The Kent State Model of the left is back – provoke until violence occurs (part 1)

If I were to mention the words “Kent State”, what comes to mind? Maybe “massacre”, or “National Guard”. An idyllic, peaceful campus, where college students minded their own business and went to classes until crazed, militaristic right-wingers showed up and shot four of them dead. That’s the way it was portrayed then, that’s the way it is portrayed now, and you would be forgiven if this is what you thought.

But you would be dead wrong.

What isn’t remembered, or isn’t mentioned if it is remembered, is that the Kent State shootings were the culmination of almost two years of recruitment, radicalization and agitation by a group called Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS. There were also some fringe groups involved, whom we will meet later. Phil Caputo penned a description of the radical left in a retrospective written thirty-five years after Kent State:

Meanwhile, America’s noisy minority had gotten noisier and nastier. At their fringes – or was it their leading edges? – the civil rights and anti-war movements had embraced a cult of violence.

He goes on to describe the SDS, and its evolution just prior to 1970. Did I mention that this was written for NPR?

The New Left, as it was called, was led by the SDS, and the SDS had been hijacked by its most extreme elements. They emerged at the SDS national conference in the summer of 1969. Formed in 1960 at the University of Michigan as the student arm of an old-Left organization, the League for Industrial Democracy, the SDS had been involved in civil rights causes and in inner city community organizing projects during the early sixties. Tom Hayden, a leader of the Democratic convention protests, later a California state assemblyman and one of Jane Fonda’s husbands, had been among the SDS’s founders. It might have remained a small, obscure band of quasi-socialist idealists had it not been for the galvanizing effect of the Vietnam War. By 1969 it had grown to one hundred thousand members in three hundred chapters across the country.

Some elements within SDS were not satisfied with what passed for “peaceful” protests by the SDS. They wanted to “bring the war home” with more violent tactics, and believed America was ripe for a violent overthrow. At the 1969 SDS national conference – in Chicago – they, these 

…putative revolutionaries from middle and upper-middle class backgrounds and with long histories of student activism….in love with romantic rebels like Che Guevara…white, disaffected undergraduates…

issued a manifesto called “You Don’t Need A Weatherman To Tell You Which Way the Wind Blows”.

The manifesto expressed disdain for the SDS’s policies of peaceful protest (though we have seen that their demonstrations were not always peaceful), rejected Progressive Labor’s call for an alliance with the white working class, which the authors considered too conservative and pro-war, and called for a campaign of “exemplary violence” by planting bombs in symbolic targets like the Pentagon, ROTC buildings, military bases, and other “imperialist” bastions.

If this is beginning to sound a little familiar, you are correct. Here’s why:

The group changed its name to “Weathermen,” and led by charismatic and photogenic figures like Bernardine Dohrn, William Ayers, Kathy Boudin, David Gilbert and Bill Flanagan, staged its first example of exemplary violence in Chicago in October, 1969. It was called the “Days of Rage.”

The Weathermen’s intent was to transform themselves from bourgeois kids into revolutionary street fighters by taking on the Chicago police in hand-to-hand combat, and through their actions rally others to their flag.

The next time some left wing media type tries gets completely apopletic about some caller wishing Bart Stupak “ill” , remember that a mentor of the President of the United States of America, and of hundreds of people inside his administration and close to it, didn’t just wish people ill. He made it a mission statement and formed an organization to carry out the mission. He made a plan, he made bombs, and rallied people to deliberately unleash violence on the streets of this country. This individual, this influence on Barack Hussein Obama, today is celebrated on the left as the author of the model that is being used against law abiding citizens who are peacefully expressing themselves.

Caputo describes what came next:

Things got off to a rousing start on October 6, when Ayers ( prep-school graduate, son of a utility company executive raised in the affluent suburb of Glen Ellyn) and a few others blew up a statue in Haymarket Square dedicated to police killed and injured in the 1886 Haymarket Riot.

Ayers then took things a step further. Remember, Barack Hussein Obama started his political career in this man’s living room:

The “official” Days of Rage protest began two days later. (snip) The Weathermen had expected thousands to show up, but mustered a mere five hundred. They were armed with brass knuckles, clubs, lead pipes and chains, and were garbed in goggles, gas masks and football helmets (thus turning an iconic image of the all-American jock on its head). The inversion was carried further in the stadium cheers they yelled as they ran down the streets: “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh! NLF is gonna win!” and “What do you want? Revolution! When do you want it? Now!” A bank window was shattered, and that started a bacchanalia of glass breaking. The cops waded in, and in less than an hour had shot and slightly wounded six Weathermen, arrested seventy more, and clubbed an unknown number.

Tell me again about right wing violence, Chairman Kaine. List all the mean things people have said, David Shuster. Let me read about it, Maureen Dowd. Even if the right were violent, even if we blew things up, we would only be doing things that the left had done hundreds and thousands of times before, in cities all across this country, with the specific goal of provoking an overthrow of the goverment. Tell me again how bad we are. All of you on the left. I really want to hear it.

Next – further down the road to Kent State.

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