I want to comment upon my experience of the list for the past week or
On 6/9 I asked if anyone knew the Pearson book The Shadow of the Panther
and could comment upon it.
I had no idea what I was opening up.
My question came from my surprise at what I was reading in the book and
wondering if it was a reliable source.
I had been in the Bay area at the time of the FSM but after that I had
spent three years in Alabama and then in 1968 cme up to the East Coast.
For me the Panthers were what SNCC had been for me earlier. I knew of
them mainly through mainstream reports, the story of Bobby Seale and the
Chicago Conspiracy trial, and rather cursory comments from friends at SF
The Shadow book showed me I was naive about the Panthers but I did not
trust its truth value - was it the whole story?
The give and take (to give it an inadequate label!) on the list plus my
reading in The Black Panther Party Reconsidered has given me more of a
sense of the whole. I am interested primarily in the late 60s period. It
looks to me like one has to make a distinction between the survival
programs and some of the rank-and-file of the Panthers AND a rather
corrupt, gangsterish, and - I can't find the correct word - leadership
about which i was quite naive. Also, the history of late SNCC with the
Panthers - attempts at coalition, quick disilllusion - was also new to
me. For all that (and some more) the exchanges on the list were quite
useful and I suspect that the venom involved also told me a great deal
that I did not know before.
But the sheer numbers and tone of the exchange wree at times troubling.
Coming home to something like 50 posts in one day was daunting - to say
the least. I might favor a guideline of no more than one post per member
per day (with the moderater allowed to make exceptions using his own
It was not just the name-calling bu tthe whole tone of the exchanges
with Horowitz that bugged me. I thought the one that for me was really
the worst was when Horowitz said that the "blood of x million" was on
Mike's and his and others who were anti-Vietnam war's hands.
As was pointed out on the list, it is a dubious pronouncement factually
but beyond that the sheer invective of it was over the top for me. I'm
not faint-hearted and do not require tea-and-crumpets civility. But some
of what I experienced as part of the worst of the sixties was
well-mirrored in the tone of those exchanges and just as they did 35
years ago they made me sad, angry, and disgusted - which did remind me
of stuff I experienced back then and was certainly a part of the whole
thing. Just not a part I remember fondly.
Thanks for the help in understanding the Panthers. Please snip messages
to which you are responding. Thanks to the moderator for a good effort
that will not be appreicated by everyone. Now...let me see what else I
need to ask questions about....
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