Jewish World Review Sept. 19, 2003 / 22 Elul, 5763

Stanley Crouch

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Release of home-grown terrorist is an outrage! | The release of Kathy Boudin from prison Wednesday morning was an abomination. Boudin, who served 22 years, was part of a Brink's robbery in which three men, one black and two white, were murdered. Boudin's case provides us with another opportunity to examine the radical madness of the '60s as it was, not as the intellectual baby food it has been made into.

I disagree with those who believe that extremists like Boudin rose on the wings of drugs, rock 'n' roll, birth-control pills and the anti-war demonstrations that some say tore this nation from the world of reason and did away with the respect for authority.

The problem actually started on the right, beginning with Joe McCarthy and the demagogic abuse of power in Washington. In reaction, distrust of government - a basic American attitude - took on a fresh intensity. It increased as the civil rights movement exposed local Southern government as racist, right-wing and ever willing to maintain itself through terrorism and murder.

Fighting against the South's undemocratic laws, the civil rights workers took the same position that abolitionists had during the age of slavery: Laws based in bigotry should not be respected, and anyone who broke them was a hero and a freedom fighter, not a villain.

Those reasonable roots bore mad and tragic fruit on the radical left. By the late '60s, Negro extremists caught up in Marxist fantasies called for the violent overthrow of the U.S. The most well known were the Black Panthers, who often used the slogan "off the pig," which meant "kill the police." They have since become, in the lying conventions of our time, a noble civil rights organization that fell at the hands of the FBI.

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The charisma of the Panthers begat Boudin's organization, the Weather Underground, the majority of whom were middle-class or well-to-do whites. Like the middle-class Negro radicals - Angela Davis, for one - these white radicals broke with those from their backgrounds who might have disagreed with the system but did not lose their minds in the process.

The argument went that true revolutionaries should be willing, if necessary, to kill their mothers, their fathers, their siblings and any others who proved to be "counterrevolutionary" or "running dogs" of capitalism.

Boudin, unlike the nonviolent heroes who made up the majority of white civil rights workers, chose to be a bad seed. But she had good luck. When she and a team were building bombs in Greenwich Village, Boudin escaped, nude, after a deadly explosion destroyed their hideout and then was supposedly sheltered by a literary figure.

Boudin may now repent and weep for those who died in the "revolutionary" robbery. Sure, foolishness can almost always be forgiven. But the ruthless, brutal actions of her group should not be forgiven. Nor should she have been.

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JWR contributor and cultural icon Stanley Crouch is a columnist for The New York Daily News. He is the author of, among others, The All-American Skin Game, Or, the Decoy of Race: The Long and the Short of It, 1990-1994,       Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives, and Don't the Moon Look Lonesome: A Novel in Blues and Swing. Send your comments by clicking here.


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