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

From: Ron Jacobs (
Date: 10/09/00

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    I couldn't resist sending this response (that I wrote soon after Ms.
    Soliah's arrest) to D. Horowitz's posting on Kathleen Soliah and the
    SLA--who, by the way, I think were probably a police-inspired operation
    and, even if they weren't, made several mistakes based on an analysis that
    Lenin might have called infantile leftism...
    -ron jacobs
    America's Most Wanted?
    	Let's get real.  Kathleen Soliah (allegedly a member of the 1970s "urban
    guerrilla" group, the SLA, who is accused of placing bombs under police
    cars) should not be facing prison.  Of course, Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu
    Jamal, and several dozen other political prisoners currently serving time
    in America's prisons should not be behind bars either.  These folks have
    either served their time or were framed and should never have been behind
    bars in the first place, but that is a topic for another column.  While the
    leader of this fair nation gets away with lying to the world, employing
    whatever public and private means at his disposal to avoid conviction for
    sexual abuse and abuse of power, police in California and the FBI are going
    after a woman who acted on her principles (something Mr. Clinton never
    seems to have had) back in the rebellious days of the early Seventies.  
    Like many others in that time, Ms. Soliah's (ne Olson) move to violence to
    make a political statement was the result of years of frustration with a
    government that was killing civilians in an overseas war, overthrowing
    popularly elected governments that did not want to be victims of its world
    order, locking up thousands of otherwise innocent citizens for smoking pot,
    and lying about its guilt in political matters while spying on its
    opponents of every political stripe. (Sound familiar?) The mass movements
    opposing these actions did not seem to be working and those of us who
    hadn't given up and gone off to make money or get so fucked up we didn't
    care were getting more radical and more desperate.
    >From this milieu came the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA).  Never more
    than a dozen or so people, this group killed an Oakland school
    superintendent, kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst and demanded and received a
    ransom of several million dollars in food to be distributed to the poor of
    the San Francisco Bay Area, went on a robbery spree in California which
    ended when six of its members were killed by hundreds of law enforcement
    agents in the Compton area of Los Angeles-- killings broadcast live on
    television.  Some new leftists--among them the Oakland Black Panthers--were
    convinced the SLA was a set-up by America's secret police.  The Panthers
    had plenty of circumstantial evidence linking the SLA's "field commander"
    Cinque (Donald DeFreeze) to various California and federal police
    intelligence agencies to back up their charge.  Others on the left, mostly
    other groups involved in armed propaganda such as the Weather Underground,
    supported the SLA, stating that they "refused to do the state's work" and
    renounce the SLA.
    No matter what, the SLA made the news in 1973 and 1974, even involving some
    close acquaintances of basketball star Bill Walton (and perhaps Walton
    himself) in kidnap-victim-turned-revolutionary Patti Hearst's flight after
    the killings in LA.  Hearst was eventually captured and, in her last
    defiant gesture, stated her occupation as urban guerrilla during her
    preliminary interrogation following the arrest. Now she is married to her
    former bodyguard and prefers not to talk about her days as Tania--the name
    she borrowed from Che's companion and made her own during her membership in
    the SLA.  Other surviving members are now living around the country and two
    remain in prison.
    Meanwhile, those men who were running this country then have been
    resuscitated as national heroes and statesmen.  Who can forget the
    nauseating paeans to the mass-murderer and wannabe dictator Richard Nixon
    during ceremonies marking his death?  How often is the modern television
    news watcher subjected to the imperial wisdom of his fellow Christmas
    bomber and friend of fascists around the world, Henry Kissinger?  It is
    these men and their ilk, including latter day presidents Reagan, Bush, and
    Clinton, who should be appearing on America's Most Wanted, not Ms. Soliah
    and her fellow former radical Mr. Kilgore. 

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