tv Democracy Now LINKTV May 28, 2018 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
amy: from pacicifica this is demomocracy now.w... bobby kennedy: i have some very sad wsws for all o oyou, a and,i think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people whwo love peace all over the worlrld. and ththat is that martin n lutr kingng was shot and was kikilled toninight in memphphis, tennese. amy: 1968: a year in revolt. in this democracy now special,
we look back half a century at the year that changed america the my lai massacre in vietnam to the assassination of mamartin luther king to the student strike at columbia. >> we call on all students, faculty, staff and workers of the university to support our strike. >> the bck studes of coluiaia university, jned by a few members ofhe b bla community, havbebeen ihamilton hall for 56 urursmorthanan tt now. we have esblblishea cacaferia wi adequatstores, l continusly. physiciais in chge of ou infirmary. morale is high. amy: and to the catonsville nine the catholic priests and lay activists who set fire to hundreds of draft records using homemade napalm to protest the vietnam war. >> we have chosen to be powerless criminals in a time of criminal power. we have chosen to be branded as
peace criminals by war criminals. amy: father dan berranan would say "it is better to burn papeps than children." 1968: we look back 50 years. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. today in this democracy now special, we go back 50 yrsrs to 1968, a pivol l yearn momode amican history. was a yr that s the asssinatioof martiluther king and rert kenny, historic student strikes from columbia university to san francisco state, the soviet invasion of czechoslovakia, the chicago democratic conventions protests, and the escalation of the vietnam war. over the next hour, we will air highlights from our recent coverage of four key events inclcluding the assassinatationf dr. martin luther king jr., the
columbia student strike and the catonsville nine. but we begin in vietnam. 50 years ago on march 16, 1968, u.s. soldiers slaughtered more than 500 vietnamese women, children, and old men in what became known as the my lai massacre. women were raped. houses were burned. bodies were mutilated. then the u.s. military attempted to keep the massacre a secret. in march, survivors of the massacre gathered at the site to describe the horror of what happened on that day in 1968. >> 170 people, and they shot them all dead. they shot them all. they shot once, then took a minute break, and open fire for the second, then the third time. my father, who was in his 80s, was injured and tumbling then crawling. i laid very still in the mud as if i was dead, and i glanced at him. i saw him but i dare not speak to him in fear they might hear
me and shoot me. i wanted to yell at him to lay down and maybe they won't shoot again, butut they notiticed himd shot half of his head away. amy: after the massacre, the u.s. military attempted to cover up what happened. but in november 1969, a young reporter named seymour hersh would reveal a 26-year-old lieutenant named william calley was being investigated for killing 109 vietnamese civilians. in 2015, sy hersh appeared on democracy now w d discussesed wt the u.s. soldiers did on the day of the massacre. hersh: but that morning, they got up thinking they were going to be in combat against the viet cong. they were happy to do it. charlie company had lost 20 people through spepers, c. they wand d paybk. and th h had bn tataki it ouou on theeoeople,ut t thehad never se t the emy.. they'd bn n in cntry, as sa, in vieam for tee or four mths witht t everavingg a t piece war. that's jt t the y it is guerrillwawarfarhichch iwhy wewe shouldn'dodo it,ut t thas
another sty.y. d they went in tt mornin ready to kill and kililleon half of america,o o thei cred.. they landed. therwere jusnothing t won and chdren doi the usl, as yosaid in ur intr cooking warming up rice , for breakfasta t they gan n to put themn n ditcs anand art executing th.. calley'somompanylleyey h a platoon. there we t threelatotoonthat went in. theyououndedp pepeop and p p themn a a dih. thother companies st went alg, didn'gather pple, ju went fr house thouse and kikied and red and mumutited, andad jususwent on til everybody waeither r away okilled. 400 d some-o people that llage ale, of th500 or 6 pele who led therewere mumurder t that y, a ally noonon 1:.. at one pntnt, onhelilicoer pilot, a wonrful manamed thpson, sawhat wasoing on and tually lded hi helicoer. he w a smallombathadwo gunners. he just landed his small helicopter, and he ordered his gunners to train their weapons
on lieutenant calley and other americans. and calley was in the process ofapparently going to throw hand grenades into a ditch where there were 10 or so vietnamese civilians. and he put his guns on calley and took the civilians, made a couple trips and took them out, flew them out to safety. he, of course, was immediately in trouble for doing that. amy: this year on democracy now , we spoke to three american peace activists, two of them veterans, who returned to vietnam to mark k the 50th anniversary of t the massacrcre. ron carver helped organize the delegation. ron carver: well, 504 civilians, noncombatants, were mowed down by soldiers. as you said, it was horrific, but it was not an isolated incident. it was part of the culture of the war that had been created and fostered and was largely a product of the pentagon's insistence on high body counts
