Tell us what you think.
Selected submissions will be posted here, so check back regularly.
According to Bill Ayers The Weathermen built the mass movement against the war in Viet Nam. This is not true. He knows very well that it was in fact the "New Mobilisation for Peace" who was responsible for this. The "New Mobe" was organized for the express purpose of distancing legitimate protest from the Weatherman and SDS because of their extremism. Once this separation occured, the real movement found its way off college campuses and appealled to a very broad cross section of America. I was there. It was in fact the "New Mobe" who organized the mass nationwide movement against the war, albeit the nationwide moratoriums in 1969 which were the impetus for bringing home the troops. Had this separation not occurred, there would never have been a mass movement against the war in Viet Nam. I was very active myself in those days. I witnessed bitter disputes amoung the extreme elements of The Weathermen, SDS and others who tried to undermine and co-opt the New Mobe. Bill Ayers knows exactly what I'm talking about. He knows very well that the war in Viet Nam was merely a pretext for the ultimate goal of revolution for both The Weather Underground and SDS.
I first learned of the Weathermen at the debate of Obama and Clinton last night. I am in the same age group as some of the old members. I feel that our time to try to energize Americans against the Iraq war is just as valid as the Vietnam War. We as Americans need to stand up for the rights of all people. It would be nice if there was a movemnet to prevent these kinds of thing from happening ever again. Activism is a must in any society and especially in American since we see ourselves for the most part as the pulse of world.
First of all I'd like to apologize for possible mistakes in my english. It's not my native language as you may see.
Second, I'm shocked by this great documentary. I heard about the Weather Underground from a workmate who told me about this revolutionary group. I was in total ignorance about it.
I'm still trying to figure out things, what to think about it because this people has made me think about all my political structures, my political belief. My head is a complete mess now!
I have just one thing clear that this people, the Weather Underground, have made me think, have change my life in some aspects and that's in fact a great goal for them.
Just one last thought. The differences between the terrorist (for example in middle east) and the actions of the Weathermen is that the aiming of the first ones is to kill people as their most important goal and the weathermen just tried to avoid to kill any people and they were successful at that point.
And just a question with a lot of respect for
the citizens of the USA. Isn't America doing worst things now than in the 70's? where are all revolutionary people from the 70's now? Or at least are there any seed of willing to change the role of the USA in the world like those movements of the 70's?
Thank you very much.
Secaucus, new jersey
On the Weather Underground. Do you not think it a little silly these folks feel this is such a repressive country yet more than a few of them teach in our colleges. Also yes there were american atrocities in Vietnam but do these folks talk about the Hue massacre of 68 done by their beloved VC(i refuse to say national liberation front). or Dak Son where the VC burned alive about 500 Montangard hill people. Or the face on April 30, 1975 the North Vietnamese army was shelling fleeing refugges. Genocide. oh only the USA does that....bullshit as my hero Harry Truman would say to these wackos.
TO al revelutionaries old and new the injustices that many people once stood up agianst are still overgrown and under loooked. The time to speak out is now. though the government has mastered powerful tricks that cause isolationism even the seperate individuals of america the mass majority see that things must change for life to be viable in this country yet again. So i say onto you that the revelution has begun again and we strike with one voice with strong words that we make them fear us for our strenth of character. For we are no longer fools of modern ignorance we have unveiled our eyes to the lies of this world and realize that enough is enough in the words of a revelutionary "i am a revelutionary" and i dont know about you but i shall pursue this freedom with every breath.
my father who passed a way a few years ago was part of the weathermen. not until his death did we learn about his involvment. but the more i learn about the group the more i am proud of him, and thankful that so many people wanted things to change
Santa Clara, CA
I have to respond to the last comment about the "myth of the sixties" and the tired reiteration of the myth that the movement was peopled entirely by "overpriveleged children". Evidently, the writer missed the fact that the later SDS and Weather Underground were part of a *global*, largely-youth-oriented revolutionary movement. The "overpriveleged" myth certainly didn't pertain to the movements in Japan, China, Mexico, France, and all the other countries around the globe that were caught up in the revolutionary fervor of the times. To dismiss the movement as a rich kids' folly and nothing more is glib, superficial, and just plain wrong. The Weather Underground cadre were dedicated revolutionaries who were prepared to sacrifice everything they had - even their lives - to create a new, broad-based and humane society.
The "myth of the sixties", well first the progressive elites need to realize: THE SIXTIES ARE OVER! On the other hand, I too wish that capitalism could be more benign and Iraq never happened but these progressive elites should realize that with their wealth and academic arrogance, they have nothing in common with 90% of the country. That's why their has not been a second Sixties revolution. Plus the country is fractured without a sense common perception that might have existed in 1960s.
I am a disabled veteran,, who served in the Marine Corps and the Army. The day before the invasion of Iraq, I tried to mobilize young adults in DC to head downtown to protest "illegally". None were interested. I could not understand my own insane passion against this war. I had to speak to my professor who was an Arab Christian. In speaking to him, I calmed down. He knew I was going to jail if I went to the Capitol. He knew for me that it was best to affect change outside of confinement. I listened to his wisdom and complied. Since then I have not done much. I'm saddened because of this fact because I know that I have friends who I called brother or sister fighting and dying in Iraq. A part of me wanted to join them, because I understand why we fight...for each other, regardless of what our country says. The other part said to stay and speak for them and others who have no voice.
