Phil Berrigan died of liver and kidney cancer on Friday, 12/6/2002. It had been diagnosed in October and by that time, unbeknownst to Phil, had progressed to an advanced state (like my ex wife- Louise). Phil had smoked as long as I knew him- but both Brendann Walsh, his close friend who ran the Viva Catholic Worker House in Baltimore and his wife, Liz, told me they thought it might have to do with the environment. I dont think Phil had ever paid his health much mind. Peace movement fixture in Baltimore, Max Obuszewski (sp) tells me that folks had been trying to get Phil to stop smoking for years.
At the appearance of Daniel Ellsberg at Goucher College on 3/2/'10- Max told me he had visited Phil at Jonah House shortly before his death- he was propped up in bed reading Silone's (most famous one? Bread and Wine). He tells me P looked good; but M broke down after he left. At the Martin Marietta trial Phil had come over to Max in the audience. M was reading the bio of Tolstoy by Troyat? Phil recommended that he read War and Peace. Max took that to mean- or decided humorously- that he ought to get a long prison term to accomplish it. Maz considers Phil a mentor- as do I.
At a "wake" on 12/8 he lay- a wraith of his former self, in an open casket half way down the center aisle of St. Peter Claver R C Church, where he had served as a parish priest back in the sixties and where I first met him. St Peter's is over in the ghetto at Pennsylvania and Fremont. The box was a simple wooden affair, blazoned with Ps favorite roses. At 6 people were invited to "share" memories from a microphone at the front of the church. I got second in the line, having prepared brief remarks, wanting to get it over with (the line got fairly long after me). The church was just about full (whereas it would be packed at the funeral on Monday). Many old friends were present.
My memories of Phil (this is what I said with other ideas added thought up in hindsight): Demonstrating at Fort Myers in front of the residences of the Joint Chiefs of Staff- overlooking the Potomac; Getting married before pouring blood- himself (as they would say in the Irish) officiating; some memories of being together w Phil in some rather small spaces- getting arrested in the closet in New York C, sharing a cell at Lewisburg (Phil often reading the Bible- Dan later reads a poem about Phils Bible), in the hole fasting (Phil thought I talked too much- always one of my weak points); then, more pleasantly, lying outside on the "yard" at Lewisburg in the Spring, chatting w Boyd Douglas, who turned out to be the informer in the Harrisburg 7 case.
Listening to an interview on "Fresh Air" with Frank McCourt- author of Angela's Ashes (underline) , I realize that there was a music to Phil's speaking- a cadence that I really liked. His mom might have been German, but I swear he had an Irish lilt- and it was beautiful! His wife tells me in 2009- no, he didn't. Just my romanticizing! Or that I could pick it up better than Liz?
Phil. My lanky, straight up, laconic anti war buddy- my main life mentor, giving direction to my life- he kept on giving direction by all that he did! Just about now he may be reaching the edge of that awful river- the boatman comes to ferry him across- this is a hardened boatman, like an executioner hes seen them all-hes seen Orpheus, hes seen Dante, hes a hard man to impress, and yet he hesitates a moment- Good God,
I think of the great epitaph penned by another Irishman- Yeats- Cast a cold eye, on life, on death, horseman pass by - but for Phil it would be, "Open your eyes, horseman, open them wide to take in all the injustices - dont fail to notice injustice and dont fail to do something about it. also, the great hymn, known to me from Mt. Hermon:
Once to Every Man and Nation
the hymn:Once to every man and nationNow politically correct- still moving: daves additions, transmogrifications in parens)
poem by James Russell Lowell (protesting Americas war w Mexico- with apologies to James)-music tune nicknamed EBENEZER (one name like a Brazilian soccer star)- actually Ebenezer was arranged by Thomas John Williams, a Welsh organist. An Ebenezer is a stone of salvation after the stone monument erected by Samuel after a successful battle with the Philistines- its in the Bible.
Once to every man (woman, trangendered person, animule, life form) comes the moment to decide.
In the strife of truth with falsehood (right wing, capitalist sh t/crap) for the good or evil side.
Some great cause-Gods (goddess, Buddha, Muhammed, Wiccan, abyss, nothing, quarks, muons,) ) Gods new Messiah (Berrigan, King, (insert whomever for occasion), offering each the bloom or blight,
And (I love this part) the choice goes by forever twixt that darkness and that light.
Stanza 2: (Now picture this) By the light of burning martyrs. Jesus bleeding feet I track. (can you believe the Unitarians have softened and changed the words in this hymn)
Toiling up new Calvaries (movement/struggles, revolutions) ever
With the cross that turns not back.
New occasions teach new duties (dont forget education), time makes ancient good uncouth (theres a stretch for a rhyme James),
They must onward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.
(o yes)(still true!!!).
