Call for ‘grassroots effort’ to help boost campaign
By Aaron Klein
The names of four former top leaders of the Weathermen terrorist organization are listed as signatories on an online petition calling for an “independent grassroots effort” to help strengthen Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign.
The petition was initiated by Progressives for Obama, an independent organization acting to ensure the Illinois senator’s election.
Progressives includes among its ranks many former members of the 1960s radical organization Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS, from which the Weathermen splintered, as well as current and former members of other radical organizations, such as the Communist Party USA and the Black Radical Congress.
“We agree that Barack Obama is our best option for president in 2008, and that an independent grassroots effort can help strengthen his campaign,” states the online petition. “It can also strengthen the mandate for his programs for stopping war, promoting global justice and securing our rights, liberties, and economic well-being.”
Among the names signed onto the petition are former Weathermen leaders Howard Machtinger, Jeff Jones, Steve Tappis and Mark Rudd.
Machtinger was a Weathermen founder and was co-author of the terror group’s original mission statement, which called for “revolutionaries within the United States to wage a ‘people’s war’ and attack from within. The government would fall and ‘world communism’ eventually would be instituted.”
Jones, according to his own website, was “elected, along with (Weathermen terrorist) Bill Ayers and Mark Rudd, to the SDS national office. Then, in the spring of 1970, he disappeared. As a leader of the Weather Underground, Jeff evaded an intense FBI manhunt for more than a decade. In 1981, they finally got him. Twenty special agents battered down the door of the Bronx apartment where he was living with his wife and four-year-old son.”
Jones’ site says he traveled to Cambodia in 1966 to meet with high-level leaders of the anti-American National Liberation Front. In 1967 and 1968 he served as an SDS regional organizer for New York City.
Contacted by WND, Jones said he is not involved in any Obama advocacy.
Tappis was one of 11 people who signed the original Weathermen statement, which was infamously titled, “You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows.”
Rudd, a petition supporter as well as a main signatory to the Progressives for Obama group, was one of the main founders of the Weathermen terrorist organization. A biography published on his website explains Rudd worked to form the Weathermen as a radical alternative to the SDS and for white Americans to eject their “white skin privilege” and begin “armed struggle” against the U.S. government.
Rudd went underground in 1970, when a bomb exploded in a townhouse in Greenwich Village in New York City, killing three of his comrades. He lived for seven and a half years in hiding as a fugitive, finally surrendering in 1977, facing only low-level state charges after federal charges against Weathermen leaders had been dropped. He resurfaced as a teacher in New Mexico.
As late as 2005, Rudd wrote an editorial in the Los Angeles Times lamenting the state of the antiwar movement in the U.S.
“What’s hard to understand – given the revelations about the rush to war, the use of torture and the loss of more than 2,000 soldiers – is why the antiwar movement isn’t further along than it is,” he wrote. “Given that President Bush is now talking about Iraq as only one skirmish in an unlimited struggle against a global Islamic enemy, a struggle comparable to the titanic, 40-year Cold War against communism, shouldn’t a massive critique of the global war on terrorism already be underway?”
Former Weathermen member Mark Rudd
In the piece, Rudd condemned the Weathermen’s decision to embark on an “armed-struggle,” calling it “stupid” since the violent acts led to the group’s demise. But he didn’t condemn the terrorism itself, only its contribution to the downfall of the Weathermen.
Rudd declined to speak on the record to WND, explaining an interview may spark more Weathermen controversy for Obama.
All former Weathermen leaders who signed the pro-Obama petition worked closely for years with Weathermen terrorist William Ayers, whose association with Obama has generated controversy for the presidential candidate.
The Weathermen took responsibility for bombing U.S. governmental buildings in the 1970s.
Trevor Louden of the New Zeal blog commented, “Clearly Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, are not the only former Weathermen backing Obama. Add their old comrades Jeff Jones, Howie Machtinger, Mark Rudd and even Steve Tappis to the mix and you are starting to get beyond coincidence. That former terrorists are working with Marxist groups to elect Barack Obama is beyond doubt.”
Progressives for Obama, which initiated the online petition, first published its creed in March in the Nation magazine, explaining the organization descended from the “proud tradition of independent social movements that have made America a more just and democratic country.”
Progressives for Obama stated it can help the Illinois senator’s ascent to highest office by contributing funds, using the Internet to reach “millions of swing voters;” defending Obama against negative attacks and making its agenda known at the Democratic National Convention.
“Progressives can make a difference in close primary races like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Oregon and Puerto Rico, and in the November general election,” the founders state.
The founders stress it is crucial to form a grassroots leftist movement to ensure Obama does not stray too far to the center, claiming other grassroots liberal movements have successfully pressured U.S. presidents into creating new policy:
It was the industrial strikes and radical organizers in the 1930s who pushed Roosevelt to support the New Deal. It was the civil rights and student movements that brought about voting rights legislation under Lyndon Johnson and propelled Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy’s antiwar campaigns. It was the original Earth Day that led Richard Nixon to sign environmental laws.
And it will be the Obama movement that will make it necessary and possible to end the war in Iraq, renew our economy with a populist emphasis, and confront the challenge of global warming. We should not only keep the pressure on [Obama] but also connect the issues that Obama has made central to his campaign into an overarching progressive vision.
The group was founded by four individuals with ties to extremist groups:
- Tom Hayden, a former state senator who was a founder and principal organizer of the SDS. Discover the Networks notes Hayden, previously married to actress Jane Fonda, traveled many times to North Vietnam, Czechoslovakia and Paris to strategize with communist North Vietnamese and Viet Cong leaders on how to defeat America’s anti-communist efforts.
- Bill Fletcher, a former Maoist and current leader of Democratic Socialists of America or DSA. The New Zeal blog notes Fletcher was also a founder of the Black Radical Congress, closely linked to the Communist Party USA, which advocated for “progressive social justice, racial equality and economic justice goals within the U.S.
- Barbara Ehenreich, an honorary chairman of DSA who was formerly active in antiwar movements in which some notorious radicals took part.
- Actor Danny Glover, a member of the Black Students Union, who has visited Venezuela, making guest appearances on President Hugo Chavez’s television and radio talk show. He reportedly has accepted loans of about $20 million from the Venezuelan government to make a movie about a Haitian revolutionary leader.
The Progressives for Obama webmaster is Carl Davidson, a former vice president of the Students for a Democratic Society, who has traveled to Cuba to meet with Fidel Castro.
The signatories and endorsers of the Obama activist group, listed on the Progressives website, include scores of well known communist, socialist and anarchist activists and former SDS members.