew.
> Yes, I am on the left. I agreed with Stew re. his comment regarding your
> postings on the list, not his comment regarding the Panthers. But I definitely
> disagree with the bit you quote (I assume) that "the Panthers [implying all of
> them, or them collectively] turned pure criminal." Again, my comment was that
> you DEFINED the Panthers by the criminal behavior (etc.) of SOME. I define the
> Panthers as a street-based, collective effort of an abused population (by the
> police, by the economy, etc.) to fight back for their own sense of turf, place, &
> beliefs about what was due them and the inner-city population. There are
> completely legitimate, democratic (grass-roots) strains in that, and some
> Panthers were largely devoted to those objectives, even if they may have used
> flaming rhetoric, or even carried weapons (another issue). I think of Bobby
> Seale, Fred Hampton, among the better known Panthers. Bill Mandel tells other
> stories; others could amplify quite a bit more. The things to remember about
> this grass-roots uprising are: (1) that it was "expressed" in the language &
> experience-based culture of those expressing it --that's not going to be nice &
> polite, white middle-class-ese; (2) that some behaved in an inhumane and
> reprehensible manner, and that behavior is wrong & should not be "excused"
> because of the street-origins (even if in this latter sense it is "understood");
> (3) the prevailing culture provides virtually no avenue for the collective
> empowerment of this inner-city population --then or now. This obviously opens
> the door to a huge discussion about poverty, racism, capitalism, education
> reform, etc. etc. Given time constraints, I'm not going there.
> > I'm glad you agree somewhat with me. But you wouldn't know about any
> > criminal activities of the Panthers if it weren't for my efforts. So don't
> > be so smug.
> I don't know about smug. I give you credit for writing about the horrors you
> have experienced and perhaps feel a degree of responsibility/guilt for --that IS
> one source of information I've found re. the Panthers (especially re. Huey
> Newton). But, c'mon, let's not get too grandiose; you aren't the only person who
> has documented Panther crimes.
> > What your post tells me is that the left has changed very littlie since I
> > left it, probably not all. You don't want to deal with the facts. You don't
> > want to engage in a civil discussion with someone who disagrees with you.
> > You want to demonize them. In other words you want to achieve the same thing:
> > silencing your opposition. Do you wonder that progressives killed so many
> > people in our lifetimes?
> This is precisely the kind of language that makes people feel there's no point in
> talking with you. Apparently you are so prescient that you know my intentions in
> writing what I write; you assert as if you KNOW that I don't want to deal with
> facts, don't want to engage in civil discussion with someone who disagrees with
> me, that I want to demonize and silence my "opposition." Well, I'm afraid you
> are very wrong in your reading of what I do & don't want, and I'm afraid this is
> typical of your writing about people on the left --at least the writing (above)
> that I've encountered. This is what shuts off discussion, one way or another.
> Just to raise one point of "fact" given that you want to deal with facts and
> those of us on the left apparently "don't." In your comment to Mike Klonsky, you
> said the following:
> >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.
> Two fundamental points of factual contention:
> (1). "Losing the war" didn't cost the lives of two and half-million people in
> Indochina," fighting the American war in Indochina cost the lives of three
> million. You are obviously zeroing in on Pol Pot's crimes --they were horrific
> and very real. But (a) you neglect the role, conveniently for your viewpoint, of
> the massive American bombing & destruction of Cambodia prior to the Khmer Rouge
> take-over (including it's contribution to the ability of the KR to succeed in
> seizing power in the horrifically destabilized nation, including in the 2.5
> million the mass starvation that was grounded in the conditions of destruction &
> destabilization prior to the KR seizure of power. And, of course, (b) you neglect
> to mention the American initiative in creating an artifice called South Vietnam,
> establishing a puppet dictator who suppressed his own people with US support, the
> thousands of deaths of SV civilians that resulted --prior to 1965, etc. etc....
> I'm sure you know of these, and have read, for example, Chomsky & Herman's
> Political Economy of Human Rights, for example. In fact, given Destructive
> Generation, I know what you think of Chomsky --you quite inaccurately slam him as
> some kind of authoritarian or worse. And, finally, (c) you don't explain how
> exactly "winning the war" would have prevented the 2.5 million lives you claim
> "losing it" cost, much less the additional lives lost in the process of "winning"
> it. I can't speak for Mike Klonsky, but I have no second thoughts about opposing
> --or refusing to fight in-- the American war in Vietnam.
> So, I don't think this is about the left not wanting to deal with facts at all,
> but either (a) dramatically differing interpretations of facts (e.g., Khmer Rouge
> deaths) or (b) assertions that are not factually-grounded. In my experience,
> this typifies your writing style --hence my earlier comment, Jeff.
> If this could be a civil discussion (and I had endless time), I would be open to
> talking about the guns --there are legitimate questions there re. Panther guns,
> Rt-wing militia guns, NRA-gun-defending, etc. I believe there is a common
> feeling of being powerless underlying all three groups, and the guns help them
> "feel" more "empowered." Beyond that, I think the comparison ends --at least the
> level of violent oppression experienced by NRA members & Rt.-wing militias is in,
> I suspect, virtually all cases, nothing like the well-documented level of
> official violence experienced by young inner-city blacks at the time the Panthers
> were getting underway.... And quite clearly, though there was a reason for the
> gun-carrying in the initial Panther police-tailing practice, they helped draw to
> the Panthers those eager, simply, to use guns. We know where that goes.
> By the way, who exactly were the "progressives" who have "killed millions"? Just
> curious as to your definition.
> Ted Morgan
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