Do we need to know what is soon to come...
Or must we sit and watch this plan undone...
No, No, No! Pl
ease, I'm not trying to riot...
Internal terrorist, they come when quiet,
As you see the writings engraved on the wall,
You also see my people's blood on that same wall,
How can we predict a storm?
When things to us appear not the norm?
We make up a movement of infinity,
To challenge any storm we see,
All I say is People get ready,
Stand firm together like Family,
Firmly held hands around the globe,
Resisting storms around the globe,
Free to Be around the globe,
Without fear around the globe,
We are the weatherman of past, present and future,
Our membership grows fast, resilient and richer,
Rallying when time permits,
Doing things in your midst,
We dance a dance which you think is of war,
We dance a dance for rain,
We dance a dance for bloodshed no more,
Feel the rhythms of our step,
Mimic our heartbeat and breath,
See the firmly held hands our foundation forms,
Gripping even tighter when we see forming storms,
Together walking, never
Waging vicious justice when humanity is attacked,
Together, never weary of another hurricane,
I must tell you, that I love you,
It's about to be insane.
Rule your destiny!
I wrote this just before Hurricane Katrina. A friend of mine said that it sounds prophetic. I think it fits for the "cause".... Isi
I have recently been very interested in "the Sixties" and it's radical activists. I believe most of these people (Weathermen, Black Panthers) have a few things in common. Whether rich snots like Bill Ayers, or criminal thugs like George Jackson, they were selfish and narrow minded. Anyone who was black was oppressed and imprisoned. Anyone white was a war mongering imperialist, or a self hating apologist. Most of the later made up the leadership of the Weathermen. From what I have read about Dohrn and Ayers they are completely in denial about any wrongdoing in the past, as it was "for the cause". I would love to see a documentary about how the leadership used it's funding during the "hey dey". I bet you will find that between jumping in and out of bed with every other delusional nitwit willing to listen to their maniacal rants, they were spending the warchest on drugs and other necessities. The fact these people have migrated back into society, our society, without any consequences is an absolute shame. My fear is that young people today will watch these types of one sided presentations and romantize about "taking down the government."
I am a 19 year old college student and I think the Weather Underground serves as an example to all of us young college kids to stand up and fight in order to make a difference! Racism is still very much of an issue in the US today, and the corporations are running the country and swaying our representative's votes by funding their campaigns. The sad part is that most Americans are kept ignorant about this for a reason! These corporate mongrels want us to be chowing down their big macs and buying enormous, gas guzzling suvs, and fighting each other at Walmarts on Black Friday. They want to send our young people to war because our economy thrives becuase of war. They want us to be busting our a**es everyday pulling 60-80 hour weeks at our jobs and getting paid s**t for it, while they reap the benefits! The US is in a really s****y situation so of course when a group of enlightened revolutionary students decide the only thing left to do is to take up arms and means of violence, we are going to label them, just as we label EVERYONE who's against us, as terrorists.
All I can say is I only wish our generations kids could wake up and learn a thing or two from people like Bernardine and Bill
i just watched the film i found it highly interesting and inspirational in the period of time we are in, in the matter of how i just do not want to sit on my couch and let our country continually harm and suppress other countries for the benefit of our profits
I was living in the sds summer collectives in Akron and Cleveland in 1969. I was in Chicago when weatherman was born, and in Michigan when Billy Ayers and Jim Mellon laid out the ideology. I can't remember us really organizing any working class youth or doing anything but handing out leaflets that summer and working as day laborers or giving blood to support our group housing.
What a waste. Too bad we weren't rehabing houses for the poor and elderly, tutoring kids, and doing teach ins at churches. My wife doesnt understand any of this and wants to know where the money came from to fund the organization and the underground. I tell her what money, and there were probably benefactors in the old American communist party etc that sent these so called leaders money. There is the real story. Thought the movie missed the day to day sacrifice of us followers or dupes as our families said.
Richard R. Sykes
I recently watched the airing of the program on the Weathermen. My sister was huge into the anti-war protest, and a member of the SDS. Her reaction to them was that they were all over-zealous nuts. I served three tours in Vietnam from 1969-72. Are you kidding me? I never murdered anybody, nor did I commit genocide. How would they know? All I know is thet they're nuts for wanting to be communists. I saw first hand what happened overthere, they know nada! I can't believe that they were able to cold-bloodedly commit crimes against their own people. Nixon was right, they were thugs and hoodlums. I figured unless they served in vietnam...they don't have the right to judge me or my brothers who were there during the war. And, here they are still talking crap and teaching our young...who the hell would hire these losers!
I, unfortunately, missed the airing of the broadcast. I have been
involved in low-level peaceful protests for justice (even went to jail
once!). I'm still of the mind to denounce violence as a means to achieve
justice, yet I can see the points of many who do use violence. In that
regard, there are many in the Arabic world who see Al-Queda not as "right
wing religious zealots" as, Ms. Dorhn put it, but as liberators, throwing
off the excesses of the West, particularly the U.S. This leads me to my
final comment; though I disagree w/ Al-Queda & any religious
fundamentalist, I do agree that the greatest threat to world justice &
peace is the corporatization of the world. The United States is now run by
the Wal-Marts, Haliburtons, McDonalds, Starbucks, Clear Channels, & the
malls. They give $$ to both Bush & John Kerry. These companies no longer
need to use our military to conquer nations (though Iraq seems to be a
glaring exception... well Haliburton is making profits off of it, so it
works for them!), now these corporate behemoths simply buy everyone off & everything out.