in order to justify their continued war effortrt and their continuing, escalating insiststence that t the u.s. congress give them ever more money and ever more troops. this is what led to these kind of massacres. the significance to me, however, is of people like hugh thompson, who, at great risk, landed his helicopter, had his crew train their guns on the soldiers who were committing this massacre, and telling them that they had to stop or they would be shot themselves. amy: we also spoke to paul cox who founded veterans for peace in san francisco. susan schnall, a former navy nurse, who was court-martialed
for dropping pamphlets over san francisco bay opposing the vietnam war. they talked about how the war continues to harm residents of vietnam due to unexploded ordinances and the lasting impact of agent orange. susan: children and farmers who are trying to till the land, if they come upon a scrap of metal, that can explode, it can kill them, it can maim them for life. so, that war, 50 years ago, continues to harm. and i'll mention also that we know that the children of americanan servicemen who were n vietnam have also been born with very similar birth defects to those of the children in vietnam. the worst part for the vietnamese is, because the land is contaminated with dioxin, babies continue to be born and to be affected by this problem. we want to commemorate and to respect the terrible, terrible massacre and the sacrifice that
the vietnamese suffered those years ago, and to come as servicepeople, as veterans, to say we're sorry, we take responsibility, and we will continue to work for peace, and we will continue to work with you to try to heal some of these wounds of war. juan gonzalez: paul cox, howwith the veterans that you've known after you came out of the military, how have many of the veterans of vietnam dealt with these issues of their participation in what most of the rest of the world continues an unjust, imperial war, but is an unjust, imperial war, but is still regarded as a tragic mistake by many leaders in this country? paul cox: well, i think there's a range e of responses. my own response to witnessing such a thing was to turn against the war, and i've been an activist ever since. other people haven't probably
talked about it at all. some people have drank themselves to death, shot themselves, jumped off of bridges. other people have just shut it down. and then the few probably are still proud of what they did in vietnam. the vast, vast majority of gis that went to vietnam neither witnessed nor r participated in anything such as this, although, you know, you have to say that the pilots t that ran those e bs and the guy that pushed the button that opened t b bomb y doors and opopped 52 bombsid far more dame e thanny individualhoho lood his victs in theye whilee shot them. so, the war itself is an inctmentntf our country, a shoulde seenens such. and the air war and the artillery and the naval fire should all be seen as equally as
horrdous ands criminal and as inhumane as those men that pulled the triggers in my lai or the on t that,n mymy ut, thaha pulled the trigger oththose civilians. amy: democracy now also spoke with the pulzer prize winning iter viet thanh nguyen who came t to the united states as a refugee from vietnam. i ked him reflect on the siificancef what hpened in 1968 in vietnam. >> well, i wasn't even born in 1968. i was born in 1971. but the events of that time period, i think, have become a part of the collective m memory, at leastst for americans and alo for vietnamese peoples, that if you go back to vietnam, you'll find all these memorialsls and monuments and mumuseums dedicatd to the victorious vietnamese perspective on the vietnam war. and so, things like the my lai massacre and the tet offensive are commemorated there as either signs of american villainy or signs of vietnamese triumph.
and, you know, my issue is that it's a very complicated history, and to make it constantly american-centered does a disservice to americans, who i think have a very american-centric view about the vietnam war. and it allows, from the perspective of the american left, , a certain idealization f the vietnamese, thinking of them as the revolutionaries and the victorious vietnamese and all this kind of stuff, the victims of american foreign n policy. but all that may be true, but we should have a little bit more of a complex attitude, understanding that the victorious vietnamese themselves persecuted their enemies, the southern vietnamese, after the end of the war, and the victorious vietnamese had extended the war into laos and cambodia. and that kind of complexity, i thinink, is still not really a part of the american consciousness about this history. amy goodman: well, talk abouti mean, you wrotote the book "nothing ever dies: vietnam and the memory of war." viet thanh nguyen: well, i wrote that book, and deliberately, to talk about how the war is remembered not just in the united states and vietnam, but laos and cambodia, and south korea, as well.