Stanza 3: Though the cause of evil (right wing stuff) prosper (how true), yet tis truth a lone is strong (never forget it).
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong!!! (hmm- whos on the throne right about now?)
Yet that scaffold sways the future (think of John Brown at Charlestown) and behind the dim unknown (evolution, other planets more successful than ours?)
Standeth God (goddess, Buddha, Muhammed, Wiccan, abyss, nothing, quarks, muons, ) within the shadow keeping watch above his/hers/its own (lets hope so)
In the line to pass the open casket- where stands Dan Berrigan- I am shocked to see Phil- DEAD- unmoving, frail- already shrinking, melting away- in the jaws of the monster. I reach out to touch him one last time and superstitiously touch twice the small wooden cross that dangles below his neck; I look at him twice. He is cruely, unalterably dead- how will we replace him? He is wearing a powder blue sweater that Liz knit for him- as it is said later- the color of his eyes- and yet- as Liz said, his eyes are no longer blue! It is all so horribly sad- I will be close to tears at moments for several days. The old warrior is still, silenced- despite what they say at the funeral about the afterlife and meeting him again and how he lives on in us. I do not look at Phils eyes. Too scary, too morbid.
Many speakers share their memories of Phil movingly. I have to laugh later to learn that windbag, Bill OConnor, had prepared a 12 minute speech. But the limit was three minutes and I can see Bill saying- well then I wont do any of it- Mr. Ego.
There must be some plays that are set at a wake- the persons sharing have such tales to tell- such memories: one fellow was homeless- a derelict and alcoholic but his contact with Phil turned him around- he wanted to write a biography of Phil, finally Phil relented but the conversations were too terse for material- he considered doing a novel- making up Ps life; another had been an employee at Rockwell, a defense contractor when a protest by Phil touched him- he had been an alcoholic- he spoke in a tone next to weeping- Phil always bugged him (the way Phil affected many)in that he felt guilty- he needed to do more- he had promised to devote his life to peace- but its turned out that hes lived so long- Phil still bugs him one lady sang a beautiful song , What if you knew this was your last day, Tom Lewis speaks about the civil rights days and how demonstrations started from this very church; I obtained two videos that Pacifica Radio, WBAI, from New York City had done at the wake and funeral; Phil himself- early on ones where his voice sounds very different from the more recent ones (the Phil who appeared at the Catonsville panel with myself was obviously frail, tired and sick); I note Phil-isms- the kind of phrases Phil used time and again- phrases which, to me, show his personality well, such as There again, or, See, or, Very hopeful, or, You know, Here, Unless they take risks, Something fishy about this (the war on terror); a swindle (the war on terror), etc."
There are several impressive songs on the 12/8 video- one about how (in the Plowshares actions) the hammer must fall, one very impressive by Joan Baez that mentions the Catonsville 9 (perhaps the greatest folk song on the Plowshares actions is Dar ?) ; I am struck by the clarity of Tom Lewis eyes, Kathy Boylan (whom I have not met- a member of the Aegis Plowshares in �� at Bath, Maine); Elmer Maas speaks with other participants (Dean Hammer on reaction of fellow inmates, a biker, Nazi inmate who studied the Beatitudes w Dan and Phil) (John Suchardt calls Phil a moral exemplar) of the King of Prussia action from Sept. 8, 1980 (this became a movie with Martin Sheen? Where he met Phil) (blood was used (and hammers?) on Mark 12 missile nose cones); John Dear, S. J. presides at the wake- who participated with Phil in a Plowshares action at Seymor Johnson Air Base action in North Carolina in �� and also of sharing (as did I) a cell with Phil ; Dear is the author of A Persistant Peace and he also has a fine video on non-violence- "The Narrow Path" Marjorie Melvilles hands clapping at the back of the van carrying away the Catonsville 9; Phil refers to fate referring to the King of Prussia action- there the nose cones were as if God had led them to them; Phil as founder of the Plowshares Actions, members of the Griffiss Plowshares (an air base in New York where F 16 jets were attacked?) (is it Kathleen Rumpf who speaks of Phils similarity to her military father- he is a peace warrior); the videos are intensely moving to me- of course, given my association with it all-0 why wouldnt they be? I can see that a book will come out of the PlowShares actions.
Amy Goodman of Pacifica ( and her staff) does a good job with the videos - at one point she states that at the wake and funersl is "probably the largest gathering of ex-cons in America". She interviews Howard Zinn. The portions dealing w Jonah House and the family reactions are expecially good.
During the service I sat next to a distinguished looking elderly lady whom I hear addressed as June. June Wing? I inquire? For June had long been active in the Womens League for Peace and Freedom and had supported my own office in Baltimore of Offender Aid and Restoration for some time with annual contributions. She told me that she had hired Phil to do some painting at her house- his part time "make money" job when he was not in jail (he had been in jail for 11 of his last 35 years).She had mixed feelings about it- it was like "paying St. Peter for some yard work".
