The 40-year old story of the Weather Underground still remains in the center of the ideological battle for Americans' hearts and minds.
By Larissa Atbashian
My husband, Oleg Atbashian, was recently given a 24-hour deadline by Cliff Kincaid of America's Survival to design a new book cover (above) for the re-release of Bringing Down America: An FBI Informer with the Weathermen, a 1976 fact-based story by Larry Grathwohl.
Set in 1970, this riveting narrative chronicles one year of life on the lam with leaders of America's most infamous domestic terrorist organization, as seen through the eyes of an FBI infiltrator posing as a radical communist. Prior to the publication, Larry Grathwohl testified before several federal Grand Juries, the U.S. Senate, and at the Mark Felt/Ed Miller FBI Trial.
Kincaid's project was urgent because of the upcoming (April 5, 2013) domestic release of Robert Redford's motion picture, The Company You Keep, which negates Grathwohl's documented testimony and engages in historical revisionism.
While the artistic qualities of Redford's yet unreleased independent film are being challenged by even liberal critics, Variety magazine has already created sympathetic buzz with a barrage of articles, calling the movie an "unabashedly heartfelt but competent tribute to 1960s idealism," adding that "[t]here is something undeniably compelling, perhaps even romantic, about America's '60s radicals and the compromises they did or didn't make."
Redford's film is based on the eponymous 2004 novel by Neil Gordon, the literary editor of The Boston Review and a frequent book reviewer for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Predictably, Penguin Books has just reprinted his overt romantization of leftist terrorism as a movie tie-in, with a sexy new cover featuring Robert Redford himself.
According to the publisher, "Set against the rise and fall of the radical anti-war group the Weather Underground, The Company You Keep is a sweeping American saga about sacrifice, the righteousness of youth, and the tension between political ideals and family loyalties."
The Los Angeles Times offers this mind-boggling editorial review: "The Company You Keep works as a thriller, but the adventures … are grounded firmly in larger political and moral issues, in this case the passionate conviction that the radical opposition in the '60s to the Vietnam War represented the high point of American idealism, the best dream America ever had, a dream embodied in the 1962 Port Huron Statement of the Students for a Democratic Society ("antiwar, antiracism, and anti-imperialism"), a dream abandoned."
In reality, according to Larry Grathwohl, "[t]he Weather Underground was not anti-war; it was pro-war. In fact, it waged war on the United States, in close consultation with foreign enemies of the U.S. in such places as Hanoi and Havana."
Notions like "sacrifice" and "ecstatic righteousness of youth" may sound admirable, but Grathwohl, who lived underground with the real characters, witnessed "a world of hatred, drugs, and free sex." He saw, up close, a gang of thugs who admired the Manson killers, plotted bombings, murders, and political assassinations, and aimed to overthrow the constitutionally elected US government. There is nothing sacrificial about terrorists who shoot up a police station and boast, "Our lawyers will make fools of the pigs."
At a 2009 "Justice for Victims of Terrorism" conference, Grathwohl recalled: "Bill went on to describe how Bernardine Dorhn, a Weather Underground central committee member and considered the leader of the Weather Underground, had to plan and commit the bombing of the Park Station in San Francisco. This bomb contained fence staples and was placed on a window ledge during a shift change ensuring the presence of the greatest number of police officers and the greatest possibility of death and injury. Several Police Officers were injured and one, Sergeant McDonnell, was killed by fence staples used in the bomb. He was in the hospital for two days before he succumbed to his injuries."
Grathwohl's book describes military training Weathermen received in Cuba with Russian weapons, and details how sympathetic professors helped set up Weathermen bases across American campuses. The author establishes a link between the Weatherman and Arab terrorists, exposing along the way America's most radical network made up of lawyers, college professors, and members of left-wing clergy.
In a utopian vision of the new Weather society there was no place for the American family or dissenting opinion; all opposition was crushed and those who held power before the Revolution were executed. Their view of Cuba and Red China as models for a new America was downright chilling.
Weathermen also targeted high schools, which they saw as "prisons." It is not a contradiction, however, that the most prominent of the erstwhile terrorists, Bill Ayers, later made a career in education. He simply continued to spread the same anti-American radical ideology by other means. By training teachers to indoctrinate American children, he exploded the country from within more efficiently than his homemade bombs ever could.