Centralize, Conglomerize, Corporatize. Hmmm... not much of "tune in, turn
on, drop out" now is it?
At one point, in the film I felt an emotional loss, for people who did
lose thier lives in the belief of a struggle for justice. It is a past
disparaged by the main-line media, yet not understood in the context of
events that triggered deep emotions, and gave cause to a realigning of
values, an outpouring of years of historical subjugation and
indoctrination of societal station and caste.
As the war built in intensity and horrific images seen everyday on
television, we saw the images of the
assassinations of three people who will forever shadow this country.
We also saw a U. S. President resign.
In view of these historic events of this society, we must ask the
In light of the war in Vietnam, the untruths, half-truths, and this
governments foreign policy brought this country's families to turn brother
against brother, father against son: how do we justify that.
It is not hard, to understand how the Weather Underground came into being.
It also is not the first movement
in this country, to resort to tactic's of urban-guerrilla warfare, or
it's political agenda, and dictates.
As a young 20 year old American Indian man, I went into Wounded Knee
South Dakota in 1973 and stayed inside during the siege for 56 days, to be
with the Oglala Sioux Traditional People, to die with them if neccessary.
Although I did not carry a weapon.
Am I to be labeled a terrorist too?
If so by whom?
Those who came with their APC's and machine guns, U.S. Marshal SOG-Teams,
FBI-SWAT Teams, and U.S. Military Advisers. They shot and killed a man
from a helicopter, 2 people were killed and twenty six wounded in the 71
days, before it was over.
They brought military hardware to support a corrupt tribal government to
carry out acts of violence against the traditional peoples.
At the end, when the stand-down came, they finally brought the U.S. Civil
Rights Commission to take depositions. We're talking about Indian people
who lived on one of this country's most impoverished reservations.
from the Choctaw tribe, which was terminated in the 1832 and the first
tribe to go on the Trail of Tears. In 1983, we finally were able to have a
How do you define terrorism?
And in whose name, are we at war again, in Iraq?
Do I advocate violence...No!
The youth of today, have the inherent right to protest. And the
responsibility of seeking authentic genuine means of social change.
In the spirit of resistence
I thought this great historical documentary could have included more
information on other activists and their non-violent or mimimally violent
methods. The weathermen had some noble goals but terrible methods. Why
couldn't they use Ghandi's methods? What kept them from being more
creative like Phil Berrigan and friends. Banging on a war plane with
hammers or burning draft records is much less destructive but makes a
better statement. Activists at Jonah House (Berrigan family et. al.) and
members of BERN (Baltimore Emergency Response Network)continue to do
creative effective actions that are not terrorist activities. Apparently,
people need to know about dedicated activists who are still at it and
getting messages accross. Physicians For Social Responsibility won the
Nobel Peace Prize for their mature activism. The weathermen became
terrorists but other people found better ways to fight for peace and
This was probably the most mind stimulating documentary I've ever seen. By watching it I learned so much about the our government then and today. I was born in the 80's and everything that I've ever learned in high school about history has been so carefully manipulated. Before going to college I thought this government was completely perfect and had I not been exposed to documentaries and literature like this I would still be thinking that. This goverment is definitely one of the best in the world but it is definitely far from perfect.
Joshua Ragner Carlson
I'm watching this show on TPT ch.2 now.
My first thought is that these people are useing violence to affect political change. I do not like that.
This show tries to justifiy the civil violince of civilians focused at the U.S. Govn't.
U.S. military used military force(violence of action in vietnam) to affect political change in Vietnam.
My second thought is that these people(featured in this show) are uneffective at affecting political change without violence.
Dif: Those who use violence to affect politcal change ARE TERRORISTS.
In the U.S. we have free speach; It's your Web page so you can post this or not.
The show is just finishing, but I still see these folks as terrorist.
Why are these Weather Underground People teaching our youth today.? What idiots hired Bernadine Dohrn to teach at Northwestern and Ayers at Illinois.? These people are simply terrorists. One again....public television supporting the liberal democrats. Yeh....Let's teach our children to blow up things and hurt people. That's freedom. Good men died in Vietnam and Iraq today. These people mock the greatness of our country. If they don't like it, get out!!!I worry about my children being educated by left wing radicals like this.
I would like to say thank you to the filmmakers and PBS for airing this documentary. This film has raised some very good points without even trying such as when Walter Mandale stating that "there are sick people in the US who think that violence solves social reform". Well this is the frame of mind that our current administration has and I see so many similarities of arrogance and ignorance between the Nixon Administration and the current one. I realize that this documentary was supposed to show the lives of the Weatherman but it has shown so much more.
Also, thank you for the education that I would have otherwise never recieved...even at the college level. This film has given me the energy to research the civil rights movement, the student movement, ect. I payed around $100 for a history text book that my professor has called upon to use and there was very little mention about this kind of history.
Thank you!! The documentary has inspired my thinking and opened my mind to another amazing and passionate part of American history.
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible only make violent revolution inevitable" MLK
If every time a person questions the positions of our president/government and in turn, they are accused of being a terrorist, then the wrong dynamic is set in place.
A good recent example is Karen Hughes' comparison of pro-choicers to Al-Qaeda. This is violence in itself.
