Now in Power: 1960s Radicals
Alumni from radical 1960s groups are now teaching your children, influencing legislation and trying to re-elect Obama
Buildings were bombed, bras burned and raising two fingers in a “V” became a symbol for peace, not a signal for ordering two. Henry Mancini’s “Moon River” won the Grammy in 1961, but the Fifth Dimension’s win for “Aquarius” in 1969 was symbolic of the decade of tumult that birthed Students for a Democratic Society and its offshoot Weathermen.
But unlike tie-dye shirts and platform shoes, the Marxist or Maoist or socialist SDS politics never went dormant. Former leaders of the original SDS and also its splinter Weatherman group—labeled “a domestic terrorist group” by the FBI—are installed in academia, organized labor, advocacy organizations and in the highest levels of the Obama administration.
In fact, the '60s college-campus political phenomenon seeded today’s new Left. Now the “repackaged” people and policies of the original SDS/Weathermen have been quietly injected into the mainstream by academia, labor unions, advocacy organizations and private enterprise, waiting for a political host. Have they found it under the Obama administration?
President Barack Obama may characterize 1960s Weatherman radical Bill Ayres as just a man he knows from Chicago’s Hyde Park. But what about Rev. Jim Wallis, Obama’s spiritual advisor and a SDS alumni? Surely Obama knew Wade Rathke, head of ACORN where Obama was employed, was an SDSer. How about SDS founder Tom Hayden, once married to Vietnam War opponent Jane Fonda? Obama must have known Hayden had been a big SDS name when Hayden founded Progressives for Obama in 2008. Was Obama unaware of Michael Klonsky’s radical SDS allegiance when Klonsky’s education blog was featured on Obama’s 2008 campaign website? Someone eventually did. Klonsky’s posts were later “scrubbed” from the website, as reported on the blog Gateway Pundit. Or take Marilyn Katz, a SDSer who once touted using “guerrilla nails” to attack police and also helped organize a 2002 anti-war rally where she takes credit for Obama “coming out … as a public speaker,” reports In These Times. Katz, a 30-year friend of Obama strategist David Axelrod, was on Obama’s 2008 national finance committee and was a fundraising “bundler,” according to Obama’s campaign website.
And the moneyman for much of the complicated network is George Soros. There’s no evidence that the wealthy financial speculator was himself an SDS member. But Soros’ espoused Marxist, one-world vision fits the SDS theology that’s aged with the 20-something radicals now portrayed as 60-something mainstream figures.
Students for a Democratic Society was born in Michigan, the offspring of the League for Industrial Democracy, a socialist educational organization. In 1960, a handful of University of Michigan students bonded over views of war, the nuclear threat, racial discrimination and economic inequality; they rejected mainstream opposition to communism. In 1962, the group’s Port Huron Statement advocated national defense based on deterrence and arms control rather than “peace through strength.” It demanded the Democratic Party embrace the issues of “disinherited” groups and universities advance social change by inserting social issues into the curriculum. SDS supported North Vietnam, the Palestinians and Colombians. It opposed “male supremacy,” calling for no legal or financial restrictions on abortion and birth control and demanding “day-care centers, public and free laundries, food centers and other facilities necessary to free women from their status as household drudges.”
“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” lyrics from a song that came to be associated with the Weathermen, signaled that a more radical splinter group was forming out of the SDS with Weather Underground members, Maoists, Marxists, the Worker Student Alliance and some Black Panthers. Mainline SDS faded in the 1970s and the Weathermen went underground as members sought to avoid prosecution for acts of terrorism. But their acceptance of communism or socialism economic redistribution and the use of academia to prime the social, economic and political pumps were nurtured in the intervening decades.
Many names from the golden age of SDS never disappeared. Instead, in the Obama administration, it seems everything old is new again.
Excerpt from March issue of Townhall magazine received by email