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Weathermen Manifesto – A Legacy of Failure

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Weathermen Manifesto – A Legacy of Failure

the weathermenThere is no doubt that the 1960s and 70s was a time of radical social and political change. There were many socio-political groups that emerged during this time to usher in that change.

However, each of these groups had their ideas of what that change entailed and how exactly to usher it in. One of these groups was an organization known as The Weathermen.

The Weathermen, also known as the Weather Underground Organization (WUO), was a radical left organization started in 1969. It branched off from the Students of a Democratic Society, advocates of what they called the New Left; simply put, a kinder, gentler Communism.

However, WUO was neither kinder nor gentler. They planned to usher in their version of change through scare tactics and violence. These tactics not only backfired, but went on to hurt all protesters and socio-political groups when Nixon, along with the rest of the federal government, decided to use the WUO as the poster-children for all American protesters.

The tactics used all ranged in varying degrees of violence, but usual ended in failure.




the weathermen

The Weathermen and Timothy Leary

One exception to this case was the jailbreak of Timothy Leary. Dubbed “the most dangerous man in America” by the Nixon Administration, Leary was infamous for his Psychological Research in to the effects of LSD, habitual drug use, and government protest.

While serving a prison sentence, the WUO broke Leary out of jail and smuggled him to Algeria. In a Letter signed “Friends of Timothy Leary,” the WUO is given and accepts full credit:

The Weather Underground, the radical left organization responsible for his escape, was not impacted by his testimony. Histories written about the Weather Underground usually mention the Leary chapter in terms of the escape for which they proudly took credit.

Leary sent information to the Weather Underground through a sympathetic prisoner that he was considering making a deal with the FBI and waited for their approval. The return message was ‘we understand.’

The Days of Rage

Although the group reached minimum success with this one action, their great claim to fame was a disastrous failure. This failure was known as the Days of Rage. This event was a three day tirade during the month of October in 1969.

the weathermenThe tirade was the WUO attempt to “ignite the revolution” through a series of planned protests. Each day ended with group members being arrested and the rallies being foiled by the police. The only thing the event resulted in was a series of broken storefronts and shattered windshields.

If anything, the Days of Rage actually hurt the WUO. Their closest allies, the Black Panthers, came out with a public statement after the event saying, “We believe that the Weather [Underground Organization’s] action was anarchistic, opportunistic, individualistic, chauvinistic, [and] Custeristic… It’s nothing but child’s play – it’s folly.”

This miserable failure in Chicago sparked an 11-month strategy of terrorist-style bombings aimed at the federal government, localized in New York City.

The Weathermen Bombings

These bombings were a way for the group to “bring the war home.” However, this was a miserable failure as well.

WUO always chose targets that were politically symbolic, and the bombs were planted in retaliation for some action that the Weathermen perceived as oppressive; such as, a bomb was set at the home of a New York City judge who was presiding over a trial of some Black Panthers; another went off in a Pentagon lavatory after President Nixon ordered increased bombing of North Vietnam; still another bomb exploded at the office of the New York State Department of Corrections after the brutal suppression of the Attica prison riot.

the weathermenThese bombings accomplished two things, they shortened the WUO membership list by three people and they changed they way WUO tried to make change.

On March 8, 1970, a townhouse in New York’s Greenwich Village blew up. That townhouse was used as a WUO bomb factory. Three WUO members – Diana Oughten, Ted Gold, and Terry Robbins – were killed in the blast. As a result, the WUO changed its tactics back to mainstream protest techniques.

By the late ’70s, the WUO began to collapse under the weight of their own internal issues and eventually fizzled out into nothingness.

Some members tried to keep things going with the occasional jailbreak attempts or bank robbery, while others joined the Communist, or Old Left, party. Many others just simply gave up and re-joined mainstream society.

Originally published on TopSecretWriters.com

  • Lore Sera

    Dear Dennis, YOU are a failure.

  • Nicolas Edwards

    I would agree with Lore. The Weather Underground consisted of the leadership branching off from SDS. They understood that a government entrenched in violence knew but one thing death. To bring that home would make all question that. If your to much of a dullard Dufrene to do your research or to even look at the subject objectively then your a sensationalist and not a journalist Time to give that degree back and take a pay cut.

    I would give you that the WU were a bunch of trust fund babies. They were able to do this because of the riches of their parents.

  • I am not exactly sure what you are referring to. There is nothing stated in the articles that is incorrect or sensationalized. Are you trying to imply that the Weather Underground Organization was a mass success? Or are you just stating that the Day of Rage did not occur? Or are stating that the WUO was not tied to the bombings? Facts or Facts and the are all stated in the article. Even worse are you implying that the means justified the ends? You cite a “government entrenched in violence,” but the fact remains the WUO was just as entrenched in violence with the jailbreak, violent rioting of the Days of Rage, and the bombings.