south korea was the largest allied army of the united states, sent 300,000 troops, which the u.s. paid for. and u.s. also paid for south korean contractors to come to vietnam and help the u.s. military. this is part of the beginning of south korea's rise from a country that was poorer than soututh vietnam m to the countr amy goodman: poorer. viet thanh nguyen: poorer in 19in the 1960s, it was poorer than south vietnam. it had just been devastated by the korean war, which killed about 2 to 3 million koreans, and was carpet-bombed by the ununited statetes. now, of course, korea, south korea, is what it is. but it'sthat history is tied in with the vietnam war. that history has almost been completely obliterated. now,w, i talk about cambodia and laos because i think a lot of americans don't even know the war was fought in cambodia and laos, , don't know thahat 3 miln vietnamese people died i in the war. but 3 million cambodians and laotians died during the war and afterwards. and it's important to bring this up, because americans,s, when ty feelel guilty, will l say, "ok,e know that t in vietnam it's cacd the american war. so maybe we should call it that." and i'm saying even that is not sufficient, because the vivinamese who call it thehe
american war don't want to think about what they did in laos and cambodia, and what they still do there today. so, thinking of war in just these binary terms of vietnam and the united states just completely simplifies the history of what happened there. amy: pulitzer prize winning writer viet thanh nguyen, professor of english at the university of southern california. just two and a a half weeks afar the my l massacre, april,, 1968, dr. mainin lutr kikingr. was assassineded in mphihis , teessee. he w just 39ears old his assaination me exact one yearfter he blicly ce out agait the wain vietn. god and aa child other tohe suffeng poor vinam speak fothose whe land i beinlaid wte, whose homes are being destroyed, whose
culture is being subverted. i speak for the poor of america who are paying the double price of smashed hopes and homes and death and corruption in vietnam. i speak as a citizen of the world. for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken . i speak as one who loves america . to the leaders of our own nation , the great initiative in this war is ours. the initiative to stop it must be os. as i have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry that men, i have told them molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their probls. i have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that columns most
meaningfully through nonviolent action. but they ask, and rightly so, what about vietnam? they ask of our own nation was in using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. those questions hit home. and i knew that i could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government. amy: in the spring of 1968, king made three trips to memphis , tennesse to support striki sanitation workers while orgaganizing for his nioionwid poor pplple's cacampgn. rev. martin luthekiking j: yoyou e mamandinthatat ts citytyill
respt t the gnity ofaboror. so often we orlooook e workrk and the gngnificce o of ose who are noinin prossioiona jobs, of tse who a notot i the so-cald bibig bs. t t let sayay tyou totoght atat whever r yoare enenged in work thaservesesumanititand is r the buding of manity, hadidignit and it s woworth. you arremimindg nonot ly mehis,s, b youou a remininng the nati, , thatt isis arime
for peopleo live in this ric nation and recveve staatation wages. amy: rev. marting king was invited d to memphis by rev. jas lawson who we spoke to on the 50th anniversary of king's assassination. rev. james lawson: well, as a pastor in memphis, i was one who supported unionism. i happen to think you cannot havewe cannot make our democracy succeed, be effective, if you do not have working people in organized units who can care for their economic benefits and care for their environment, who can care for the issues of justice. we cannot anticipate that the teachers and brokers of plantation capitalism are going to offer economic equality.
the people have to do that, so an engaged community, engaged people. and for that to happen, we have to have millions of working people in strong organizations locally, where they can know the issues, see one another, work with one another, to effect change where they live. amy goodman: and dr. king coming to rev. james lawson: so thoseso those who opposeso those who oppose that are actually wanting to see the failure of this democratic experiment of ours. amy goodman: and dr. king coming to memphis not once, but twice. the first time, had to leave because the march turned violentmany felt provocateurs were planted in the marchbut then, not wanting that to be how he lefeft memphis, so did d ret, and the second time, of course, being assassinated. rev. james lawson: well, he actually was there three times. martin king was invited, along
with bayard rustin and roy wilkins, of the naacp, as the speakers from the outside who would help us mobilize our mass meetings and help us to get the word across our community of the efficacy of the sanitation strike, of the rightness of that cause, and of the necessity of all of us in the community who wanted a better land, better city, to support the strike. so, he was invited as one of the people from across the country. but he represented, of course, the icon of nonviolent action. and a strike is a nonviolent tactic. it's in the literature of the history of nonviolent struggle. so he was our leader, our icon, our teacher, our philosopher, the man who, in fact, more than any other human being in western civilization, has said that the
violence of western civilization must change, or, he used the word, there will be "co-annihilation," co-nonexistence. no other spokesperson of the western world has clearly insisted that violence is sin. violence is unjust. violence despises human beings. violence prevents the emergence of new forms of human communication and human understanding, so that violence itself is a part of the problem, a part of the crime against the human race. amy:y: that is the rev. james lawson. earlier this year, democracy now also spoke with the pulitizer prize winning historian taylor branch and the writer trey ellis. they worked on the new hbo documentary "king in the wilderness."
taylor branch talked about dr. king's work in memphis. taylor branch: i will just talk a little bit about the origins of memphis. the staffhe hadit took, as the film shows, an enormous effort to get the stataff behind the pr people's campaign. there were a lot of dissension. some people said, "if you don't end the vietnam war, it doesn't matter what we do." and other people said, "we still have segregation in the south and in the north, and we should be on race relations." so he finally gets them to going on the poor people's campaign and their plans, and then this incident happened in memphis. the strike started because two of the sanitation workers were crushed to death in the back of a cylinder garbage truck, when they were not allowed d to seek shelter in rainstorms, because they were all black, and their rules did not allow them to seek shelter in any white neighborhood, because it offended white people. and the only place they could find shelter is in the garbage, with the garbage itself.
