In his book “Bringing Down America“, Larry Grathwohl, a Vietnam veteran, tells the story of how he infiltrated a radical American group called the “Weathermen” in the 1970s. I was curious about the book because of the recent leftist violence that has caused so much destruction from Portland to Minneapolis to New York. And there are indeed similarities.
Larry believed in the war he fought in, but he believed that “a lot of my buddies wouldn’t have had their arms and legs blown away or had their lives completely wasted if we had been able to fight the war properly. And the reason we hadn’t been able to fight was that the Americans who stayed at home didn’t support the men in the field. Many a time we had been fired at by North Vietnam troops and Viet Cong from across the Cambodian border and we hadn’t been allowed to fire back–even though we were taking casualties.”
Larry’s view contrasted with a veteran Larry met (during his infiltration) named Mark Stivic who hated Asia, and the war, and the United States because of the war. “This group,” Stivic said, referring to the Weathermen, “is where it’s at. They’ll stick it to this fucking country.”
The Weather Underground’s handbook, Prairie Fire, described their objectives as follows “We are communist women and men… our intention is to disrupt the empire…to incapacitate it…to attack from the inside.”
It is interesting that today, the Black Lives Matter movement that is so much in the news was founded by three women, one of which, Patrisse Cullors, claimed that she and cofounder Alicia Garza are trained Marxists. Marxism looks at American society as divided between oppressors and oppressed, and one of the oppressed groups, according to the Weathermen, was the black population. The Weathermen also believed that American Capitalism oppressed Third World countries.
Grathwohl writes that the Weather Underground had thousands of sympathizers–including ministers, lawyers, college professors, students, and community leaders– who helped them travel from city to city without detection. These sympathizers provided hiding places, money, and food.
Before he got involved, Grathwohl was sitting with some friends on the steps of a Church when two activists approached with leaflets. A conversation ensued and what fascinated Grathwohl about them was “They were young. They hated America. They couldn’t have seen very much of it, yet they hated it…It wasn’t their words that bothered me; it was their attitude, the unflinching way they spoke of violence…”
After Grathwohl started investingating the Weathermen, he went to one meeting where a speaker, an attractive girl of about 21 named Karen Ashley, said this: “We’re building an international Liberation Army in America…We’ll join this fight in Chicago. Eight political prisoners are on trial there, and we want them freed. Now. Chicago will be the beginning of a violent revolution.”
The book describes what ensued in Chicago. “The attack on Chicago was scheduled to begin on Wednesday, October 8. But some of the Weathermen couldn’t wait. Late Monday night, when most of Chicago was trying to sleep, an explosion rocked Haymarket Square. A ten-foot-high statue commemorating seven Chicago policemen killed by a bomb blast during a labor riot in 1886 was dynamited.”
“Around 10 P.M. …the helmeted mob moved down Clark Street carrying clubs, bats, bricks and Viet Cong flags on the way to the wealthy Lake Shore Drive section of the city. As the mob passed the North Federal Savings and Loan Bank someone hurled a brick through the window.
The sound of the glass shattering sent the mob running through the streets smashing windows and busting up cars. In some cases private homes were attacked because they belonged to the wealthy capitalistic establishment. A Rolls Royce was destroyed; when another man came out to protect his Cadillac, he was beaten to the ground.
As the mob ran on, a line of police formed at State and Division streets to stop the rampage. Without hesitation, the Weathermen ran right into them, swinging clubs and fists…the battle continued under the rallying cry, “Tear the f—ing state down!”
By midnight, police managed to contain the mob, but 21 policemen needed hospital treatment. The area was filled with shattered glass and ruined automobiles. The next day TV news told the story to the nation, which of course pleased the Weathermen.
Then the women’s militia started attacking policemen who stood in their line of march. One woman who got arrested, a leader and founder, a graduate of Chicago Law School named Bernadine Dohrn, stated that “We are born in 1969 in America behind enemy lines” in a short speech before the women marched. Years later Bernadine ended up as professor of law (she is now retired).
On Saturday, 300 Weathermen gathered, charging down Madison, smashing windows and fighting police. A cop was thrown through a Railway Express office window. Shortly after that, Assistant Corporation Counsel Richard Elrod was knocked to the ground by a group of Weathermen, then kicked in the head and back. He was rescued by police and rushed to the hospital with a broken neck….
By Saturday night, at least $1 million in property damage was reported to the police, three demonstrators had been shot, one city official lay paralyzed, 250 Weathermen had been arrested on charges including felony and attempted murder, and 57 policemen were hospitalized, at least one critically.
Later, Grathwohl was shown a song in a Weatherman song book that went like this:
Stay, Elrod stay
Stay in your iron lung;
Play, Elrod, play
Play with your toes for a while
This raises a question in my mind – why would the Weathermen hate people so much (like Elrod) that had done nothing either to them or to anyone else? Were they both idealists and psychopaths?
The Weathermen did not only demonstrate by themselves, they took advantage of other people’s peaceful demonstrations. At the “Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam” demonstration in Washington D.C. a mob of 5000 converged on the Justice Department. They hurled bottles, bricks, and rocks. Someone shimmied up the flagpole in front of the building and cut down the American flag amid cheers and whistles. In its place, he raised a Viet Cong flag. As he started down the pole, the MOBE marshals rushed over to capture him, but girls in helmets screamed and kicked at the marshals, and guys in helmets hit them with sticks. “Pig lovers,” they shouted at the marshals. “You abandoned the people for the pigs.”
Today (in 2020), we have Antifa chanting “No border, no wall, no USA at all”.
They too piggyback on peaceful demonstrations, as well as engaging in their own actions. They are more advanced than the demonstrators described above, in that they have used lasers, and other innovative weapons.
I’ve just reached page 60 in Larry Grathwohl’s 184 page book. I haven’t reached the part where he meets the Weatherman leadership, and what he learned when the Weathermen really got going. Eventually the Weathermen declared him an “enemy of the people”.
We need more enemies of “the people” like him.
Here’s a 3 minute video by Larry G:
Bringing Down America – by Larry Grathwohl as told to Frank Reagan – Copyright 1976