June 19, 2007

Is This Heaven? Dispatch 6

... by Mike Palacek

"Well, I really wish there were a way to defeat imperialism without the pain and bloodshed. Our generation tried to "shake the moral conscience of America" in the 60’s. I think the clear lesson from Vietnam, from the bloody overthrow of Allende in Chile, from the COINTELPRO campaigns against the Black movement here and the criminal attacks on Nicaragua today is that you have to be able to fight and ultimately defeat imperialism’s force and violence to achieve any real change." — David Gilbert

I watched "The Weather Underground" last night after I got home from work about midnight.

I just can't help but be impressed by the commitment of those people. They actually fought the United States government. Nobody does that.

Can you imagine — just try to imagine — canceling your Survivor Party to fight the FBI toe-to-toe?

I cannot imagine postponing my stair-stepper workout to fight the United States government.

My wife and I once went "underground" in the 1980s for two weeks, pursued by the Omaha FBI office.

These people went underground forever. Some for up to eleven years.

Naomi Jaffe
Mark Rudd
David Gilbert
Mark Ayers
Bernardine Dohrn
Brian Flannigan

They missed whole seasons of TV series.

Some TV series they never even heard of.

Imagine it.

I'm also reading a book by Wesley Swearingen, a former FBI agent. He pretty much confirms that the FBI conspired with or "inspired" the Chicago police to murder Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, two young Black Panthers.

We really need a Truth Commission in the United States.

Remember they had something like that in South Africa after the release of Mandela?

It'll never happen here.


We really need to be able to walk through the halls and look through the desks of the FBI, CIA, NSA, whatever else there is. They are our employees. Count their erasers, pens, envelopes, stamps.

Swearingen calls the FBI a national political police force.

They rule us.

This country hates unions, but here is an example of the employee being in charge of the employer: tapping his phones, following him home, sending him to prison, murdering him.

And then the CIA is the international brand.

We don't need that.

We can't have that and still be The United States of America.

We can be something else: a dictatorship, an oligarchy, a giant plantation of slaves for the sundry American corporations.

But we can't be The Good Ol' US of A — and not have open tours of the FBI.

Send Cub Scout Pack 532 of Helena through there and inspect the hidden documents. That might do it.

In the 1970s a group of citizens broke into the FBI offices in Media, Pennsylvania and stole files, papers.

Maybe it was a Boy Scout Troop. Way to go, guys!

That is how we found out about COINTELPRO. Psssst. Otherwise, they weren't going to tell us.

Just as they were not going to tell us who killed JFK, RFK, MLK.

The way they are not ever going to tell us whether we really went to the moon, who killed Paul Wellstone, who really attacked us on 911.

Somebody or some group would really have to want to know.

Or it never happens.

Back in the 1980s, in Omaha, Ruth and I lived in a resistance community called Greenfields, named after an anti-war song. The members of our group often went to jail for non-violent civil disobedience at Offutt Air Force Base.

Stepping over a white line in the road.

We were considered a threat for that.

Two of our "members", Marylyn Felien, an ex-nun, and Kevin McGuire, once a seminarian, were scheduled to go to federal court for an Offutt action. They decided instead to show up at the Cathedral of the Omaha Catholic church and ask for sanctuary.

That way the archbishop would be forced to deal with the Strategic Air Command located at Offutt. And then people would find out that he supported SAC. And wonder just how does that square with the words of Jesus?

Prior to that date I leafletted a bunch of cars down at the federal building, probably FBI vehicles and U.S. Marshal vehicles. I also leafletted down at the Cathedral— parishioners during church. We were going to be very open about what we planned — trying to force the Catholic Church to speak out about the targeting of nuclear weapons by SAC, the spending of billions on weapons rather than the poor.

Two days before the date the FBI hit Greenfields in a pre-dawn raid. They also went to Marylyn's home. She was able to lock them out while she called the media.

By the time she was taken out in handcuffs she was on TV.

Kevin and his family were not at Greenfields at the time. Ruth and I were in Norfolk visiting my mother.

Kevin remained out of sight for a few days and then re-appeared in a car driven by his wife, Laura, at the front steps of the Cathedral.