and a broom fell and hit a lever and compacted them, literally crushed them. that's the origins of "i am a man," meaning they picked that slogan because the whole strike wasit was economic, but it was also just essential dignity. they were being crushed like the garbage that they were picking up, and nobody cared. amy goodman: so they carried these signs that said "i am a man." taylor branch: they carried these signs. and the person that was leading the demonstrations, jim lawson, was one of dr. king's old mentors in nonviolence. and he calls him and says, "martin, can you come?" and so, that's where thetrey did most of the interviews about memphis, but that's where it was. he said, "i have to go to memphis. if we dodon't answer thisyes, is a diversion, but it's fromom jim lawson, and if these people don't personify what the poor people's campaign is going to be about, nobody does." so he once again drags his staff to memphis as a diversion from poor people's campaign. trey ellis: yeah, i think it's amy goodman: so, trey, take it from there.
trey ellis: well, i think what's really amazing about it, we have thisevery time that, you know, when he wanted to go north, when he wanted to go against the war, he was getting this pushback from his staff. and then, now there's such dissent, that they actuallyhe has a little hunger strike, right? that like he's justit's the first time that, andy young will say, that he can't get through to them. and he just has to do something really extreme, so they willthey will listen to him. to me, an extraordinary moment is like when he goes to the first memphis march, and it goes badly, and some people, for someit's unclear what all their reasons were, but some people in the back are taking those "i am a man" wooden placards and using them to break some windows, or they're agent provocateurs. things are happening, and the march is a disaster. i am most impressed by dr. king when he's on the film and he says, "yes, it was terrible, and i should have done a better job organizing this march. i shouldn't have just jumped in, and sight unseen, into this
march." you never seethere's not a single politician i've ever heard in my life who would admit to that kind of a mistake. and then, when he comes back, he's really redoubling his efforts to come back next time and make it right. amy goodman: i want to go to the clip of dr. king the night before he was killed. this w was april 3 3rd, 1968. rerev. martin luther kining jr.: wewell, i don't know what will happen now. we've got someme difficult days ahead. but it really doesn't matter with me now, because i've been to the mountaintopop. i don't t mind. like anybodydy, i would d like o live a long life. longngevity has s its place.e. bubut i'm not concerned ababoutt now. i justst want to do gogod's wil. and he h has allowed me to go up to the mouountain.
and i've looked overer, and i've seen the promised land. i may not t get there wiwith yo, but i wantnt you to knowonigight that we, as a people, will get to thehe promised d land! so i'm happy tonight. i'm not worrieied about anythin. i'm not fearing any man! mine eyes have seen the glgloryf the comingng of the lolord! amy: m martin luluther king jr.. speaking on april 3, 1968. he was assassinated the next day in m memphis. he was just 39 years old. uprisings would soon break out in cities across the united states. when we come back we will look at what happened weeks later on the campus of columbia university. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. 50 years ago on april 23rd, 1968, hundreds of students at columbia universitin new yk ststarted revolt ocacampus students went on strike. they occied fiveuildings includg the pridident'offifice in low libryry. they barricad d themlves inside the bldldingsor d day theyere protting colbia's ties tmilitary research and plans to bld a new gymnasium in a public park iharlem. the protts began less than three weeks after the assassination of dr. martin luther king jr. the 1968 columbia uprising led to one of the largest mass
arrests in new york city histy, as mo than 700 people re arrested on ailil 30t it also inirired sdent protests around the country. we begin with excerpts from the documenty columbia revolt byby third worlnewsreel. >> we w w demawe no loer aska sayn decisis that afct our les. weall on all student facult s staffnd worke off the iversityo o suppt ouour stke. we askhahat alstududen and faculty not meet or have classes inside buildings. we have taken the por away from an reresponble e an illegititete admistrtratn. we have keken power away fm aa arard ofelf-perpuauating businessmewho callhemselves trustees of this university. we're demanding an end to the
constrtition othe e gyasium,m, gymnasium beg g builagaiains the will oththe pele o of e community h harle a d decion that wasade unilerally b powers of the university without consultation of people whose liveitit affts.. we are no loerer askg, b but demandining, aend to a affiliation and ties with the institute for defense analysis, a department venture that corroborates the univeitity in studies of kill d overki that h r resuld inin t slaughter and maimg of thousands of vietnamesand ameranans. >> in der to sw the sodarity opeople wh six strike leaders who they had trieto suspend, they decided to take hamilton once again.
