tv Book Discussion on Witness to the Revolution CSPAN August 27, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm EDT
>> hi everybody we will see if these work. thank you for coming and thinking brooklyn smith for inviting me here there is so few independent bookstores left and i'm excited to come to one that is this big and vibrant and clearly is a community center. i'm really thrilled to be here. i also wanted to give a shout out to the random house a colleague of mine amelia who is sitting over there been shy on who is a lawyer for this book which required a lot of work. i'm glad she's here. this video that you just off
and the voices you heard were from tape recorded interviews with 100 different people. i talked to a hundred people over the course of about three years who were involved in different parts of the movement in the late 60s all of them lived in america. i decided that i missed the 60s. i grew up in new york city and my playground was essentially the staging ground for the movement and i knew a lot was going on as a young child. i wasn't completely aware of the significance of it. my early hometown heroes and i
have photos of them on my wall. i was a young feminist at age seven. but all of this was really theater to me when i graduated it was exactly 15 years after the largest student strike in america. there were 700 closed down. no one took finals and i graduated and took 15 years later to the middle of the reagan administration a few of us went to battle on the streets against apartheid and tried to get otherwise it was very quiet. i just knew my life was different because of what have happened in the 60s i was
free to choose any career i wanted and live any sort of life i wanted to lead. i wanted to know what it was about this revolution that i missed and how that activism that awakened generations have changed my generations and the generations to follow. i also thought it was a good time to go back and with history i think you are allowed to go back every decade or so and read visit what have occurred even if the 60s have been written about the library i collected in my research i did feel like it was a little cheeky of me that i could take on this decade as a kid who was not even there. it seemed like the right time to read visit the decade and talk to people who are activist because many of them were in the late 60s and 70s and so much had gone on in the last 45 years that
there was a lot to talk about i wanted to catch them at a time when they still remembered what they have done and wanted to reflect. so i set about traveling around the country. i decided to focus on the school year so august to august which is the. of time which i considered to be the climax in the crescendo of the 60s in some days. this was is all in first-person voice. woven together. i re-created many of the big events that occurred during that time through personal stories of people i talked to it was a really moving experience to get people to tell me what have happened to them. it was so traumatic. i thought i would have to worry about fading memories but that wasn't the case and
everyone was traumatized whether they have come back from the war and fought in vietnam or were fighting against the war on the streets here or even part of the counterculture. everyone had done things that they felt were extremely important. it was exciting for me to revisit all of that. i looked at woodstock through the eyes of david harris who at the time was in jail and his wife was pregnant with his child and telling everybody the 500,000 people who appeared that was all new york all about her husband who have started the resistance. it was a large group of draft invaders the best and most
moral thing to do to fight the draft which by the way affected the lives of 27 million people between 1965 and 1973 it wasn't instantly politicizing experience david harris thought the most morally correct thing and he tried to convince as many people as possible to take that. and go to jail. david harris like many of the activists during this time was raised in the civil rights movement. he'd gone to mississippi as in summary people who were later in the anti- war movement. david harris was a student at stanford. i will read the section from the book.
and this is davis here -- david harris speaking. what we called the movement t-uppercase-letter m-uppercase-letter was a commitment to justice in the values of democracy. they called call this the new left. it was a set of values in finding finding ways to express themselves. i was in marches and rallies and demonstrations but there was always the larger question of the conscription system. when any marrow turned 18 he have a go to the post office and register when he registered they gave you two cards one was proof that you had registered and the other indicated the classifications. under the selective service there were various classifications starting with one a they would perform.
in between that it was the student deferment. reasonable progress have a temporary exemption until they finish their education. that was the system that covered all of our lives. what happens when they call their number. there were people going to graduate school so that they wouldn't get drafted. early on being married was exemption. they were going to draft family men they thought if you want to take a year off and just go to paris and right polish street you're headed for the tall grass. it defined everyone's life. >> i see a few nods.