I grew up in the 60's, and remember well the Weathermen and the radical movement. Although some things have changed, I believe that America is fundamentally the same place that it was in the 60's. We still have the same divided society. Judging from the self-righteous tone in your talk-back section, I'd say things haven't changed much at all. Most of us still seem to have that "good vs. evil" mentality that was pervasive throughout all levels of society in the 60's. It was this black-and-white view the world that led us into Vietnam, and also which radicalized the Left. It's easy to look back and condemn the Weathermen for their violence if one doesn't take into account the government-sanctioned violence that these radicals were responding to in tit-for-tat fashion. I believe that's the most outstanding aspect of this film: how violence is justified in the minds of those who use it for a political end, be they a radical leftist bomber, an L.A.P.D. police officer, or a national leader. There's a whole lot of violence in the world, and most of the time its justification really boils down to whose ox is being gored.
It's ironic, to say the least, for a nation's leaders to condemn the actions of radical leftists, when at the same time, our government was using an unprecedented level of violence in Southeast Asia. On a more local level, violence was used on an almost daily basis to keep minorities "in their place" during the sixties, and much of the time, those administering the beatings and even murders were wearing a uniform.
Our generation was raised watching American planes dropping napalm on Vietnamese villages and white policemen beating up black protesters down South. Why wouldn't some of these young people consider violence to be the preferred method of expressing their own viewpoint?
Under the Nuremberg Accords of 1950, people in the United States have both a moral and legal responsibility to resist crimes against peace--whether the government that acts in their name commits those crime in Indochina or in Iraq. During World War II, some of the German soldiers who were involved in the commission of crimes against peace later justified their actions by claiming that they "were just following orders." So under the Nuremberg Accords, the U.S. citizens who refused to resist the U.S. military intervention in either Indochina in the 1960s or in Iraq in the 21st-century seem to be the ones who should now be apologizing to the people of the United States and other countries for their past and current activities. Perhaps the time has come for The Weather Underground movie to now be broadcast simultaneously at 9 p.m. on Memorial day 2004--over CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox News on the corporate-owned public tv airwaves?
I saw your Weather Underground program tonight on WTBU. The old radicals looked so pathetic. Some, even after 14 years in prison, still stand their radical ground and are even trying to socialize our government. My impression is that the old hippy radicals have not faded away but are stewing in their past to reclaim glory now that we are at war. The world is different now. The old cannot relive their youth via today. Young people today do not see America in their eyes. Once these old radicals die off, the enemies of America will be neutralized. God Bless America.
I am about the same age as the featured "weathermen". I was a 20 year old Marine in Nov 1969 when we were flown to Washington DC (big peace march)to standby in case any of the violent, radical groups starting attacking government buildings or "things" just came unglued in the city. Having now seen what the weathermen were capable of, I know that responsible government had to be prepared for the violent groups.
I have always been a pretty open minded person and believe in the right to demonstrate but the weathermen and others went too far!
The radical "right" and the radical "left" are always small in number but very vocal. The quiet majority knows when to step up and make the changes needed.
Watching this program and looking back at my military service in 1968-1971, I recall the Nam vets I served with who had a real tough time returning to the States and seeing the disrespect and bad behavior of fellow young Americans. Some had quite a bit of time yet to serve and actually requested to go back to Nam (not to kill) but to be far away from the bullshit that was going on at college campuses and D.C. demonstrations.
I added my name to the list in 1970 to go to Nam and we all got our orders. We got out of the U.S., arrived for a stop over in Okinawa and found out that was where we would spend the next year.
Getting back to the PBS program---we all make mistakes growing up and we learn from them. The weathermen made some very big mistakes but I'm not sure they have all learned from them.
I had never heard of the Weather Underground, but watching this, I was able to see comparisons between the Vietnam period and what we as young people are having to go through today. It is a new age of fear, deception and government lies. And young people today are beginning to see this.
I really liked the movie, especially because it doesn't take the simple path of offering a single interpretation of the Weather Underground. The filmmakers truly let the people being interviewed speak for themselves.
I was surprised, however, that there was no mention of the Symbonise Liberation Army. In terms of media attention, I remember the SLA's kidnapping of Patty Hearst and its aftermath receiving far more attention in the early and mid Seventies than the Weather Underground's bombings. In part, this may be because I was living in San Francisco, a center of the SLA's activities, but I think this was true at the national level as well.
In some respects, the SLA was a continuation of the Weather Underground's (to borrow a term from Jungian psychology) shadow. Like the WU members killed when their bomb exploded in the New York townhouse, most of the SLA's members were taken from the earth in an ultra-violent blaze of glory.
What I find remarkable about about the WU, in contrast to the SLA, is the ability of its members, after the townhouse explosion, to step back and reconsider the strategy of hopeless bloodshed. Yes, the violence inflicted on Viet Nam by the United States was far greater than anything done by either the WU of the SLA, but this does not remove the need for political activists to fully realize the implications of their acts. From the movie, it looks as if most of the people interviewed now understand this. I'm not sure about Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.
After watching the TV show, it seemed to me that the men have a clearer understanding of the immaturity their actions...they grew up and felt remorse. The women, however, still have the need to romanticise their idiotic ideology. They can't admit they spent years in exile and jail for stupid behavior, hurting their families and children. However,at their age, they might as well continue hiding behind their self-righteousness, not to mention, self-delusions...their still underground in their own minds. The saddest part,the universities are allowing them to influence young minds...shame on the universities ..but who is surprised? Men, I give you credit for having the courage to admit the organization was a youthful folly that only led to the deaths of young friends who might have made real contributions after they had matured.
