Lots of libs and lefties like to Weather bash, which is fine, as those who engaged in domestic bombing campaigns did more than damage property -- they helped to kill what remained of the anti-Vietnam war movement. Former Weather member Mark Rudd said that the group essentially did the FBI's job for them, and he's right. Blowing up buildings in a largely apolitical country with no mass support among the populace was politically narcissistic and strategically dumb. Weather's violence owed more to Dadaism than to revolutionary struggle, and if it hadn't helped to strengthen and further legitimize the state, Weather might be seen today as an interesting, if ridiculous and dangerous, performance art movement.
Given all that, it strikes me as strange how vehemently anti-Weather many libs remain. The resurgence of the Students for a Democratic Society, from whence Weather emerged in 1969, has reignited Weather hate, as seen in this Nation piece and at Crooked Timber. (Max Sawicky takes a saner tone.) This pronounced disgust seems more like a "rational" pose, the price of admission to "serious" dialogue about the new SDS, and little more. Not one of these libs, so far as I've seen, will ever admit to getting so frustrated and angry with the imperialist state that they fantasize about blowing up some symbol of violence and oppression, for such fantasies are sick if not fascistic. Well, call me a twisted Nazi, but there have been plenty of times in the past 25 years when, after reading about or watching my tax dollars slaughter poor people, I had visions of blasting corporate headquarters' to the sky, so long as the buildings were empty, of course. Even in my head, I had no desire to kill strangers, regardless of their complicity in mass murder and starvation. And that included war criminals like Jeane Kirkpatrick, Elliott Abrams, and Caspar Weinberger. Tar and feathering, yes; but murder? No.
Many years ago on a Brooklyn street, I shared this view with a writer for The Nation whom I knew for a time. He looked at me as if I'd puked on his shirt. "How can you say that, Dennis!" he said, scrunching his face. "That's Weather Underground bullshit. You're not into them, are you?" I replied that while I thought that Weather was extremely counterproductive and self-marginalizing, I did understand their urge to make bombs. Sometimes the shit gets so thick and bloody that all you can do is scream and throw dynamite. Besides, I added, there was all that free dope, acid and group sex that Weather famously engaged in.
"Wouldn't you want to fuck a young Bernadine Dohrn with a head full of good weed under a poster of Ho Chi Minh?" I asked him.
"Ewww!" he said. "No way. That's screwed up."
"Maybe. But you gotta admit, it would be fun."
The Nation lib cut short our conversation and walked swiftly down the block. Needless to say, we didn't talk again.
I don't recall if he supported NATO's bombing of Serbia, but many libs did, and those are usually the ones who are most vocal about the horrors of Weather violence. So, on the one hand, an American liberal can applaud US bombs hitting selected targets and killing civilians, then in the next breath, denounce a small collection of crazed white kids blowing up parts of empty buildings. The former is still happening, while the latter is ancient history. Pretty much sums up the liberal mindset of today, and if you think that's funny, just wait until the '08 election season really heats up! In some places, the weather never changes.