[sixties-l] Patty Hearsts Little Red Book (fwd)

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Date: Tue Mar 19 2002 - 18:23:25 EST

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    Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 11:22:44 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Patty Hearsts Little Red Book

    Patty Hearst's Little Red Book


    The SLA was not her first exposure to the rhetoric of revolution

    March 13, 2002

    Publishing heiress Patty Hearst was studying art history at UC Berkeley
    when she was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army on February 4,
    1974. She resurfaced a short time later as Taniaa full-time urban guerrilla
    and sometime bank robber who had cast off her old bourgeois life and joined
    the SLA. Hearst quickly became the Bay Area's most famous "leftist," and
    posters of her wielding a sawed-off carbine in front of the SLA's
    seven-headed cobra popped up on kiosks and apartment walls throughout
    Berkeley. http://www.eastbayexpress.com/issues/1050/1/image.gif
    But once she was arrested and tried for her participation in the 1974
    holdup of a San Francisco bank, Hearst began portraying herself quite
    differently. Ever since, she has depicted herself as a serious student who
    was not interested in, and even ignorant of -- the radical politics of the
    times. When lawyer F. Lee Bailey defended Hearst for her role in the crime,
    he portrayed her as a typical nineteen-year-old college student concerned
    primarily with her studies and her upcoming marriage.