the draft really is the spine of the story in many ways it's the reason my that this group is often called the awakened generation. who you are voting for and how you act well have an impact on whether you live and die and whether you go or not. a perfect storm of rebellion took place and we have the war in the draft and the civil rights and working arm in arm and then there was also the psychedelic revolution. that also had a profound impact on people's attitudes towards the establishment. by the end of the 60s there was a massive movement of student uprising and i conclude and many other people
i interviewed concluded that lsd played a part in that to some extent. and marijuana. i said in the book it is widely used as a secret ingredient that helped the transportation the challenge nearly every principle that supported american society and culture in the 1950s. where a psychedelic revolution. by 1970 at least two million americans have dropped acid and one third of all college students had smoked marijuana. the escalation in the second half of the decade combined with a psychedelic fueled counterculture and again david harris have a lot to say about that. he was at stamford in stanford in the mid- 60s. he was elected the city body president and had long hair at
one point they kidnapped him and shaved his head that became very big news in san francisco. and meanwhile even though for longtime during the 60s the political left in the counterculture were not always simpatico and there is a sense that they have different ideals and different objectives but david harris found himself right in the eye of that bull's-eye and right in the middle of the two revolutions that were taking place. this is what he told me about that. about the same time i took acid for the first time can keys he was doing his trip festival in the city. he was also a figure around stanford because he lived up in the hills in the back of stanford. eventually we all knew him and we actually took acid with him
several times. a lot of hippies were looking to get stoned and dance and play we were all forgetting but the serious business was how to deal with the machine that's chewing up southeast asia. they were mingled together and they were all part of the same uprising of the young people who insisted on writing their own ticket. the tickets that were being written for them were bad at best and criminal at worst. and it wasn't just acid it was the whole thing. growing your hair out wearing clothes that didn't come from jcpenney's or saks fifth avenue you have to remember we grew up in the 50s. the 50s was the time of no options. there was only one way to be when i grew up in fresno we had three choices you could be john wayne or john wayne in the sense of you and jima. that was it. so what happened in the 60s
and was summarized as hippie was making options there were other ways it to be than the one that everyone was insisting we were supposed to be we were gonna find them. after august a group of pretty straight antiwar activists many of them were clean for jean and 68. they had cut their hair to campaign for eugene mccarthy organize something called the moratorium committee to end the war in vietnam and on october 15 they staged what was the largest ever protest against the war. 2million people all over the country went on strike for one day have teach ins and different events to oppose the war and this is very threatening to the nixon administration because it proved that it wasn't just the radical fringe it wasn't just
hippie freaks who are against the war. it was something that was multi generational now and the country was really turning against the war more than 50% of americans were against the war. it really proved that this was no longer a fringe movement that it was a much broader movement and one of the ways the administration dealt with this as they is they try to intimidate the members of the committee and one of them was a man named david mixter. he was gay he have a very intimidating and scary incident occurred to him which i will tell you about. i think a little bit of a precursor to the plumbers this is clearly something that the early nixon administration was involved with so i will type what happened. it was really quite shocking. i was terrified to tell my dad if i was drafted i wouldn't serve which is sort of a joke
now because all i have to do was tell them i was gay i would've been out instantly but being in jail for five years appealed more to me than letting anyone know. it's pretty powerful as in it that's all i have to say i would rather had gone to jail than have anyone know the truth about me. i would not had been allowed to do anything i was doing. i would not had been the cochair of the vietnam moratorium if i was gay. i have to fight to get him board. i was one of the supporters. the movement was still misogynist at this time. a chance in the world would i be allowed to do any of this. i would've immediately been discarded. and then this is what happened to him after. one night i got drunk went to this really remote dingy bar in the vision from god came in. he was exactly my type.
intelligent handsome masculine and we ended up going home together. he said i know who you are i work for the federal government i don't want you to panic and want to create a safe place for you. i really had feelings for you. he have yet everything i loved in this house. all of the great poets that i loved. anyhow it to make a long story short we started an affair and he did become a very safe place for me. about 30 days into it he said he have to go away for the weekend. when he got back he said let's meet for lunch on monday i will come straight from the airport i said great. i went to the hot shop and sat in a booth waiting for him. two guys in suits pulled into the booth and sat across from me and showed me their badges. when someone shows you a badge how many times have you taken a look at it especially in
those days. i don't know if they were real. they pulled out on the table some naked pictures of the two of us having it just was as if someone have stuck a knife into my gut i first thought i have to warn frank so immediately afterwards i ran towards his apartment. i used my key and in the place was totally empty. there was not a dustball or anything else in the apartment. i never saw him again. the suits give me three days to get out of the moratorium where they were going to send these pictures to my family into the press. i got very drunk and told my friends i have a heart condition was very sick. i decided to kill myself i bought a gun and put it underneath my mattress it was gonna go and kill myself but i wanted to get drunk enough to do it. but then i have this moment of clarity and i realized there
