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01-07-06, 07:49 AM
Destructive Generation <br />
By David Horowitz and Peter Collier <br />
FrontPageMagazine.com | January 6, 2006 <br />
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We wrote Destructive Generation in the mid-Eighties because of the way that Sixties...

01-07-06, 07:50 AM
This lie was present in the Panthers’ foundation myth, largely forged by the Left and the journalists it influenced during the 1967 trial of the Panthers’ maximum leader Huey Newton for shooting an Oakland policeman in the back. Establishing a pattern that would later be repeated in the defenses of another cop killer, Mumia Abu Jamal, and countless other “political prisoners,” Newton was portrayed by his Leftist lawyer Charles Garry as having been victimized by police persecution because he stood up for black manhood and self-defense. Racist America was the real culprit.

Newton was convicted but then given a new trial on a technicality, and he went on to become the Left’s Dreyfus. His image as a symbol of American injustice stuck through his “exile” in Cuba, his vicious gang wars with his former partner Cleaver, and his eventual murder in 1989 near an Oakland crack house by a drug dealer he had burned.

The alleged victimization of Newton and the Panthers was political oxygen not only for left-wing radicals but also for the arbiters of the culture who assimilated their views in an effort to attain what Tom Wolfe later called radical chic. (The New York Times, for instance, once favorably compared Newton to Martin Luther and Mahatma Gandhi.) The myth of Panther innocence was one of the principal bludgeons that the New Left used to deconstruct America’s effort, through the civil rights movement, to live up to its promise. More practically, it helped hamstring the FBI and local police in their efforts to rein in the terror that radical groups like the Panthers inflicted.

Despite Destructive Generation and other of our writings about Newton and the Panthers and The Shadow of the Panther by black journalist Hugh Pearson, which appeared in 1995 and confirmed our picture of the organization as a black left-wing version of Murder Inc., the Panther myth has survived into the present time along with other key elements of the Left’s indictment of the American past. Its survival has been possible in large part because of the radical takeover of the university.

In 1993, Stanford University paid $1 million for the “papers” of “Dr.” Huey P. Newton. (Newton had indeed received a Ph.D., essentially by intimidating professors who first refused to credit the thesis he plagiarized; it was awarded by one of the first sham academic programs the Left created, this one called the “History of Consciousness” at the University of California, Santa Cruz.) The money was used to fund the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, a political base for remnants of his former gang, allowing them to tour college campuses as guest speakers and receive handsome fees for their lecture-rants against “Amerikkkan” racism and injustice.

Stanford is not alone. In 2003, forty “scholarly” papers were delivered at an academic conference on the Black Panther Party at Wheelock College, each without exception sustaining the myth of the Panthers as a “civil rights” organization. In 2004, the Oxford University Press published a massive reference work, African American Lives, edited by the foremost black intellectual in America, Henry Louis Gates, director of Harvard’s W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. The “scholar” whom Gates chose to write the biographical entry for Huey Newton was Kathleen Cleaver, wife of Eldridge Cleaver—Newton’s homicidal partner and eventual antagonist. Ms. Cleaver is currently a professor of law, having made her own long march through the institutions without ever having second thoughts about the Panthers’ criminal past or her own role in it.

Her contribution to the Oxford book of African American Lives portrays Newton exactly as he was seen by his deluded followers in his own time: as a champion of the oppressed, a victim of government injustice and law enforcement racism. Needless to say, his crimes—arson, robbery, armed battery, murder and rape—are not mentioned. Nor does Cleaver provide unsuspecting students a clue that there might be another side to the story. The “bibliography” she appends to her text is as fraudulent as the text itself. Neither Destructive Generation nor Radical Son nor The Shadow of the Panther is mentioned. Instead, Cleaver lists a preposterous and wholly fictitious Hollywood “B” movie called Panther; an early political tract called Free Huey, written to defend the guilty Newton at the time of his first murder trial; a memoir by Panther “Field Marshal” David Hilliard; a political mash note, Huey Newton: The Radical Theorist; and Newton’s own exercise in autobiographical self-aggrandizement, Revolutionary Suicide.

The academic imprimaturs on this travesty are Oxford and Harvard. In other words, this publication is not the product of an academic fringe but of institutions and scholars who represent the pinnacle of academic achievement. This tells us more than we would probably like to know about what takes place in the liberal arts faculties of a system now occupied by the veterans of the Sixties Left.


The other defining episode of the Sixties that we documented in Destructive Generation was the disturbing career of America’s first terrorist political cult, the Weather Underground, itself a faction of Students for a Democratic Society, the largest and most important radical organization of the era. Unlike the Black Panthers, who for the most part have died, been killed, or faded into self-promoting hustles, the Weathermen are still very much with us.