>> y a are heby directed to clear out of this buildi. i'll ge you fuher instctions ithis building is not clrered ouwiththinhe nexex 10 minutes >>'m askinhow manyf you he are wilng now tstay with me,it-in he, until >> after three votes, a majority decided to stay. strike! strike! stri!! stri!! strike! strike >> if u do not choosto leave this building, i have tonform you thate have nalternate but c call e popoli, and d ch studt t who arrrresd willll be immediely suspended. amy: that's an excerpt of columbia revolt, third world newsreel. one of the participants in the strike was o our own democracy w
host juan gonzalez who reflected on what happened 50 years ago this spring. juan gonzalez: well, there was a major rally called by the students for a democratic society, as well as the members of the student afro-american society, who joined the protest, as well, basically continuing the ongoing protest against the university's involvement in research for the institute for defefense analysis, a group that was doing a lot of research for the pentagon for the vietnam war, and against the construcuction of the gymnasiuim that columbia was trying to build in morningside park. and a variety of forces came togetherthe sds students, the sas students, a lot of other folks who were involved in the communitstrugglearound t gym. and eryone ghehered thehe sundl l and,nititial, marcrcd to the gymite and en came back on mpus. and we all ended up in hililton
hallwhwhich s the ma undergradue classroobuilding for e columb college students and that's w whethe sit- gan. amy goodman: so, ray brown, describe the role of the afro-american society, your role. what happened that day? raymond brown: well, the black student role has often been ignored, especially by the media. the new york times managed to cover this in detail for days and never mention us. but we got a telegram from chairman mao. somehow, the people's republic of china knew what the black students were doing, new york times did not. but certainly, the black students played a pivotal role, because, first of all, we were more disciplined than any other group. we determinedwe were the first to determine to barricade buildings. we asked, in a manner that's become controversial in the ensuing years, the white students to leave and grab other buildings. and we barricaded that first building. our role was strategically pivotal because city had just erupted weeks earlier after dr. king's death. there was a perception that harlem might rise, and we did have a lot of community support. and so, the reason this lasted for seven days was because
nobody wanted to arrest the black students, and, subsequently, that meant they couldn't arrest white students. so, our role was pivotal, though ignored historically and journalistically. amy goodman: nancy biberman, describe what you were doing there that day, april 23rd, 196868. nancy biberman: so, at noon, we all gathered at the sundial in the middle of the college campus, and there was a rally. and the rally was about, you know, the ongoing anger at the war in vietnam and, in particular, our university's affiliation with reseaearch for the war. and we were also very much aware, as ray said, dr. king had just died. you know, we werehad been assassinated.. you know, we were all in the streets, and i think everyone was in high-tension mode. and, you know, what we were able to focus oni mean, symbols are as important as facts sometimes, and in this case, especially,
the gym was the most powerful symbol of racism that we could sesee in our neighborhood. it was right there. it wasn n a bluff, the pposed gym between the univiverty and harlemem it was a pubc park. d it wasyou know, designed for udents, th a bacoor entranceo o the mmunitit was offensive, d we w we all rallyingehind th. amgoodman:nd the re of women? nay biberm: so, throle of won is morcomplicad. would li to say,owever for couple omy siste who are stening t there,hat o women re the os to yel after couldn'get intoow brary, hing g ju run fro e sundia "tohe gym!" o women id, "to the g." and itas from at momenthat all rano the gyand, you know, jumped into the bulldozers.
juan gononzalez: i'd likike to k mark rudd toto step in. mark, your name is probably most associated with the columbia strike of all of the protesters, yet today, in today's the new york times, you attempt to try to correct the history or the nanarrative that has d developed over the decades. mark rudd: right. there's a lot to be said, of course, about the columbia strike, but that point that the leadership of the black students has got to be made.. it's relevant today y because to often the narrative of contemporary struggles focuses on the white kids. well, it's going to bethis particular movement that we have now, omovement a are bng l led by women andlslso byonwhwhit pepele.
so, th is a go time toook back and see what relevant history there is. raymond brown: i think it's important to point out that mark and some of the leaders have been not only historically accurate, but gracious, in the last decade, in saying, "look, there was a misperception as to how this happened at the time." mark asked me to speak at his book launch. bill sales and other black students like myself get calls from the media. mark rudd said you should talk to you instead of him. so, there has been a recognition by some leadership. but that hasn't taken away the tension that still exists at a number of events on the part of white students who feel they wewere expelled improperly from hamilton hall, a very interesting kind of tension. amy goodman: well, juan, let's go back to you, 50 years ago. this is democracy now!'s own juan gonzalez speaking during the strike. juan gonzalez: now we want to go into the dorms with all of you, with some of you who may notwho may not agree with a lot of what we've been saying here, who have questions, who support us, who want to know more. let's go to the dorms. let's talk quietly, in small groups.