Prairie Village, KS
After watching this program, it is evident that the creators wish to throw gasoline on the already smoldering fires of irrational hatred and rage that seeth in the minds of those who despise our government. Do not be surprised if similar illegal actions are taken by a new generation of "activists" due to your glorification of their acts of depravity in the name of "protest". Shame on you and PBS for this production.
New York, NY
I don't understand why no mention at all was made of Kathy Boudin. Indeed she is David Gilbert's wife and was alleged to be inside the building that blew up on 11th Street in New York.
Inasmuch as that was such a prominent aspect of the explosion and its aftermath, I am very curious to know why that whole angle was left out.
Perth Amboy NJ
"Power to the people" was never legitimized or realized by the actions of a few elitist radicals. However, they had the guts to risk their futures for more than personal gain and are to be admired for this. Let's hope that we can still fight for the common good of all.
I was disappointed not to see any detailed inclusion of the communist and socialist involvment nad the key roles it played in many of these peace and anti war movements of the 1960s.
Those who believe they have right on their sides, or take the moral high ground, can do horrific things. That's what both the Islamic terrorists and our Prez are doing.
At the same time, can real change occur without some sort of violence? Would Vietnam have stopped without the combined efforts of the Weatherman, the SDS, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, etc.
Would the need for black civil rights have come to the forefront without Malcolm X because he made MLK palatable to white people?
I'm not advocating violence because basically I'm a pacificst. But I'm on the fence when it comes to deciding if the Weatherman were terrorists or progressive protesters.
Does it take a certain callow youthfulness to set a bomb?
Today I (age 34) imagine destroying a publicly or investor-owned facility, and the consequences I see are more politicking to get the public funds to restore said facility; who will get my tax $ for the building contract, etcetera. It takes a certain extravagance to go around wrecking buildings when you know you and your family are going to be paying for it anyway. If the personal is political, then the opposite is also true.
Ft. Worth, Tx.
I wanted to thank PBS & IndependentLens for the great broadcast. I was in high school at that time. As far as the "myth of the sixties" there many values and causes that were born during those times. I didn't agree with the bombing of the weathermen, but I did march in protest, wrote letters, work with groups, and tried to work within the system. There should be loud protest today as to who now sits in the Whitehouse. Bush has caused many reasons to protest, he lied about Iraq the econmy is still in trouble, and Bush is the envirorments' worse enemy. I think you will see some of the old sixties protest appear this summer at the Republican National Convention!
I thought that this documentary was excellent and brought home segments of our recent history that very often get washed over and forgotton. The absolute mercenary and atrocious behaviour and actions by our government, which are still going strong to this day, seem to be white washed and swept under the carpet or regarded as legitimate when in reality it is on par with the most heinous acts of terrorists. I really dont understand how people can regard our government as something to be proud of. Our "great" nation while founded on many noble ideas and principles was also carved out through genocide and slavery. Our government while on paper is democratic is also an institution of violence. This is how it preserves its power. It still takes part in criminal acts only now its much more sophisticated affair. So for me what was most interesting about the documentary was getting an understanding of how the sheer size and magnitude of our governments violent oppressive nature drove people to violence. Its that "pushed to the brink" situation of violent overwhelming oppresion which either breaks you or turns you into a "terrorist" or "revolutionary" depending on whose lens it is seen through, as your only recourse. In my opinion violence against the government can draw attention to your cause and be understandable within a context but never really work because it will be marginalized and maligned and rewritten as criminal or crazy just as Mark Rudd had pointed out.
East Moline, Ill
Thanks for airing this flim. Fred Hampton and Mike Clark visited my little junior college in Moline, Ill. just weeks before they were killed. I sat in our student lounge and talked briefly with them. They felt that their days were numbered then. The film certainly was a bitter-sweet walk through memory lane for me.
I was most struck with Mark Rudd's comment about "knowledge, . . .they didn't know what to do with the knowledge". I felt that then and I feel that today; that vague knowledge that our country is being guided and controlled by elite, selective groups of people that are working together, perserving and increasing their power and wealth in the name of what is best for commerce and therefore what is best for the people at large. The reality is that ever increasing numbers of our citizens are being marginalized and denied what John Adams referred to as "safety and tranquility, their natural rights and the blessings of life."
To me, Dorhn and Ayers came off as arrogant and resentful. Apparently their egos have prevented them gaining any perspective on their actions.
I have also enjoyed reading these posts. Two people really can see the same event and come away with totally different stories of what happened.
First, I must recognize Independent Lens as one of the finest public venues for a multitude of highly talented film makers. The Weather Underground is an important documentary because it succeeds in bringing the viewer into the discussion and raises questions about the past, present and future.
There is no difference between a terrorist and a revolutionary - both ultimately believe so strongly that they are willing to go beyond acceptable norms in order to alter what they view as unjust. There is no characteristic ideology that forms the revolutionary. Terror is a last response to the frustration of perceived immovable injustice. The Weatherman viewed injustice through a shared lens and they chose to resort to violence as a means to express their shared perception. Those who perceive injustice in the Arab world have also chosen the path of violence. Those who oppose a woman's choice have perceived injustice and have also resorted to violence. The current administration has sent the country into a war in response to their own perceptions about injustice. Violence is a response born out of frustration - it is an act of selfishness. It is a means to an end, of which that end, not all will embrace.
