Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. America’s ‘Days of Rage’: The Extensive Left-Wing Bombings, Domestic Terrorism of the ’70s

 

As the summer of 2020 dawned, left-wing radical groups began rioting and taking over parts of America’s cities. While this specific form of left-wing violence is new, left-wing violence itself is far from new in the United States. Indeed, one of the most hidden and concealed parts of recent American history is the extensive left-wing violence that began in the late 1960s and continued into the 1980s.

At first, one might think that these were isolated incidents of small-scale “protest” or even minor violence. However, upon even brief examination, we find out that the outpouring of leftist violence over this time period was anything but minor. The most likely explanation for why you have never heard of this until now is that the events of these years have been consciously buried by those who would prefer you not know about them.

As the left once again ratchets up both its rhetoric and its physical violence, it’s time to re-explore this period of American history. What started as a non-violent student movement quickly escalated into a campaign of terrorism against the American people. And while the similarities may not be terribly striking yet, astute readers of this article will quickly see the world in which we live more and more closely resembling the Days of Rage.

The Days of Rage

The Days of Rage were in fact a short and discrete period of time – three days of demonstrations that took place on October 8 through 11, 1969. Throughout this article, we will discuss events that took place both before and after the Days of Rage, but consider this period a sort of “coming out” party for the Weathermen, also known as the Weather Underground.

The Weathermen started out as a faction within Students for a Democratic Society. Without getting too much into the weeds, much of what happens during this period of leftist terrorism in the United States has its genesis in a faction fight between the Weathermen, who controlled the national SDS organization, and the rest of their faction (known as the Revolutionary Youth Movement II or RYM II), who were in opposition to the more classically Maoist Worker Student Alliance.

Tensions ran high because the stakes were high – nothing less than total control of the largest student radical organization in America and all of the spoils that came along with that. Many within the Weathermen faction of RYM II believed that they were fighting literal fascism coming to America in the form of President Richard Nixon.

Sound familiar yet? It’s about to sound a lot more so.

On October 6, 1969, a statue memorializing a police officer killed during the 1886 Haymarket riots was blown up. No one ever figured out who committed this act of iconoclasm, but the tangible effect of the act of political terrorism was the final isolation of the Weather Underground from the rest of the SDS.

The Weathermen then shifted their activity to the Days of Rage, a protest rally with the slogans “Bring The War Home!” Many wielded lead pipes and were clad in football helmets, ready for a confrontation with the police.

Turnout was disappointing. The Weathermen expected a massive turnout, but only got about 800, who stared down 2,000 Chicago police likely itching for another fight after the 1968 Democratic Convention. By the first night, about 500 had deserted the protest, with about half of the remaining 300 being Weathermen from around the country.

Abbie Hoffman and John Froines, two members of the Chicago Seven, showed up, but declined to speak and left. The remaining hardcore of Weathermen and their supporters shifted the goalposts to simply fighting the police as constituting victory.

At 10:25 p.m., Jeff Jones, one of the leaders of the Weathermen, gave the signal and chaos erupted. The crowd moved through the city, smashing windows of ordinary cars and middle-class homes throughout Chicago, as well as small businesses such as barbershops.

The next day, October 9, a “Women’s Militia” comprised of about 70 female Weathermen planned to attack a draft board office, but were prevented from doing so by the Chicago Police Department. The governor called up 2,500 National Guard members to protect Chicago, and protests for later in the day were canceled. The Black Panther Party’s local leadership attempted to distance themselves from the Weathermen, describing the group as “anarchistic, opportunistic, adventuristic, and Custeristic.”

The next day was the last day of the Days of Rage proper, centered around a march of 2,000 through a Spanish-speaking area of Chicago. The next day, October 11, the Weathermen attempted to reignite the protests, but were quickly sealed off by Chicago’s finest. Approximately half of the crowd were arrested in 15 minutes.

It was after the events of the Days of Rage that the Weathermen became the Weather Underground and began moving underground as the name would imply. At a meeting known as the Flint War Council, which was attended by Barack Obama advisor William Ayers, taking place between December 27 and 31, 1969, the Weathermen dissolved their version of SDS, changed their name to the Weather Underground and declared that they would engage in guerilla warfare against the United States government.

Before continuing with the laundry list of terrorist actions carried out by the Weather Underground, it is worth briefly explaining their ideology. The Weather Underground was not a classically Marxist nor, strictly speaking, a Maoist group. Their cues came more from the American New Left. Thus, much like the radicals creating chaos in American cities in the 2020s, they were far more focused on opposition to the American state, “white privilege” and “white supremacy” than they were in creating bonds across the working class.