we'll be there, and everyone in livingstonin livingston lobby, in furnald lobby, in carman lobby. we'll be there, and we'll talk about the issues involved, and we'll talk about where this country is going and where this university is going and what it's doing in the society and what we would like you to do and what we wouldand how we would like to exchange with you our ideas over it. cocome join us now. amy goodman: so, mark rudd, in albuquerque, new mexico, where you live now, this whole idea, as juan is announcing the teach-ins, the different places to have discussions during the strike, talk more about this, and talk about your being head of sds, the students for a democratic society. mark rudd: well, first of all, i just want to say howow excitingt is to be on with my old comrades. i wish i were present with you in the studio. the couple of things that occur to me in regard to the conversation we're having at the
moment is that the university was not prepared for the black students. ray and other people have written about this. and i'd like to hear more from ray about that, about the ways in which the university failed the black students. and i think probably most of us white kids, too, failed the black students. so, let's talk about that. but i just wanted to say that the story of any action, any protest, usually goes way back. and in this particular case, it has to do with, in part, years of organizing that sds engaged in. when i got there in september of '65, what became sds, the students who became, who formed
sds, had aeaeady been ororganizg against the university's racism, in the form of the university refusing to allow black and latinoafeteriaororkerso form a unionit was clear raciand alsohe univeity's involvement in the war, which had just begunun, april anandwell, with main force troo. the university was training naval officers. amy: that was mark ruddd and nancy lieberman. , and our very own juan gonzalez, leaders of the columbia revolt 50 years ago this sprg. when we come back, the catonsville nine protesting the war in vietnam 50 years ago led by the berrigan brothers. father phil and dan berrigan.
at: we continue to look back the spring of 1968, 50 years ago. we turn now to may 17, 1968. on that day in the baltimore suburb of catonsville, maryland, a group of catholic priests and lay activists stood around a small fire of their own making, praying and singing. they had gone into the local draft board office and taken 378
draft records, for the young men in the 1-a category who were most likely to get drafted to go to war in vietnam. they set fire to the draft records using homemade napalm, made from gasoline and laundry soap, to symbolize the u.s. military's use of napalm on vietnamese civilians. they became known as the catonsville nine. video of the act of civil disobedience was seen around the world. i want to turn to the 2012 documentary, "hit and stay," which chronicles the stories of the activists, including father phil and daniel berrigan. >> we make our prayer in the name of that god whose name is peace and decency and unity and love. tom melville: we unite in taking our matches and approaching the fire. john hogan: we are all part of this. george mische: while people throughout the world, and especially in vietnam, now are suffering from napalm, these files are also napalmed to show that the... [inaudible] daniel berrigan: amen.
tom melville: napalm, which was made from information and from a formula in the united states special forces handbook, published by the school of special warfare of the united states. david darst: we all had a hand in making the napalm that was used here today. dean pappas: napalm is a very old d weapon. it goes back to the byzantines, but it really came to public attention during the war in vietnam. i mean, pictures of napalmed people. so that was a kind of quintessential symbol of the war. we were burning babies, literally, in vietnam. so that's why we wanted to come up with something symbolic, and also something that would really destroy the files. tom melville: our church has failed to act officially, and we feel that, as individuals, we're going to have to speak out in the name of catholicism and christianity, and we hope by our action to inspire other people who have christian principles or a faith similar to christianity will act accordingly too to stop the terrible destruction that america is wrecking on the whole
world. daniel berrigan: we regret very much, i think all of us, the inconvenience and even the suffering that we caused to these clerks here. phil berrigan: we sincerely hope we didn't injure anyone. daniel berrigan: let's hold hands. our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. daniel berrigan: we have chosen to be powerless criminals in a time of criminal power. we have chosen to be branded as peace criminals, by war criminals. amy: the catonsville nine were prosecuted and, 1 1970, giviven prison sentences of up to three years behind bars. earlier this month a ceremony was held in catonsville to mark the unveiling of a new historical marker to commemorate the action. i spoke to margarita melville one of the last surviving members of the catonsville nine. amy goodman: margarita, can you tell us where we are right now? what is this building? margarita melville: this is
thethe knights of columbus rented out the second floor to a selective service registration office. amy goodman: this was where the draft board was in catonsville? margarita melville: that the draft board was, on the second floor of this building. amy goodman: so what did you do when you came here may 17th? margarita melville: well, somebody had cased it out for us, because, i mean, tom and i had just gotten back to this country from guatemala and mexico. so, somebody had cased it out, and we thought it was verythey looked for a place where it would be safe to run down, that we could get out quickly, and that we had a place to burn them that was nearby. so we ran upbut i can't findi can't remember exactly where the stairway was. i remember rushing down the stairway. and then we stood here. it wasn't paved, so it was just dirt, and it was easy to put out the fireftfterwas, y younow, once eveththing s buburn. amy goodn:n: so,hat t yowere burning was? margaritmemelvil: ththe les out of tththis w befefor computers. so thereasas onlone e co of each file. amy goodn:n: andhesese we thee draft files. margaritmemelvil: ththeswere the a-1 afaft fis, n notustt the draft leles.
