The 1970s a time of pervasive danger

By Michael Raffety 8-12-13

One movie I’m not going to see is Robert Redford’s 2012 film, “The Company You Keep,” about which Redford admitted to the New York Times reporter David Carr he was “sympathetic” to the Weather Underground at the time.

Here is part of the New York Times’ capsule summary by Stephen Holden: “They portray former members of the Weather Underground, which plotted to blow up buildings in United States cities. Lem Dobbs’s clunky screenplay, adapted from Neil Gordon’s novel, maintains a scrupulously ethical balance in contemplating domestic terrorism, and the film gives the angriest of these left-wing radicals their say. If their rage has moderated, their basic feelings haven’t changed.”

I’m not personally boycotting Redford,  just this lame partial glorification of the Weather Underground. I continue to personally boycott any movies with Jane Fonda and Sean Penn. Fonda is on my permanent do-not-see list because of her traitorous actions in 1972 in North Vietnam, including posing in an anti-aircraft battery and making 10 radio broadcasts from Hanoi calling American political and military leaders “war criminals.” In 1973 she called returning POWs “hypocrites and liars” for saying they were tortured.

Penn allowed himself to be a propaganda dupe of Iraq’s genocidal dictator Saddam Hussein in 2002 and then in 2007 palled around with Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan strongman and gave Chavez an open letter to read that said President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should be impeached. What a guy.

I understand most Hollywood celebrities have liberal, even radical political views. I just draw the line when they go overseas and praise worthless hooligan dictators like Saddam Hussein and Hugo Chavez. Ho Chi Minh was no Jeffersonian, despite what President Obama recently said. He was just another Stalinist murderer, who wiped out the opposition.

I’m especially upset about Redford’s film, because I still remember the general sense of unease and the background noise of fear that pervaded the 1970s I felt in San Francisco as the Weather Underground set off bombs and killed, robbed a Brink’s truck and killed a cop.

In San Francisco in 1970 a bomb exploded at the police station in Golden Gate Park, killing one policeman and injuring others. Later that year a bomb was found under the Hall of Justice, police headquarters. It didn’t go off. A month later the Army base at the Presidio was bombed on the 11th anniversary of the Cuba’s communist revolution. In October the Marin Courthouse was bombed. In 1971 the FBI found a Weather Underground bomb factory on Pine Street. Later that summer the Office of California Prisons was bombed in San Francisco and Sacramento.

In 1974 they bombed the Department of Health Education and Welfare in San Francisco. Later that year, after six members of the Symbionese Liberation Army were incinerated in a wild shootout in a hideout in Los Angeles, the Weather Underground bombed the Office of the California Attorney General.

In 1975 they bombed the Department of Defense office in Oakland. In 1977 two Weather Underground members were arrested for a plot to bomb the office of Sen. John Briggs.

That’s why I found the 1970s in San Francisco to have background static of fear and loathing. This list of bombings is the tip of the iceberg when you consider what they were doing on the East Coast and in Chicago.

I’m still ticked that the nominal leader of the group, Bill Ayers, got off scot-free because of illegal wiretaps. Bernadine Dohrn got probation. The pair married, Dohrn became a lawyer and Ayers became an education professor at the University of Chicago. Dorhn is a law professor at Northwestern University. Barack Obama described Ayers as “a guy in the neighborhood” who hosted a get-together at his Hyde Park home four blocks from Obama’s home and contributed $200 toward his Illinois Senate campaign.

As noted by Peter Collier in the June 3 Weekly Standard, “Thanks to his [Bill Ayers] perseverance, his little cult of violence has been reimagined as citizen activism in a legendary time when it was bliss to be alive and very heaven to be locked and loaded.”

Universities seem to be the last refuge of 1960s radical/criminals. New York University this year appointed Kathy Boudin as a scholar-in-residence at the law school. Before that she was an assistant professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work after being let out of prison. Boudin was the getaway driver in the 1981 Brink’s robbery in which a guard was killed and then two policeman were ambushed and killed, one of them the first black officer on the local police force.

The university characterized this ex-con as “dedicated to community involvement in social change since the 1960s.” That kind of university pabulum propaganda is a crime against truth.

The other depressing radical group from the 1970s is the murderous Symbionese Liberation Army. Its most notorious act was the 1974 kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. Hearst was photographed carrying a rifle during a bank robbery in the Sunset District of San Francisco. I considered it the ultimate example of the Stockholm Syndrome.

On Sept. 18, 1975, Hearst was found by the FBI with SLA member Wendy Yoshimura in a second-floor apartment at 625 Morse St in San Francisco. At the time I lived in a flat at the top of Bernal Heights with a view of the Bay Bridge and downtown. I walked by that hideout every day to catch the bus to San Francisco State University. While a reporter from my school newspaper was doing the story on the Patty Hearst arrest I was taking a Latin test. I never missed a Latin or Greek test, even when there was small riot outside our building as the local band of Trotskyites scuffled with the police. My roommate got to photograph that riot.

Yoshimura, born in Manzanar Japanese interment camp, was given limited immunity for her testimony about the 1975 Sacramento bank robbery in which customer Myrna Opsahl, 42, was killed. Yoshimura lives in Oakland and teaches watercolor painting. Patty Hearst’s sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter and she was pardoned by President Bill Clinton.

But I’m glad to have said goodbye to the ’70s. I’m sorry they keep coming back like acid reflux in the form of an unrepentent person like Boudin getting a university job and Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorn staying in the public arena.


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