This was brought home to readers of the New York Times on the morning of 9/11, when they opened its pages, printed the night before the tragedy, and saw a color photo of a middle-aged couple holding hands and affecting a defiant look at the camera. The article was headlined in an irony that events of the morning soon made breathtaking: “No Regrets for a Love of Explosives.” The couple pictured were Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, both professors now but in the 1960s leaders of the Weather Underground, America’s first terrorist cult. One of the bombing targets in those glory days of which they were so proud was the Pentagon, which, along with the World Trade Center, had been Mohammed Atta’s target too. “I don’t regret setting bombs,” Ayers told the Times; “I feel we didn’t do enough.”

To tell our story of Weatherman (“Do It!”) we interviewed thirty members of the Weather Underground including Ayers and roughly half the leadership of the organization (the “Weather Bureau”), and did so within three or four years of their having emerged from their bunkers. Using their own words, we revealed that the famous townhouse explosion that killed three of their members had been triggered by an antipersonnel bomb they were manufacturing, which was meant to kill American soldiers at a dance at Fort Dix. This information was provided to us by a then regretful Mark Rudd, one of their most media-visible leaders, who had been purged by his comrades for refusing to go along with this and other acts of senseless violence they were planning.

Since the appearance of Destructive Generation, several academic books have appeared on the subject of the Weathermen, most of them thinly veiled apologies for this terrorist group. In 2004, the University of California Press published what became the most widely praised and academically respectable of these books. Written by Professor Jeremy Varon, it was hailed as “a turning point in the scholarship of the Sixties” by Professor Jeffrey Herf, himself a former Weatherman. Varon’s book was titled Bringing the War Home: The Red Army Faction, the Weather Underground and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies.

Unlike us, Varon interviewed only a handful of Weathermen, and only those from one faction of Weatherman’s internal disputes (it might be called the celebrity faction since it included Dohrn and Ayers but not their critics). Yet the conclusions of our work are not dealt with in his text, nor does Destructive Generation appear in his twelve-page bibliography, which cites over one hundred works. But we do get a mention in one of Varon’s footnotes, in these significant tones: “The former Ramparts editors David Horowitz and Peter Collier profiled [Terry] Robbins in a largely vituperative piece for Rolling Stone, written while they were converting to neo-conservatism.”[2] Vituperative? Only in comparison with Varon’s apologia for a group that wanted to blow America up. (And actually, we weren’t converting to anything then, nor have we since.)

Varon’s own overheated ideological perspective is on display throughout his text, which wackily sees the U.S. government as the villain of the piece and Weatherman’s violence deplorable only for tactical reasons—it was bad public relations and might have triggered a backlash of violence by the always hydrophobic U.S. government: “The bombing might have inspired some small number of Weathermen and others to commit similar acts. The government, which often disregarded civil liberties in pursuing dissidents . . . might have abandoned all restraints in its efforts to destroy Weatherman. Mass arrests or even murders of suspects might have . . . followed.”

Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn return from an underground life as bombers and become well-paid and respectable members of the academy, with scarcely any acknowledgement of what they had done (unless Ayers’ blithe admission that they got away with murder counts). None of this makes an impression on Professor Varon or finds its way into his account. The Weatherman violence cult may have planned a campaign of murder and mayhem, but America is still the guilty party. This is a reprise on the bottom-line logic of all Sixties politics: The devil made us do it. The political criminals of Weatherman who live, after all, in a democracy (and a very forgiving one at that) are described as “dissidents,” which debases a term coined to describe protesters in a totalitarian state. Varon ignores utterly the fact that there were no “mass arrests of suspects” at any time in the Sixties, nor were any “suspects” murdered by the U.S. government. The same cannot be said for the Sixties Left itself, which rallied to the support of the New Haven Black Panthers who tortured and then sanctioned the execution of “suspect” Alex Rackley, a Panther accused of informing to the police; and looked away as Huey Newton pursued his reign of terror; and ignored the fact that the townhouse Weathermen would happily have murdered dozens of U.S. soldiers if its bombers hadn’t providentially blown themselves up instead.


How could we have changed and given up such politics? This is the odd question we are sometimes asked by the handful of our old comrades who still speak to us. The question has many layers. On the surface they are asking how we could have gone from being, like them, bitter critics of America to being defenders of its promise and advocates of its power to do good in the world. At a deeper level, though, they are wondering how we could have turned our back on the Sixties, those good old days when we were all so bad. The answer we give is not one that they like: at some point it is time to grow up and construct a profit-and-loss statement of one’s commitments and their consequences.

Someone once said that lapsed radicals like ourselves are condemned always to regard their former beliefs as their Great White Whale. There is probably some truth in that. This book is a log of our sightings of this Sixties beast. We may not have set the final harpoon, but we have given chase.


[1] Gitlin, “Varieties of Patriotic Experience,” in The Fight Is for Democracy: Winning the War of Ideas in America and the World, ed. George Packer (New York: Perennial, 2003).

[2] Jeremy Varon, Bringing the War Home (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), p. 337.