When vast numbers of people perceive injustice in the same way and are willing to respond not just as individuals, they join to become a movement. Americans became Americans acting as terrorists and revolutionaries. A movement had begun and had taken hold. The shared perception of injustice by the colonists regarding England fueled a revolution.
Who is really the enenmy? What is evil? What is unjust? Each of us search our souls and inevitably arrive at our own conclusions. If our conclusions merge a movement beckons, action ensue and decades later another audience will view our history and determine our worth based on our course of action or inaction.
This sounds like a very good film, and I wanted to see it.
Although this was on way to late for me to be able to participate in the viewing.
Please let me know if there are going to be any more airings of this movie.
Maybe this would also give others a chance to see the history of the political extremes, and consequinces of war.
thanks in advance.
I watched the film after watching John Kerry on Hardball and I think that made it even more provocative for me. I returned from Vietnam September 3, 1969 and went directly to school at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. The "Days of Rage" and the Fred Hampton/Mark Clark killing happened within the first two months of my return. I was very angry at my country over the war and became involved with the VVAW. In the current political climate where Kerry is being hammered for throwing his medals away I think it is important for people to put that action in perspective. This film does a fine job of showing the hopelessness many people felt after years of protesting the war with no impact at all. While there were people in the VVAW who embraced violent action to try to stop the war the overwhelming majority simply wanted to use our status as Vets to help bring the war to an end. To cast Kerry as some kind of wild-eyed radical is such garbage. He was as moderate as anyone in the VVAW could have been. Thanks for a great film.
This was SHOCKING! I never knew just how violent the sixties got. The war was not the same as the iraq war today. I was born in 74 and I never knew that the anti war movement took those necessary steps to oppose the war. This made me very grateful of my own generation (X) that we HAVE learned from the mistakes of the past. Allthough, anarchism is the same in some regards, it does not beleive in violence as a solution. Property damage only hurts deep pockets. But, they never resort to violence towards humans.
When people oppose terrorism, I feel they are ignorant and in denial. Terrorism is (unfortunately) modern warfare. It's not going to be solved by a idiot like bush 2. It is part of our modern history. War is terrorism. No matter what side shoots first.
I only hope that generation x continues to avoid bombing places and continues to use art and free speech as a weapon. I think the older generations should be proud that we are just as passionate about this current quagmire in iraq but will continue to be non violent. You should be proud of us instead of drowning us in debt.
Fort Worth, TX
After watching the program, it seemed that none of the people depicted had any real remorse for their actions. It is also evident that they didn't then and still don't have a clue regarding the various communist governments they thought of as being a better alternative to the government which they were (and are still) living under. None of those communist governments then or now would allow such 'activism' to take place for long. Once caught they'd be tried, convicted and either pitched into deep, dark prison hole or be taken out for 're-education' and never return. Perhaps you should consider doing an 'Indepent Lens' on the refugees of Viet Nam that left after the take over of the South and then maybe then reality will set in.
History has shown that violence has always been justifiable as a last recourse in cases of extreme oppression. It just isn't acceptable to the oppressors.
The Weatherman's tactics only began to lean toward terrorism when their progressive protests were met with government sanctioned terrorism. I find it admirable and courageous that they reassessed their tactics even in the face of insurmountable odds and proceeded with a program to inspire instead of alienate. What wasn't counted on was the desire for people to get inspiration from extreme makeovers, teenage divas, sitcoms, video games and amatuer talent shows. They were however, ahead of their time with special effects.
The sixties has been co opted by the fashion industry and the media who depict sixties "survivors" as psychos, burnouts, lovable but addled old timers with no firm grasp of today's reality, or at best, well meaning parents who look back fondly on their wacky ways, having seen the light. It's in the best interest of society to portray these people as crazies or clowns than to address their values in an intelligent manner. In fact, the intelligence of the ideals of the era is never addressed. It is simply and laughably dismissed as drug induced fantasy. The documentary was refreshing in that it brought to light the serious issues of the sixties. I named my youngest child, who is now thirty and politically progressive, after Bernardine Dohrn. A single spark can start a prairie fire.
Valley Glen, CA
Why were there no interviews with the families and loved ones who were killed or wounded by the Weathermen? Why were there no details provided regarding the loss of property suffered by those who were viewed as the enemy by the student radicals? Why was there no perspective to show that the nation changed its mind about the war in spite of the student radicals, not because of their advocacy? Why were these people given so much air time, with little heard from those who were appalled by their behavior?
Thank you for showing this documentary. I greatly appreciate you showing quality programming that inspires and educates. I feel it is essential that members of generations who where not alive to experience such important history get an honest, and thoughtful representation such as this. We cannot understand our present unless we have a critical understanding of our past.
Thank you PBS,
David Bosse, 23
the Weatherman wer nothing but domestic terrorists using bombings to promote fear in order to bring about changes in political policy. There is no difference between them and any other terrorist group of today. They shoul have been executed any way.
Don Dilg, C.S.C.