With the sitting U.S. President effectively starting his political career in Bill Ayers' living room, the 40-year old story of the Weather Underground and its radical ideology isn't going away. Instead, it has moved to the very center of the currently ongoing battle for Americans' hearts and minds.
Hence the release of Robert Redford's film and Gordon's revisionist novel on the side of the radical Left - opposed by the efforts of Cliff Kincaid and other liberty-loving, patriotic Americans to bring back Grathwohl's true account of the events and the characters involved.
Among all the dismal realities of radical revolutions, perhaps the most important one barely gets mentioned: replacing the existing monetary system with the government distribution of goods and services. Money gives people the freedom to choose. Without it, free citizens become slaves to the state. While we still have the freedom that comes with money, let's use it.
Don't give Robert Redford any of your earnings. When Larry Grathwohl's Bringing Down America is re-released, buy it, read it, give it to friends and family, and spread the word.
It was easy to find the the theater where Redford's new movie was playing as all the cars were plastered with stupid commie bumper stickers. The movie went from dull to duller. It was a Bomb packed with fence staples of pompous leftwing hectoring. Painful for all.
Comrade Ebert says thumbs up!
I.M. CraptekAlthough I was not directly connected to TWU or SDS, I was well aware of their activities. Back in the 60's the useful idiots - many of them my personal friends - were heavily involved. I will read the book - and probably rent the video - with the memories of those days kept clearly in mind. I assure you, they were not really "...about sacrifice, [and] the righteousness of youth..."
I grew up about 15 miles away from Ann Arbor, so SDS, the Port Huron statement, and the fact that after it was bombed the UM administration building was built with no windows were the stuff of kitchen table conversations. By adults, which excluded me (I graduated the same year as our Dear Leader, in 1979). But knowing that people I respected romanticized some of these goons is very, VERY responsible for my foray into progressive politics when I went to college (Michigan State, my dad would have made me commute if I had gone to Michigan...or maybe he just said that so I would go away to Michigan State).
And for me, and I think for a lot of people in the 60s and 70s, it ws the romance of the ideas, the idea that those awful grownups (FBI, Republicans) were exaggerating about what these people were doing, and if only we had a world where everyone shared everything (except my Beatle records), and if John Hinckley hadn't missed, everything would be rainbows and roses
.The older I get, the more I realize I didn't know squat. All my politics, until about 1992, were based on:
1) this sounds complicated
2) my friends think it's true
3) my friends must be smarter than me, because they seem to not think it's complicated
4) BRING DOWN THE PATRIARCHY!!!!!!!!!
Vietnam PT Boat captain/ testifyier before Congress head-butts a soccer ball in Afghanistan.
The instant I saw the photo, I thought "WTH?". After reading the story, I still am wondering "WTH?
March 26, 2013
PICTURE: Kerry Heads a Soccer Ball
Vladimir_Scratchanitch... I still am wondering "WTH?
Comrade Scratchanitch, John's just having some fun ... nothing to worry about ....
Speaking as a collegiate, I personally have not encountered the Weathermen, nor have I seen any of the speeches or trials associated with them. However, I do know history, and from what I know, they were effectively a domestic terrorist group that would have resorted to suicide bombings had they felt that it would enable them to achieve their goals quickly.
As for them being anti-war, they were, only inasmuch as being so would help them achieve their goals (i.e., "Stop fighting communism!"). Had the U.S. been invaded, they would have sabotaged any counter-efforts against the Soviets, effectively becoming pro-war. (I guess one could say it is not a matter of being pro or anti anything- it is a matter of which side you believe should be pro or anti.)
*sighs* The more I watch, the more the Left continues to flail away at reality. They like to posture themselves as Big Brother- eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, large and in charge. The truth is, though, they are stubborn, ignorant, rebellious mortals who are attempting to buck reality and hurting themselves and others in the process; you can see for yourself when their policies begin to exacerbate the problem, rather than solve it. Just look at what Jocalyne Elders (did I misspell her name?) did as the Surgeon General in Alabama, and later D.C. She felt that condoms should be distributed to stop teen pregnancies and STDs. Did it work? Of course not. But clearly it wasn't her fault- it had to be "ignorance, poverty, and a Bible-Belt mentality" that were to blame.
