Re: [sixties-l] Re: FSM credits

From: Jo Freeman (
Date: 10/13/00

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      Since Michael Rossman thought my attempt at humor was an "unseemly taunt"
      let me stick to facts.
       The Goines books is full of errors of both omission and commission.  But his
      list of "dramatis personae" is pretty inclusive,  with lots of people whose
    contribution to events was fairly obscure.  I'm listed twice:  as Jo and Joe
     Freeman, but with different roles (and assessments).  Neither Bill Mandel nor
      Michael Lerner are listed among the "personae", though Lerner has a brief
      mention in the index and text (described in an earlier post). Mandel isn't
      in either.
       I did not see Lerner's name in any of the thousands of pages of other stuff
     I read, including unpublished interviews with FSM participants, and notes of
     meetings taken by Rossman and Anastasi.  Bill Mandel is listed occasionally as
    an alternate to the FSM Executive Committee (which acted as sort of a general
     assembly, not as an executive body) from a non student group.  Lerner is not
     on any list of anybody, including office staff and volunteers, or arrestees.
          The FBI sent me thousands of pages in its FSM file, after seven years of
       FOIA requests,  and numerous letters from various Members of Congress from
      whom I requested help in prying these loose.    Most of these pages are news
      clippings (which would have been useful when I began my research, but by the
      time I got them, told me little I didn't already know), blacked out pages, or
      extensive reports of various groups in different parts of the country where
      the FSM got a mere mention.  Also included are numerous copied documents,
      including the FSM songbook (twice), magazine articles on the FSM, and a com
     plete copy of Student by David Horowitz.  All at ten cents a page, paid in
           From these I learned all sorts of arcane details, such as that Michael
      Rossman was registered to vote, but did not declare a party preference (Jack
      Weinberg was a registred Democrat).  I also learned virtally everyone with
      a CP connection or who were members of a "subversive" group (DuBois Clubs and
      YSA).  These names were not blacked out.  Bill Mandel is not among them.
       Given his past, how did the FBI miss him?  It named people I never heard of
       until I read these files, including Leon Wofsy, a new professior in the
      Dept. of Bacteriology and Immunology, whom J. Edgar Hoover was convinced was
    the "brains" behind the FSM.   Bettina, of course, gets lots of ink, including
     copies of her articles in Political Affairs.  Even Carl Bloice shows up (he
      wrote about the FSM for the People's World).  But not Bill Mandel.
        As for debating Clark Kerr;  That may have been a Michael Lerner fantasy,
     or  even a Bill Mandel fantasy, but that's all.  There is nothing in anything
     I read, or wrote, or remembered, to indicate that anyone ever thought of that
     as a possibility.  Nor would Kerr have agreed (I've read a lot by and about
     him, as well).   1)  Kerr agreed with the FSM on the basic issue, and said so
     in public print as early as 1966.  2)  He had nothing to gain by debating any
     one in public on anything even remotely connected with campus disruption.  He
    even fought (and lost) a subpoena to be a witness for the defense in our trial.
     (But the judge sustained all prosecutorial objections to most of the questions
      our attorneys asked, so it was a useless victory).  3)  Kerr's focus was on
      protecting the University, mostly from the legislature, and particularly
     from the Senate Fact-Finding Subcommittee on UnAmerican Activities, which
    attacked it (and him personally) in its 1961, 1963 (and 1965 and 1966) reports.
      The Chairman of that committee was the powerful Hugh Burns, President pro
     tem of the California Senate.  Burns (and his Committee counsel R.E. Combs)
     tried to have him fired several times (as did the FBI), because he was insuffi
     ciently concerned with rooting out subversives at the University.  Given
      these concerns, the idea of Clark Kerr debating Bill Mandel, or Mario Savio
      or Hal Draper is downright funny.
         Bill Mandel's memory of decision making in the FSM is rosier than real.
       Michael's is closer to the truth.  Social Movements by their very nature do
     not have well established decision making procedures, and don't always follow
     the ones they think they have. How decisions were made in the FSM varied enor
      mously with time and event.  Sometimes crucial decisions were made by one or
      two people, and sometimes they were debated by mass meetings.  Sometimes
     those whose views differed from the leadership were treated with respect, and
      sometimes they were trashed and ostracized.  The full story of the FSM has
      not yet been told.  Goines excerpts interviews done by others to tell part of
      it;  I tell a different story in my forthcoming book; Clark Kerr gives his
      views in his forthcoming memoir; other members of the Administration (Strong,
      Williams, Sherriffs, Towle) tell theirs in their oral histories; and more
      remain to be told.    There are a lot of myths about the FSM (including the
    one that it was started by the Administration's capitulation to Oakland Tribune
      owner Bill Knowland's complaint about recruiting picketers from Bancroft and
       Telegraph).   It's time to look at it from the many perspectives, unclouded
      by wishful thinking.

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