Notre Dame, Indiana
Something in "The Weather Underground" invited me to touch that deep murkiness of my soul, which is terrifying, yet, at the same time,is the source of my connection with all things. I think particularly of the comments by two of the members, toward the end of the film, that when one is convinced of being on a moral highground, that person or group is capable of doing horrible things. I was in college from 1965-69. I am now a Catholic priest. And I still find myself wanting to seize that moral high ground. I want to separate myself from "them," from the wrong-doers, from the perpetrators of violence. I not only want to struggle against them, I want to "win," I want to convert them to the rightness of my position -- because that, of course, will mean the victory of right and justice and goodness for all. But what I've discovered is that most often I don't stop the violence. Instead, I am co-opted into being violent (trying to force my will on another) myself. As some have said, I become what I hate. Analogously, it's like those who are convinced of the rightness of the death penalty --"the way to stop killing is to kill the killers!" Whatever one thinks about the logic or morality of such a position, the measurable, practical fact is that it hasn't worked. I don't believe it ever can. In the same way, to "Bring the War Home," does not stop war, it only broadens its scope.
I tend to get caught up in the violence of this "moral high ground will to win," I believe, because I tend to equate "activism" with "achieving results." If I can't see measurable results, then I've failed. While results are vitally important, I believe that, paradox-ically, they can only come when I can let go of them. Bill and Bernadine, in the on line interview spoke of wishing they had done more to connect with other groups working for similar ends. It seems to me I have to go much further. I need to connect, I would even say profoundly identify, with those who are doing the violent acts I find despicable. This is not some sort of mental game-playing. It can't be. I have to know that I AM "those people." I firmly believe that in communion is life. Communion has to be with those who agree with me and with those whose actions I despise. Only then, it seems to me can I be led to those actions which will co-operate with that Spirit of life (however I choose to name it) that is much bigger than "my" vision of results that "I" believe constitute true justice.
I guess I would appreciate a follow up to the film that would explore the specifically spiritual journies of the members.
I did not get to view the documentary, but have read about the Weathermen on this website.
I was born in 1969 when all of this was happening, and while I may not have been able to express an opinion then, I can express one now. I feel that we are now "re-living" this kind of hell all over again. How many more people have to die? Is this our "illustrious" leader's plan? To wipe out the human race? I do not believe the Weathermen did anything wrong, because they BELIEVED in a just and righteous cause - the cause of human life and equality. This kind of nonsense has been going on for too long. When are our so-called leaders going to realize... hey, this stuff's NOT WORKING!!!!
I'm sorry but violence is not a way to fight violence. I was sickened by the apparent lack of remorse demonstrated for the damage they did. People were killed in thier wake, it makes me sick that most of those interviewed seemed to forget that. A revolutionary has ideas and actions that live on. The weathermen simply had actions not ideas.
I don't think the Weatherman did anything for America but get themselves a paragraph or two in a college History text.
It seems that most of those who are participated turned 30, stopped suckling off mommy and daddy's trust fund and started working "straight" jobs. They now live in seeming Volvo driving suburban splendor.
The "Myth of the sixties" is just that, a myth. It was a violent time and unsure that has been looked at through rosey lenses.Almost every mall in America has some sort of "head shop" so that the youth of today can have just a "taste" of the turbulant 60s and 70s. Activists need to stop trying to "live up" to the sixties and start taking action. It also seems that Activists of that period are critical of activists now. They act as if THIER causes were more grave and serious than causes of today.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fl
What is the old line about what happens to us if we ignore history?
For all those folk so forlorn about todays world and government actions this film was a great reminder on how "the people" worked and fought for change and survived a time of war, poverty amidst great wealth, and rampant race & sex discrimination.
Equally important we hear from the sources, righteous protest no matter how courageous does not vindicate violent protest. For then a moral cause becomes "criminal and insane".
Read, watch, listen, then speak up and persevere, a revolutionary primer we need to be reminded of often.
Kudos to PBS for airing the enlightening film The Weather Underground. It was especially great to see what some of the people are doing today. Like many activists of the 60's (though I was not in the WU), I still feel today that it was all worthwhile. And like Naomi Jaffe, that it could still happen, and I'd want to be a part of it.
Christian Del Barrio
Las Vegas, NV
I'm fortunate to that i got to see this documentary and learn about the young revolutionists of the 60's and 70's. I too was an active activist a years ago. I relate to this movie. I'm not trying to say I had my share of bombings, but I know the struggle of trying to hold onto something you strongly believe in and the sacrifice that follows. 5 years ago I was actively involved in several activist groups of similar protests and movements. I put everything else aside, even my sickly father who pasted away of cancer. I know what sacrifice is and when to say there are other matters more important.Like the Weathermen, I would do it again, but in a better way. I also feel that before you make a whole world happy, you have to make yourself and your family happy first. I can strongly say that the youth today has made a big movement without resorting to violence through art. I've seen music, literature, film(such as this one), and many other forms of art touch the heart of this nation without bombs or having to see your time in life pass you by. Thank you
From 1968 onward I was an SDS member, an anti-war activist, draft card burner, feminist, and supported the re-entry struggles of friends returning from Nam in Boulder/Denver and San Francisco. I have the greatest respect for the Weathermen. I want them to know that when they were feeling so alone, there were in fact hundreds of thousands of us who applauded their courage in responding to US atrocities that became routine during those years. Every time their actions made the news, I felt vindicated and proud of my generation. I agree with Bill Sayers' assessment. Yes, violence is acceptable and justifiable when used as a means of change in a context where people take up arms to defend themselves against the erosion of their human rights, the most basic being the right to be alive. In short, it is self-defense.
