This paper explores the terrorist group named the Weathermen Underground Organization that was active in the United States from December of 1969 to the middle of 1974. It explains their history of the terrorist group and how they got started. Through the splitting of different organizations the founding members emerged and started the new organization. The paper will also explore the groups ideologies and goals of the Weathermen. The Weathermen Underground Organization’s History, Ideologies and Goals HISTORY
In November of 1964, violence had reached a point in the country of Vietnam that a decision was made to send military forces. Lyndon B. Johnson, the newly elected president started off by sending around 200,000 men and women to fight off the north Vietnam forces, the Vietcong (). Technology in the United States at this time had improved to a point where color pictures and video could now be produced and fed to the general public. Reporters captured the atrocities of war and the unforgiving destruction to villages that are in the way. This news coverage turned the American people against not only the Soldiers, but also against the government. Shortly after the war started, an anti-war fever spread across the nation, especially on college campuses. Just like so many of these groups to include the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Progression Labor Party (PLP), the Weathermen emerged from the same. Young men and women joined hand in hand to fight for what they felt was right and just; basing their party from the opposition to the Vietnam War and as well as from the civil right movement. The origins of the Weathermen can be traced from the collapse and division of the SDS and PLP in the summer of 1969 (Green, 2003).
Bernardine Dohrn, an early leader, emerges during this fragmentation and published a document titled “Toward a Revolutionary Youth Movement” (RYM), which encouraged the youth, who he believed possessed the potential to be a revolutionary force to defeat capitalism. Another internal split of the Revolutionary Youth Movement followed and Dohrn led ‘RYM II’ who sided with the radical Black Panthers (Briley, 2008). The Students for the Democratic Society held a convention starting on the 18th June of 1969 in Chicago. This was the first national convention where leaders of the future Weathermen handed out a document tilted. “You Don’t Need a Weathermen to Know Which Way the Wind Blows” that latter outlined the position of these men and women. This document called for “creating a clandestine revolutionary party” and how the “Weathermen would shove the war down (the Government’s) dumb, fascist throats and show them.” It also stated how it encouraged their followers to “bring the war home (…) and turn the imperialist was into a civil war (Gillies, 1998).” Just that next month, 30 members traveled to Cuba to meet with North Vietnamese militia to gain from their revolutionary experience. A few months later in October, the Weathermen joined in the streets of Chicago after splitting from the SDS and becoming a new organization, decided to hold the “Days of Rage.”
It was predicted to be a huge rally with thousands in attendance, where the Weathermen wanted to “Bring the War Home!” unfortunately only a few hundred showed up to the rally. Even though with the small attendance, it was a huge success for the group with cost the state of Illinois over $180,000 in expenses due to damages and personnel injuries (Green, 2003).
The Weathermen joined again in December of the same year for its last National Council meetings. This one dubbed, “War Councils” had over 300 in attendance deliberated on two major topics. The first was the decision to go underground and to be a violent, armed struggle whose enemy was the state. They also agreed that they would not pursue the idea of trying to organize a greater population of the public (Rudd, 2009). The second decision was the abolishment of the SDS. The weathermen, even though small in number compared to the over 100,000 members of the SDS, over through, commandeered and converted the head leaders. It mandated the closer of all SDS campus based organizations and stated that all logo, label, etc. with SDS on it was now the views and ideas of the Weathermen (Gillies, 1998).
The Weathermen had it first loss on the 6th of March 1970, when a bomb prematurely detonated in the Greenwich Village safe house. Three members lost their life, Diana Oughton, Ted Gold, and Terry Robbins who were preparing a nail bomb to be placed in the Non-Commissioned Officers’ (NCO) dance at the Fort Dix U.S. Army base and for Butler Library at Columbia University. The embers leaned from their mistakes and nothing like this ever happened again (Gussow, 2003).
After the Greenwich Village incident, the Weathermen decided to meet in California to reevaluate the strategy of the organization with respect to the belief on the acceptability of human casualties. At the end of the talks the Weathermen changed their belief and agreed that their attacks were to convince the American public that the US was responsible for the horror happening in Vietnam (Rudd, 2009). The targeted bombings would take place at night, in empty offices and governmental buildings and a warning will always be issued in advance to ensure a safe evacuation. On May 21st of the following year, introduced its new name the “Weathermen Underground Organization” (WUO) and released its “Declaration of War” against the Government of the United States. The first act of selected violence that the WUO carried out was retaliation to the New York Police.
This follows the murder of the Black Panther leader Fred Hampton of Chicago Police and FBI agents while Mr. Hampton was asleep in his bed. The bomb, like promised in an interview with Bill Ayers (co-founder of the WUO) in 2003 who stated, our intentions were to never injury anyone, didn’t affect one person. It exploded at night only damaging the building. Later the same day, the Weathermen Underground Organization was put on the FBI’s top most wanted list (Gillies, 1998). On the 19th of May 1972 coincidentally Ho Chi Minh’s (the current North Vietnam prim minister), placed a bomb in the women’s restroom of the Air Force wing in the Pentagon. This was the last major event that the WUO had go flawlessly. The Weathermen slowed there attacks and within the next few years the organization dissolved (Maryland, 2010-2013).
The Weathermen Underground Organization’s clearly states what its ideas and goals are in its founding documents, “ (Organization, 1969 )” It outlines the idea that the main struggle in the mid 1900’s was the US imperialism and the national liberation. Many of the WUO history and ideas are rotted deeply in the SDS and their beliefs, with the addition of violence and terror. Since the heads of the organization was unsure of where to start they sought help from the North Vietnamese and Cubans to influence their ideologies and organization. The men and women of the WUO felt that the nonviolent rallies on campuses around the United States didn’t get across their point to the Government so they turned to more dramatic forms of demonstrations. The idea behind these targeted guerrilla attacks was that they would be a catalyst to the coming second American Revolution. With the close ties to the Black Panthers, a revolutionary socialist movement, the WUO charged the white youth to choose sides now. Dohrn said, “They (the white youth) must either fight on the side of the oppressed or be the side of the oppressor (Briley, 2008).
The Weathermen Underground Organization’s goals were very simple and laid out during the organizations foundation and founding philosophy. It clearly states that the goal was the destruction of the US imperialism and to achieve a world of no class; better known as world communism. They would achieve this by leading white youth into participating in violent riots and targeted bombing of governmental buildings, which they hoped would cause another revolution (Rudd, 2009).
The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism reports that the current status is inactive. Its does state though that there is a splinter group, May 19 Communist Order, that carried out the same ideas of the Weathermen Underground Organization till the late 1980’s (Maryland, 2010-2013). References
Briley, R. (2008). Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground at Forty . Retrieved 10 16, 2013, from George Mason Univeristy History New Network : http://hnn.us/article/93754
Gillies, K. (1998, 11). The Last Radical. (A. Pilon, Ed.) Vancouver Magazine .
Lozano, C. (Producer), & Green, B. S. (Director). (2003). The Weather
Underground [Motion Picture].
Gussow, M. (2003, 3 5). The House On West 11th Street . The New York Times , p. 3.
Maryland, U. o. (2010-2013). Weather Underground Organization (WUO) / Weathermen. Retrieved 10 15, 2013, from National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism: http://www.start.umd.edu/start/data_collections/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=4312
Organization, T. W. (1969 , 7 28). You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind is Blowing. Chicago, Illinios, USA. Rudd, M. (2009). My Life with SDS and the Weathermen Underground. New York: William Morrow.