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Sunday Supplement: Long Read of the Week — “Days of Rage “

Days of Rage | Status 451 is a long contemplative review of days I remember when I was running through the Berkeley streets pursued by shotgunning Oakland Police deputies before being tear-gassed by National Guard helicopters. Good times!

Pay attention because this sort of thing is coming back in spades.

“People have completely forgotten that in 1972 we had over nineteen hundred domestic bombings in the United States.” — Max Noel, FBI (ret.)

Recently, I had my head torn off by a book: Bryan Burrough’s Days of Rage, about the 1970s underground. It’s the most important book I’ve read in a year. So I did a series of running tweetstorms about it, and Clark asked me if he could collect them for posterity. I’ve edited them slightly for editorial coherence.

Days of Rage is important, because this stuff is forgotten and it shouldn’t be. The 1970s underground wasn’t small. It was hundreds of people becoming urban guerrillas. Bombing buildings: the Pentagon, the Capitol, courthouses, restaurants, corporations. Robbing banks. Assassinating police. People really thought that revolution was imminent, and thought violence would bring it about.

One thing that Burrough returns to in Days of Rage, over and over and over, is how forgotten so much of this stuff is. Puerto Rican separatists bombed NYC like 300 times, killed people, shot up Congress, tried to kill POTUS (Truman). Nobody remembers it.

Also, people don’t want to remember how much leftist violence was actively supported by mainstream leftist infrastructure. I’ll say this much for righty terrorist Eric Rudolph: the sonofabitch was caught dumpster-diving in a rare break from hiding in the woods. During his fugitive days, Weatherman’s Bill Ayers was on a nice houseboat paid for by radical lawyers.

Most ’70s of the bombings were done as protest actions. Unlike today’s jihadists, ’70s underground didn’t try to max body count. And ’70s papers didn’t really give a shit. A Puerto Rican group bombed 2 theaters in the Bronx, injuring eleven, in 1970. NYT gave it 6 paragraphs.

Protest bombings started on college campuses. The guy who moved them off-campus was a dude named Sam Melville. Melville was an older radical (mid-30s). He’d thought idly about bombings before, but in February ’69 he hooked up with two Quebecois separatists on the run. Melville was fascinated by their knowledge of revolutionary tactics. He admired them so much, he even drove them to the airport so they could hijack a plane to Cuba.

Logical next step for Melville: emulate them. Specifically, find an explosives warehouse, steal dynamite, start a bombing campaign against United Fruit. Except United Fruit had moved their warehouse, so he bombed a tugboat company instead. Whoops. Next: a bank, injuring 20. A bombing spree ensued, but the FBI had an informer, and Melville was busted red-handed with a sack full of bombs. He became a hero to the movement, and later a martyr: he was one of the inmates shot in the Attica uprising.

After Sam Melville, bombings were A Thing.

One thing Burrough makes clear: the 1970s underground was not primarily focused on Vietnam. It was domestic. Focused on the black cause. Burrough traces black radicalism through guys like Robert Williams, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, and Huey Newton, but for me this particular thread really takes off when it gets to Eldridge Cleaver, whom I haven’t read and really feel I should.

Cleaver, born in Arkansas, moved to California, attained his fame based on two things: 1) he was a rapist and 2) he could write. Leftists have this weird thing about deifying criminals who can write. Norman Mailer and Jack Henry Abbot being the most famous example. In Cleaver’s case, he viewed the rape of white women by a black dude like himself as a revolutionary act.

Cleaver wrote to a radical attorney, impressed her, and seduced her; she secured his release & promptly set him up with a gig at RAMPARTS. White radicals fell hard for Eldridge Cleaver. This became an trend, part of a couple of uneasy dichotomies that you see a bunch of.

Example #1: Huey Newton, Malcolm X used the idea of violent resistance mainly as a recruiting tool. Eldridge Cleaver believed that shit.

Example #2: Some white leftists (like SLA) worship black revolutionaries, crave their leadership. Others (like the Weathermen) want to lead.

Cleaver hooked up with the Black Panthers, so we’ll see him again when we talk about them. For now, let’s look at Weatherman.

New York City firefighters work to put out a fire caused by explosions at 18 W. 11th St. on March 6, 1970. It was later discovered that the Weathermen had been building bombs in the building’s basement

The Weathermen (technically, the name of the group was Weatherman, singular) came out of a group called Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). SDS was a college organization with a bunch of campus chapters. That meant existing machinery that worked, and membership numbers. A fantastic resource, if you want to mine it to build a guerilla movement.

You have to understand: in 1968, many radicals absolutely believed that the United States was getting ready to collapse. One Weatherman puts it: “We actually believed there was going to be a revolution. We believed 3rd World countries would rise up and cause crises that would bring down the industrialized West, and we believed it was going to happen tomorrow, or maybe the day after tomorrow, like 1976.”

They believed the revolution was imminent. BELIEVED IT. Like Alex Jones’s audience believes in chemtrails. That level. Absolute, apocalyptic. The SDS got angrier and angrier, and wound up doing an occupation at Columbia University, which got attention. At the same time, they read up on the loco theory of Che’s buddy Regis Debray: that small guerrilla groups could overthrow the US.

