January 18, 2011

Good Tues. Cool here at -17. -24 at the low-lying airport.

We watched a documentary on the Weather Underground, the 60s and 70s radical left movement dedicated to bringing home the war in Vietnam by placing bombs in public buildings, usually at night and accompanied by warnings. Not very safe. Kind of crazy, really, and certainly a form of terrorism.

However, this group did not materialize out of the blue. The criminal activity of the government (remember John Mitchell and Patrick Gray and John Ehrlichman and Bob Haldemann and the Watergate “plumbers” and . . .) made some people mad, while most were content to be lied to while the gov. conducted a bloody war in a faraway place that was unwinnable and not obviously in the national interest. Eventually the public decided the cost was too high, but not before 58,000+ GIs lost their lives and countless others lost limbs and minds. Not to mention something like 2 million Vietnamese who fell victim to the fighting.

Then there’s Agent Orange, and Napalm (manufactured by my old employer Dow Chemical Co.), and landmines, and. . . . Now Vietnam is a hot vacation destination. Go figure. Anyway, the documentary interviewed several of the former Weathermen and wimmin and it’s interesting what they think now looking back. At the time the guns were on the left, with the Black Panthers and such, though Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan and James Earl Ray had them also. Now they are mostly on the right and among the looney, as the pendulum swings.

When the Weathermen went underground to escape arrest (in the days before Internet searches and surveillance cameras and such, before the government knew of your every move and movement, before there was a website called the Weather Underground), they lived for years in relative obscurity. It was a mostly cash economy, nobody had cell phones, there were lots of hippies, and even blue collar workers started growing their hair long. Finally the radicals turned themselves in one by one. Ironically, most of them escaped punishment because the FBI broke the law repeatedly getting evidence. But a few did jail time, and one guy ended up serving 75 years for a different crime (he helped rob a Brink’s truck). Good documentary about a troubled time in our nation’s history. Does anybody know this stuff these days?

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