I disagree that the Weatherman leaned toward terrorism at all. American citizens had lost control of their government during the coup in which JFK was murdered. After that time the US imperialism my generation took to the streets to try to stop left third world countries where the supposed "cold war" was fought in ruin. I still see the Weathermen as Patriots calling attention to the war crimes being committed by an outlaw government.
Contemporary young activists have the opportunity to unite with activists on a global scale now that the USs current outlaw government has alienated the global community. 2lst century communications capabilities facilitate that unity.
To discuss the "myth of the Sixties" I would define "myth" as an aspect of cultural memory that has a literal and a meta meaning. During the Sixties young people across the US raised their voices (and their fists in universal signs of peace and power) to reclaim the rights guaranteed by our Constitution and to extend those rights to all of The People. This movement for peace at home and abroad coupled with a return of power to the people was unprecedented in the US. What we created did not endure. The meta meaning of the myth of the Sixties has become an archetype: activism is now a pattern in American consciousness. Our children, the new global activists, are building on the pattern we established. They understand that as a People we must actively choose human rights again and again or we will surely lose them. Activism is not an event; it is a process.
Regarding whether or not the history of the Sixties has been distorted, it depends on who you read. I recommend Viet Nam Generation: A Journal of Recent History and Contemporary Issues. Thanks for "listening".
Vickie Lee Devers
I wish there was some kinda movement like the weatherman today but non-violent. We need someone strong to speak out about the war in Iraq today and also about all the injustice in the world today! I really did learn alot this evening. This show was aired April 27,04 on channel 9.I appreciate KQED for showing it.My prayers go out to the former members. I know that some of the things they did was wrong, but at least they had guts to try to change the system. Alot of folks would not have done this.
Santa Ana, CA
Ms Dohrn's concern about the "myth of the Sixties" is disapointing. You had your time and did a rather good job for it. Lots of bombs without killing anyone is a whopping great achievement. Look to your friends and comrads for praise and enjoy the memories. Your legacy is already fading into the mists of time. The upcoming activists have their own problems and will find their own methods. Don't let your kids fight their grandfather's wars.
The Weather Underground are losers. I am a proud liberal, but when you use violence to oppose violence, it puts the cause on the same level of what you are against. I am surprised how much the Underground tactics remind me current Middle East terrorism. That is a sad commentary.
Santa Clarita, CA
The Democratic convention was in 1968, not 1969 as the narrator stated at one point in the film.
I was a member of the SDS, as were millions of other students. I matured into a Republican, but that is starting to wear off.
I will never return to the left but if we stay in Iraq and reinstitute the SS (Selective Service) I can see taking my wife and 18 year old son to Montana and trying to connect with the Republic of Texas or some other fringe group.
Los Angeles, CA
Thank you so much for showing this excellent film. I feel it gives a complete representation of this group. I can understand what they were trying to achieve by "bringing the war home" but I do think they were misguided in their methods. I wonder if, in these times, some young, strident, sincere people will attempt the same. I'm reminded of the film about Emma Goldman. She held strongly to the purest form of anarchy, supported the Bolsheviks, that is until she actually went to Russia and spent time with them, and was stunned to see that she had been naive and foolish.
Fort Myers, Florida
I think I understand what these people were trying to accomplish and sympathize with their frustration. Unfortunately, their actions created even more problems. I believe that the key to creating a better world is making sure that everything that we use and do promotes life. One of the most horrendous problems facing our country is the proliferation of products containing hazardous chemicals. I wish I could contact the men and women interviewed in the show. Unlike so many people, I think they would like to know how to identify safe products and would be willing to put forth the effort to use only safe products. Too bad that the majority of us just can't be bothered.
An excellent work. I'm fifty one and lived through it. This was a great history lesson. The shot of Reagan put it all in perspective. What the Weathermen started, the Reagan Revolution continued: the takeover of the government by the corporations, the violence against the people of Central America and the repression against the poor and working class of this country. Now these days, things have really changed. We have a fake war, a fake turkey, and a fake president. With all of this going on, America Stands United gassing up their SUV's!
The most impressive, powerful scene for me is when Brian Flanagan conveys the danger of people who believe because they have the moral highground their actions are justified; this is the real lesson that I think people should take from this documentary...
Excellent documentary! Although I was born in 1970 and did not 'experience' the events, I think that this program really conveyed a sense of the times and how they affected not only the participants but those that were experiencing what was going on as mere 'spectators.' I've truly learned something today and I thank pbs and all of those unique individuals involved for sharing their stories and thoughts.
P.S. I'm really scratching my head as to some of the music featured in the program, specifically the low-key 'electronic' music that kept reoccuring. I know I've heard it before but I just can't place it. Where would I find the credits for the music? Again, thanks for a great film and I look forward to more independent productions in the future.
I am a 28 year old and while this occured while I was not even born, I apprecite PBS allowing me to "be more" in my education and thoughtfullness. I look forward to seeing this film and finding out its impact in me and others who see it. Thank you!
Glad to see that Independent Lens is going to air the Academy Award-nominated movie about The Weather Underground, which includes an interview with the still-imprisoned founder of Columbia SDS, David Gilbert. Did Independent Lens ever consider also airing the 28-minute Freedom Archives video, "David Gilbert": A Lifetime of Struggle"?