Re: [sixties-l] Todd Gitlin Does the Boss Man's Work (fwd)

From: Walter Teague (
Date: Tue Nov 19 2002 - 22:28:55 EST

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    I have not had time to participate in this important dialog, but I do
    have a question. Where in Jacob's piece does he question Gitlin's
    participation? Perhaps I missed it, but I read that he questions
    Gitlin's assertions and criticisms, not his participation either in body
    or critique. And "pure enough"? I wonder if your emotional argument
    isn't more because you don't like the persuasiveness of Ron's arguments.

    I had read Gitlin, Corn and Horowitz's criticisms of the anti-Iraq War
    demonstrations and while there are far different in politics,
    factualness and motivation, they shared the desire to give far too much
    import and influence to the WW related organizers. People came for all
    sorts or reasons and politics, mostly having nothing to do with either
    WW or other ideologies. Even the NY Times, NPR and some other press was
    forced to admit that this was a larger than expected and genuine turn
    out of public outrage.

    William Mandel's point is much more important. How can we organize so
    this outrage transforms into a spreading and sustained awareness that
    creates not just reaction, but new public power?

    My take on the Oct. 26th demonstration follows. If you listened to NPR,
    CBS and read the Times you would believe the organizers (WW et al) were
    "disappointed" by the small turnout. Or if you read Horowitz in
    Frontpage magazine, you would have to imagine "100,000 Communists March
    on Washington...!"

    Along with many others, I had to write to these lying media and for
    example, wrote the NYTimes:

    > Subject: Is someone at the Times upset?
    > People at The New York Times:
    > I've been going to demonstrations for 40 years. Afterwards, I would
    > read with dismay the news reports that grossly understate the numbers
    > and distorting the intentions of civil rights and anti-war
    > demonstration I'd attended. So, I began to count. I'd count the
    > numbers passing by and make rough calculations and usually I'd come up
    > with a figure that was well beyond the media's reports.
    > On 10/26/02, I didn't count. It was so clear that this was not only
    > the biggest demonstration I'd seen in many years, but it went beyond
    > where my old legs could carry me.
    > Just to give your an idea, I walked about 90 percent of the march
    > route which circled around the White House from Constitution Ave. at
    > 21st Street and returned to the same really site. It was jam packed
    > all the way and near the end I cut through the park, reaching the
    > starting and ending point about an hour after the front of the march.
    > But for a minute I thought the march had started over again and was
    > going up 17th Street again! Actually, well over an hour after the
    > front ranks had completed the route (with some interruptions along the
    > way), there were still thousands who were just starting to march!
    > Imagine my amazement and disgust when driving home, I heard an
    > announcer on CBS News say "several thousand" anti-Iraq war
    > demonstrators turned out in Washington today...! "Several thousand!"
    > When did "several" mean "tens" much less a hundred thousand?
    > But The New York Times is supposed to be more accurate and probably
    > had more time to make a reasonable estimate. You could have watched
    > CNN's live coverage which clearly showed the joyous reaction of the
    > speakers and marchers to the wonderful turnout, which clearly exceeded
    > their predictions and expectations!
    > So my question is, who was it at The New York Times that was so
    > disappointed by the huge, larger than expected turnout, that they
    > instructed the reporters to seriously understate and distort reality!
    > Is someone at The Times afraid of the growing opposition to this rush
    > to war?
    > Walter Teague, LICSW, LCSW-C

    > Webpage:
    > Tel. 301-439-6755

    Let's all keep on talking....

    Walter Teague

    Marty Jezer wrote:

    > As I understand it Gitlin spoke at anti-war rally at the UN. I assume
    > that he did it on his own volition; he wasn't coerced. But, alas, poor
    > Todd isn't pure enough
    > for Counterpunch. Maybe all participants at anti-war rallies ought to
    > be screened, like at airports. Instead of looking for weapons, our
    > screens would look for incorrect thinking. For what it's worth, I'd
    > never pass Jacobs' -- or happily, Counterpunch's screening --for the
    > anti-war movement. Still I attend rallies, write articles, organizing
    > in my local community.
    > Alas, I want to build the biggest and broadest movement ever -- even
    > including Pat Buchanan's isolationist conservatives -- agreeing to
    > disagree on every issue but stopping the war on Iraq.
    > I assume Ron and his friends at Counterpoint would prefer to remain
    > small and irrelevant, but pure.
    > Gitlin's should be debated and criticized if people disagree. His
    > participation in the movement should not be questioned!
    > Marty Jezer
    > Author:
    > Stuttering: A Life Bound Up in Words
    > Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel
    > Rachel Carson: Author, Biologist
    > The Dark Ages: Life in the USA, 1945-1960
    > Visit my web site
    > <>
    > Subscribe to my Friday commentary (by reply e-mail). It's free!
    > ---- Original Message -----
    > From: <
    > <>>
    > To: sixties-l <
    > <>>
    > Sent: Saturday, November 09, 2002 10:22 PM
    > Subject: [sixties-l] Todd Gitlin Does the Boss Man's Work (fwd)
    > >
    > >
    > > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    > > Date: Wed, 06 Nov 2002 14:35:57 -0800
    > > From: radtimes < <>>
    > > Subject: Todd Gitlin Does the Boss Man's Work
    > >
    > > Todd Gitlin Does the Boss Man's Work
    > >
    > > Redbaiting the Antiwar Movement
    > >
    > > by RON JACOBS
    > > CounterPunch
    > > October 17, 2002
    > >
    > > Recently Todd Gitlin, one of the establishment media's "experts" on the
    > > Sixties, was extensively quoted in an article by Michelle Goldberg
    > in the
    > > online magazine Salon. The gist of Gitlin's comments (and the
    > article) was
    > > that the participants in the growing movement against Washington's drive
    > > towards war on Iraq were, in essence, communist dupes. The article
    > attacked
    > > some of the more leftist organizers of the Not In Our Name project
    > (Refuse
    > > and Resist) and the bicoastal marches planned for October 26th
    > > (International Answer) as apologists for despotic regimes and extremist
    > > Latin American guerrilla organizations like Peru's Shining Path. In
    > doing
    > > so, the author (and Gitlin) ignore the broad base of the movement
    > and the
    > > two umbrella organizations currently coordinating most national
    > actions and
    > > campaigns.
    > >
    > > Gitlin, who continues to move further to the right with each public
    > > utterance, states that with groups like Refuse and Resist and ANSWER
    > behind
    > > the scenes, the antiwar movement will face the same fate as that against
    > > the Vietnam War which, according to Gitlin disintegrated mostly because,
    > > "As war became less popular, so did the antiwar movement," he says.
    > "People
    > > saw the antiwar movement as a scrod of would-be revolutionaries who
    > wanted
    > > to tear up everything orderly and promising about America...." To
    > say the
    > > least, his analysis ignores the very real fact that the antiwar movement
    > > was under attack by the establishment media, the LBJ and Nixon White
    > House,
    > > and the FBI and numerous other police agencies-all of which probably had
    > > more to do with the movement's apparent foundering than the angry
    > rants of
    > > the revolutionary wing of the movement. It also ignores the massive
    > > mobilizations against the war that took place in May 1970 and for
    > two weeks
    > > in late April-early May of 1971 as veterans, then peaceniks, and finally
    > > direct action protestors took over the streets of Washington, DC. In
    > > addition, by making such a claim, Gitlin ignores the fact that the
    > antiwar
    > > movement in the United States and around the world had a good deal to do
    > > with the war ending in 1975 with independence for the Vietnamese
    > > people-their original goal.
    > >
    > > As an historian of the Sixties, Mr. Gitlin should remember that it was
    > > another leftist group, the May 2nd Movement (M2M)-a nationwide student
    > > movement against US intervention in Vietnam that was organized by the
    > > Maoist Progressive Labor Party in early 1965-that was the first national
    > > organization opposed to US intervention in Vietnam. After the movement
    > > developed its own momentum, M2M fell by the wayside and numerous
    > groups and
    > > coalitions representing diverse politics, philosophies, classes and
    > > interests took part in every subsequent mobilization against the US
    > > misadventure in Southeast Asia. For Gitlin to make this acknowledgement
    > > however, would nullify his perception of the Sixties. This perception
    > > divides the social movements of that decade into two phases: the "good
    > > Sixties" and the "bad Sixties," with the former being when Gitlin
    > and his
    > > friends ran the primary radical student group-Students for a Democratic
    > > Society (SDS)-and the latter being after this group of leaders moved
    > on. Of
    > > course, the lines are not as clear as Gitlin remembers them. Indeed,
    > many
    > > of the very same folks who were in the early SDS did not leave the
    > > organization as it became more radical in nature, they grew more radical
    > > themselves.
    > >
    > > This is not said to disparage the early SDS. Without the foresight and
    > > vision this group provided with its words and its organizing against
    > racism
    > > and war, it is likely that the people and countryside of Vietnam
    > would have
    > > been nuked and the struggle against systemic racism in all sections
    > of the
    > > US would have been ignored. Ironically, in light of Gitlin's
    > "redbaiting"
    > > comments in this article and over the past few years, it is important to
    > > note that one of SDS' founding principles was to allow any
    > individuals who
    > > shared the organization's left-leaning philosophy to participate
    > fully in
    > > SDS activities and membership. Why ironic? Because in the late
    > Fifties and
    > > early Sixties it was the trend among the liberal establishment to ban
    > > anybody associated with Communist organizations from taking part in
    > their
    > > coalitions and groups. Now, Mr. Gitlin and his compatriots, who whether
    > > they like it or not, are today's liberal establishment, are
    > replicating the
    > > sins of their fathers in their rebuke of any group with a red tinge
    > in the
    > > antiwar movement. By doing so, they are doing Messrs. Rumsfeld and
    > > Ashcroft's work.
    > >
    > > There are serious questions regarding the umbrella organizations
    > currently
    > > coordinating the various national actions against Washington's drive
    > > towards war. These are questions which should and are being debated by
    > > activists new and old throughout the country. If. Mr. Gitlin wishes
    > to join
    > > these debates in a serious way, without waving his flag and his
    > credentials
    > > in front of us, he is more than welcome. It is not up to him and those
    > > liberals who are offended by the more radical thoughts of those of
    > us who
    > > have learned different lessons from history than they to decide what the
    > > antiwar movement will be. It is up to those who participate in it. If
    > > history is any indication, this means the new movement against US
    > wars on
    > > the world will have as many ideological hues participating in it as the
    > > movement against the US war in Vietnam did. Indeed, it already does.
    > > -----------
    > > Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather
    > > Underground.
    > >

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