Brendan and Willa Walsh's (of the Catholic Worker house in Baltimore- VIVA House) eulogies, Brendanns is as good as the Gettysburg Address (at one point: Phil was that tree standing by the water that shall not be moved!, etc.) a/ the high point of the precedings (and B almost loses it at one point) speaks of Phil as one intense person-B being the driver taking Phil and Dan to the Catonsville action but Phil taking the car keys from him to make sure; Phil always asking him (Brendann) to participate in actions- B participating at the Pentagon where he poured ashes and Phil poured blood and Phil was let loose at the trial because the police lied about this detail; Frida and Jerrys eulogy (they speak of visiting their father in jail and how free he was inside). Dan Berrigan also speaks movingly - how Phil acquired patience.
Dan at Loyola, 2004
?/6/2004- see poem 23 at end of diary-homage to Dan Berrigan- Dans talk on the book of Jonah at Loyola last night- one woman asks, Father what should we do about this war? (Iraq)( this is the same night as the Vice Presidential debate). Dans answer? "Pray and resist", and then he goes into a sort of Bhuddistic, inner zen type meditation- nothing about Plowshares. Kind of weak. I ask Liz how the Plowshares are going. She responds frankly: "Plowshares actions are not the type of thing you hear about in advance"
I make a big boo boo when I ask Dan if he has seen Mel Gibsons movie The Passion. Boo boo in that persons in the audience are above such a film which was supposedly anti-semitic and schlock but I found it to be very moving poetic violent, yes, but isnt that the way it was. Certain startling, original images. But Dan said, no, he had not seen it. Mores the pity. Mel may be an asshole but his films hold your attention.
George Mische and his Visits
George Mische is another repository of fabulous prison stories and stories of draft action organizing. Georges father had been in radical politics in the early part of the century (IWWs?).
George visits me on 5/6/2006. He plans to write a book (don't we all?). He refreshes my memory on a number of matters- first that he was at the farm while I was- briefly. Geo has another wonderful Carmine Galente story- he is invited to Carmine's room to have some of the fabulous Italian fare- pasta, etc.- the mobsters tell him you have balls referring to Gs organizing at Allenwood, I assume, but George, in his usual brash, confrontational style (remember to whom he is talking here- one of the worlds most authentic hit men)- tells Carmine- Im not eating with you until you invite the whole Farm Camp to join also! (Carmine, allegedly, had killed a more famous activist than George!!!- the famous anarchist- Tresca? Back in the 40s?) DAVE- fact check
George, when he visited me on 5/6/2006, almost seemed to be going around to bolster his view that the Berrigans were harmful. He gave me a nice painting by Tom Lewis. He had some bad things to say about Jonah House- stuff about no sex there, or one couple that left and then the woman had an abortion because she had been chewed out for having sex at the collective. George seemed to want to find stories of persons hurt by the Bs. He criticized Phil and Dan for not doing more for Mary Moylan and John Grady in their times of troubles- they were "abandoned" in Georges words.
Grady had been very active after the Catonsville 9, I believe with the Camden 28 and maybe the raid on FBI files. He was one of the most memorable characters of the actions- a curly haired, Dylan Thomas looking Irishman, possessing a unique, unmistakable laughter I had never forgot. He just "cracked up" with humor, more than most- but apparently had turned to drink at the end of his life and died (tragically?). His wife, sons and daughters are still active in the peace movement. DAVE- you mention John earlier
George gave me copies of letters between Phil and Liz that P had written from Lewisburg when I roomed with him. He doesnt mention me much. I know that Phil thought I had talked too much when we were in the hole. Knowing Phil, he had probably dissed (talked dismissively, insultingly about) me behind my back- but deservedly so. George describes him after their visit to Cornell when Dan decided to join the Catonsville 9 as saying well, the little bastard has finally come around- we got him by the short hairs but this is the way Phil talked. George says the whole family was crappy that way, and he criticizes how Phil dissed his father. George strikes me as quite similar to Phil in many ways. Brendan Walsh tells me on 5/9/? that he has told George to write his own book and stay away from criticizing Phil and Dan- just tell the story as he saw it. Good advice. He wonders if George will write the book and asks me, do you ever notice how George asks you a question and then answers it himself? Exactly. Brendann and his wife, Willa, were on the Mark Steiner talk show on WYPR radio on 5/8/2006. I will get the tape. As to Georges question- how many of the original action persons were at Phils funeral- which G did not attend- Brendann says- well, there were a lot there at the wake- maybe not at the funeral. Brendan agrees with me. Jerry Elmer- see my review previously deals with the issues of Phil's (and others) dismissiveness. Dave- if u had it previously- why not move together?)
