Wednesday, August 6, 2008

War Trash-Talk Blues

"My mantra remained: 'Evacuate Chicago! Chicago is a trap! Chicago can kill us! Stay out of Chicago!'"

"[M]assing in Chicago was the worst strategic mistake the antiwar movement could make."

Carl Oglesby, Ravens in the Storm: A Personal History of the 1960s Antiwar Movement

Memoirs are memoirs. In Nonprofit Leadership my chapter on values begins with my reflections on attending the Chicago convention forty years ago this month. Likewise, Oglesby struck a chord with me in his reflections about the highs and lows and mistakes of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the antiwar movement -- and his willingness to stand up to the "movement" and move on. I'm sure there are other truths about these events and his role, but one senses in him an ironic, ethical conscience mulling the past.

A big theme is why SDS suddenly collapsed in the late 1960s as the antiwar movement crested. There were many reasons: lack of organization; government infiltration and provocateurs, and the turn to violence.

Oglesby pushed for a broad coalition, peaceful means, and a reform agenda against the increasingly rabid politics of the crew that morphed into the Weathermen faction.

Oglesby recounts the trial of himself by antiwar comrades, comically reminiscent of the chilling Stalinist trials in Darkness at Noon, in which Bernardine Dohrn and company pronounce his list of transgressions (like consorting with liberals) and ultimately expel him from the inner sanctum.

Ryan Lizza in Making It: How Chicago Shaped Obama, quotes Mayor Richard M Daley, son of Richard J Daley who fought the antiwar protesters forty years ago, that Bill Ayers (and no doubt his sidekick Bernadine Dohrn)is "a valued member of the Chicago community."

Time heals? Amnesty for all our mistakes?

No comments: