Tag Archives: Days of Rage

Another quote from Days of Rage:

“I remember Russell Neufeld saying, ‘We have to wake up and realize we are not going to be Ho Chi Minh,'” says Baraldini

This is the thing that makes reading Days of Rage such an eyebrow raising experience, many of the people involved held ideas which, if they held them alone, would easily be considered delusional. Even as a group, they border on delusional.

I’m not an especially punitive or vengeful person and it doesn’t really irk me that when these domestic terrorists finally decided that they were tired of hiding and wanted to return to the middle class life they’d left behind, wasting their youth lost in a megalomania fantasy of leading a revolution, the government let most of them go with comparatively minimal punishments, if any.

We all have crazy thoughts and I’ve had pretty radical friends and acquaintances, but at some point you recognize reality. It does amaze me that not only did many of these people escape punishment, but their names and reputations are not entirely mud.

James Kilgore joined one of the nuttier groups, the Symbionese Liberation Army, better known as the people who kidnapped Patty Hearst. Yet he writes for outlets like Counterpunch and Truthout and now, in retrospect, I recall seeing his name on articles I’ve read. More recently, he’s jumped on the radical left’s latest delusion and published a book on “mass incarceration.” Why are these people not just laughed out of the room?

As I’ve made it clear several times on this blog, I’ve been struggling with my political alignments ever since the terrorist attack in Paris last February that killed supermarket shoppers and cartoonists. Politics requires joining together with other people, preferably a large number, and that requires compromise. I’m still a liberal, but I’m not a radical. I very much believe in democracy and the rule of law. These radicals have demonstrated a lack of lucidity so tremendous it’s amazing they can tie their shoes without seeing a conspiracy. That they are given any credence, that they didn’t just tuck their tails between their legs and slide into obscurity is just amazing to me.

When former Governor Palin suggested that President Obama was “palling around with terrorists,” I entirely dismissed it because – well – because it came from Sarah Palin who is not credible to me. However, Bill Ayers really was a terrorist. That he is given even an iota of credence by anyone anywhere borders on remarkable.

Now that the holiday is over, I’m back to reading Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence. It’s really fascinating. I was only barely old enough to be aware of these events, so it’s sort of like being reminded of a dream you’d forgotten. The names are familiar and sometimes I even have vague faces or images associated with them, but often the details are new. You really get the sense of how idealism can go off the rails. Unfortunately, the very people who probably should read it probably won’t. I can get excited about political stuff, but there’s something in my nature that makes me pull back and ask questions before acting on my impulses. I had a friend and when we would talk late at night, it seemed we were in broad agreement on many political things, but when she started throwing bricks I distanced myself from her and her radical friends. Violent action just always stops me in my tracks.

Anyway, I’m continually struck by various sentences. Here’s one:

“Marxism even explained his wife. She wasn’t a striving harpy; she was just bourgeois.”

I’ve just started reading Days of Rage by Brian Burroughs. It’s about the leftist violence that occurred in the US throughout the 1970s. I was a kid during that time and I have vague memories of its existence. Burroughs writes that he was interested in documenting the subject because it’s been all but forgotten. It also seems to me that to the extent that it has been remembered it’s been seriously whitewashed.

I haven’t gotten very far into the book yet, but there have already been dozens of eyebrow raising moments.

For those who are not from the US or are too you to know the names, Weatherman was a group formed by the leadership of Students for a Democratic Society, a socialist organization. Before running for the leadership positions of the organization, a small group wrote “the Weatherman Paper” which described the radical left student movement in the United States as part of, in Burroughs’ words, “a single titanic global struggle between oppressed minorities and the agencies of U.S. imperialism.” SDS was disbanded and they group formed collectives with the intent of starting an armed insurrection in the United States with the intention of violently overthrowing the government. When numbers insufficient to start a revolution show interest, they decided to form an underground guerrilla organization.

“… Jim Mellen, one of the Weatherman paper’s eleven signers, though the whole idea of guerrilla war was crazy. Mellen was watching the Super Bowl with JJ, Dohrn, and Ayers in Chicago when JJ remarked that anyone who quit now would have to be killed. For Mellen it was the final straw; he walked out of the house at halftime, never to return.”

I’ll probably have more commentary on this in the future.