those whhahad 4- or r whever the othecacategoes w wer were not affected i just metwowo menho w wer deferred becsese thewerere i scscol. and theyaiaid, "whwhy dn't y y burn ours?" one of tm m had go o anservee two years teter heot o outf scho.. we got as nyny as could. we put them b baske. mary and iepept thtwo o won clerksrorom stpingng u i kept inty y wereeadydy t tatale us. amy goman: youerere stdingng in front oththe clks?? margaritmemelvil: i i kei stood inront of e.e. there were t.. and ryry in ont t ofhe othth one. if they want t to usthe e phe, wefine, ca t the pice.e. but weth w was n ourur ierest,t, because w were ing g toet finishedefefore ey g gotere. amy goodn:n: ando, y youroughtht these fis s downthe e grp of you, t c catonillele ne. margaritmemelvil: yeyeah amy gomaman: d youou te any,y, personal, , down margaritmemelvil: nono. i personallyutut a mch o on themem so we made sure thatacach onof us ptiticipad inin t actuaua burning. amy goodman:ndnd yourougught them out heranand puthemem ia trascacan? margarita meilille: , nono, ,
noin the middle ofhehe parng area. we circled it and burned the files. and whentom, my husband, was very sure that every last file was out of the basket, so none got left tucked in there. and so, we burned them all, kicked the can or the basket around. it was a wire basket. and so, we each threw in a match, and we were able to burn them all right there. amy goodman: and as you did this with father dan berrigan and father philip berrigan and your own husband margarita melville: and john hogan and george mische and tom lewis and mary moylan. amy goodman: and you had come from guatemala? margarita melville: tom and john and i had been missionaries in guatemala, where we had seen green berets beginning to work with the guatemalan army and teaching them how to use napalm. later on, they taught them how to do strategic villages. anand they had the pattern down.
amy goodman: and you burned these files with? margarita melville: napalm. that wasthe recipe was in the special forces handbook: soapsuds, suds, in those days, like ivory soapsuds, and gasoline. amy goodman: and why the suds? margarita melville: so that it'd stick to your body, and it'll burn and burn and burn, and you can't wash it off real fast. amy goodman: and that's what the power of napalm was. margarita melville: that was napalm. and soon thereafter, my brother-in-law, art melville, and catherine sagan and a group of them went up to the dow chemical offices and went into the file and got all the recipes for napalm and threw them out the window. amy goodman: because dow is the one that manufactured napalm. margarita melville: dow chemical was manufacturing the napalm. they manufactured napalm. we did the special forces handbook recipe, which wasas vey simple, but very effective. amy goodman: and how was it used in vietnam, napalm? margarita melville: remember those words of father dan saying it's better to burn paper than to burn children? do you remember that picture of that little girl running down
the road with no clothes on, because they had been burned off of her, with the horrible look on her face? that was part of our inspiration. we didn't wawant that to contin. amy goodman: were you afraid, as you stood here, having burned the files? margarita melville: no. i knew what was coming. amy goodman: were you planning to run away? margarita melvlville: no, no, n, no, no. this i is civil disobedience. we stay put, what happened. we stayed put. we waited. we said the "our father." we held hands and said the "our fathe" and whwh police came, "hi, guy" and we got into the paddy wagon, and we went to the local jail. amy goodman: how do you feel, standing here on knights of columbus property, when the monument, ththe plaque, for what you did, is a ways away? margarita melville: you know what? it's symbolic. it just shows the fact that we're not really in this together as a society. amy goodman: explain what happened. why is the marker down the road? margarita melville: because the
knights of columbusthere's no selective service office anymorethey just weren't happy with the idea of that kind of a marker on their property. amy: margarita melville speaking earlier this month in catonsville, maryland. the late father daniel berrigan once wrote in a statement explaining the action, "our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children." in 2006, i interviewed father dan derek and -- berrigan and asked him how he bececame invold in theheatonsville a action and why he went underground after his trial. >> i was teaching at cornell, and philip came up. he was awaiting sentencing for a prior action in '67 in baltimore, where they poured their blood on draft files in the city. and he came up to cornell and announced to me, very coolly, that he and others were going to do it again. i was s blown away by the coura,
and the effrontery, really, of my brother, in not really just submitting to the prior conviction, but saying, "we've got to underscscore the first action with another one." and d he says, "you're invited"" so i swallowed hard and d said, "give me a few days. i want to talk about pro and cons of doing a thing like this." and so, when i started meditating and putting down reasons to do it and reasons not to do it, it became quite clearr that t the option and the invitatition were e outweighghig everything else and that i had to go ahead with him. so i notified him that i was in. and we did it. amy goodman: now, this was after you had been to north vietnam. father daniel berrigan: right. this was may of '68, and i had
been in hanoi in late january, early february of that year. amy goodman: with historian howardrd zinn. father daniel berrigan: right. amy goodman: freeing prisoners of war? father daniel berrigan: yes, we brought home three flyers who had been captured and imprisoned. it was a kind of gesture of peace in the midst of the war by the etetname, duduri the so-cleled teholilida whichchas traditiolllly a me o of union of families,ndnd so ey w wand these flyerso o be rniteted th their mimilies amy goodman: icatonsvie, was is the fst time u were breakinghe laws the united states? father daniel berrigan: no, i had been at the pentagon in '67 ini think it was in october. and a great number of us were arrested after a warning from mcnamara to disperse.