was no way they could send the photos to the press because power they can explain it. to the government really want the press to know that they were filming homosexuals and blackmailing them. maybe they have as much to lose as i did. so i sobered up and when they met him three days later and asked me if you're getting out i said send it to them i don't care and marked way. walked away. every time the phone rang and someone said your mom and dad is on the phone i thought they have gotten the pictures i dreaded hearing from them. they said we want to speak with david every single time i worried that they have the photos. so i immediately pulled back and stopped speaking to the press. after the october 15 moratorium there is another one on november 15 this one just took place in washington dc 500,000 people came to dc for three days it was a one of
the largest single events in one city ever against the war. and it was something called the march of debt which david mixter organized which is 38 hours people marching from arlington cemetery with placards of names of dead american servicemen all the way to the capital building putting them in makeshift coffins of the have been lined up in front of the capital and then carrying them to the white house. that is the best revenge and one of the most moving things he had participated in. at that moratorium on the 15th there were signs many people have signs saying free the people. the reason my those signs have just come up was just two days earlier on november 13 investigative reporter had just broken a story it of
revealed that american soldiers have moved into a village and killed 504 civilians who were mostly women and young children. it was a devastating story that did more to help the movement than every march could. it also revealed to many people how difficult the war was to win because it was very hard to tell who was enemy and he was friend who was friend and who was faux. the u.s. have an unspoken rule called kill anything that moved. they understood that they weren't just a one-time event this was actually symptomatic
of one of the many problems of the war and how it was being fought. sigh hearst was a fascinating person for me to interview. he didn't want to talk to me. i have a to go through multiple people to get to him. i've told that story and i'm sick of telling it. eventually it was a great investigative a story of how he got it. he found his lawyer and set lake city. after days of hunting kelly ended up telling him everything he knew which was not to his benefit. later on, they find other people and one of the most
important people that he discovered if you talk to him was a guy name named menlo. i will tell you about that. finding him it was not that easy. the only thing i knew from the company roster was indiana. and so i just found every one i could find. i called and i said hi, i'm looking for paul, is he okay. you know how is his leg. i'm just a reporter i want to talk to him about what happened in the war. i don't know if he will talk to you. i said is it okay if i come? he has a very deep role of voice. the next flew to indianapolis. it might have been ten in the
morning when i got to goshen. i confided for a long time. but when i pulled into the farm i could see that it was all messed up. she's 50 but looks closer to 70. and then she said this great line. i sent them a good boy and he made them a murderer. i sat down and ask him about his leg. that's what you do. i said i want to see the stump. he showed me his thumb. happy to head somebody not
pretending that nothing ever happened to him. he said i just began to shoot people kelly told me to shoot. and i'm taking notes. in the next six months. for that story. that was november. and we are even into 1970 yet. by december a few things happened. this will be the leader. he was based in chicago. he was a great speaker. he was for racial unity. he was a pre- jesse jackson which made the fbi very nervous.
he was not a separatist. the black panther party at that party is started in oakland. this is what i wrote about it. it was the black panther party. they publicly declared the war on the police. and in 1969j edgar hoover bigger announced it was the greatest threat to the internal security of the country. and he assigned 2000 full-time fbi agents to expose disrupt misdirect and this credit and otherwise neutralized the panthers and other new left
organizations. sixty-nine they speak to congress and declared that the new left dedicated to the complete destruction of your democratic values and the principles of free government. so it was war at home. the agents were a part of that. they went up. the weatherman second. but they didn't stop. the war of many feminist groups say they have a lot of people who were underground in disrupting from inside all of these organizations.
eighty shots were fired. he and his colleague were killed. four in the morning hamptons bodies hard have slipped him a sleeping pill. he never woke up. it was a cold-blooded assassination. it was a firefight but only two bullets were shown to have gone from outside to inside. it was clearly an fbi arranged with the chicago police assassination and it was extremely upsetting into a group of radicals who had split off from the large student society and split off from them in june of 1969 and created a more militant radical group that they called themselves the weatherman.
mark rudd was their leader. he had been at columbia in 1968 during the student uprising and he described the impact of the fred hampton .-dot and also the fbi targeting of the black panthers on his group. when the panthers came along and they were carrying guns of the government reacted by taking them seriously we said as war. we have to be out there. not just applauding from the sidelines there's always a tendency for white people to hold back and applaud from the sidelines. but we identified that as being racist. not to take any rest. we did not want to be liberals. to be a liberal was to be hypocrite. and to be a betrayer. so part of her thinking was
which side are you on. avenge fred hampton became our battle cry. it became an enormous challenge to white kids. will we be germans and racists and ignore what's happening or would we support the people who are fighting and taking the risk. that became the challenge. most young whites don't understand the extent of the challenge that it posed to the weather underground into the movement. i interviewed several members of the black panther movement as well as the weather underground and that was fascinating. was very reflective about what they have done. they became that. i was interested in judging them i wanted to know why what it was, what motivated them to act the way they acted.
