Re: [sixties-l] Terrorism Chic (fwd)

From: Ted Morgan (
Date: Sat Nov 10 2001 - 11:33:19 EST

  • Next message: "[sixties-l] Author Ken Kesey in critical condition, suffering from liver tumor (fwd)"

    Thanks to Radman for passing along the Wall St. Journal piece. This is
    a marvelous classic of mass media culture's 60s-bashing using the
    easiest of targets --the militant wing of the new left, the
    Weatherunderground, to dismiss the left's inability to "own up to the
    reality of their appalling misreading of what the Western democracies
    have really stood for during the past half-century or more?" On the
    latter count, there is no need to "own up to" the relatively accurate
    reading of the "Western democracies" (most notably, the United State's)
    appalling record of the last half century (just about exactly). In
    fact, events since the 1960s have only made that record more transparent
    for anyone with a degree of independence from the corporatist mainstream
    to see (which, of course, one would hardly expect from the Wall Street

    But, in addition, while the late-60s bombings have their
    counterproductive and morally problematic side (especially, for example,
    the bombing of the Army Math Research Center at Wisconsin, that resulted
    in the death of an innocent graduate student), it is also important to
    put this in more accurate perspective. There is NO easy parallel
    between these bombings and the World Trade Center horror, despite the
    efforts of these propagandists to tie the latter to 60s militants. Read
    Bill Ayres "Fugitive Days," and you'll note his discussion of the
    "Pentagon bombing" was carefully planned to occur in a remote bathroom
    in an area that appeared to be never used by any Pentagon employees of
    any kind, that a warning was sent to a variety of sources beforehand,
    and the bombing basically damaged the plumbing, resulting in water
    leakage that shut down a battery of computers for a week (conceivably
    saving a few lives in Vietnam) and killed or injured no one. This was,
    as I understand it, the Weather Underground's style --advanced warnings
    to clear buildings of any people, etc.

    As for 'not doing enough,' a phrase Tannenhaus uses to suggest the
    Weatherunderground would have rapidly advanced to World Trade Center
    status bombings, given the horror of what the United States was doing in
    Indochina, can ANYONE say they "did enough" in the antiwar movement,
    whatever that may have meant? I wonder what Mr. Tannenhaus was doing
    back then, presuming he was around.

