> Jeffrey Blankfort wrote: > Michael, my recollection from that time is that Foster wanted to implement a system of student ID's, which now are fairly commonplace in most schools. I don't recall his proposing armed guards. Many if not most schools were and are surrounded by fences, except for their entranceways. Also, while the use or abuse of Ritalin was a subject of public debate, I don't recall that Foster was linked to it. Is the material you presented in some book or article about the SLA? Thanks, Jeff, for the reminder, and the care of your query. Others agree with you (as I do below) that student IDs were identified as an issue. I'm surprised that no one recalls any other issue, for though crazy the SLA was hardly daft enough to base a death sentence rhetorically only on the issuance of cards. I am quite certain that your remark about fences mis-remembers the historical situation, for in the mid-70s in the East Bay (and doubtless many other regions) there was a distinct and well-publicized escalation of protective fortification of some inner-city schools. In at least one case, this was accompanied by the innovation of armed security guards. I am frankly uncertain as to whether such issues (and state-sponsored drugging) were identified explicitly by the SLA. It is quite possible that I myself have conflated them with the SLA drama -- though if I did, this scarcely affects my point about the assassination inhibiting discussion of such issues. Alas, I have no documents handy to clarify the question of the SLA's assertions and rationale, beyond the related and inconclusive one appended here -- a poem begun after the dramatic firestorm that destroyed the SLA's core. It testifies at least to the currency of these issues at that time; and shows that if I have inaccurately conflated them with the SLA, I had done so already by then (rather than recently, from faulty memory.) Though I could not bear then to continue tthe poem through the following acts of the SLA's complex drama, this fragment may serve also to remind the thoughtful about how inappropriate simplistic rhetoric is to this case, as to so many others. Michael Rossman <email@example.com> --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (note: in the text below, italics are indicated by **.......**. The first widely publicized mass use of Ritalin in public schools occurred in Omaha.) Sympathy for the Devil? **And who on earth will claim the prize, one human being alive in contradiction?** [Act One] Act One, the murder. A crime, a shame, we all agreed, our left hand bloody, analyzing it down: why pick a black to avenge blacks wronged? why a school superintendent not a wizard of pentagon death? why Marcus Foster, who used his post humanely? above all why the tactic, without base or support, the vainglorious announcement **no quarter** against the side with all the guns, the killing the killing in a nation sick with killing in the name of life? Citizen of theater, accustomed to simple messages -- Kennedy, King, Malcolm X; Goodman Chaney & Schwerner, Rector at People's Park, four at Kent State, does it bore you to hear them again? to discuss how you decided what was right for the time and safe? to reread the Movement's obituary while madness reigns and you struggle confused with the decade's surge to grasp our condition, still green? -- citizen of theater, used to blunt messages, how did you read this one? **They said he was presiding over the military pacification of the ghetto schools.** Armed guards, ID checks: no one offered him an award for preparing students for the probable conditions of society, or toasted themselves to draw attention back to what in the schools and the order they served led students to shit in the halls. The banner of institutional change lay abandoned in the mire of recession; within walls unscathed by the hasty charge the managers of populations addressed the easier task, to shape the flesh and spirit to fit. In subtle consortium the A.M.A., Office of Education funders, Upjohn and Squibb and the school board defined deviance as maladjustment, maladjustment as craziness, craziness as minimal brain dysfunction, nobody's fault; prescribed drug curriculum to make the children safe for the schools they were forced to attend. Were there riots in a hundred cities over Omaha? You tsk-tsked, knowing it would happen here, and went on reading science-fiction. Who could you shoot for it, anyway, and what good would that do? **When captured and in "communiques" they said they were soldiers, that the war had been declared.** A posture, the suffering servants of the people, transmuting the cheap wine of metaphor to blood. Was it minimal brain dysfunction to court sure crucifixion? Who were they trying to impress, what leave had they to speak for you, already long enlisted and confused by the recognition of your features in the enemy's, in the dark bowl of rage offered as communion? Every morning you read your lessons, counting the bodies: gutted whales, fried Cambodians, protein-starved embryos, their skins already black, even the sky's sweet protection eroding for profit while you financed the whole affair and called for your patience pills to manage that hyperkinetic feeling. Good student in history's school, enrolled in the long march, it was clear they had got the lesson wrong: why cloud it even more by confessing your doubts whether what you were doing made sense as more than a way to pass the time? Why court despair by quantifying how far the wheel and brake grow removed from even the first-class seats, how fast the train runs away as you run after, how long till the crash, the odds on survival? **They said the time is now.** The time is always now. Doesn't everyone you know want to find a way without violence? How many really believe that we will, even with or without it? [Intermission] An intermission, these years, those months, in safe houses, not feeling safe at all. The players remained anonymous, their stark acronym no help to the critics who searched right and left for clues as to where they were coming from. Only the style of the play was familiar, from foreign reviews, and what seemed your traditional role, alienated in audience, as you held your breath for the next act in pretended indifference. In the crowd, unseen, they invited a few to more active parts, were refused, withdrew to their dark conjuration. Against the backdrops magic reared, the clenched fist of a decade spreading seven vengeful heads, their silhouettes stark as the program they shadowed. Unmoved by metamorphosis, too mature to respond to the childish rite, or so you assured yourself, you perused the program, the company's claim to a broad tradition. The niggers, the jailbirds, the natives of this place and that, the bitches, the shiftless poor, commies and queers, cripples and freaks, every hungry demand for justice brooding unfulfilled, here reduced to shrill summary, a cheat-sheet for midterms in the school you are forced to attend: one note on Shakespeare, another on Aeschylus to remind you of epic tragedies, their rich impossible legions. A dozen corollaries to some monstrous proposition, too complex to be solved by a cyanide bullet. You were lucky no teacher came round to ask how you were doing as you filed back to your seat.
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