dictionary.com defines terrorism:
- the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.
- the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
- a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.
“I was not a terrorist. I never was a terrorist. And the idea that the Weather Underground carried out terrorism is nonsense. We never killed or hurt a person. We never intended to.”
4 Jul 2008—Today, Bernadine Dohrn is Director of the Children and Family Justice Center and Clinical Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University Law School. This means, in part, that she trains young attorneys how to “collaborate” with Chicago Public School (CPS) System-like organizations to take children away from their parents.
But not that long ago, Bernadine had another vocation as a leader in a terror cult called Weatherman (later called Weather Underground) and, eventually, eleven-year resident on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. I don’t put much stock in FBI Most Wanted lists, but Weatherman plus “clinical professorship” in child-snatching gets my attention real fast.
“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!” Bernadine Dohrn, 1969
Dohrn, however, wants Northwestern students to believe that she is either a changed woman or never was the monster that uttered such a vile statement. Not that she’s ever paid any price for her work in Weatherman, but in a letter to the editor of The Daily Northwestern, May 8, 2005, Dohrn wrote:
. . . Since I speak publicly about the war in Iraq, racism, children’s rights, international law and human rights, Benson and all NU students are welcome to be part of the regular give-and-take I enjoy with students, audiences and activists. To clarify, I have never endorsed terrorism, the use of violence to intimidate or coerce a civilian (or any other) population. . .
And she has friends who speak up for her. Stanley Fish wrote, on May 29, 2008:
. . . Dohrn teaches at Northwestern Law School, where she directs a center for child and family justice. . . “Respectable” is too mild a word to describe the couple; rock-solid establishment would be more like it. There was and is absolutely no reason for anyone who knows them to plead the fifth or declare, “I am not now nor have I ever been a friend of Bill’s and Bernardine’s.” . . .
How much, really, has Dohrn changed since 1969? And what is she doing directing the Children and Family Justice Center at one of the nation’s leading law schools?
- Leader of the domestic terrorist group Weatherman
- Participated in the bombings of New York City police headquarters in 1970, the Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972
- Delighted in Charles Manson's infamous murders
- Director of the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University
- Professor at Northwestern University Law School
She is currently an Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University, where she is also Director of the Legal Clinic’s Children and Family Justice Center. Moreover, she sits on important committees and boards of the American Bar Association and the American Civil Liberties Union.
In the 1960s, Dohrn was a leader of the Students for a Democratic Society's “Weatherman” faction, which in 1969 went underground to become America’s first terrorist cult. At a 1969 “War Council” in Flint, Michigan, Dohrn gave her most memorable and notorious speech to her followers. Holding her fingers in what became the Weatherman “fork salute,” she said of the bloody murders recently committed by the Manson Family in which the pregnant actress Sharon Tate and a Folgers Coffee heiress and several other inhabitants of a Benedict Canyon mansion were brutally stabbed to death: “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!” The “War Council” ended with a formal declaration of war against “AmeriKKKa,” always spelled with three K’s to signify the United States' allegedly ineradicable white racism.
Professor Dohrn has said of her Weatherman past, “We rejected terrorism. We were careful not to hurt anybody.” Both assertions are false, however. Weatherman's twofold agenda was terrorism (which is why Charles Manson was Dohrn's hero) and war (the organization’s very existence was launched with a formal “declaration of war”), and Dohrn periodically issued “war communiqués” to the public at large. The intention of the group was to shed their “white skin privilege” and launch a violent race war on behalf of Third World People. A Chicago district attorney named Richard Elrod was seriously injured in the Weatherman riot that erupted during the Chicago “Days of Rage” in October 1969, and he was paralyzed for life as a result. Dohrn later led a celebration of Elrod's paralysis by leading her comrades in a parody of a Bob Dylan song -- “Lay, Elrod, Lay.” Moreover, law-enforcement authorities are still investigating a bombing in San Francisco that killed a policeman, for which Professor Dohrn is one of the suspects.
In 1974 Dohrn co-authored -- along with Bill Ayers (her future husband), Jeff Jones, and Celia Sojourn -- a book titled Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism. This book contained the following statements:
- "We are a guerrilla organization. We are communist women and men ... deeply affected by the historic events of our time in the struggle against U.S. imperialism."
- "Our intention is to disrupt the empire, to incapacitate it, to put pressure on the cracks, to make it hard to carry out its bloody functioning against the people of the world, to join the world struggle, to attack from the inside."
- "The only path to the final defeat of imperialism and the building of socialism is revolutionary war."
- "Revolutionary war will be complicated and protracted. It includes mass struggle and clandestine struggle, peaceful and violent, political and economic, cultural and military, where all forms are developed in harmony with the armed struggle."
- "Without mass struggle there can be no revolution."
- "Without armed struggle there can be no victory."
- "We need a revolutionary communist party in order to lead the struggle, give coherence and direction to the fight, seize power and build the new society."
- "Our job is to tap the discontent seething in many sectors of the population, to find allies everywhere people are hungry or angry, to mobilize poor and working people against imperialism."
- "Socialism is the total opposite of capitalism/imperialism. It is the rejection of empire and white supremacy. Socialism is the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the eradication of the social system based on profit."
Dohrn spent most of the 1970s with her accomplices running from the FBI, which had placed her on its “Ten Most Wanted List.” During the last years of their underground life, Dohrn and her husband Bill Ayers resided in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, where they used the aliases Christine Louise Douglas and Anthony J. Lee. In 1980 Dohrn and her cohorts surrendered to authorities, but all charges against them were subsequently dropped on the grounds that the fugitives had been illegally surveilled. Dohrn did plead guilty, however, to charges of aggravated battery and bail-jumping, for which she received probation.
Shortly after turning themselves in, Dohrn and Ayers adopted Chesa Boudin, son of former Weather Underground members Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, when the parents were arrested for their violent activities with the Black Liberation Army.
Dohrn later served less than a year in prison for refusing to testify against ex-Weatherman Susan Rosenberg in the latter’s trial for armed robbery.
Today Professor Dohrn expresses no real regret over her radical past. Though she has distanced herself from the Manson remark (insinuating falsely that it was a “joke”), her political views are as extreme as ever. On one occasion she justified her past actions, saying, “We organized both against war and racism. We also taught that all human life is equally valid, not just the body count of the United States.”
In the mid-1990s, Dohrn and her husband Bill Ayers hosted meetings at their Chicago home to introduce Barack Obama to their neighbors during his first run for the Illinois Senate.
Professor Dorhn has been a commencement speaker at several university graduations, including California’s prestigious Pitzer College, where in 2004 she told the graduates: “During your student years here, the shredded economy and loss of jobs, the consequences of deregulation and devolution that bankrupted state and local governments, the relentless punishment and imprisoning of over two million people in America, flagrant corporate plunder and criminality, rolling blackouts, the apparently permanent war on terrorism, the shock and awe occupation of Iraq, systematic and degrading detention without trial, torture and extra-judicial assassinations, and the establishment of a crescent of new U.S. military bases across the Middle East and South Asia -- all have transformed whatever blissful illusions were harbored as you entered college.”
In December 2009, Dohrn and Bill Ayers were among the 1,300 American and European activists who traveled to the Egypt-Gaza border to participate in a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel demonstration led by Code Pink.
Dohrn and Ayers have three children. One is named Malik (the Muslim name of Malcolm X), and another is named Zayd (after Zayd Shakur, a Black Panther who was killed while driving the cop-killer JoAnne Chesimard -- a.k.a. Assata Shakur -- to a hideout).
Communism in Chicago and the Obama Connection (PDF)