Guilt by association: Will it work?
Readers of a certain age did not experience the domestic terrorism of the 1960s and 70s. So, some young Americans about to vote for the first time have no actual knowledge of the left-wing domestic terrorism that turned government buildings into bombing targets and university campuses into battlegrounds.
Balance demands that readers be reminded of the right-wing, racist violence of the 1950s and early 1960s. Those were the days when the KKK and the White Citizens Councils were blowing up black churches, killing little black girls and murdering white, civil-rights workers who ventured into the Deep South.
But a different kind of violence continued into the 1960s and early 1970s. It was based a smoldering hostility against the U.S. Government.
Generally, it was called the New Left. Initially, the New Left was alienated from the mainstream Democratic Party because it was the mainstream Democratic Party that was leading the Vietnam War.
The New Left caused President Lyndon Johnson to not seek a second term. But it weakened the mainstream Democratic Party to point that the Republican, Richard Nixon, could be elected twice. Eventually, the New Left took over the leadership of the Democratic Party and especially that part of the Democratic Party that we see so active today in the Democratic Party primary elections and caucuses.
Now, mainstream Democrats and Reagan Democrats are watching in shock and awe as surrogates for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama try to tie the violent, left-wing extremists of the 1960s and 70s to each other. Both the Clinton and the Obama camps are playing a game of “guilt by association.”
Obama can say with some accuracy that Hillary Clinton’s ideology was formed by the teachings of left-wing professors such as: Herbert Marcuse and Saul Alinsky. Professor Alinsky, the author of Rules for Radicals, offered Hillary an internship. But she turned it down, telling Alinsky she needed to go to Yale so she could achieve real power and change the system from within.
But while Hillary’s political mentors were socialists and some of them even advocated violence; it appears that none of them participated in it.
Barack Obama faces a different issue. In his campaign for the Illinois Senate, Obama chose to enlist the help of former leaders of the Weather Underground: William Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn. As Clinton surrogates are eager to point out, Obama held a campaign strategy session in the home of Ayers and Dohrn.
So, who were the Weather Underground and what exactly did they do? They were comprised, in the main, of young, white, middle-class men and women. They used jail breaks, riots and bombings as their tactics of choice. One time, they killed a bank guard. They bombed the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon. They claim credit for 23 additional bombings.
On March 6, 1970, William Ayers’ then girl friend was assembling an improvised explosive device (IED) in New York’s Greenwich Village for use at Ft. Dix, New Jersey. The IED went off accidentally, killing Ayers’ “former” girl friend and two other Weather Underground members.
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Weather Underground was about to attack an Army research unit when their IED-laden van blew up. They killed one scientist and injured four others.
Referring to the Charles Manson Family, Bernadine Dohrn once said, “Dig it. First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, they even shoved a fork into a victim’s stomach. Wild!” The Weather Underground then made a three-fingered fork gesture its official salute. Recently, William Ayers was quoted in The New York Times as saying, “I don’t regret setting bombs; I feel we didn’t do enough."
For three years, William Ayers and Barack Obama served together on the board of the Woods Foundation of Chicago. So, if the tactic of “guilt by association” is going to work, then it appears the Clinton surrogates have the upper-hand.
For over 21 years, syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, has written, on assignment, for the editorial pages of USA Today. “Central View” first appeared in 1982 in the SUN Newspapers of Lincoln, Nebraska. Dr. Hamilton is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College. He was a research fellow at the U.S. Army War College U.S. Military History Institute. He is a former assistant professor of history and political science at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
©2008. William Hamilton.