In this regard, they differed both from the Maoism of the Progressive Labor Party (made up of former members of the Communist Party, USA, who supported Mao against Kruschev and thus had very real ties to the American labor movement) and the so-called “New Communist Movement” (comprised of younger student activists sympathetic toward Maoism and Third Worldism, but without organic ties to the existing Communist left and the labor movement). They did not, as some other groups in both Maoism proper and the New Communist Movement did, seek either ties with the American working class (which they largely considered “bought off by imperialism”) or the official sanction of Beijing (a long-term goal of both Maoists and New Communists).

There are three important takeaways from all of this inside baseball:

  • The Weather Underground considered the American government to be fascist.
  • They believed that American military and civil government institutions should be treated in an identical manner to how the Viet Cong would treat the American military.
  • The American working class, in particular the white American working class, was considered apathetic and useless at best, but generally more considered an active opponent of revolution – thoroughly reactionary and thus, the enemy.

Continue reading America’s “Days of Rage”: The Extensive Left-Wing Bombings & Domestic Terrorism of the 1970s at Ammo.com.

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  1. DJ EJ Member

    Thank you for this post and the article links. You’ve reminded me that I need to read Bryan Burrough’s book, and there couldn’t be a more appropriate time than now.

    The names for a lot of these groups/factions would be more amusing (I chuckled upon reading “Maoist Worker Student Alliance”) were it not for their destructive ideologies and acts of domestic terror.

    • #1
    • July 13, 2020, at 9:03 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  2. I Walton Member

    They did not have major parties support, they were tiny and the population understood them as extremists. The only thing they had going for them was the Viet Nam war which half the country hated and feared that they or their kids would be drafted. There were also other real issues like the civil rights protests and the murder of Martin Luther King, real things that mattered. Now we do not have a war half the country thinks is stupid at best and evil at worst, the people raising the mobs are much larger, kids have been left historically ignorant, our schools have been taken over by the left, the media is at best ignorant, giant companies are monopolistic and staffed by smart technical people who are profoundly ignorant. It’s much worse. 

    • #2
    • July 13, 2020, at 9:08 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Jon1979 Lincoln

    I Walton (View Comment):

    They did not have major parties support, they were tiny and the population understood them as extremists. The only thing they had going for them was the Viet Nam war which half the country hated and feared that they or their kids would be drafted. There were also other real issues like the civil rights protests and the murder of Martin Luther King, real things that mattered. Now we do not have a war half the country thinks is stupid at best and evil at worst, the people raising the mobs are much larger, kids have been left historically ignorant, our schools have been taken over by the left, the media is at best ignorant, giant companies are monopolistic and staffed by smart technical people who are profoundly ignorant. It’s much worse.

    It’s both worse and better, in that the current group of activists has not yet risen to the true level of carnage of the late 1960s and early 70s, which involved the random, unannounced bombings of the Weather Underground and the assassination or attempted assassination of political leaders. The specter of 9/11 — which put a stop to the romanticizing of domestic political terrorism as somehow being more ‘noble’ than regular terrorism (as with the puff piece on Bill Ayers that The New York Times ran the morning of 9/11/01) — still is shakily in place in a way it was not 50 years ago, in which violent political actions would be condemned by liberals …. but with a qualifier in that we had to understand the root causes of what caused them to bomb the U.S. Capitol or an ROTC center.

    Rationalization of terrorism has been out of bounds for the past 19 years, but how long that lasts is a big question, as is what would happen if a major random bombing or the murder of a major political figure occurred. The worst-case scenario there is the truly scary part, especially given how much today’s current media is trying to monetize demonization at the current violence levels.

    • #3
    • July 13, 2020, at 9:30 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    This is an excellent introduction and summary, Ammo. Thank you for putting it together. It should certainly be on the main feed and link-able to the outside world.

    Hard to give “like” to some of the comments, as much as I agree with them, as they are anything but likable! Bad news all around. As far as rationalization of terrorism being out of bounds, it hasn’t been at least since Trump was elected and the political opposition declared itself “the resistance” and arguably going back to the Occupy Wall Street protests. Arab terrorism against Israel has been rationalized by the left even since 9/11, albeit more quietly and circuitously. There was certainly rationalization of the 9/11 attacks by those pundits who started out by asking what we did to deserve it and then providing a list.

    • #4
    • July 13, 2020, at 10:01 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. EODmom Coolidge

    DJ EJ (View Comment):

    Thank you for this post and the article links. You’ve reminded me that I need to read Bryan Burrough’s book, and there couldn’t be a more appropriate time than now.

