Sunday, June 11, 2006

Past & Present Future

Yesterday I was thinking of Daniel Ellsberg, former hawk turned progressive hero, once again revived as a progressive hero for today's "left." Makes me heave a big disgusted sigh. Today's tactics seem like the '60s all over, but without the protests and riots. Similar sideshows - but with image consulting wusses at the podium rather than hellfired speakers. Politically everyone tiptoes correctly. Wouldn't want to muss the hair-do and make-up.

Americans vent political malice with a horde of Coulter-ish crackpots on the right or a couple of late night comedians on the left. I'm ready for four letter words and a fist fight on the senate floor over a real difference of ideology. Not that I'm advocating a battle, or maybe I am – but high profile folks and/or those in power offer no relevant change to the current sociopolitical system. They're just cheering for the return of their own corporate flunkies to the Big Houses.

Perhaps I have forgotten some of the '60s as I recall only two genuine heroes: Malcolm X and MLK, but their references to God and Allah would turn off most of today's youth, partly due to being well-trained by watchdog groups that demand separation and public education which enforces ignorance. (Not to mention the government supplying drugs (legal or not) and doling out chump checks to the now docile underclasses.)

But the idea that Ellsberg was a hero then or now is a an unfunny joke. Ellsberg, former warrior, former military, former Rand hired hand. I have never been able to do more than speed read and skip around in the Pentagon Papers. Papers which are credited with turning public support against Vietnam. Of course My Lai has been credited as the turning point, war news every night in the living room has been credited with souring the public on VN. But crediting this or that as the "turning point" is an elite media tool; i.e. "you can go back to sleep now Joe because everything will be okay without you, we've reached the turning/tipping point."

How many Joe Blows in 1971 actually read the NYT coverage of the Pentagon Papers; how many Joes relied on a media personality to tell him what to think about the Papers. History has made the PP a holy grail, a legendary inimitable leak. Think today's congress is the first congress to pretend they were "misled" about a war? Political CYA.

Were the Pentagon Papers a "leak" or a covert job? Ya really think "leaking" is a problem for a superpower government, or can the government silence people? Is Ellsberg a minion for the ruling elite who are always at work to divide the country?

Is it believable that Ellsberg, who no longer worked at the Pentagon, could procure, photocopy, and release 4000 classified Pentagon pages to the NYT without the aid of powerful elite players? Could he walk away a hero unless the whole operation was sanctioned? Charges dropped, do not go to jail, do pass go and collect millions of dollars to write, lecture, and pose as a political icon on the "left."

The Kennedys, also heroes of the '60s, were idolized postmortem. How sincere or humanitarian their goals will never be known. Perhaps they were very sincere hence the need to eliminate them. Perhaps the assassinations of that era were the first shock and awe strikes on the American people. To weaken and beat a rowdy awake Joe Blow populace - stirred by beliefs, their demands for genuine self-determination. (Looking at today's whining, dependent, perversely selfish, fat and lazy Joes I'd say the ruling elite's past 40 years of social whupass has been a success.)

Kerry was on the scene back then too, performing his staged medals toss and speeches to congressional hearings. The grooming of a future Yalie Democrat who might be prez or take a skull & bones fall for one. Swifty and shifty?

There was Russell Means, an Oglala/Lakota, and first director of AIM (American Indian Movement) who wanted more too. Palefaces gave it. More whiskey and casinos. After his acquittal for the events at Wounded Knee he went to Hollywood to appear in movies and on TV series. For the Reagan/Bush era (1985 and 1986) he participated in "two clandestine trips into Miskito country of Nicaragua where he assisted in documenting Sandinista atrocities" against the Indians. (Hmm, now who backed those "clandestine trips.") Russell did a European PR tour for the cartoon Pocahontas, became a recording artist, worked at the UN. Today he has his own California production company.

And there's "anti-war activist" Jane Fonda. The Hollywood vixen who strayed into activism more as a means to agitate the hell out of dad Henry than for any humanitarian concerns. Barbarella became a buns booster to exercisers everywhere. Currently poses, somewhat convincingly, as having never been anything but a good and proper, upright, schoolmarmy lady actress, wife, mother.

David Horowitz, a phony radical back then, a flaming conservative now. He didn't really have a change of heart; he simply came out of the neocon closet. And the ever fatiguing Noam Chomsky was around in the '60s. He could have stopped writing 30 years ago and just recycled his earlier writings by inserting the location of the current political killing fields. At nearly 80 I can only be grateful he's approaching his expiration date.