He was met at the curb by a welcoming committee of two priests: Fr. Jack McCaslin, a priest of the Omaha archdiocese, and Fr. Frank Cordaro, of the Des Moines diocese, and led up to the Cathedral past the media.

Kevin resumed his sanctuary action and eventually was arrested back on the front steps of Greenfields by several FBI agents. He went to federal court and to prison for one year.

Kevin and Marylyn challenged the FBI, the Omaha Catholic Church, the federal government, the United States military., the federal district court.

They kicked all their asses, actually, embarrassed them, stuck it to them.

They are American heroes for that, though we will never-ever read that in an American History textbook, unless we some day have a Truth Commission.

And it was all non-violent, creative, very brave.

In the 1960s the FBI was murdering Black Panthers, putting them in prison. The United States military was slaughtering millions of people in Vietnam.

There were huge demonstrations, marches, and things just kept getting worse. Nixon kept increasing the troop levels, the bombing.

What else were those people to do?

Well, also during those days the Berrigan brothers, two priests, took draft files out of a Selective Service office in Catonsville, Maryland, and burned them in the parking lot with homemade napalm. They went underground, then to prison. They did not harm anyone. They did destroy property.

In the film, one of the Weathermen mentions that for a family or a person in America at that time to just go about their normal life, getting job promotions, bringing home Dairy Queen birthday cakes, is also violence.

I agree with that. I see that today. On the day that we bomb Iraq the lawns in our neighborhood get mowed on time, the mail delivered on time, Raymond comes on at seven, as usual.

Another person in the film says that Americans are taught that any violence not sanctioned by the government is either criminal or mentally ill. And that there many bombings of government buildings did not cause a general uprising among Americans, a revolution to actually physically topple Richard Nixon's government.

"Violence didn't work."

I guess I would take violence over doing nothing. I would take caring enough to sacrifice your own life to blow up a national guard building or prison to letting people be murdered with absolutely no response.


Gandhi pointed out three possible responses to oppression and injustice. One he described as the coward’s way: to accept the wrong or run away from it. The second option was to stand and fight by force of arms. Gandhi said this was better than acceptance or running away.

But the third way, he said, was best of all and required the most courage: to stand and fight solely by nonviolent means.

Mark Shepard



The Weathermen were careful not to let their bombs injure anyone. There were three of their own killed once in a mishap in a townhouse in New York City while making a bomb — a bomb that was meant to kill many people.

After that they rethought and decided to only destroy buildings. They organized groups of resistance in several major cities around the country.

I thought there was someone killed in a bombing in Madison, Wisc. That is not mentioned in this film. Maybe that was not the Weathermen. I don't know.

In the film some of the Weathermen express regret, ambiguous feelings about what happened.

"When you feel you have right on your side, you can do some horrific things."

"Think of all the great killers ... they had a great project for the transformation of society, and decided that killing is okay toward that end."

"I find it hard to speak about it publicly, ... and to tease out what was right from what was wrong."

Well, I just think these are good things to know, to talk about.

For one, it is no good to sit back and watch the game on TV while people are dying under bombs we have paid for with the tax document we put in the mail on our way to the movie store.

That is immoral.

At least the Weathermen cared.

But I have to say that I believe any killing is wrong. Any, anytime. I even think killing pigs and cows for food is immoral and absolutely not necessary. I think the same thing about hunting. Don't get me started about big and dumb guys in orange, padded mittens and caps pulled halfway down their big, dumb ears.

I think that right now we can fight a whole bunch with the dissemination of information. We can fight a pretty good fight by working to expose what the Bush government really knows about 911.

I don't think we really have to think about bombs and guns and packing our CDs and DVDs off to some tree house compound in the Cascades.

If we could have the Democratic Party be The Democratic Party. Or if we could have something boring-sounding like campaign finance reform, and power could not be bought and sold, that would be revolutionary.

Can you imagine going to the voting booth and being able to vote for Nader, Kucinich, Paul — and them having a chance?

Or of having them given a chance to speak to a national audience.

How about having Chomsky, Zinn as commentators on a Sunday morning "press" show?

Or some kind of investigative reporting done these days by the Washington Post regarding 911?

