Marty and I can agree to disagree on what might have happened if
Humphrey had been supported by the movement (although a movement that
would have supported HH never would have protested in Chicago in the
first place), but I must take issue with his defense of Todd Gitlin.
Todd was a good friend of mine in the 60s and and what risks he/we took
were relatively minimal compared to what some others experienced. He
even had something nice to say about me in his first book on the period.
Does this put me under some obligation to be less than truthful in my
criticism of his subsequent behavior? I think not. Marty says "It's not
his fault the media seeks out his opinion." I think it is. The reason
they seek him out is they know what he says will safely fit in the
parameters that the mainstream media finds acceptable, which usually is
expressed in some form of intellectual put-down of the movement that
launched his very successful career. For those who didn't experience the
Sixties, having him as "the interpreter" is certainly not likely to
encourage the growth of a the new political movement that is so sorely needed.
If anything should have separated him from us was Gitlin's decision to
give blood at the beginning of the Gulf Bombardment and have NBC there
to film it. How can such a cheap publicity trick be justified or
classified as anything more than gross opportunism?
He had already shown me his true colors nine years before when a small
group of Jewish activists, myself among them, came together to put out
an ad for Jews to sign, condemning Israel's bloody invasion of Lebanon
in 1982 in the SF Chronicle. Of all the 40 or so people I called to sign
the ad that headlined, "Menachem Begin Does Not Speak for Us," only
three refused: an older cousin, a friend who had just taken a job at aTV
studio and legitimately feared that signing the ad would be a
career-ending move, and my friend Gitlin. I'll only sign the ad if it
also condemns the PLO he told me. Just before we turned the names in,
and Bill Mandel was one the signers, I called Todd again, to give him
one more chance. Same response. In the end we had 300 signers and the ad
received national publicity. Another ad, protesting the war, and signed
by scores of Jewish academics was placed by Berkeley professor Bluma
Goldstein in the NY Times. Todd didn't sign that one either.
> Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2000 10:54:34 -0400
> From: Marty Jezer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Re: [sixties-l] Re: [Fwd: sixties-l-Vietnam War
> A second aside. I don't like Jeff's put-down of Todd Gitlin. Todd shares
> our history and experience. He took the same risks we did in the sixties,
> wrote for the same underground papers, that didn't pay him anything. Now
> he's a success because he's written books about the new left experience.
> It's not his fault the media seeks out his opinion. That Jeff opposes some
> of the positions he's taken
> should be food for debate, not dismissal. We all want justice but disagree
> how to achieve it.
> For all that we did in the 1960s (and we were right about the war) our
> movement is essentially marginalized. For example, the only choice we will
> have in the 2000 presidential election is Ralph Nader (or other more
> marginal left-wing candidates). We need to ask ourselves why this happened
> and not read anyone, e.g. Gitlin, out of the movement on the basis of
> tactical disagreements.
> Marty Jezer
> At 11:59 PM 6/15/2000 -0700, Jeff Blankford wrote:
> >I respectfully disagree with Marty's analysis, which also happens to be
> >that now being peddled by the media's "official historian of the
> >Sixties," Todd Gitlin (who was shown on national television at the start
> >of the Gulf bombardment, donating blood for "our boys over there."
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