in february the weatherman bombed a house of judge murtagh in new york city. he was a judge presiding over the panther which was at the time the largest case. it went on for months and months. and the 21 panthers had been arrested. they're all in jail without bail. it was a cause. they fired bob the house of murtagh. i interviewed his son who amelia knows it was interesting to hear his point of view what it was like to be the victim of a bombing. how terrifying it was and threatening but that was just the beginning. on march 6 the weatherman blew
up the famous townhouse in the west village on 11th street three of them were killed they were making a bomb that they planned to detonate at an officer's dance. it would've killed dozens of people. it would have killed would've killed the waiters and the band members. it was an example of how far out the weather have gotten with all of the anger and waiting to -- wanting to fight fire with fire. after that occurred they all went underground. about 200 members assumed fake names. moved all over the country many of them went west were wakes started to do manual labor cash only jobs. and many of them lived underground for up to ten years. in a joint a large community of underground people. there were a lot of draft dodgers and people who had escaped drug laws. in black panthers and
different things. there was a large community of hundreds of thousands of people underground. it was devastating. of course it played right into nixon's hands. and tom hated who have started it in the early 60s it was sort of at that stage the grandfather of the antiwar movement and who i interviewed multiple times told me this about the townhouse. the explosion was pretty stunning. i knew everybody. i think there were to any people who view it as the end of the 60s. you can only had so many some the ends of the 60s. the end of the 60s is really 1975. when it came to its natural
end. i don't think it signified but i just felt immense sorrow and depression. i had questions of a technical nature like what went wrong. what were they doing because for a. of time the blast was all we knew about. there was only fingernails left. i just thought they were beyond logic -- logic. nobody ever came to me and said we are going to kill soldiers it was jj one of the leaders of this group which that if our government is killing innocent vietnamese our job is to kill innocent american soldiers. i looked at the practical morality like what are you doing. it will reflect on everyone in the peace movement.
bring them down on us. it has no rationale that could be voice. it would be the political equivalent. hey everybody stand on three quarters just her nest. there are some people that you will reach but what are you doing? it's only possible that they were doing because they really didn't care anymore about influencing american opinion. after the townhouse in may president nixon announced an invasion of cambodia. he been secretly bombing them for a year. this is not greeted at all with any sort of popular opinion. one was very upset. students were still in school and they protested all over the country and can state
occurred. and for students were killed and 13 were shot by the ohio national guard. the country came as close to a civil war i think certainly as it ever had in the 20th century. it was a moment of pure chaos and ended on august in a way i feel like the movement and did morally infinite soul on august 24 at the university of wisconsin. when foreman bombed a building and blew up the entire building. a lot of research for the work was taking place there.
he had been a hot issue for years because of the chemical researchers were working for dow chemical in that building. a man named carl armstrong who i interviewed in his brother and two other men had been on the student newspaper i decided that that would be an important symbolic building to blow up. they detonated an entire u-haul truck of ammunition and it was considered the largest domestic terrorist act before the oklahoma bombing. unfortunately and by mistake they killed someone. named robert fontenot. he was actually antiwar himself he does happen to be working at two or three in the morning the armstrong brothers and their friends went on the
loose they ran out to canada they were able to be fugitives for several years before they were discovered. carl armstrong did about ten years of time most of the people i interviewed dead time. if you hadn't gone to jail, many others did times for drugs or protest. or civil disobedience. it was sort of a badge of honor. but carl did about ten years and that bombing was considered even worse than the weather underground bombing because it occurred afterwards and even one of the people leo bert is still on the lamp he was never discovered. after that bombing the weather underground continued to bomb but they took up symbolic bombings and didn't kill people and they actually didn't kill anyone nor where they caught. they were one of the largest manhunt in and the thought -- fbi history.
i interviewed bill dyson who is the main caseworker for the weather underground. he followed them for ten years. he was fascinating. he knows more about them than anybody. he listened to all of their conversations he was very funny about how women were complaining within that they didn't have the power that they wanted inside the organization and he felt it was completely untrue because he listened to all of their conversations and he really felt like he was in charge and so was cathy wilkerson and a lot of other women but bill dyson told me this about the weather underground the list i maintained was the official list used by the fbi. it was 38 bombings. i have the list memorized at one time. the weather underground was extremely sophisticated with their devices. more so the many people realize. none of the weatherman bombings have been solved.