  • Nicolas Edwards

    The weather underground never killed anyone. Can’t say that about the US government then or now. You picked one side of each issue that you touched upon and neglected to look at motivation or the formation or mission of the group. To just tell the actions with out the motivation is moot. It’s called perspective. Also property damage is not violent.

  • Actually – it’s called being unbiased, which is kind of what Dennis is asked to do here. Once you start trying to guess the motivations behind a group to either cast blame or justify their actions – either way it introduces bias. This fact that their plans fell through (the failure part) is just a fact – none of their goals were successful.

  • Nicolas Edwards

    No Ryan, it is biased. The motivations for the group were never presented. The motivation for the group were articulated repeatedly during their actions at the time through press releases that related why they went through with the actions they did. It is biased to not bring that into the conversation. To just make it seem like they were some crazy hippies at that time. To not talk about the revolutions that were continuing in Cuba and that were just starting up in south America. To not bring the full picture of the time in which they lived and the reasons for them making their decision he gives a biased view. Dufrene is just giving a cursory article on something that should take more than 30 minutes to write. Dufrene seems like he just wants to pick up a paycheck instead of doing the in depth impartial coverage that gives a full picture of the subject. That is fine but stick to bubble gum pop and not politics, and activism. Those arenas have many rabbit holes that you must explore before making conclusions.

    Ryan, if i say “terrorist stormed a ship and damaged 10’s of thousands of dollars of goods and called for the overthrow of the government” you would think one thing, if I say Boston Tea Party you might think Patriots. Perspective. Journalist need to present that to readers so they can make an informed decision.

  • Agreed – but you also have to realize that if Dennis had presented the article in the way you propose, we would be arguing with a reader here about how and why the article was so biased in favor of the Weathermen group, trying to justify their actions. It can be extremely difficult to strike a perfect balance that keeps everyone happy on both sides of the equation.

    With that said – you make an extremely good point that this story has lots of leads that should be followed up and that could (and very likely will) make for some excellent reading in a future article. It’s a fantastic suggestion, and one that as the editor I take very seriously. I was fascinated by this group when we first published this article, and have always meant to follow-up with some more in-depth research, interviews, and articles.

    We do sometimes offer cursory articles though – and probably always will – for those people that have never heard of groups like this, and need an introduction to them. You tend to lose people after 1,000 to 2,000 words – so it’s best to break up this research into future articles.

    Thanks for the great feedback.

    -Ryan

  • No one here is refuting the government’s involvement in the deaths of others either through war or otherwise. What I am refuting is the overall success of the organization. Which is obvious that it failed. Furthermore, the violence that the WUO was involved in actually overshadowed their cause. Property damage may not be violence in your eyes; however, you cannot deny the fact that the 28 officers injured during the days of rage was a direct result of the riot…which turned violent. As far as the group not actually murdering anyone, I will defer to Prof. Harvey Klehr, the Andrew W. Mellon professor of politics and history at Emory University in Atlanta, who made the following comment in a 2003 NYT article, “The only reason they were not guilty of mass murder is mere
    incompetence. I don’t know what sort of defense that is.” The fact remains the WUO actually did more to hurt activism instead of to promote it.

  • Again…see the comment above. The groups use of violence was it’s downfall. And again, its repeated use of violence always overshadowed their motives. But it is hard to claim that they did not intend to turn violent when many of the rioters showed up wearing helmets and such. The article was neither for nor against the WUO. It stated the facts…the group turned to violent tactics and failed at its mission.

  • Nicolas Edwards

    Peace-full protesters then and now are beaten for no reason. Wearing a helmet is tactical. In your previous response you quoted some professors but yet the weather underground group members themselves have related how they strived for property destruction only. They set the bombs off at times when no one would be around. They phoned in to allow enough time for evacuation of the places if there was anyone there. If they were trying to be mass murders it seems they would of picked better targets at peak times. Again Dufrene your cherry picking your sources and not giving a fuller un-biased view.

    In addition…. you keep bringing up the days of rage… they were brought on by the Chicago 7. Wikipedia is an easy source to start from. They did not riot for no reason. It was in response to the detention of 7 people. Our government at the time was trying to eliminate protest, one of our fundamental rights.

  • Nicolas Edwards

    Peace-full protesters then and now are beaten for no reason. Wearing a helmet is tactical. In your previous response you quoted some professors but yet the weather underground group members themselves have related how they strived for property destruction only. They set the bombs off at times when no one would be around. They phoned in to allow enough time for evacuation of the places if there was anyone there. If they were trying to be mass murders it seems they would of picked better targets at peak times. Again Dufrene your cherry picking your sources and not giving a fuller un-biased view.

