June 5, 2006
I was first arrested opposing the American war against Viet Nam in October 1965. Thirty-nine of us were arrested disrupting a draft board by blocking the entrances and throwing files around. The war was illegal and unjust, and while I didn’t know much, I could see this plainly.
The Weather group was a faction of Students for a Democratic Society. I’d been a national officer—Education Secretary—of SDS and a founder of Weather when I was twenty-three-years-old. We went underground after an explosion killed my girl-friend and two other close friends, and we decided to stay free rather get entangled in the criminal justice nightmare. We wanted to survive what we saw as an impending American fascism in order to fight the empire. We wanted to organize the armed struggle.
We were (and are) radicals, which means we wanted fundamental, not superficial change. Radical means going to the root, connecting issues, analyzing deep causes of war, racism, exploitation and oppression.
We were never “terrorists,” never attacking people to frighten or coerce them. The US forces in Viet Nam were terrorists. I’m not a tactician, however, and I think tactics always have to flow from the conditions you find, and the goals you have. When we destroyed property, symbolic targets of war and racism, an overwhelming majority of Americans opposed the war as thousands of Vietnamese were being slaughtered every week in our name. We were the anti-terrorists.
I don’t know what we accomplished, but I’m sure we didn’t do enough. My biggest regret: my dogmatic, inflexible thinking, my intolerance of and impatience with potential allies. I don’t regret hurling myself against the war-mongers.