Those simple things would be revolutionary. And our world would be transformed in ways we cannot imagine right now.

Those who make non-violent revolution impossible make violent revolution probable.

Did Big Bird say that? Somebody did and it's probably true.

I would imagine that if we get forced into a corner tight enough, for long enough, that we might see something like the Weathermen reborn in the United States.

That is if nobody has an exercise class scheduled for that day.

My novel Terror Nation opens with a mountain shoot-out between the White Sox and Red Sox, the leftist revolutionaries and the government mercenaries, dubbed the "White Sox" and "Red Sox" by a New York reporter not quite convinced yet of the seriousness of it all.

Below is a portion of that opening, set in the hills in the United States, in these times.

This is Iowa.

Where if you pick it up — you don't have to buy it — and all our weather men are nice ... and quiet.


— Mike


From Terror Nation, published by Mainstay Press:

"Some of the White Sox had heard of the Weathermen from the 1960s. There were none in the White Sox that the acting student knew of.

They would have to be a hundred years old.

Most of the White Sox were young, not unlike the Weathermen, he figured.

They left college to pursue a valiant, necessary adventure to fight the Republicans, the Red Sox.

Maybe the students heard a rebel recruiter speak at a coffee shop near campus or in the toasty home of a sympathetic, comfortably detached professor.

The rebels formed armed resistance groups, "ARGs," in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, near Sacramento, just outside of Aspen, near Branson, in the Appalachians, twelve miles from Roanoke, and were moving to organize in the Green Mountains of Vermont, either on the outskirts of Rutland, Burlington, or Bennington.

... the lights shifted and the snipers adjusted their poses. They slithered on their bellies.

Shots zipped, flicked at the hard dirt, zinged off stones.

The actor gripped the philosopher by the shoulders. They exchanged wide-eyed looks.

The sniper turned his cap bill to the back, adjusted his attention ...

He crossed his legs at the ankles straight out, then closed one eye and found the young actor kneeling in the dark: Scene IV of a current tragedy with stage lights fixed.

The Red Sox gunner lovingly squeezed the trigger, slowly, hunched his shoulders against the nip in the air, and sent the brains and blood and face of Thespis onto the body of his new friend, Plato, and all around, splattering the stones and the hard dirt and the Mexican Hat flowers.

Upcoming guest appearances:

— June 24, Writer's Cafe, Brownville, Nebraska, 2 p.m.
— June 25, Gorilla Radio, Victoria, British Columbia, 730 p.m. CDT

Palecek books: KGB [Killing George Bush], Joe Coffee's Revolution, Terror Nation, The Last Liberal Outlaw, Looking for Bigfoot, Twins, The American Dream.

Mike Palecek website: http://www.iowapeace.com

Contact Mike: mpalecek@rconnect.com

Palecek books are available through local bookstores, Amazon, cwgpress.com, howlingdogpress.com, badgerbooks.com, newleafbooks.net, essentialbooks.com, mainstaypress.com.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Guest Op-ed submissions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this website. Writers are solely responsible for content.

Posted by PV Guest at June 19, 2007 12:43 AM | Guest Writings | Technorati links |

Rizzo-French Final-Iraq failed state-German british airways-Square-rooting Poland-
Muenteferings wrath-RNC data erasure-Iraqs disabled-RodhamClinton doubledigit-
Plame subpoena threat-E.Kennedys empty boxes-Abu Ghraib-Irans oil weapon-
Taliban Afghanistan-RodhamCLinton&Obama in Indian affairs-
Hamas´"strike"-mosque blown up

Posted by: ccoaler at June 19, 2007 06:37 AM

We dropped the ball. We stopped The War, Our War - VietNam - but we didn't stop War. Nixon resigned - we finished our degrees, cut our hair, had kids, bought houses... and left the machinations in place that led to where we are today. We dropped the ball.

A thought on going "underground" - it's a good thing to know.

Posted by: Thomas Ware at June 19, 2007 08:26 AM


In an imperialist strike the English house of lords banned and barred the English military today from giving paid statements to the media.

This occured in connection with sailors of the HMS Cornwall patrolling in Iraqi waters close to Iranian waters recently.

Posted by: ccoaler at June 19, 2007 10:31 AM