    The names for a lot of these groups/factions would be more amusing (I chuckled upon reading “Maoist Worker Student Alliance”) were it not for their destructive ideologies and acts of domestic terror.

    Burrogh’s book is exceptional and painful. It’s really timely. It’s a meticulous book and wasn’t broadly heralded when it came out. I think it’s too close to home for many today. 

    • #5
    • July 14, 2020, at 3:11 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. Kozak Member
    Kozak Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    They had big plans. Big plans.

     

     

    I’m sure their current version has big plans as well.

    • #6
    • July 14, 2020, at 4:15 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Back in the day, it was said that the Revolutionary Student Brigade couldn’t muster a platoon, they were kind of a joke in terms of being revolutionary, and they were sucking wind as students too.

    • #7
    • July 14, 2020, at 4:38 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. I Walton Member

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):

    It’s both worse and better, in that the current group of activists has not yet risen to the true level of carnage of the late 1960s and early 70s, which involved the random, unannounced bombings of the Weather Underground and the assassination or attempted assassination of political leaders. The specter of 9/11 — which put a stop to the romanticizing of domestic political terrorism as somehow being more ‘noble’ than regular terrorism (as with the puff piece on Bill Ayers that The New York Times ran the morning of 9/11/01) — still is shakily in place in a way it was not 50 years ago, in which violent political actions would be condemned by liberals …. but with a qualifier in that we had to understand the root causes of what caused them to bomb the U.S. Capitol or an ROTC center.

    Rationalization of terrorism has been out of bounds for the past 19 years, but how long that lasts is a big question, as is what would happen if a major random bombing or the murder of a major political figure occurred. The worst-case scenario there is the truly scary part, especially given how much today’s current media is trying to monetize demonization at the current violence levels.

    Violence isn’t necessary if you have power. Marcos in the Philippines killed a few key people when necessary but let the anti Marcos leaders hold forth regularly, just not in the media. Once consolidated the Soviets didn’t mass murder as did Stalin, they had the power and weren’t insane. The Cubans haven’t had mass killings in years. The Chinese usually don’t either, just Hong Kong, and in Tiananmen square, which are tiny by Chinese standards. The fact that our left are less dangerous is scary, they know they’re winning and with few deaths can rope in the ignorant which they help us produce in our destroyed school system. 

    • #8
    • July 14, 2020, at 5:00 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. PHCheese Member

    In 1969 while serving in the Army at Fort Gordon in Augusta Ga I was what they called In Charge Of Quarters at my company. That consisted of staying up all night and making sure all was well in the company area. I was in charge of company E. Company D was not next door , in fact I could not see it from my company. D was close to the back gate which was unguarded after midnight. The gate had those tire spikes like they had at drive in movies. Some how a group of The Black Panthers were able to access through the gate and with a trailer towed by a pickup truck loaded 225 M-16 rifles and escaped. They ducted taped the Charge of Quarter’s of Company D after roughing him up. The told him if he wasn’t black they would have slit his throat. I was interviewed by the CID and the FBI but I didn’t see or hear a thing. I am glad they didn’t rob company E. Things haven’t changed much have they? As far as I know the Black Panthers were never caught nor were the M16s ever found. Fortunately no ammunition was kept in the companies. I don’t know if that was available in the civilian market or not at the time.

    • #9
    • July 14, 2020, at 7:22 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. CACrabtree Coolidge

    Excellent post and I would add my sentiments that Bryan Burrough’s 2015 work, “Days of Rage”, is a must-read. From this post (and Burrough’s book) a few points come to mind:

    1.  Given that, in 1972 alone, there were 1,900 bombings in the U.S., I am a bit surprised that we haven’t seen some of this during the last few weeks. Perhaps the “woke” mob is content with arson, theft, and senseless vandalism. Perhaps they don’t have enough intelligence to construct a bomb. Perhaps, even they, sense that this would be a tipping point that would put public opinion against them.
    2. In the 1970s we still had enough “adults in the room” that were able to see that the violence of the Left had to be fought and eliminated. Today? Not a chance. With big city mayors such as De Blasio; District Attorneys being funded by Leftist deep pockets such as George Soros; and, Leftist legislators such as AOC and “The Squad”, the violence will continue unabated. The word “Anarchy” is sometimes overused but I don’t know of another term that fits our present situation.
    3. In the 1970s, we still had something resembling an informed electorate; today, not so much. Decades of eroding educational standards plus the decay of our culture has made us vulnerable to the will of the mob. When violence failed to attain their objectives, the Leftists of the 1970s determined that they would instead take over our educational, judicial and media systems. Their patience has paid off; they now control the message.
    4. Looking back, the makeup of the “Revolutionaries” hasn’t changed that much. Pampered little snowflakes who have never broken a sweat in their lives during the course of some actual work. In addition, their contempt for the working middle class has never changed.