There were the Chicago 7 (8) trial 1969-70 of 7 radicals accused of conspiracy to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. At the time touted as the "most important political trial of the century." Freedom of speech was repeated then a lot too.

Defendents: Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, Tom Hayden, John Froines Lee Weiner, Bobby Seale. (Bobby Seale, cofounder of Black Panthers was under a gag order and eventually his case was separated from the others.) I remember the convention and trial vividly as I lived in Chicago at the time.

Yep, the political sideshow of the century. Where are those boys today? Abbie worked as a psychologist and activist until found dead in 1989, suicide. Rubin paraded in court giving the judge the nazi salute and shouting Heil Hitler (popular words again today). In the '80s he turned yuppie, put on a suit, worked on Wall Street, and died in 1994 when hit by a car while jaywalking.

David Dellinger was the old man in the bunch at age 54. He regularly shouted "fascist" and "liar" at the judge. A Yale graduate and evangelical socialist. At the 1996 Democratic National Convention he spoke in Grant Park against the "war on drugs." He died in 2004 at age 81.

Rennie Davis, educated at Oberlin and University of Illinois, became a venture capitalist and lecturer on meditation and self-awareness. He too was at the 1996 Convention on a panel with Tom Hayden. Hayden as most know was married to Fonda and is now a state senator in California. He was a delegate at the 1996 Democratic National Convention.

John Froines – PhD from Yale, served at OSHA under Carter, and now a professor at UCLA. Lee Weiner went on to work for the Anti-Defamation League of B'Nai B'rith in New York, protested for Russian Jews and more funding for AIDS research. Supposedly still an activist.

Bobby Seale. Cofounder of the Black Panthers, has his own web page and memories of the '60s. Supposedly Seale was added to the defendant list to "taint the other defendents" because of his seditious speech, i.e. "If the police get in the way of our march, tangle with the blue-helmeted motherfuckers and kill them and send them to the morgue." No degrees, no Wall Streets, no government clandestine trips, no Hollywood, just a former tainter.

In 30 years, more likely than not, today's younger liberal progressive "left" will be dead, working for the government in some manner or other, or just the old guy in the bar selling memoirs online.

The 9/11 truth movement will maintain a following with devoted truthseekers, at least for another couple of generations. Both George Bushes will be dead and memorialized in Texas. Mom Sheehan's camp whatchamacallit, most of the media's Wilsonian - Plamish type darlings will be footnotes like those "radicals" above, and orange lanyards will be gone, although yellow ribbons may hang around forever. Yellow may be the true color for the "left" anyway. And lanyard, a piece of rope (noose?) is ironically appropriate.

A few of today's new and younger progressive tokens, will be aging icons to tell the next new "left," if there is another generation of "left," what they want to hear about ending whatever war is going on and how to win back the power. Like today's "left" they won't be yelling fascist motherfuckers at the government but signing petitions and holding seminars. Social demolition - controlled and on schedule. God bless America.


amj said...

rien ca change. plus ca change.

IOW: the more things change, the more things remain the same.


abi said...

I'd count Ellsberg a hero. He did what he did knowing he could have spent many years in jail.

I think Robert Kennedy would have gone on to become a hero if he'd had the chance. This would be a very different country today had he lived and won the presidency in '68.

And I have a favor to ask. Please leave old Noam alone. If more people thought like him, this again would be a very different country.

Kate-A said...


I agree with much of what Chomsky has said over the years - but I think he neglected any serious action to go with his words. Perhaps it bothers me that someone with such global influence has only lectured to the worker and soldier ants without digging any tunnels on the ant farm.

And he poo-poos all conspiracy theories.

But, I'll try to leave old Noam alone. Have you read this assessment by Bruce Sharp? It's a lengthy piece.

abi said...

This guy Sharp sure has a thing for Chomsky.

I'm not nearly knowledgeable enough about Cambodia to try to figure out if Sharp is right. But on the surface, he seems to suffer from the same kind of bias that he accuses Chomsky of.

There are always going to be people who assume that every communist government is going to be brutal. So of course, those people were right about the Khmer Rouge (like a broken clock is right twice a day). Chomsky isn't one of those people. Sure, he was wrong about the Khmer Rouge. But Sharp seems to take it way too far, accusing him of deliberately misrepresenting a bloody regime because "acknowledging the magnitude of their crimes would have undermined the effectiveness of the example he needed to illustrate his theories of media bias."

I'll give Chomsky and his essential humanism the benefit of the doubt.

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