Media Criticism

Much of the criticism that the Weather Underground has gotten has been both from historians and former participants in the leftist movements of the 1960s and early 1970s. Mostly having to do with the Weather Underground’s use of violence and authoritarianism is criticized, but in many instances it seems that criticism of the Weather Underground is a right winged slander campaign. By not taking into account the reality of the 60s and 70s and reasons they led their lives as revolutionaries (just as Ayers points out in his interview with ABC seen in post on Obama/Ayers Connection), media takes away the meaning, purpose and humanity of The Weather Underground.

The Weathermen are widely criticized for their use of violence as a means of social change; being called “terrorists” and known as giving a bad name to violent as well as non-violent activists. While movies like “The Weather Underground“, the trailer for which is below, have come out portraying them in a neutral tone, many articles of controversy have been written about “the glorification of terrorism”. In a similar light, backlash comes while many of the former members of The Weather Underground- despite their admitting to planting the bombs and some, including Bill Ayers, who don’t regret their militancy- are free, and college professors for that fact. The article “Justice for Victims of The Weather Underground“, written by Cliff Kincaid, is a perfect example of how articles are written against The Weather Underground. Even Wikipedia essentially has a black list of members of The Weather Underground. These articles not only call them “terrorists”, many cover up the truth by misguiding the audience into thinking they killed more than they actually did.

While there is much controversy on how many people were killed by the WUO in my research I found that before the Brinks robbery and the death of three of their own, only two people were killed in a station bombing and one other sergeant in a separate bombing. The FBI claims “…During the last 18 months there has been a spectacular increase in the number of politically motivated police slayings and bombings. At least 20 policemen have been killed and 100 wounded in apparently unprovoked attacks. Seven were Chicago policemen, four of whom were gunned down without warning.” but unless they are including the Red Army and John Jackson Brigade, these numbers are simply inaccurate.

While this is not hiding the fact that many were wounded by some of the bombs that went off, the Weather Underground in multiple ways (bombing things, not people/ sending out warnings about bombs) was not looking to kill people or terrorize, but to symbolically send a message that was loud enough for the public to hear after all of the media/FBI/police cover up.

Many of The Weathermen are free today because of the corruption of the government. There was evidence that the FBI had talked about abducting Bernardine Dohrn’s niece as ransom for her to come out from hiding. Because of these conspiracies, many charges were dropped, this is where much of the backlash comes in.

While I believe that the movie “The Weather Underground” does not in any way glorify terrorism as much as to explain a concrete tactical approach to social change, such a controversial subject may seem one sided, but what is more one sided is not getting their perspective.

One statement from “The Weather Underground” documentary, shows that some members are more critical of their previous actions. “If you think you have right on your side, you can do some pretty horrific things.” Says Brian Flanagan, another member of WUO. I think this statement also provides justification of violence used not only by The Weathermen, but our Government as well; meaning if you are critical of WUOs violence you should look into the other wars we are a part of. Violence in most wars is hidden from us, “bringing the war home” is a way to see the destruction of US imperialism  first hand, make the need for social change more pertinent. Mark Rudd has another critical perspective of his past actions with the WUO, and is still trying to figure out his own perspective on violent vs. non-violent action.