Re: [sixties-l] I was a terrorist (fwd)

From: Ron Jacobs (
Date: Fri Mar 15 2002 - 08:13:22 EST

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    Actually, Jama, you are correct. The historian part of me immediately
    copied Mr. Lerner's essay into my save file for future reference. I did
    find his tale to be, not necessarily unusual or remarkable, but useful in
    trying to sort out the nuances of Weather/SDS and its increasing
    irrelevancy to the masses of young people in the late '60s-early '70s. It
    was the political part of me that found Lerner's support of the current
    imperial war (which by no means compares to WW 2, despite the right's
    attempts to describe it as such) to be symptomatic of a failure to grasp
    the meaning of imperialism. Not that Lerner is by any means alone in this
    failure. Indeed, his story is more typical in its outcome than atypical,
    although his path via Weather and terrorism was one undertaken by a small
    minority of anti-Vietnam war protestors.
    -ron j

    I had a very different reaction to Lerner's essay. There are people on the
    left who support some kind of military response to the September 11
    attacks, as there were, for example, anti-imperialists who supported the US
    response to the Axis in 1941. That line seems the least exceptional in the
    piece. On the other hand, as a historian, I don't find his story
    particularly interesting, or revealing, at all. I'm surprised that Mr.
    Jacobs, who has tried to recover some of the Weatherman history -- unlike
    the history profession generally -- would have found Lerner's confession as
    particularly insightful about the emergence of this tendency from RYM, in
    turn from trends in the national office of SDS, in turn from the 1967-69
    shift from resistance to revolution, etc.

    Jama Lazerow
    Wheelock College wrote:
    In a message dated 03/07/2002 6:25:02 PM Central Standard Time, writes:
    Nice story with interesting points--but the question remains, how can one
    have supposedly understood that the US government is an imperialist
    government and now support its wars. The only conclusion I can draw is
    that Mr. Lerner never truly understood the nature of imperialism and how
    the US is an imperialist country. Too bad. -ron jacobs

    I think it's called "changing your mind." Mr. Lerner no longer accepts the
    same view of the "nature of imperialism" as do you. If so, it follows that
    he may not view the USA as an imperialist country. I am not sure how that
    is "too bad", seeing as how we all change our ideas from time to time as we
    grow, age and encounter a wider view of the world. I should clarify that.
    SOME people do this. Others prefer to remain where they were thirty to
    forty years ago, using outdated vocabulary and outmoded ideas. It keeps
    things lively though...and hey, to each his/her/its own. :-)

    Brad L. Duren
    Instructor of History
    Oklahoma Panhandle State University
    213 Hamilton Hall
    Goodwell, Oklahoma 73939
    work phone: 580-349-1498

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