I really wouldn't mind them so much if they (and they alone) were affected by their own policies; I could eat popcorn and watch them implode. But the problem is that they feel as though everyone should share in their policies, and thus they take America down with them. And they blame ever one else for the decline.
Perhaps one day, I'll become a liberal and live in the glorious fantasy world that they live in, where everything is free, sex has no consequences, and rainbow unicorn turds solve world hunger. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm late for my
...will as myself suffer latent LSD triggered flashbacks from this thread. In northern Ohio Kent State was a defining moment. For possibly justified reasons it did widen the span of sympathy in mainstream society for the 'kids'. The recriminations over that incident includes the presence of a Weatherman leading up to the event but also the possibility of a police agent provocateur being involved as well. In any event issuing live ammo was a bad move in retrospect. What has always struck me though over the years, regardless of who was more to blame or not, is what the protest was over in the first place. The raid into Kampuchea was against the interests of those who, in time, on a proportional basis, became arguably the bloodiest gang of murderers ever to run a government. I still insist that was a relevant fact to remember.
The OWS phenom is only comparable in the current absence of any cohesive cogent moral or philosophical principle - bad or good. In fact I wonder if the absence of such makes the current crowd more dangerous in the long run as compared to back then. Back then you knew there was a 'silent majority', but today that is no longer the case.
Before the Soviet Union imploded, those who controlled the culture prohibited the behaviors of predation, perversion, and parasitism because The Productive citizens pay the total costs of the detrimental effects of these behaviors. Today, the national polity is dominated By Perverts and Parasites who revel in impoverishing the Producers in order to subsidize ignorance, indolence, incompetence, and all other deficiencies of the Complainer Class with their vices topping the list. They never contributed anything to the Kollective then, and continue to bitch that they remain unfulfilled now, even while the Party Chairman is the object of their worship. Conclusion is; becoming Chairman of People's Party is easy. All one must say to enter the post is open ended promises to visit Revenge upon the Kulaks on their behalf.
I got all warm and fuzzy reading this most interesting thread. Had a good night's sleep because of it. Really. Your shared experiences gave me comfort. I am in the company of true friends, a rare thing nowadays. Ummmmm. Nice.
I lived in NYC in the late sixties and all of the seventies after attending Cal State Long Beach as a Music Major and spending my Senior year touring with the Metropolitan Opera National Company as a singer. Some of my CSLB friends went on to Juilliard. I'll never know if I would've qualified because my mother wouldn't let me audition because, according to my high school music teacher, the neighborhood, which, at that time, on Claremont, was a terrible neighborhood.
Nonetheless, I went to visit them from time to time. They had an apartment on 116th Street, just down the street from the entrance to Columbia University.
This time, I was called to observe the uprising. It was a happening thing. "Hey, Pam, ya gotta see this!" All one had to do is stick one's head out the window and see all the kerfuffle! Which I did.
Next thing I knew, we had a visitor. That visitor would be, Mark Rudd. I, the most clueless one, was impressed that I actually was in the company of the very one causing the uprising. How kewl was that?
I was actually in the presence of a murdering, America-hating asshole for at least 15 minutes!
It was much later that I found out about who he really is.
To mollify my stupidity a bit, I'd also like to mention that I, after a late-night job with a major ad agency, a colleague and I decided to go to Peartree's , a bar near UN Plaza, for a late night glass of wine.
Peartrees was a hangout of the infamous, Truman Capote, who lived next door.
There he was! I could not resist the desire to speak to him. So, I approached him from behind saying, "Ahem, aren't you John Wayne?"
He thought that was funny and embraced me with a hug. We talked for about an hour. We parted with an additional hug. He spent the whole time revealing himself, which is well-known, so I won't reveal.
After falling in love with jazz, I became a friend of those who were "coming up out of the snakepit of the music business." Tom Malone, of Blues Bros. fame, David Sanborn, Miles Davis, etc.
All of these people, including Miles Davis, were mentored by the most kind and sweet, Gil Evans.
After a Carnegie concert, we all went to Gil's for a celebration. I'm telling you, it was a family of friends.
My sweetest moment was when Gil asked me what kind of coffee I liked, and then fixed it. I will never forget this.
Just sharing, darling comrades.
To include you in my wonderful life.
It's just some of the "company I have kept."
It has uplifted me!