and we spent a couplple of weees inin jail. it was rather rough. and we did a fast. in we were in the d.c. jail, which was a very mixed lot. so i had had a little bit of a taste during that prior year. amy goodman: you and your brother, phil berrigan, had an unusual relationship with secretary of defense mcnamara. you actually talked to him, wrote to him, met him? father daniel berrigan: yes. i met him at a social evening with the kennedys in about '65 and after this very posh dinner, which was welcoming me home frfm latin amererica. one of the kennedys announced that they would love to have a discussion between the secretary of war and myself in front of everybody, which we did start. and they asked me to initiate the thing, and i said to the secretary something about, "since you didn't stop the war this morning, i wonder if you'd do it this evening." so he
looked kind of past my left ear and said, "well, i'll just say this to father berrigan and everybody: vietnam is like mississippi. if they won't obey the law, you send the troops in." and he stopped. and the next morning, when i returned to new york city, i said to a secretary at a magazine we were publishingi said, "would you please take this down in shorthand? because in two weeks i won't believe that i heard what i heard. the secretary said, in response to my request to stop the war, mississippi: if they won't obey the law, you send the troops in." and this was supposed to be the brightest of the bright, one of the whiz kids, respected by all in the cabinet, etc., etc., etc. and he talks like a sheriff out of selma, alabama.
whose law? won't obey whose law? well, that was the level at which the war was being fought. amy goodman: so, dan, after the trial, you went underground. why did you decide to do that? father daniel berrigan: well, the war had worsened, and the spring of '70, the campuses were aflame. nixon had invaded laos. there was secret bombing going on. the war had widened. it was a bad time to turn oneself in, and we were comparing that order to military induction. it was like saying, "well, i'm going off to war. i'm m going to obey them a and o off to war. i'm going to take the penalty for what we did to make the war evidently, evidently unwinnable and unwageable. so, a group of us said, "no go""
and went underground. amy goodman: and what does that memean when n you go u undergro? father daniel berrigan: well, it meant that the fbi was on your tail and that hoover was outraged and very angry and kept marking up sheetsthat we got out, freedom of information, latersaying, "get him! get him"" and scrawling all these orders around and putting extra people on our taiail. amy goodman: but you were showing up in the strangest places. father daniel berrigan: all sorts of places, including preaching in church and getting on national television with a good interview and so on and so forth. so, it really incrcreased the edginess of the whole e thing. amy: father dan berrigan speaking in 2006. the catonsville action inspired hundreds of other actions at draft boards across the country. it also led to a global protest effort to end the threat of nuclear war known as the plowshares movement. in 1980, dan berrigan, again wi his brother phil andd othersrs, broke into a g general
electric nuclear missile plant in k king of prussia, pennsylvaa in the first plowshares action. the most recent plowshares action took place on april 4th on the 50th anniversary of martin luther king's sassination, when seven catholiclowshareacactivis entered the kingbabay nal ba in georgia, t largest nucleasubmarinbabase ithee world. they were memed with jusust hammers, cri t tape d bababy bottles containing the o own blood. onof the sen ielizabet mcaliste the wid of phil rrigan, priest athe time led theatonsvil action yes ago toy. thatoes it f today's show if youant a co of tod's show, goo democrynow.org democracnow is pduced by ke burke, renee feltz, deena guzder, nermeen shaikh, carla wills, laura gottesdiener, sam alcoff, john hamilton, robby
-george kourounis: as global temperatures rise, theololar i c caps aareisappearg an alarming rat as a result, mo and more cecebergare e shing up in t t warmer waters of canada tracking the gwiwing numbmberf icebebgs is crial, because understdding w t the momo and how they disintegra ishe k keyo undedetanding the melting of arct i ice. i'll see howt't's do. from above... thwawaves e jujusthootinin high up intthe air because of e beberg from below.. and fm the very top ofof an eberg onhe m mov i'm goingo o plac th beacoco melting ices s earts arningngignal and icebes s are undiding an arm bell about our imamate fufutu.