Truly the major media have only scratched the surface, when they have even felt the itch, of the influence of radical left-wing groups in academia. Moreover, these are not “all we are saying is give peace a chance” types.
The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) have a history of demonstrations that were, well, demonstrative, as did their even more violent spinoff, the Weathermen. That’s what brought both to the attention of the FBI and made them an enduring object of fascination for law enforcement officials.
“The fingerprints of [Mark] Rudd, [Bernardine] Dohrn, [Howard] Machtinger and [Billy] Ayers were found at the scene of the Weather Underground ‘Pine Street Bomb Factory’ in March of 1971, according to declassified FBI documents,” Accuracy in Academia staff writer Bethany Stotts has reported.
“Inspection of the apartment yielded an amount of explosives and bomb making paraphernalia,” the Weather Organization Underground (WUO) FBI file states on page 384. WUO bombs usually contained metal fence staples, Cliff Kincaid, Accuracy in Media editor, noted. “This was an anti-personnel weapon designed to maim and kill people,” Kincaid argued.
Yet and still, it is not just the ethos of these organizations that passed into the faculty lounge but the original members themselves. Accuracy in Academia has found that one-quarter of the membership in the national council of the SDS has either worked in academia, guest lectured there or written textbooks.
Some are there to this day. In other words, yesterday’s persons of interest have become today’s persons of influence. The only thing that hasn’t changed is their outlook.
Take, for example, Cathlyn P. Wilkerson, who became a high school math teacher. “In her book, Wilkerson is apologetic for Weatherman’s tactics, but not for her radical politics: She is still a radical, but one who prizes the right to vote, which she regained several years ago,” National Public Radio reported in 2007. “As for her Weatherman years, Wilkerson describes a time when optimism turned to fear and anger — and when she surrendered curiosity to the need to know and independent thinking to orders from the top.”
“I was a leader in the UCLA chapter of SDS in the late 1960s but never on the national council,” Michael Balter told us. “I was a member before the national organization splintered into several factions.”
“Looking back, I think that SDS’s opposition to the war in Vietnam and to racism in the United States was absolutely correct, and that its methods of militant campus protest were justified by the circumstances of the time.”
“I did not approve of the splinter group Weatherman and its bombing campaigns, however.”
The most famous alumni of both SDS and the Weathermen are probably the husband and wife team of Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn but they are not the only tenured radicals in the bunch. They are not the only married couple to emerge from the SDS either. (By the way, in addition to their many other accomplishments, Ayers and Dohrn have edited a little volume called Zero Tolerance: resisting the drive for punishment in our schools.)
Michael Klonsky, general secretary of the SDS married Sue Eanet, a writer at New Left Notes, the SDS publication. Klonsky, an advisor to the Obama campaign in 2008, heads the Small Schools Workshop, conveniently based in Chicago, which, like Ayers’ outfit, benefited from the largesse of the community organization Barack Obama served. Klonsky’s brother Fred, also a graduate of SDS, is a public school teacher in Wisconsin.
(Incidentally, another SDS national council member, Jeff Jones, belongs to the same Apollo Alliance that begat another Jones—Van, no relation—who served in, then exited, the Obama Administration.)
Fellow SDSer Mark Rudd remembers that he and his buds had sharp political disagreements with Michael Klonsky. Rudd and company were Maoists while Klonsky was a Stalinist.
In other words, Rudd and his compatriots felt more of a kinship with Mao Tse Tung who ruled Communist China for nearly 30 years and killed 60 million people while Klonsky found himself more simpatico with Josef Stalin, master of the Soviet Union, who lorded over the U. S. S. R. while 40 million people perished under his policies.
In a category all his own is Michael Golash. “The Columbia strike changed my life for the good,” he blogged. “I meet [sic] my wife and developed a revolutionary outlook.”
“I came to understand that imperialism with its racist and sexist practices had to be destroyed, not reformed, and replaced with a communist society. Forty years ago I thought the process would move along a little quicker than it has.”
Golash went to work for the Washington, D. C. metrorail system but his wife landed some influential jobs.
“In the early nineties, Deirdre got a job teaching at American University,” Golash writes.”
“Today she is the chair of the Law, Justice and Society Department at AU. She also wrote a philosophy book called The Case Against Punishment.”
“I am still working at Metro.”
What follows is a list of SDS alumni who went on to work in education or wrote textbooks. The asterisks denote those still in academia or active in education:
3. Eric Chester—San Francisco State University
5. Sue Eanet (Klonsky)—wife of Michael, Small Schools Workshop*
6. Richard Flacks—sociologist (emeritus) University of California at Santa Barbara
7. Howard Bruce Franklin—Rutgers
9. Michael Golash—employee of D. C. metro, husband of AU department chair
9. Mike Goldfield—Wayne State
10. Sheila Hammannaka—children’s books
12. Jeff Jones—Apollo Alliance
12. Michael Kazin—Georgetown*
13. Devereaux Kennedy—Grand Valley State University, course on Modern Western Thought *
14. Mark A. Kleiman—UCLA
15. Michael Klonsky—Small Schools Workshop (Chicago) *
16. Fred Klonsky—brother of Michael, public school teacher*
18. Joy A. Magezis—Teach Yourself Women’s Studies, textbook
19. Carol McEldowney—RIP, contributor, Our Bodies, Ourselves
21. Dick Reavis—North Carolina State University
23. Cathlyn P. Wilkerson—high school math teacher