August 28, 2008
Bill Ayers' better (and successful!) half
I don't normally correct historical details in stuff I read, but in this case I thought I should, because it sheds a little light on the truly horrid background of one of Barack Obama's political sponsors who hasn't been getting enough attention. I refer to Bernardine Dohrn, a notorious and unrepentant terrorist I have called evil, whose praise of the Manson murders was detailed at the Corner by Andy McCarthy:
As I noted back in April in this article about Obama's motley collection of radical friends, at the Weatherman "War Council" meeting in 1969, Ayers' fellow terrorist and now-wife, Bernadine Dohrn, famously gushed over the barbaric Manson Family murders of the pregnant actress Sharon Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and three others: "Dig it! First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into the victim's stomach! Wild!" And as Jonah recalled yesterday, "In appreciation, her Weather Underground cell made a threefingered 'fork' gesture its official salute." They weren't talking about scratching up the wall-paper.That's the right story, but the wrong "pigs." (I'd say "close but no fork" but I'll leave the wisecracks to Ayers and company.)
I think it's worth noting that the people Dohrn called pigs (and in whose grisly fate she took such delight) were Leno and Rosemary LaBianca -- a small business owner (a World War II veteran whose parents were Italian immigrants) and his wife. They were strangers to the Mansons, and this was what happened to them:
Sometime during the early morning hours of August 10, 1969, Manson family members entered the LaBianca house. Manson and Watson awoke a sleeping Leno LaBianca, on the couch in his living room, at gunpoint. Leno was assured by Manson and Watson that he would not be hurt and that they only intended to rob him. Manson removed a leather thong from his neck and had Watson use it to tie up Leno's hands. Leno was then asked if there was anyone else in the house. He told Manson and Watson that his wife, Rosemary, was in the bedroom. Manson went to the bedroom and awoke Rosemary. He allowed her to put a dress on over her nightgown before leading her into the living room where Watson had Leno tied up. Manson and Watson reassured the couple that they wouldn't be hurt, and were just being robbed. After collecting all the cash in the house, Manson ordered Watson to take Rosemary back to her bedroom where Watson placed a pillowcase over her head and wound a lamp around her head, gagging her with a lamp cord. He told her to stay quiet and remain in the room. Watson returned to the living room and Manson then left the house. Within a few minutes, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel entered the residence and were instructed by Watson to go to the bedroom.Barack Obama was just a small boy when this happened, and obviously, he's not responsible for Bernardine Dohrn's statements of support for the gruesome murders, or her "fork" salute that celebrated them.
But frankly, the whole thing gives me the creeps, as does Dohrn.
However, it's easy to complain about people like her going directly from the FBI Most Wanted list to cushy jobs in the finest law firms right after being released, but I like to look for explanations. As it turns out, her employment was enabled by a very respectable man named Howard Trienens:
Dohrn's post-revolutionary successes are even more remarkable, considering she was the more notorious. During their underground days, she made the FBI's 10 most wanted list. Upon surfacing, Dohrn got three years of probation and a fine.Wow. I also haven't practiced law for years, and I've been out of law school for an even longer period of time. Will Trienens hire me too?
Probably not. I don't have the right friends. Nor do we contribute to the same causes. (As it turns out, Trienens has given thousands of dollars to the Obama campaign.)
Eventually, Dohrn seems to have decided that she'd rather teach law. It just so happens that her pal Trienens was also Chairman of the Board at Northwestern, and he of course denies that he had anything to do with hiring her:
Dohrn's route to Northwestern is harder to discern. Trienens said he had nothing to do with it, though he was then board chairman.Cool! Maybe if I can find a guy like Trienens, I can get him to slip me through the door somewhere as an "adjunct."
I've always wanted to be an adjunct anyway. Sounds like the best of both worlds.
Needless to say, the Tribune reporter got nowhere trying to figure out precisely how the hiring occurred:
Seeking clarification from the university, I was told to put my questions in writing. Which I did:Yeah, well I have to admit I take issue with her views on killing pigs. Especially which "pigs" should be killed, and why. She and her husband have tried to explain that her cheering for the LaBianca killings was just a joke, but it was taken deadly seriously at the time. I think it echoed the "kill your parents" meme they famously promoted:
Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that's where it's really atThis makes Leno LaBianca a perfectly legitimate target. Because not only was he an affluent small businessman (owner of a successful grocery business, to be exact), he was a father of three kids.
Might his mutilation at the hands of Patricia Krenwinkel (young enough to be his daughter) have captured the imagination of young Bernardine?
I realize this is just armchair psychology, but I don't believe the Ayers/Dohrn denials, and as I say, I like to look for answers. I think it just might be significant that Dohrn's father was another small businessman; fellow Weather Underground radical Mark Rudd described her as "just the daughter of a credit manager of a Milwaukee furniture store":
In Destructive Generation, Collier recounts a chance meeting at around that time between Dohrn and Mark Rudd, another radical leader who'd also been underground for a time. "She asked him what he thought about the whole experience," Collier writes. "He told her that he thought of it as seven years of wasted life; that neither he nor they had accomplished anything, and he wished he'd gotten out at the beginning. 'She got furious [Rudd recounts] and said: "But what about the contribution we made to the overall struggle for armed struggle and revolution in America?" I couldn't believe the rhetoric. The same old shit. I just said to myself, "Oh, later for you, lady," and took off. Later on it occurred to me how her ego was still totally involved with all that dead history. How little she had looked at herself all those years. She should have had to admit how wrong her ideas were, how meshuga her self-conception was. A great revolutionary leader' She had no great revolutionary ideas. None of us did. She was just the daughter of a credit manager of a Milwaukee furniture store.'''I guess poor Bernard Dohrn (described by his daughter as a "true believer ...with no political interests and little understanding of her commitment") was lucky they didn't practice what they preached, or he'd have ended up looking like this.
(I'll bet she was too chickenshit even to give her dad the three-fingered salute!)
By any standard, Dohrn's past is absolutely dreadful, yet like her husband she is unrepentant to the core. What accounts for her success? What enabled her to go from the FBI Ten Most Wanted list to a position where she could assist in the launching of the career of a man poised to be president? And why are she and other unrepentant terrorists considered mainstream? (Like it or not, by prevailing liberal standards, they are.)
Perhaps the lesson here is that it's a mistake to be repentant.
(You might end up as just the daughter of a credit manager of a Milwaukee furniture store....)
MORE: To be fair to Sidley Austin, Howard Tienen, Northwestern University, and the countless others who have helped and enabled Bernardine Dohrn's place in the American mainstream, I think it needs to be remembered that this is no ordinary woman, but someone who is clearly driven. She may be a revolutionary Marxist, but she possesses the Midwestern work ethic in spades.
Really. Consider that when still in her twenties, she issued a Declaration of War against America, and she did her damnedest for years to carry it out. How many individual terrorists have declared war on America and actually had their war taken seriously? Osama bin Laden comes to mind, but in general, they're few and far between.
What employer wouldn't jump at a chance to hire a dynamo like that?
posted by Eric on 08.28.08 at 10:20 AM
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