Re: [sixties-l] Critique of Bruce Franklin >

From: Jeffrey Blankfort (
Date: 11/06/00

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    Michael Wright writes:
    > Jeffrey Blankfort <> writes:
    > <What the underreported deaths of the 23 black
    > <men in Mississippi and Michael's response indicate
    > <is how limited we are in making the type of
    > <investigation that he suggests.
    Michael Wright writes:
    >  Only those who are uncomfortable with the prospect
    >  of acquiring evidence which does not confirm their
    >  ideological needs are limited.
    >  Let me give an example from Norman, Oklahoma,
    >  during the Vietnam years.
    >  Political busts against white activists started
    >  happening in January, 1966, with what I have
    >  called the "Great Marijuana Raid."  Several SDS
    >  members and friends were arrested at a quiet
    >  gathering in a rooming house, and about one
    >  roach's worth of pot was seized, along with much
    >  left-wing political literature.  After much
    >  agony and legal expenses associated with the
    >  felony charge, the defendants were freed on the
    >  basis of a faulty warrant.
    >  In August 1967, on several occasions white activists
    >  guilty of nothing more than looking unconventional
    >  and wearing peace buttons were arrested for "loitering"
    >  at night.  On two occasions I was called into service
    >  to raise money to bail them out.  Afterward, the
    >  local city attorney would always dismiss the charges.
    >  He knew the law was unconstitutional, but didn't
    >  want to risk losing it in a court test.  They found
    >  it a handy instrument for harassment.  It was also
    >  used in this fashion in April 67.
    >  In February 1968, 28 antiwar demonstrators, all
    >  white to my recollection, were arrested for
    >  "obstructing the sidewalk" while picketing a
    >  speech by Selective Service Director Lewis Hershey,
    >  in Oklahoma City.  Later the charges were dismissed
    >  on Constitutional grounds.
    >  In December 1969, five white males associated
    >  with Norman's underground newspaper were arrested
    >  on felony charges of obscenity.  Four were freed
    >  on Constitutional grounds, and a fifth member
    >  accused under a different statute had to pay a
    >  $1000 fine.
    >  In May 1970, white antiwar activist Keith Green
    >  was arrested under an antiquated 1919 law, never
    >  enforced earlier, making it a felony to display
    >  a red flag or "emblem of anarchy or rebellion."
    >  He was carrying a North Vietnamese flag at an
    >  antiwar demonstration the day after the Kent State
    >  Massacre.
    >  Immediately following this, about 250 demonstrators
    >  held a sit-in around the police car, and a riot
    >  squad ultimately waded in with clubs to break it
    >  up.  Over the summer, felony charges of incitement
    >  to riot were brought against four white activists
    >  considered to be "leaders."  The charges were
    >  dismissed by the judge, who did not agree that a
    >  "riot" took place.  Keith Green was also freed
    >  under a ruling that the 1919 flag law was obviously
    >  unconstitutional.
    >  And how were Black activists in Norman and the
    >  OU community treated in this same period?  In
    >  1971, after the Attica prison riot, black students
    >  at OU formed a human chain to obstruct traffic
    >  for several hours on one of the campus streets.
    >  This created a safety hazard, since approaching
    >  motorists had to stop and turn around to exit
    >  the campus.  These demonstrators could have been
    >  charged under numerous laws, such as obstructing
    >  traffic, disorderly conduct, and who knows what
    >  else.  There were no arrests and no charges, but
    >  the year before a white kid went to jail on a
    >  felony charge for merely having displayed a flag.
    >  Just last week I asked Ron King, an old friend
    >  who was a black activist at OU during this time
    >  period, if he could think of any arrests of OU
    >  black  activists in clear retaliation for political
    >  dissent.  He couldn't come up with a single
    >  example.
    >  I see no reason why the same kind of evidence
    >  could not be obtained for any American campus
    >  of the Vietnam years.
    As I recall, there was nothing in your original posts that limited your
    argument to protest on college campuses. But since you are there, please
    recall for me an equivalent situation to that which occurred at UCLA in
    1967, when two members of the US (United Slaves) organization
    assassinated two members of the Black Panther Party, Bunchy Carter and
    John Huggins, murders that were eventually attributed to the CONINTELPO
    operations of the FBI. Also, from what I heard from both black and white
    civil rights workers from the North who went down South, the black
    rights workers were more often than not, severely brutalized. While it
    may have happened to the white volunteers, it didn't happen to the many
    that I knew.  Anecdotal, but certainly drawn from a broader pool that OU.
    JB wrote:
    > >Since an unknown number of black women and men
    > >were murdered over the decades in the Jim Crow
    > >south, unknown because there was no police interest
    > >in locating their killers, many of whom were, in
    > >fact, the police, and there was no media that was
    > >at all interested in investigating or reporting on
    > >the deaths of missing blacks, we will never know why
    > >they were killed.
    Michael Wright writes:
    >  He says (1) there was no police interest in
    >  locating their killers, (2) we will never know
    >  why they were killed, and (3) the number killed
    >  is "unknown."  In the face of these admitted
    >  uncertainties, he is sure that many of the killers
    >  were "in fact, the police." I think that speaks
    >  for itself.
    What uncertainties? By coincidence, the case of Chaney, Schwerner and
    Goodmann has just been re-opened and interviews with African-Americans
    from that area questioned on NPR confirmed the atmosphere I described.
    And it is hardly argued that the line between the Klan and the sheriffs
    and/or police was invariably thin or non-existent in the Deep South. If
    you are suggesting that this is speculation, I suggest you begin to
    study the subject before replying as you have.
    > >I will suggest that it is reasonable to suggest
    > >that some were murdered for their defiance of the
    > >white ruling elite.
    >  The above statement is nothing but speculation
    >  and wishful thinking in response to the need
    >  to stretch reality to conform to the requirements
    >  of ideology.
    >  The evidence I summarized about Norman was not
    >  speculation.
    While you, out of your own wishful thinking, may consider this
    speculation, I think it is more logical, if I may introduce that word,
    to call it a reasonable supposition.
    Again, you refer to my ideology. I would appreciate knowing what you
    mean by that since what I have written has not been based on ideology
    but on reality. 
    Forty-four years ago, when I was a senior at UCLA I wrote a paper
    entitled "A Re-evaluation of the Attitude of the Negro Toward Slavery,"
    in which I dissected the works of the two leading "historians" of the
    anti-bellum South at that time, Ulrich Phillips and JG Randall, as well
    as that of John D Hicks, whose work was the standard text in the UC
    system, exposing their fanciful descriptions of plantation life. Up to
    that time, there were few if any  mainstream historians who challenged
    the myths that the majority of the slavemasters were benevolent and that
    slavery was by and large a positive experience for those enslaved, myths
    that Phillips, Randall, and Hicks presented to their readers as history.
    It seems that their works are still in use in Norman.
    >  ~ Michael Wright
    >    Norman, Oklahoma
    >  >>

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