    But the basics of revolutionary thought weren't exactly new to Hearst,
    although this was never pointed out at her trial or in the pages of her
    1982 autobiography. Hearst studied revolutionary thought as a first-year
    student at Menlo College, the Atherton junior college she attended before
    transferring to Cal. The publishing heiress is even alleged to have
    wisecracked to her professor that participating in revolutionary activities
    would be a sure way to rankle her own famously conservative parents.
    Now, Hearst is likely to be at the center of yet another SLA trial, this
    time as a star witness for the prosecution. And the lawyers who are
    representing her former SLA colleagues are all but certain to use the
    contradictions in her accounts of those days as a key part of their defense
    On January 16 this year, former SLA members Emily "Yolanda" Harris, Sara
    Jane Olson, Michael Bortin, and Bill "General Teko" Harris of Oakland were
    arrested for the slaying of forty-two-year-old Myrna Opsahl during the
    robbery of the Carmichael branch of the Crocker National Bank on April 21,
    1975. A fifth suspect, James Kilgore, remains a fugitive.
    In Every Secret Thing, her 1982 autobiography, Hearst accused Emily Harris
    of firing the shotgun blast that killed Opsahl. She also wrote that Bill
    Harris, Olson, Bortin, and Kilgore were participants in the robbery.
    Hearst, who admits driving a getaway car, was granted immunity in the case
    years ago, freeing her to testify in the forthcoming trial but once again
    shining the spotlight back on her. The forthcoming case could hinge on
    Hearst's credibility as a witness.
    "Given that the only person naming anybody individually is Patty Hearst,
    her testimony seems to be a central issue in everybody's trial," said
    Stuart Hanlon, Emily Harris's attorney. "She's really, in many ways, the
    entire case."
    The SLA, which never counted more than a dozen soldiers in its ranks,
    emerged in Berkeley in 1973. Escaped convict Donald DeFreeze, known as
    General Field Marshal Cinque, led a gang of young, white, well-educated,
    middle-class zealots who declared war on the US government, pledging to
    stamp out "competition, individualism, fascism, racism, sexism, and
    imperialism," according to one of the SLA's innumerable propaganda
    documents. With "Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of
    the people!" as its battle cry, the SLA was well-armed and violent. Its
    first public act was the assassination of Oakland school Superintendent
    Marcus Foster on November 6, 1973.
    Hearst's conversion was a huge publicity coup for the SLA, which had a
    knack for attracting media attention. Despite its lack of support from
    mainstream leftists, the SLA had apparently wooed to its side a symbol of
    the hated ruling-class elite, the granddaughter of the Hearst publishing
    But Hearst, who condemned virtually all aspects of her former life while on
    the run with the SLA, reversed herself after being captured. In fact, she
    later argued that she couldn't have been a more inappropriate choice to be
    a celebrity revolutionary. In Every Secret Thing, she portrayed her life at
    Cal with fiance Steven Weed as decidedly apolitical. "Berkeley was known
    far and wide as the fountainhead of the student rebellion and campus
    uprising of the '60s, a haven for radicals and revolutionaries, a hotbed of
    communism, Marxism, socialism, and whatever -ism might be current at the
    moment," she wrote. "But by the time Steve and I moved to Berkeley in the
    fall of 1972, almost all that had withered away. ... Serious students
    simply did not have time for the protests of the '60s."
    After being abducted from her Ben-venue Avenue apartment, Hearst received a
    crash course in revolutionary theory from her captors, who she said briefly
    dubbed her "bourgeois bitch" and Marie Antoinette, because she "lived in
    her own cocoon of ignorance."
    "He mentioned country after country and [named] each of the revolutionary
    groups involved, and when it became apparent that I did not know what he
    was talking about, he berated me for being so ignorant of the ^A'people's
    movements' in all parts of the world," Hearst wrote of one of her early
    sessions with General Field Marshal Cinque.
    Hearst's image as a political neophyte also was stressed in her 1976 trial
    for participating in the Hibernia Bank robbery. The flamboyant F. Lee
    Bailey told the jury that Cinque had given Hearst a simple choice: "Do what
    I say or I'll blow your head off."
    But Hearst actually took a somewhat more active role in her revolutionary
    education. After graduating a year early from Crystal Springs High School,
    she enrolled at Menlo College in the fall of 1971 and attended history
    professor Joseph Bertrand's course "History of Revolution."
    The class exposed Hearst to a broad spectrum of revolutionary
    thought. Students were assigned everything from the Communist Manifesto to
    Plato's Republic. Other required reading included Mao's Little Red Book,
    the writings of Ho Chi Minh, and Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on
    Ice, a collection of essays focusing on racism that became an important
    part of the Black Power movement. "It was based completely on revolutionary
    readings and discussions of the readings," Bertrand remembered. "There were
    also readings related to quite a few movements in emerging African states."
    Although Bertrand described Hearst as an "excellent and conscientious"
    student, he doesn't remember her as overly enthusiastic in class. "She
    displayed somewhat of a slight indifference," the seventy-six-year-old
    Bertrand recalled during a recent telephone interview from his Palo Alto
    home. "I got the feeling she came in with the idea that this was going to
    be interesting, and it wasn't very interesting for her. She didn't
    participate too much."
    But the class may have inspired Hearst in more concrete ways. A former
    Menlo College professor who asked to remain anonymous remembers hearing
    from Bertrand that Hearst once said that getting involved with a
    revolutionary group would be a great way to "fix" her parents. It was
    allegedly delivered in a joking manner, an offhand remark that college
    students would appreciate without taking seriously.
    Asked recently about the story, Bertrand did not deny it. "I'd rather not
    go into that," was his only reply. "I'd rather not comment." But Bertrand
    does remember receiving "hate mail" from people on campus who believed that
    he had somehow contributed to Hearst's transformation from innocent victim
    to urban guerrilla.
    "The librarian didn't care too much for the books I put on reserve," he
    recalled, "and the people at the bookstore were upset about the books I
    Despite the intense scrutiny of the SLA and the Patty Hearst saga,
    Bertrand, who left Menlo College in 1979 and retired from Cogswell College
    in 1991, said he has never discussed Hearst's involvement in his seminar
    with law enforcement officials or seen anything written about it.
    The jury in Patty Hearst's first trial didn't buy her lawyer's portrayal of
    her as a brainwashed innocent forced to participate in crimes by her
    revolutionary kidnappers. Hearst was found guilty of the Hibernia Bank
    robbery and later sentenced to seven years in prison. President Jimmy
    Carter commuted her sentence after she served twenty-one months, and
    President Bill Clinton pardoned her shortly before leaving office last year.
    Now Hearst has reentered the public eye as a result of the June 1999 arrest
    of alleged SLA member Kathleen Soliah, who was apprehended after being
    featured on an episode of "America's Most Wanted." Soliah had changed her
    name to Sara Jane Olson and was living quietly as a mother and homemaker in
    Minnesota. She was convicted in January for her role in planting bombs
    under Los Angeles police cars and sentenced to twenty years to life in prison.
    Olson's case helped rekindle the investigation of the Crocker National Bank
    branch robbery and the murder of Myrna Opsahl. Prosecutors in Los Angeles
    contend that money from the robbery may have financed other terrorist
    activities, including the bombing attempts that earned Olson a conviction.
    They publicly called on Sacramento County prosecutors to pursue the case.
    And they weren't alone. Jon Opsahl, the son of the slain bank customer,
    also campaigned for charges to be filed.
    Federal prosecutors already had tried one alleged SLA member for the
    robbery without success. In April of 1976, Steven Soliah, Kathleen's
    brother, was acquitted in federal court in Sacramento. Prosecutors chose
    not to put Hearst on the stand, perhaps because her performance at her own
    Hibernia Bank trial had been so poor. Hearst took the Fifth Amendment
    forty-two times, and her testimony was considered devastating to her case.
    But while the charges in the Crocker robbery largely correspond with
    Hearst's assertions in Every Secret Thing, new scientific analysis appeared
    to convince Sacramento county prosecutors to finally prosecute the
    case. "Using forensic testing procedures not available until recently, the
    FBI laboratory linked the lead pellets that killed Mrs. Opsahl to shotgun
    shells found in an SLA hideout in San Francisco," Sacramento District
    Attorney Jan Scully said.
    Attorney Stuart Hanlon, who calls Hearst's book "fiction," still believes
    she's the key to the prosecutor's case. "There is some circumstantial
    evidence, but at best it might attempt to tie a group of people to the
    event, not an individual," Hanlon said. "Given that the only person naming
    anybody individually is Patty Hearst, her testimony seems to be a central
    issue in everybody's trial."
    Hearst's reputation certainly has changed since her 1976 trial. Married to
    one of her former bodyguards, she lives in Connecticut and has two
    children. She has appeared in several films by cult director John Waters.
    But it is Hearst's past that will matter most if she testifies. "Patty
    Hearst was like everybody growing up in that time," Hanlon said. "She
    wanted something changed. She was probably very bored with her life and did
    a lot of things that young people at that time did. What she studied in
    school, what she's done, will all be part of who she is."
    In a January 22 interview with CNN's Larry King, Hearst accused the SLA of
    pursuing "their own little jihad" and seemed eager to testify. "You have to
    be honest," Hearst said. "That's why I published the book. I have never
    wavered from it. I don't have any skeletons in my closet. I'm not afraid to
    go in front of a jury."

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