    Ted Morgan

    > From: radtimes <>
    > Subject: Terrorism Chic
    > Terrorism Chic
    > By Sam Tanenhaus.
    > Wall Street Journal
    > In the aftermath of last week's terrorist attack many are saying we have
    > reached a turning point. Everything has changed, the editorials announce.
    > Our country and the world both look different today.
    > This is true enough. But what needs re-thinking is not so much the present
    > as our understanding of the past and the prominent role terrorism has
    > played in our politics and culture for many years now.
    > Consider the news reported in the weeks, days, and even hours preceding the
    > horrific events. There was, first, the case of Kathy Boudin, a New Left
    > extremist recently denied parole for her conviction in the 1981 robbery of
    > a Brinks truck in Rockland County, N.Y., which resulted in the deaths of
    > four people. That was not an isolated crime. In 1970, Ms. Boudin, a member
    > of the Weather Underground, was part of a team that was building bombs in a
    > Greenwich Village townhouse before their bungling caused an explosion that
    > killed two of their own. Thomas Powers, who wrote a searching account at
    > the time of one of those who died in the blast, Diana Oughton, subtitled
    > the book "The Making of a Terrorist."
    > But blunt language of that kind is distinctly absent from current
    > discussions of the late 1960s and early 1970s. You won't find the word
    > "terrorist" in a story that appeared in the New York Times on Tuesday,
    > Sept. 11, the day of the World Trade Center attack. It was an affectionate
    > profile of Ms. Boudin's comrade-in-arms and Ms. Oughton's boyfriend, Bill
    > Ayers, author of a boastful memoir of his exploits 30 years ago. "I don't
    > regret setting bombs," Mr. Ayers told the Times interviewer in the living
    > room of his spacious Chicago home. "I feel we didn't do enough." Mr. Ayers,
    > wrote the dazzled reporter, "still has the ebullient manner, the apparently
    > intense interest in other people, that made him a charismatic figure in the
    > radical student movement." As if this weren't enough, the Times returned to
    > Mr. Ayers a few days later, in the Sunday magazine, with another fawning
    > interview.
    > Of course Mr. Ayers's "intense interest" assumed a different meaning when
    > "other people" became the objects of his violent fantasies. The terrorists
    > of his generation would have approved of the targets selected by last
    > Tuesday's suicide pilots -- the World Trade Center is an emblem of American
    > commerce, the Pentagon a fortress of our military might. In fact, Mr. Ayers
    > got there first, way back in 1972. "Everything was absolutely ideal on the
    > day I bombed the Pentagon," he writes in his memoir. He describes in detail
    > how the bomb was built and then placed in a Pentagon restroom. Reflecting
    > on the incident today, Mr. Ayers evades responsibility. "Even though I
    > didn't bomb the Pentagon -- we bombed it, in the sense that the Weathermen
    > organized it and claimed it." He also helped bomb New York City Police
    > headquarters in 1970 and the Capitol in 1971. Sound like terrorism? Not to
    > the Times, which calls these "daring acts." But weren't last Tuesday's
    > suicide missions "daring acts," too?
    > In 1969, Mr. Ayers's present wife, Bernardine Dohrn, once the New Left's
    > mini-skirted Joan of Arc, gushed over another "daring act" -- the murders
    > committed by Charles Manson and his followers. "Dig it!" she told a student
    > audience. "Manson killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room
    > with them, then they shoved a fork into a victim's stomach." Nowadays Ms.
    > Dohrn disavows those comments -- sort of. "It was a joke," she explains.
    > "Even in my most inflamed moment I never supported a racist mass murderer."
    > But what if Mr. Manson had been a racially sensitive mass murderer? Would
    > his "daring act" then be OK?
    > The evils of racism no doubt motivated Patrick Dolan Critton, a
    > schoolteacher in Mount Vernon, N.Y. He too appeared in the news on the
    > morning of the World Trade Center attack, after he was arrested for a crime
    > committed in 1971. Mr. Critton is accused of hijacking a DC-9 in Ontario
    > and forcing the crew to fly him to Havana. This came after he robbed a
    > bank, had a shootout with police and then, as a member of a black
    > "liberation" group, assembled pipe bombs in an explosives "factory" on the
    > Lower East Side. Today, the Times reported, Mr. Critton has "the appearance
    > and demeanor of a gentleman," nothing like his earlier self. Nor was that
    > earlier self a terrorist. He was "a revolutionary with a taste for" -- yes
    > -- "the most daring of crimes."
    > Why the romantic language? The message seems to be that we must not confuse
    > "good" terrorists, like those who belonged to the Weather Underground, with
    > "bad" terrorists, like those who claimed some 5,000 lives on Sept. 11. But
    > are the two really so easily distinguished? In Europe controversy has
    > lately engulfed the "68ers," student radicals who wrought so much havoc in
    > France, Germany and Italy some 30 years ago and in some instances went on
    > to become establishment figures. One such, Germany's current foreign
    > minister, Joschka Fischer, has been under fire ever since photographs
    > published in Stern, the popular magazine, captured him and four others
    > engaged in another daring act in 1973 -- the brutal beating of a policeman.
    > Mr. Fischer has apologized for that deed. He has been less forthcoming
    > about other items on his rsum, however.
    > According to The New Republic, Mr. Fischer "attended a meeting of the
    > Palestine Liberation Organization in Algiers back in 1969, at which the PLO
    > adopted a resolution to achieve final victory, which is to say, the
    > destruction of Israel."
    > Thus do the passions of the New Left mingle with those of the New Fanatics,
    > and the daring acts of good terrorists find common cause with those of the
    > bad. This is not surprising. The "critiques" of America offered by the
    > likes of Osama bin Laden and the Palestinians who jubilantly filled the
    > streets after the attacks on the World Trade Center echo those made long
    > ago by the New Left. They, too, branded our nation, its leaders and
    > citizens, as war-mongering, imperialist and all the rest.
    > Does the New Left bear any responsibility for last Tuesday's horrific
    > events? Obviously not. The point, rather, is that while those crimes may
    > appear to signal the beginning of a new era, they should be seen instead as
    > the climax of malign, inchoate energies that have been at large, here and
    > abroad, for a generation now, ever since it became not only commonplace but
    > fashionable to despise the U.S. and all its works in the name of radicalism.
    > Joschka Fischer has come a long way. He now supports NATO, another longtime
    > symbol of American "imperialism." Yet how many other veterans of the New
    > Left have owned up to the reality of their appalling misreading of what the
    > Western democracies have really stood for during the past half-century or
    > more? And how many alumni of the Weather Underground acknowledge today the
    > part they played in fostering a culture of terrorism in which assaults on
    > the U.S. and its citizens are wreathed in the glory of "daring acts"?
    > -------------
    > Mr. Tanenhaus, a contributing editor of Vanity Fair, is the author of
    > "Whittaker Chambers: A Biography."

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat Nov 10 2001 - 16:31:32 EST