If you think this sounds completely insane and crazy, you’re absolutely right. But think about it this way: who’s in SDS leadership?

SDS leadership is disproportionately well-off Jewish kids at elite universities. The kind of people who create Facebook.

Well, in 1968 you can’t go to the Bay Area & create a killer app, so if you want to disrupt stuff you literally have to start a revolution. And that’s the equation: Paranoid fervor of chemtrail-sniffers + Silicon Valley’s faith in its ability to change the world = the Weather Underground.

When it shakes out, two of the big SDS movers and shakers are John “JJ” Jacobs and Bernadine Dorne. Their goal: to take over SDS entirely. Because, remember, organization is critical. SDS is a nationwide organization. And college campuses are receptive to radical messages.

How receptive? In fall of 1968, there were 41 bombings and arson cases on college campuses. We’re not talking letters under doors or vandalism, here. We’re talking about Molotov cocktails setting shit on fire. Here’s how radical SDS was: Burrough notes that Weatherman’s opponents for leadership in SDS elections were “Progressive Labor,” who were literal Maoists. To distinguish themselves, Weatherman called for white radicals to live like John Brown: ie, to kill the enemies of black liberty.

The election was nuts; Weatherman literally expelled their opponents from the party before the vote, so SDS split. But Weatherman occupied the national office, which meant they could evaluate SDS members as potential recruits…

People tend to think that the Right will be an awesome, horrific force in political violence. The SPLC’s donations depend on that idea. Righties tell themselves that *of course* they’d win a war against Lefties. Tactical Deathbeast vs. Pajama Boy? No contest. Why, Righties have thought about what an effective domestic insurrection would look like. Righties have written books and manifestos!

It’s horseshit.

The truth: the Left is a lot more organized & prepared for violence than the Right is, and has the advantage of a mainstream more supportive of it.

You think that’s unfair? Okay, well: imagine an abortion clinic bombing ring getting presidential clemency.

Imagine an abortion clinic bomber getting a comfortable job at an elite university.

Outrageous, right? No way the Right could get away with that. But the Left does! And the press gives them cover.

Only the bare beginning. RTWT AT Days of Rage | Status 451

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bunny December 8, 2019, 12:06 PM

    On the previous post, “The Distance”- clicking on “Continue reading” and “Comment” takes you directly to “Support American Digest.” I get the hint, heh. Anyway, thank you for the song. Surprising! Here Laurence Fox discusses acting, the Woke “religion,” freedom of expression in the arts, diversity of thought, blacklisting, Brexit, and more.

  • Ro De Witt December 8, 2019, 2:47 PM

    Oh, I remember, all right. I hated you guys, one and all; even more, it was absolute class resentment on my part.

    Even before I got to the Bay Area in May of ’74, I had no trouble recognizing that every college-snot liberal guilt-monger I ever met (a) wanted me to feel guilty about my “privilege” and (b) had it, and had had it, a helluva lot easier than I ever did. I was raised over-aware of being lower middle-class, and distinctly recall the shock of encountering the resentment of my college peers about not being allowed to hang out at their parents’ country club instead of going to summer school to make up classes. My first California girlfriend – whose father, it developed, was a union organizer – protested at any suggestion of her soft life that “We didn’t even have a swimming pool until I was in high school.”

    As a self-chosen political naif it took me quite a while even to recognize that every Hero Of The Working Class I ever met was living higher than me off their parents’ largess. Even at this age I’m regularly jaw-dropped at the stupidity of anybody trying to convince me that I owe anybody anything at all of the little I’ve scraped together. The ’70s afforded me the opportunity of observing at close range radical “feminists” who glorified Eldridge Cleaver, author of the immortal line “Ain’t no such thing as an ugly White woman.” This while I crawled alone through the agony of losing my daughter to a spoiled brat who used “feminism” as an excuse to take off with a cowboy of her own.

    So yeah, I remember. And I remember cheering at every news item about “radicals” blowing each other up, and at the spectacle of the heroic catastrophe of the SLA in Los Angeles two weeks after I hit town. Now I’m a Catholic; the struggle for forgiveness is a daily event in my life. Reading Days of Rage again the other day illustrates to me how far I have to go.

  • Roy Lofquist December 8, 2019, 3:23 PM

    In the 1960s I was an engineer working for Scientific Data Systems (later Xerox Data Systems). One day, must have been 1968 or 1969, I and an associate were walking on the campus of UCLA on our way to the anthropology lab. We were wearing business suits and had our ID badges affixed to our coat pockets – big stylized SDS logo. As we walked by a group of students I heard one of them say “Wow, I didn’t think they were that organized!”.

  • Geoff C. The Saltine December 8, 2019, 4:01 PM

    The writer is off by a few years,2020 will be the turning point.
    BO tried to start the funding with Acorn and many others but most of them got shut down but not fully.
    The left never stops,we know that they are still up to no good.
    I think I need to join up with Antifa here in Seattle.

