Demons at work
The revolutionary efforts of the Weather Underground to slaughter young non-commissioned officers and their data in a military dance failed. The explosives that were supposed to be placed in bombs went prematurely before the nails that were supposed to tear and maim these young bodies were packed into them. The terrorists had managed to kill three of them and hide two (supported by a network of sympathizers and admirers). They failed in their plan to blow up the Columbia University administration building and were only partially successful with their bombs at the Pentagon. However, they managed to commit an armed robbery by taking $ 1.6 million loot from a Brink truck and murdering three working class guards and policemen. They advocated and tried madly to precipitate the violent overthrow of the United States government.
If they had worn white hoods or right-wing militia insignia, they would still be in jail. However, they were left-wing butchers and budding butchers, so fate was kinder to them. Susan Rosenberg, part of the Brink assault and resulting murder of innocents, was pardoned by Bill Clinton and wrote her memoir; Kathy Boudin was paroled, received her PhD from Columbia University Teachers College, became adjunct professor of social work at Columbia University, and co-founder and co-director of the Columbia University Center for Justice. Cathy Wilkerson taught in high school and published her self-promoted memoir. Bill Ayers became a professor of education at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and helped Barack Obama’s political career in Illinois. Bernardine Dohrn, who found the knife in Sharon Tate’s stomach “groovy”, taught at the School of Law at Northwestern University.
Jay Nordlinger wrote two essays here. The first is a moral narrative of the Weather Underground itself: its actors, crimes, and mostly boisterous protagonists; its attraction to violence; his hypocrisy. He doesn’t say anything new. The second legacy essay focuses on Antifa, the verbal threats made by Trump supporters over the 2020 election results, and “a right-wing insurgent mob [that] attacked the US Capitol and left the slaughter behind ”, tries for us to draw the rather unoriginal conclusions that“ extremism ”and“ violence ”go hand in hand and that civilization is fragile.
Jay Nordlinger is particularly impressed by three aspects of the Weather Underground: its appeal to violence; their lack of remorse; their widespread acceptance as good people who made some mistakes. His weathermen “were in love with violence.” Why? Nordlinger offers a number of reasons: You were impatient; They supported and learned from “their fellow communists” in Vietnam, Cuba and China. They admired their peer terrorists in Europe. “Most of all,” they loved violence and sex. “They drooled on the Manson family. Maybe, but there is no effort here to locate these generally privileged, wealthy, and murderous white children in American society in which they were raised and raised for their reading, writing, and trading activities to connect the traditions of revolutionary violence from which they were heirs or to see them in dialogue or in dispute with the old left. Instead we have the worn narrative of their known public actions. Nordlinger rightly sees that their lack of repentance is easy What can be explained is: In their thoughts they were and are still right about America; they were and are right about their goals. They were only wrong in their most extreme actions.
The Weather Underground was, and is, supported in this sense by academic and intellectual circles who have generally succeeded in portraying them as impatient “activists” fighting for peace and a better world. Nordlinger mentions (without details) sympathetic portraits of such militants offered by 60 Minutes, the New York Times and other major media outlets, but concludes that “some people” endow them with “romance”. However, the rehabilitation of members of the Weather Underground for law, public memory, political life, and individual academic influence is an essential part of their legacy. We needed less narration and more consideration of these phenomena. The historical judgment is of the deepest intellectual, moral and cultural significance. Why are they “romanticized” by a significant segment of observers?
Wealthy children who want to reshape the world “by all means” have little understanding of the pathologies, narcissism, brutality and indifference to the normal life of those who would use their bodies.
Nordlinger likes David French’s recent explanation of why “right” and “left” draw different conclusions about political crime. From this point of view, people are limited in their knowledge, are familiar with and remember violence against their own side, but tend not to know anything about violence against the other side. I’m anything but convinced of that. Stephen Spender came closer to the truth in his essay in The God That Failed. When people see the victims of their enemies, they see real flesh and blood, beings whose lives have been shortened, individuals with personalities and hopes. When people see the victims produced by their own part, they see abstractions, numbers, data and “collateral damage”. This human failure is a powerful and terrible political force.
There is compelling concern not only about the Weather Underground but also about the Red Army faction, the Baader-Meinhof gang, the Japanese Red Army, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Brigati Rossi et al. It was written 150 years ago. In Demons, Dostoevsky offered a searing and forward-looking portrait of the nihilism that accompanied and ultimately controlled the revolutionary forces of modernity. Stavrogin, puppeteer of the budding social justice activists and scenario manipulator, leads the idealists to destruction and the thrill of destruction into destruction.
Wealthy children who want to reshape the world “by all means” have little understanding of the pathologies, narcissism, brutality and indifference to the normal life of those who would use their bodies. The revolutionary left of the 20th century (and beyond), led and orchestrated by its tyrants, was the most destructive and murderous agent in human history. It has outperformed all other widow, widower, and orphan generation systems. It remains admired. Given the enormity of his crimes, there is little moral, let alone criminal responsibility. The Weather Underground lacked the power to kill as many as it wanted to kill, but we were to be haunted by its crimes, love of terror, narcissism, nihilism, and absolutism by our cultural elites.
Given Nordlinger’s view that the left and the right don’t really “know” that there are victims on the other side, his essay shows a certain symmetry. He will let the left know what it doesn’t seem to know and recite the crimes and inadequate remorse of the Weather Underground. He must now also inform or remind the uninformed law of his own Trumpian threats of violence against Republican officials in Georgia and, ultimately, of the January 6th “massacre.” In short, his essay on the Anger and Consequences of the Weather Underground ends with the National Review’s battle against the Claremont Review of Books.