---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 14:59:19 -0800
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: The little girl excuse of a retired terrorist
The 'little girl' excuse of a retired terrorists
by George Will
December 10, 2001
WASHINGTON -- In Southern California, on the shore of the sundown sea, the
sunset of the 1960s myth continues. The most telling recent episode was not
the much-remarked death of a semiretired guitarist. Rather, it was the
little-noticed "girl excuse" offered in court by a retired terrorist. That
George Harrison's death from cancer at 58 was treated as epochal news is
redundant evidence of the baby-boom generation's infinite narcissism. That
cohort's mere size made it important, economically and hence culturally,
and self-importance has been its defining attitude. Pop music is for
boomers what the madeleine was for Proustan especially powerful trigger of
memory. Hence the quintessential boomer movie, "The Big Chill," in which
some boomers wallow, to the accompaniment of oldies but goodies, in
bewilderment because one of their peers has died. No one had told them
their importance would not exempt them from death.
Last week, in a Los Angeles courtroom not far from where Harrison died,
there was a display of a boomer's sense of entitlement to exemption from
life's rules. The aging boomer, bound for prison, is Kathleen Soliahor Sara
Jane Olson, as she has called herself since she became a fugitive 26 years
She first became a minor celebrity of the cracked left in 1974 when she
delivered a fiery speech in Berkeley's Ho Chi Minh Park, as it then was
called, denouncing the Los Angeles police for the shootout that killed six
members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, with which she was
associated. The SLA's brief life featured an assassination of a black
superintendent of schools in Oakland, a bank robbery in which a mother of
four was murdered, and the kidnapping, and temporary conversion, of Patty
Olson hid under her new identity until captured in 1999 in St. Paul, Minn.
She was evading prosecution for complicity in an attempt, fortunately
incompetent, to kill LAPD officers with bombs attached to two patrol cars.
While her lawyers sought repeated delays of her trial, she entertained
sympathizers with talks about her persecution. Prosecutors waited their
chance to present 40,000 pieces of physical evidence, such as handwriting
evidence that she ordered fuses two weeks before the attempted bombings.
But after Sept. 11 she changed her tune. Never remorseful and now
self-pitying, she said she was eager for a trial but could not get a fair
one because Americans were so wrought up about terrorism, and had become
pro-government. So she pleaded guilty in a bargain that would mean a milder
Then she walked out of the courtroom and told the media she was innocent.
She did not feel guilty. The judge, unamused, set another hearing, at which
he told her a guilty plea is not mere prelude to a press conference. She
again pleaded guilty, in a pouty way, saying, well, OK, she technically did
aid and abet the bombing attempts.
But later her tender conscience again told her she must ask the judge to
disregard her second guilty plea. At the next hearing her co-counsel, a
veteran defender of leftists, failed to appear. He later faxed a letter to
the judge, pleading "bad karma." He had missed his flight from Oakland and
assumed there would not be a seat on the next flight: "Therefore in a state
of mind of dank frustration, I went home and went back to bed."
In his absence, Olson's other co-counsel, a woman, told the judge that
Olson had been browbeaten by the absent male co-counsel into pleading
guilty. One of the prosecutors, a woman, accused Olson of using the "girl
excuse." Thus ended the bomber's career, not with a bang but a whimper.
The judge said: "She pled guilty because she is guilty. The facts show she
is guilty." Olson, who will be sentenced next month, is getting what she
deserves. But the 1960s, supposedly the left's salad days, deserve an
amnesty from conservatives. The principal political result of the decade in
which Olson and kindred spirits were active was the ascendancy of
conservatism, partly because of leftists' activism.
The greatest political career begun in the 1960s was ignited in 1964 by a
nationally telecast election-eve speech supporting one of the decade's
first and most consequential dissenters, Barry Goldwater. Two years later
the speaker, Ronald Reagan, won California's governorship, partly because
of his promise to clean up "the mess at Berkeley."
Of which Olson was briefly a part, thereby contributing to rise of the
right. Such are the tricks history plays on frivolous dabblers at the
making of history.
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