The Weathermen "In Context"

Few among the intellectual elite -say, Stanley Fish and Barack Obama- see anything wrong with “Weathermen”(now “Professors”) William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. But John Murtaugh views the Ayerses from a different perspective:

During the April 16 debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, moderator George Stephanopoulos brought up “a gentleman named William Ayers,” who “was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol and other buildings. He’s never apologized for that.” Stephanopoulos then asked Obama to explain his relationship with Ayers. Obama’s answer: “The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense, George.” Obama was indeed only 8 in early 1970. I was only 9 then, the year Ayers’ Weathermen tried to murder me.

In February 1970, my father, a New York State Supreme Court justice, was presiding over the trial of the so-called “Panther 21,” members of the Black Panther Party indicted in a plot to bomb New York landmarks and department stores. Early on the morning of Feb. 21, as my family slept, three gasoline-filled firebombs exploded at our home on the northern tip of Manhattan, two at the front door and the third tucked neatly under the gas tank of the family car.

I still recall, as though it were a dream, thinking that someone was lifting and dropping my bed as the explosions jolted me awake, and I remember my mother pulling me from the tangle of sheets and running to the kitchen where my father stood. Through the large windows overlooking the yard, all we could see was the bright glow of flames below. We didn’t leave our burning house for fear of who might be waiting outside. The same night, bombs were thrown at a police car in Manhattan and two military recruiting stations in Brooklyn. Sunlight, the next morning, revealed three sentences of blood-red graffiti on our sidewalk: Free the Panther 21; The Viet Cong have won; Kill the pigs.

For the next 18 months, I went to school in an unmarked police car. My mother, a schoolteacher, had plainclothes detectives waiting in the faculty lounge all day. My brother saved a few bucks because he didn’t have to rent a limo for the senior prom: The NYPD did the driving.

In many ways, the enormity of the attempt to kill my entire family didn’t fully hit me until years later, when, a father myself, I was tucking my own 9-year-old John Murtagh into bed.

Though no one was ever caught or tried for the attempt on my family’s life, there was never any doubt who was behind it.Only a few weeks after the attack, the New York contingent of the Weathermen blew themselves up making more bombs in a Greenwich Village townhouse.

This from The Way the Wind Blows: A History of the Weather Underground by Ron Jacobs.

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: