At Southwest Writers today the speaker was Mark Rudd. A long time teacher at Albuquerque's community college TVI now CNM. In the late 60's he was in the Weather Underground as part of the anti-war movement and spent a number of years running from the law. I bought his book. Agreed with most of what he said today. When we had our little chat while he was signing the book we didn't have much to discuss as I wasn't a marijuana smoking, wild eyed, hippie from the Sixties. I did try to get him to join the gaggle with me telling him that those Eastern transplanted Republicans I golf with need another good rabble rouser to shake them up, but he doesn't golf.
I was in junior high at the time and remember little about the Weathermen other than what the news reported when I really wasn't paying much attention. Dad was an ex-marine going to UNM on the GI bill and do remember him fussing about the SDS on campus and that he thought they should all be sent to Siberia.
My freshman year in college was the last year of the draft and I didn't know that year if I'd be called up or not. I was 76 out of the pingball machine and they drafted to 75. If any emergency came up they'd draft to 100. Fortunately no emergency arose and I gladly spent my time running cross-country and track all over Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
In high school the anti-war movement were a bunch of egg head hippies and I was a jock. There was a bit of animosity between groups. They resented all the attention the athletes got and were constantly submitting petitions to cut all inter-school athletic competition and divert the money wasted on such frivolous pursuits to academics. They also protested our Air Force ROTC, which I was in as well. (Small aside, two years of JROTC taught me the last thing I ever wanted to do was be in the military.)
Going to a small Baptist college 40 miles from the nearest known sin once we were out of Southeast Asia in classes we discussed what went wrong in a rather detached way. A number of students were vets and in one class I remember a vet saying that the whole time he was there most of the Vietnamese were just simple farmers that wanted to grow their rice, take it to market and be left alone from both sides. Kind of a universal sentiment throughout all history.
I didn't really get a sense of what the anti-war movement was about until I came back from exile (the five years I was in Texas going to college and seminary). I came across Harlan Ellison's The Glass Teat and The Other Glass Teat. It was a bit late, but I finally understood what they were protesting against.
What I appreciated most from his talk was that he understands how what he was trying to accomplish was good, but he went about it the wrong way.
When covering both the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement in world history and U. S. history I try to impress on my students that both movements were successful until they turned violent. When they were non-violent much was accomplished, but the tragedy of Martin Luther King Jr's assassination was that it marked the ending of effective non-violent change and the resulting riots, and disruptive demonstrations turned the American public against them. I haven't had time to read his book yet, but I get the sense he understands this much more deeply than I do from my ivory tower.