Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rubin: Fantastic Hypocrisy -- ABC on Obama and the Weather Underground

At last night's Clinton-Obama debate hosted by ABC News, former Clinton White House official George Stephanopoulous asked Barack Obama about his acquaintance with William Ayers, a former leader of the Weather Underground. The Weather Underground was a short-lived splinter group of the Revolutionary Youth Movement faction of the Students for Democratic Society. RYM split from SDS at the organization's national convention in 1969 in Chicago, where the Worker-Student Alliance Caucus led by the Maoist Progressive Labor Party captured control of the organization. The following fall, a minority of the RYM leaders staged a riot under the name "Days of Rage," in which one person was killed and 600 vehicles were damaged. The leaders of Days of Rage failed to appear in court and went "underground." They took the name the Weather Underground; the original RYM manifesto had used Bob Dylan's verse from Subterranean Homesick Blues ("You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows") as an epigraph.

I know all this because as a 19 year old member of the Yale SDS chapter I attended the 1969 SDS conference. Subsequently my telephones were tapped by the New Haven police and I was overheard on an FBI National Security wiretap of the Black Panther Party office in New Haven. Thanks to a later lawsuit, I now have documentary records of my activities at that time (even transcripts of phone calls) and won a small amount in a lawsuit for illegal wiretapping. I was with the SDS Worker-Student Alliance Caucus for a couple years after that, until I decided it was better to have friends than to build a base for the revolution.

Apparently RYM could have used a better meteorologist, because prevailing winds were heavily blowin' in the direction of white backlash. Only five years before the Days of Rage white racist terrorists captured and murdered three activists working to promote democracy in Philadelphia, Mississippi, buried their bodies in a dam, and were acquitted by an all-white jury. I remember that too. Goodman, Schwerner, and Cheney came from different places, but they ended up together.

Which gets me thinking -- I wonder if any U.S. presidential candidates or members of the Senate have ever had any acquaintance with, or socialized with, any white racists, former members of the Ku Klux Klan or the White Citizens Council or any of the other groups that supported anti-democratic racist terrorism in the United States when I was a teenager? Why don't the media check that out? Maybe they'll understand why some people were enraged -- and not only Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Maybe Barack Obama was only eight years old in 1969 -- but I was a little older.

(Cross-posted at DailyKos.)


Anonymous said...

the poverty of political culture in the US was on full display at last night's debate.

please oh please keep this blog going.

Anonymous said...

Network analysts are worse than awful. I turned off the debate in 30 minutes, and regret having bothered at all. I will not make such a mistake in wtching again. I can read what I need to know.

Da' Buffalo Amongst Wolves said...

Meanwhile, out of ... 15 ... core members of a a group I was involved in in NY, an offshoot of Abbie Hoffman's Yippie!, 5 of those 15 turned out to be various and sundry police agents, informers... a John Bircher...

Speaking of provocateurs etc... 2nd hung jury today in the Miami Beach 'al Qaeda homegrown terror' trial.

stanW said...

Rubin's comment was right on target.
I'm neither a Republican (obviously ! ) or Democrat but it's clear that there is a variant of McCarthyite redbaiting going on towards Obama .
How many Republican pols have fascists in their closets ?
Trent Lott for example was associated with the White Citizens Council , the de facto public ''political wing '' of the KKK.
Bush gushed over the visit of the Pope but one of Mccain's important backers is a certain Rev. Hagee , who has used classic anti-catholic rhetoric similar to that of the pro-British loyalists in Northern Ireland . No calls on McCain to renounce Hagee's support.

Don Bacon said...

Very cool.

Terrorism in fact can't be committed by the people in power. It can only be a reaction to governmental power.

Bring the powerful to justice? "The function of law is not to provide justice or to preserve freedom. The function of the law is to keep those who hold power, in power. . . Government is no longer the servant of the people but, at last, has become the people's master."--Gerry Spence, famed defense lawyer

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