they put one in the pentagon in may 1972. so with that in mind we would still like to find out who did them. however the statute of limitations is over for all of them. except for the golden gate police department in california where a police officer was killed. and anybody and nobody has ever been named we closed the weather underground investigation which is when i wrote to the closing report because the group have become defunct. the fbi was involved in their biggest scandal and 47 agents were indicted for illegal spine and disruptive behavior against the weather underground and by 1980 many of their leaders were able to come out no one ever went to jail. because no evidence could be used against them in court. in and the same thing happened for daniel ellsberg who is one of the other people i
interviewed who had to release the pentagon papers and was going to trial for treason but of course the early plumbers had broken into a psychiatrist's office and also bugged the phones morgan who was a friend. when these came out in court his case was dropped. and instead of him going to jail instead of the weather underground going to jail nixon and the watergate occurred. watergate occurred. in many ways nixon hoovers war morphed into what became a regular habit of dirty tricks and eventually got the better of them. a lot of the people i interviewed believe that nixon and his focus on the antiwar movement and his enemies list if you look at who's on that list. many of them are members of this movement really got the better of him and was very
much a precursor to watergate. that is all i head for now. i would love to take questions. and also hear everybody's 60s stories. [applause]. does anyone had any stories they would like to share where you in any of these places or event. in any of these places or event. i was a senior in high school and 68. on the day of the first moratorium. a bunch of students went out and picketed or whatever. i have a boyfriend who was very glib and he went out and some person came walking up the sidewalk and started interacting with these people and telling them they were crazy and my were they doing this to all the kids kind of ganging up on this man and my boyfriend who just took a side just for fun argued back and
was so good the man pulled out a 20-dollar bill and handed it to him. i have a question. >> you spent a lot of time talking about the violence part of the 60s here any mention of the catholic worker. >> i focus on this particular year and so in the event of that year. many of them were quite violent. the brothers were on the run during this year. and mary morlan moreland in that whole great group of wonderful lefty kathy -- catholic. i spent two years in the prison and so it's a big
difference. dodger is basically been used by the bad guys i know. marie imprisoned i turned 18 and 64 that was prime time to turn 18. [indiscernible] it took me three years to federal government to reclassify me. we have to try. you don't want to have the white skin privilege. i have friends that were going because they felt like it was the thing to do or they have no choice. in one way or another they were putting their life on the line.
i could not not put something on the line. the only way i could do that was classified one a. actually burned my draft card at white house station. i was a bit of a thorn i suppose. i was a part of the community and you know dan just died. it bothered me when i kept hearing that. it was like i wanted to scream. i almost did. he was about 92. i was not able to get to him
which was an omission. i was just looking at the life magazine that had guns on campus on the cover and some people said i knew the others of the equation try to get the black students out of federalist hall which they have taken over and they were heavily armed list i was talking to someone in historic new england. as a precursor to tonight we were talking about how we went in certain directions and i talked about how i have used in the lecture. with those guys walking out with those and coming out of that the editor was ed
zuckerman. noted a producer of law and order now but at that time can have a radical list. i was just wondering how that was studied. that's how we fit into the narrative. i didn't do cornell because i haven't a little bit before they kind of really did it buy in. it was very much against what the panthers are doing. i tried to get in there. so she was fascinating. i tried to weave as much of that in to the whole story and
of course all of these are their own huge stories and what i tried to do was show the sense that i got. everyone had their experience but at the same time some the other revolutions were going on at the same time. my sticking to that chronology i tried to weave different stories together. it also started in 1970 and grew out of the antiwar movement. robert morgan was the early spokesman and so i wanted to show kind of the global reach of this great refusal that was going on. and i can go that deep really and i couldn't do the environment movement that felt
to me like another book but it definitely grew that movement. it was also in reaction to a lot of the ugliness and the violence on the streets. people were just changing their lives personally and that was a political statement in a way. it's really a remarkable achievement. it's like you are writing about this. not to get into too much detail. i was a member of sds. the high school student.
it's crucial to my mind. we've done a little bit of research. with the information about the role of the government. with the summer of 1969. and then the second thing is the demonstrations. we took it over. they demanded that it be put up. and they have taken over the computer and said to the university if you don't in the timing of the deadline was to coincide with the hardhat.
there is now been released a million documents in police surveillance. they have a million documents. in which there are believed to be details about that protest. it begs the question where were the working class and all of the story. were they just people that you hated or was this manipulated. the strong working-class element that we don't know as much about is maybe we should. >> i did not delve into the finding out what the team had done.
there's a lot of new documents coming out. i know there is a new book coming out on the weather underground that's all based on new documentation that has been revealed. and that may also had that. that may be information on the convention. the people i talked to were getting pamphlets from the black panthers they were completely salacious. a lot of the behavior was clearly classic. a lot of people penetrated that. i'm sure there must have been