    Again, I highly recommend Burrough’s book. A read of this highly-researched work is time well spent.

    • #10
    • July 14, 2020, at 10:39 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. Ontheleftcoast Member

    First of all, thank you for posting this.

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    It’s both worse and better, in that the current group of activists has not yet risen to the true level of carnage of the late 1960s and early 70s, which involved the random, unannounced bombings of the Weather Underground and the assassination or attempted assassination of political leaders.

    I don’t think that makes it better. “Not yet risen” doesn’t mean “won’t rise”. I think the cadres at the heart of things are disciplined and waiting. There are many more opportunities for already indoctrinated radicals to get some combat experience than there were during the ’60s.

    There is also less focus on revolutionary theater. That’s seen not as a recruiting effort as it once was and more as reinforcement for the already recruited. The long march through the institutions has changed the country.

    What’s the same is the desire to provoke reactions that will decrease regard for the police. Also the desire to immiserate the population, but now it’s not so that the people rise up in revolution, but so that they demand a totalitarian democratic government to solve the problems that the Left has created and blames on the Right.

    For example, Obamacare was meant to be unworkable; this would break the remnants of the “free market” in healthcare and create the demand for a single payer plan.

    • #11
    • July 14, 2020, at 2:30 PM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  12. Columbo Member

    • #12
    • July 14, 2020, at 2:57 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. GlennAmurgis Coolidge

    I recommend Larry Grathwohl book “Bringing down America” – how his undercover work with the radicals of that era

    • #13
    • July 15, 2020, at 9:05 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Jim Kearney Contributor

    CACrabtree (View Comment):
    the Leftists of the 1970s determined that they would instead take over our educational, judicial and media systems.

    Yes, and let’s not forget their version of parenting. (Are some of those folks rioting up in Portland second or third generation political radicals? Are some scions from the northwest’s two great industrial leaps forward of recent decades, tech and pot-farming?)

    While I’ve read several of the histories recommended in this very interesting conversation (and would add relevant parts of the David Horowitz memoirs to the list) I think there’s a very different historical context now. By the way, I lived in New York in the late 1960’s, and met a couple of yesteryear’s lefties named here, attending anti-draft/anti-Vietnam War gatherings while in college.

    The anti-Vietnam War movement of 1967-70 attracted a very broad following. There was a military draft, so all males had some choices to make, personal, moral, and operational. Was the war wrong because it wasn’t in actual self-defense for the U.S.? If there was brave altruism in defending innocent Vietnamese anti-communists, should draftees be forced to fight in such an optional war? Was all war immoral in the nuclear age, as Paul VI argued? Is it even moral to register for the draft?

    So you had committed pacifists and draft opponents alongside all the radical factions, plus a Great Horny Majority who went to demonstrations to meet some of those women who “say yes to men who say no” as the signs and buttons read. Many attended to score dope and enjoy the music. The few who turned violent in the 1970’s and ’80’s were a minute faction left over from the less popular political flip side of Woodstock Nation, and decimated every year by Nixon’s ending of the draft and draw down of the war. The violence accomplished nothing, except in the eyes of creepy Presidents inclined to grant pardons to revolutionary murderers and subversives.

    Today’s young radicals are operating from the base built by those who in 1970 headed into the system in order to change it. If you look at the rioters and demonstrators, you see two very different groups. The peaceful protesters are a mix of the too long socially sequestered, students hoping for better college grades or admissions application tales from their exploits, and of misguided idealists adhering to the social and racial dogma they’ve been force-fed in schools and by most (not all) entertainment and journalism narratives.

    The violent rioters are — who? They’re not a small group, like the old Weather Underground. Are they paid? Where’s all their anger coming from? What are their demographics? I really don’t think we’ll have much of a clue until they’re unmasked and treated like what they are, a criminal conspiracy. Let’s have their sheets run and warrants checked, passports inspected, contacts traced, charges filed, and confessions elicited. That will take prosecutors not bought and paid for by George Soros. Track them now, or watch them graduate to felonies worthy of the Most Wanted List.

     

    • #14
    • July 15, 2020, at 11:27 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Flicker Coolidge

    Coincidentally, I’m reading R. L. Stevenson’s The Dynamiter. In it the revolutionary speaks just like the modern day radicals. With the same egotistical and psychopathic disregard for life.

    • #15
    • July 15, 2020, at 11:48 AM PDT
    • Like