Re: [sixties-l] Mercy for a Terrorist? [SLA]

From: David Horowitz (
Date: 10/07/00

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    Thank you, Radman, for this post. I would never have expected it from you.
    radman wrote:
    > Mercy for a Terrorist?
    > <>
    > by David Horowitz
    > 08/02/99
    > WHO IN AMERICA TODAY could be associated with a gang that carried out an
    > execution-style murder of a prominent public official, and the murder of a
    > pregnant woman during a bank hold-up, and then, when finally arrested, be
    > championed as an "idealist" by church officials, Democratic Party
    > legislators, columnists, and local activist groups?
    > The answer: a progressive activist who has remained faithful to her leftist
    > faith.
    > Twenty-five years ago, Kathleen Soliah went underground as a fugitive. She
    > was wanted by police as a suspect in the planting of pipe bombs under two
    > randomly selected police cars that would have killed the occupants had they
    > not failed to explode.
    > During this and other episodes, Soliah was a member of the Symbionese
    > Liberation Army (SLA), a group led by ex-convict Donald DeFreeze in the
    > early seventies, whose defining slogan was "Death to the fascist insect
    > that preys on the life of the people."
    > After DeFreeze and five other SLA members were killed in a shootout with
    > police in Los Angeles, Soliah led a rally for the "victims" in Berkeley's
    > "Ho Chi Minh Park," claiming that the six outlaws were "viciously attacked
    > and murdered by 500 pigs in L.A."
    > Soliah singled out her best friend Angela Atwood, one of the dead SLA
    > members, saying: "I know she lived happy and she died happy. And in that
    > sense, I'm so very proud of her." Soliah was finally apprehended in St.
    > Paul, Minnesota on June 16 , where she was living under a pseudonym, "Sara
    > Jane Olson," with her doctor husband Fred G. Peterson. Soliah has
    > subsequently been released on $1 million bail raised within a week by 250
    > sympathizers and friends.
    > The Minneapolis Star-Tribune describes the attitude of the liberal
    > community in St.  Paul after learning of her past in these terms: "In the
    > days since her June 16 arrest, Olson [Soliah] has been almost canonized:
    > reader of newspapers for the blind, volunteer among victims of torture,
    > organizer of soup kitchens. The office manager of the Minnehaha United
    > Methodist Church, where she is a member of the congregation, called on its
    > members to build a "contingent of support." Twenty of them were said to
    > have been in court in California on the day she was arraigned.
    > Soliah's brother-in-law, Michael Bortin, was a Berkeley radical and with
    > his wife Josephine (who is Soliah's sister) was also an SLA member.
    > Recently, Bortin attempted to explain to the press the relationship between
    > the radical gangster Soliah and the St. Paul housewife "Sara Jane Olson,"
    > who was such an upstanding member of the progressive community: "There's
    > not this dichotomy between what Kathy was and what she is now. She was
    > doing the same things in the early Seventies."
    > Bortin claimed that it was the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin
    > Luther King, the presidency of Richard Nixon, and the war in Vietnam that
    > changed their attitudes to make them SLA members. "We lost our faith in the
    > country, in due process. In law and justice."
    > Maybe so. Back then, I was one of the editors of Ramparts, the largest
    > publication of the New Left. Like Bortin and Soliah, I would have described
    > myself then as a "revolutionary" who had "lost faith in my country." But
    > along with many other leftists at the time (and unlike Bortin and Soliah),
    > I hadn't lost my mind or sense of decency as well. I wrote an editorial for
    > Ramparts condemning the SLA as a criminal organization.  It was the first
    > editorial I wrote that I didn't sign. I was concerned enough that the SLA
    > might come and kill me.
    > The SLA had announced itself to the world on November 6, 1973, in a
    > terrible deed which has gone all but unmentioned in the current reportage
    > on Soliah's case. Without warning, three of its "soldiers" ambushed and
    > gunned down the first African American superintendent of schools in
    > Oakland. Dr. Marcus Foster had no warning when he was met with a hail of
    > bullets in a parking lot behind the Oakland School District office. The
    > bullets had been tipped with cyanide, just so he would have no chance to
    > survive the attack.
    > His crime, according to the SLA's official death warrant, was that he
    > followed a school board directive to issue ID cards to students, to protect
    > them from drug dealers and gang members wandering onto their campuses
    > intending to do them harm.
    > The Foster killing revolted me, as it did many, but not all, members of the
    > radical community. Thus Ramparts received many letters like the one by
    > Yippee leader Stew Albert, accusing us of "giving a green light" to the
    > police to hunt down and "murder" the SLA warriors.
    > Leonard Weinglass, the famed lawyer for Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, and the
    > Chicago Sevenand now counsel for Black Panther and cop-killer Mumia Abu
    > Jamalthen represented the families of the dead SLA members who sought
    > monetary restitution from the city of Los Angeles for denying justice to
    > their offspring.
    > In my view, however, justice had been done. If anything, the SLA killers
    > hadn't been punished enough.
    > In fairness to Soliah, it is not clear that she was aware of the SLA's
    > intentions before the murder of Marcus Foster, although she certainly
    > embraced them afterwards.  According to Patty Hearst, who was kidnapped by
    > the SLA and then converted to their political agenda, Soliah participated
    > in a 1975 bank robbery the SLA committed in a Sacramento suburb.
    > An innocent bystander, Myrna Lee Opshal, who was pregnant and had come to
    > the bank to deposit church funds, was accidentally shot and killed by SLA
    > member Emily Harris. Later Harris dismissed the killing to her comrades
    > saying the victim was "a pig," explaining "she was married to a doctor."
    > (Ironically, Soliah today is herself married to a doctor.)
    > These were the deeds, and this was the mentality of the gang to which
    > Kathleen Soliah dedicated her radical political life. Now she is once again
    > being defended by progressives, who blame the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon
    > even for the evils they themselves have committed.
    > If Kathleen Soliah's crimes are excused by Nixon, why would not Nixon's be
    > excused by the crimes his Communist enemies committed? Soliah's attorney
    > Stuart Hanlon is a graduate of the William KunstlerLeonard Weinglass school
    > of radical alibis, who recently helped win the release from prison of
    > convicted murderer and former Black Panther Geronimo Pratt by claiming the
    > FBI and police had conspired to frame Pratt because of his passion for
    > "social justice."
    > The radical fantasy that turned the Soliahs into paranoid conspirators is
    > very much alive today in the rhetoric of the left, which is unrelenting in
    > its insane picture of America as a repressive, racist, sexist, imperialist,
    > empire. It is kept alive in part by the radical rewriting of the history of
    > the Sixties in which "noble idealists" like Soliah declared war on
    > government "fascists," and whatever they did were always the hapless
    > victims of the greater evil of their adversaries.
    > There is a whole library of memoirs and histories by aging new leftists and
    > "progressive" academics dealing with the rebellions of the 1960s, but
    > hardly a page in any of them has the basic decency or honesty to say, "Yes,
    > we supported these murderers and those spies, and the agents of an evil
    > empire."
    > I'd like to hear even one of these advocates of "justice" acknowledge that
    > "we greatly exaggerated the evils of this system and underestimated its
    > decencies and virtues, and we're sorry." I'd like to hear that from Soliah
    > and her apologists. I'd like to hear them pay a moment's tribute to Marcus
    > Foster and to Myrna Opshal, and to the brave policemen and FBI agents who
    > risked their lives to protect other Americans, including progressives, from
    > the harm they intended.
    > I'd like to hear them say, just once, "I'm sorry."

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