[sixties-l] response to wilkerson review (fwd)

From: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
Date: Sun Feb 10 2002 - 00:33:27 EST

  • Next message: John Johnson: "Re: [sixties-l] response to wilkerson review (fwd)"

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: Sat, 09 Feb 2002 20:32:04 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: response to wilkerson review

     From Portside

    From: john crawford
    Subject: response to wilkerson review

    I read Cathy Wilkerson's review of Bill Ayer's Fugitive
    Days with considerable interest. It appears to me she
    has made a real contribution from her experience, rich
    and tragic at the same time. Her critique of Ayer's
    book addresses its failure to reflect, its desire to
    sensationalize, and its willingness to produce a
    consumer commodity instead of an analysis, and it's
    fitting that someone like Wilkerson should call the
    author to account. One wishes she would write a memoir
    of the period herself, especially considering the work
    of others worse than Ayers who have been willing to
    express their views and richly compensated for them as

    But I'm moved to criticize the single-paragraph
    introduction by Ethan Young. Young takes a serious risk
    when he uses what Wilkerson is saying to express his
    moral condemnation. Wilkerson asks for a true history
    of the period, an examination of actions and mistakes.
    While she is certainly not attempting "to recast the
    Weather Underground experience as a myth of movement
    glory," neither does she characterize it as Young does,
    as the "Weather fiasco." It should be remembered that
    in the same period other sectors of the movement
    entertained controversy about armed struggle: the black
    liberation movement, the Puerto Rican independence
    movement, the Native American Movement, and so on. Even
    the primarily white domestic left, often under attack
    from the police, participated in street fighting and
    other methods of self-defense, and it often mounted
    arguments for the necessity of this response. The whole
    matter was made more complex by the presence of agents
    provocateurs and unstable personalities who encouraged
    others to take inappropriate actions. But to dismiss,
    as Young does, a section of the movement as the
    "Weather fiasco" rejects the complication of the
    situation, exhibits a kind of idealism that has little
    to do with progressive thinking, and mechanically draws
    a line between violence and non-violence that should
    remain open to discussion depending on the situation. I
    would much rather listen to Wilkerson, who has learned
    the real costs of political mistakes, than what appears
    to be a somewhat facile mischaracterization of her

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