    In addition…. you keep bringing up the days of rage… they were brought on by the Chicago 7. Wikipedia is an easy source to start from. They did not riot for no reason. It was in response to the detention of 7 people. Our government at the time was trying to eliminate protest, one of our fundamental rights.

  • Nicolas Edwards

    Peace-full protesters then and now are beaten for no reason. Wearing a helmet is tactical. In your previous response you quoted some professors but yet the weather underground group members themselves have related how they strived for property destruction only. They set the bombs off at times when no one would be around. They phoned in to allow enough time for evacuation of the places if there was anyone there. If they were trying to be mass murders it seems they would of picked better targets at peak times. Again Dufrene your cherry picking your sources and not giving a fuller un-biased view.

    In addition…. you keep bringing up the days of rage… they were brought on by the Chicago 7. Wikipedia is an easy source to start from. They did not riot for no reason. It was in response to the detention of 7 people. Our government at the time was trying to eliminate protest, one of our fundamental rights.

  • In all fairness Edwards – you haven’t offered any sources at all?

  • In all fairness Edwards – you haven’t offered any sources at all?

  • In all fairness Edwards – you haven’t offered any sources at all?

  • I am not cherry-picking. Those are the facts. Peaceful protestors do not injure 28 police officers. Peaceful protesters do not blow themselves up (even if it was by accident). The use of bombs is not a trademark of peaceful protests. You cite the governments attempt to exterminate activism; however, the actions by the WUO actually worsens the case for activism. Are you attempting to justify the groups violent actions? and are you claiming that the group was overall successful? Remember, the point of the article was to discuss the reasons why it failed. It appears that you entire thesis is based on a “means justifies the ends” ideology.

  • All I pointed out was that you were demanding Dennis post sources for what he wrote, yet you were making all sorts of claims without offering a single source to back them. Thanks for posting these. I’ll check that they support your claims re: Weathermen communications.

  • Nicolas – I think you’ll find that all of us here at TSW are much more in agreement with you than you might think. I highly recommend these:

    http://www.topsecretwriters.com/2011/11/v-for-vendetta-american-protests/

    http://www.topsecretwriters.com/2011/07/what-is-the-true-purpose-of-government/

    http://www.topsecretwriters.com/2011/03/is-america-headed-toward-revolution/

    http://www.topsecretwriters.com/2011/10/why-americans-need-to-protest-the-banks/

    We very much support non-violent protests. If and when necessary, violent resistance as well. However, there is a very big difference between non-violent protest and violent resistance that I think the Weathermen did not fully understand.

  • Thanks for posting these. Each one of these support the article’s main thesis that the group was an overall failure and often resorted to violence. For example, “By the mid-’80s, the Weather Underground was essentially history. Still,
    several of these fugitives were able to successfully hide themselves
    for decades, emerging only in recent years to answer for their crimes.” from your first posted link. The following was stated in your second posted link, “But for the Weathermen, violent action was nothing short of necessary in
    a time of crisis, a last-ditch effort to grab the country’s attention.” Your third posts focuses on the government badgering of the members, but again no one is refuting that. You claim the group was not violent, but the FBI target Bernadine Dohrn is quoted as saying, “There’s no way to be committed to non-violence in the middle of the most
    violent society that history has ever created. I’m not committed to
    non-violence in any way.” Your fourth post goes on to outline Hoover’s mentality towards these groups at the time, but again no one is refuting that. Finally your last post once again discusses how the Weather Underground “embraced violent revolutionary tactics.” In an earlier post, you cite wikipedia; however, even that article outlines the groups repeated use of violence and the overall decline of the group as many of its members returning to mainstream society. There is even a quote from a former member stating that the bomb that blew up the three members was actually being built to kill someone. All of sources you provided supports the article thesis that the group was violent and failed at its over all mission.

  • By the way, “The weather underground never killed anyone.” What about the bomb that killed Sgt. Brian McDonnell and injured eight other officers on February l6, l970.

  • By the way, “The weather underground never killed anyone.” What about the bomb that killed Sgt. Brian McDonnell and injured eight other officers on February l6, l970.

  • One does not pack a pipe bomb full of nails and fence staples for property damage only. Anyone law enforcement will tell you that these are known as anti-personnel bombs used for wounding/killing as many people as possible.

  • So you agree with the article that the group used violence and you condone their use of it.

  • Nicolas Edwards

    Keep cherry picking Fed

  • Great breakdown of the information Dennis.

  • Yes, and Chicago district attorney Richard Elrod was paralyzed for life during the Days of Rage by the group. But I suppose this is “cherry picking”…

“The thing about the truth is, not a lot of people can handle it.” -Conor McGregor

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Top Secret Editors

Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
 
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

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Gabrielle is a journalist who finds strange stories the media misses, and enlightens readers about news they never knew existed.
Sally is TSW’s health/environmental expert. As a blogger/organic gardener, she’s investigates critical environmental issues.
Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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