  • Terry December 8, 2019, 5:18 PM

    I sure as hell remember. I started my first year at SF State learning about communist rioters right outside the classroom. Almost every week there was some sort of shit involving cops mounted on horses and raging “students” raising hell. I remember the day S. I. Hayakawa showed up to take over as president of the school and regain control.

    I remember that my diploma was a worthless piece of paper due to almost every class being disrupted and that resulted in “Incomplete”. Yea, I remember.

  • H December 8, 2019, 5:46 PM

    Most people have probably never heard about the assignation attempt on Truman. Stephen Hunter and John Bainbridge’s American Gunfight covers it pretty well. Some reviewers say too well for such a short gunfight, but much more has been written about the OK Corral and it didn’t last very long either.

  • DWEEZIL THE WEASEL December 8, 2019, 7:59 PM

    In reference to Alex Jones, I am not a fan. I do believe in Chemtrails because I can step outside my home here in Rawles Land and see them almost every day. They are primarily centered over the Palouse agricultural area, but they are there. If you care to do any research, you can see they will not dissipate as a regular vapor trail does. They actually spread out, due to winds aloft.
    When I lived in the Peoples Democratic Socialist Republic of Oregon, the aircraft staged out of the McMinnville Airport. I even watched them load up their liquid cargo when I was in the Salem area one day. Now as far as their alleged deleterious effects on humans(Morgellons Syndrome) or food crops, that matter will have to be addressed at another time.
    Sadly, I am bothered by the tone of this article as it appears you are nostalgic for the times when this country was coming apart due to the “heroic” efforts of radical blacks, card-carrying Communists, their useful idiots on the college campuses, and the corrupt, syphilitic-thinking, druggie “rock stars” such as Lennon. I saw it all first hand as a college student(1965-1969). I fell victim to their wrath, insults and epithets while serving in the Army during the Viet Nam War and as a Peace Officer afterward.
    Of course, these pot-smoking, long-haired,Woodstock scum cleaned themselves up and parlayed their useless, unmarketable BA degrees into jobs in academia; poisoning the minds of the GenX/GenY/Millennial youths. Or, they became tax termites for the Leviathan, confiscating our honest-earned wealth and stifling free-market capitalism. DIES IRAE will be more than just a Gregorian Chant. I hope you and yours are ready.

  • wmprof December 8, 2019, 8:43 PM

    I’m a few years younger than y’all. My BOL was SDS at Washington U in St Louis. I was having too much fun with blotter hits to notice. The political “Militia” I co-founded in the early 90’s saw the writing on the wall and disbanded in January before OKC. Total setup. Seems the “right” has no power base and will go down if SHTF. Tommy in UK, Proud Boys in US setup and prosecuted. Blues (Antifa) will be covered and flourish. Some things never change.

  • Dr. Jay December 9, 2019, 6:16 AM

    Thanks for this post. I, like many, had forgotten . . . Almost. Good news: I just ordered the book!

  • James ONeil December 9, 2019, 2:46 PM

    Good long read.

    Yep I’d pretty much missed those days of rage and posies. I was already up here on top of the world where, at that time, our TV was around 2 or 3 weeks later than the lower forty eight, as it was taped and sent to our two stations via U.S. mail, where our phone was a party line, where, in the early seventies we were re-trenching and rebuilding after the river flooded. where my main interest in weathermen was if they could tell me how long a -50 degree cold spell was gonna last. Oddly enough Robert Williams, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, Huey Newton, et al, just weren’t showing up all that big on our radar.

  • captflee December 9, 2019, 3:26 PM

    Yes indeed, Burrough’s book is outstanding, and filled in a lot of blanks as to what the hell was going on during the “sixties”, which to my mind at least, spanned JFK’s assassination to Watergate.

    My most salient memory from that period was my brief service in the militia on 04 Apr 68, where I, barely a teenager, stood unarmed watch on a section of the creek-bottomed little valley behind our houses, on the lookout for the unlikely arrival of roving bands of rioters, which providentially did not arrive. I liked our odds that night, the neighborhood fathers were, in the main, combat veterans of WW2, or like my father, of Korea; our potential opponents were likely to be less so, and, given the nature of mobs, probably not nearly as quietly organized. Oh, and the militia, even in those distant days, was surprisingly well armed.

    The “old” guy two houses away, situated with a good line of sight down the most likely avenues of approach, dragooned some of the local tweens into assisting him in transforming his raised flower beds, built of repurposed railway ties, into a serviceable revetment, behind which he placed his M1919 .30 cal machine gun and ammo boxes (WW2 and Korea gunny, thus extensive experience shooting into sizable mobs of non-caucasoid folks), and while no one sported anything like an M-16/AR-15, a few Garands, a slew of M1 carbines, and even the occasional BAR could be seen among the deer rifles, lever action guns,shotguns, and pistols one would expect to see.

    Whether in my dotage I shall again have to stand to with the militia is a question increasingly on my mind in these troubling days…