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

From: John Johnson (
Date: Sun Feb 10 2002 - 04:05:47 EST

  • Next message: "[sixties-l] Short question. (fwd)"

    >Both John and Cathy make good points.

    I would take Cathy to task for her excuses for the women of the movement.
    Being there and being one of the nitty gritty guys that made up the bulk of
    the movement I would say that the women made the choices free and clear.
    They choose the more good looking, flamboyant, and yes even violent guys
    over the rest of us. No one forced them and they often were very proud of
    their choices.
    The same is true today.

    The building of an underground during the Sixties was a good idea. In fact
    there were many small versions of it. Some aided draft resisters, some
    aided black radicals and others. A few just wanted to try and establish an

    But as to armed struggle. Yes many of us thought of it, thought that it
    might be a possibility. But even with a ounce of common sense that wasn't
    going to be groups of upper middle class youth of any sort. Armed struggle
    is a product of mass struggle. And the only place that was even close was
    in the
    Black communities.
    And the State started to get real nervous when Black GI's started to come
    back from Vietnam and were pissed. Thats why Geronimo Pratt was framed.

    The state had tanks, B52's and millions of soldiers. A few pop guns
    wouldn't last long.

    >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

    John Johnson
    Change-Links Progressive Newspaper or
    Subscribe to our list server. Email
    (818) 982-1412
    Cell (818) 681-7448.


    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Wed Feb 13 2002 - 02:24:26 EST