I thought of Georges version of saving me from the homosexual rape in the context of "a band of brothers" (a recent World War II series on tv). Hadnt our movement- we bands of peace action men- been somewhat similar to military actions? And wasnt there something appealing (not necessarily homosexual) about that? that male camaraderie? I realized that there are men who love this kind of thing, men who love war!! A frightening thought. George tells me that he had gone to Charlie Allen, one of Hoffas right hand men (an enforcer?) about my danger and claims that Allen helped me at Lewisburg. Maybe so...if so, thanks b to George!!!
George Mische Visit
George began clipping my many articles and pasting them on 8 x 11 pages, after criticizing me for throwing them higgledy piggledy into boxes. Problem is, in one case, he cut out a letter I had written to the News American which had been on an editorial page with a wonderful cartoon featuring a Viet Conga line of hippies. I told him about archaeologists who want bones to lie in situ so that they can establish a context- like a crime scene. I asked Liz McCallister and Brendann Walsh at Bills event to please make some time to talk to George so that he didnt get things wrong- he already had turned them off with his anti Berrigan slant. I told him that I thought he had a good point to make, but should do it carefully lest it come off as sour grapes in some way. We all have a need for heroes, but I know that Dan and Phil would poo poo the pretensions George was ascribing to them. They were humble enough, although George pointed to instances where he thought they were declaring themselves as the leaders of the Catholic left. Maybe George wants to be the leader, Brendan said to me. Phil and Dan did great things, why put them down? There are few enough persons supportive of their point of view in the first place, few enough persons who would contemplate taking such actions as did they- but George felt that they guilt tripped people into taking action and that it had injured some people. He told me stories about how Brendan had been mad at Phil for this, how it had made Tom Melville very angry. How the group of Women Against Daddy Warbucks thought Phil to be chauvinist but told George they needed help to case the draft board out- that is the technical details of trashing files and he had been glad to help. Then, Geo says, I go down to Rockefeller Center (wherever it was that they were tossing the shredded files? into the air), and Guess who I find standing beside me .but Phil.
But isn't the main point to keep such actions going? Well, not if they're ineffective, I suppose.
George tells me to read Dan and Phils auto-biographies- how they trashed their old man- they were such mothers boys. I wonder to G what did Phil say about me behind my back- and he tells me that Phil told him that I had said that my father was a mill stone around my neck.
George poo poos the Murray Polner book, Disarmed and Dangerous, tells me that Polner was trying to get to him calling once a week for a long time but George refused to talk with him- he wouldnt tell the story straight anyway. George tells me how he sat talking to Francine Grey, who had written a pice for the New Yorker, as well as a book half of which was about the Catholic left, for quite some while and how she fu ked facts up royally and convinced him he had to do his own writing if it was to be told straight. I had always liked the Polner book, altho as I remembered it, lawyer Phil Hirschkopf had been the one who came up with the idea of blood (or honey) pouring- not me.
George elaborated on his fabulous stories from the draft actions and the prisons at Lewisburg, the Farm Camp and Allenwood, Pa. a story of Jimmy Hoffa on the yard at the Wall- George runs out of cigarettes and is ready to go back inside to get some more and Hoffa says, no wait a minute a guard is summoned who pats George down as if looking for contraband- after that George is still ready to go inside and get cigarettes and Hoffa tells him- you already gottem- George finds that the guard has put some in his pockets.
In another instance, Hoffa had noticed that George and some comrades had been in the visiting room and had missed a meal and had the guards bring food to them all. George had earned Jimmys respect due to his role in an insurrection at Allenwood- telling the feds where to go was impressive to the mob.
Once again George tells me about the time at the farm camp when Carmine Galente invited him to a room where the mod was enjoying a feast or sorts- Italian delicacies and invited him to join them. When G refused they were hurt and asked him, did he have something against Italians? G told them No, Im married to a paysan- but Im not going to join you until you feed everybody in here like this. I remember seeing Hoffa in the visiting room when my father was up- always talking w his lawyers, no doubt conducting business.
Hoffa tells George about the labor movement and how, if they wanted to unionize a factory- they would meet with the owner and tell him, if you dont well blow the place up- or, if the owner was recalcitrant- they would blow another of his factories up- if still recalcitrant after that, theyd blow up another one until the desired result was achieved. Did Jimmy tell him about the Minneapolis Teamsters and lefty- Ferell Dobbs? Did George ask? No.
I ask George about his underground- who snitched you out? He thinks it may have been an old friend or Liz! McCallister who may have made ill advised phone calls to the place where he was staying? When the feds picked G up, they had carted him circuitously to Lewisburg through many small jails- scared, G thinks, that friends of G might try to bust him loose!
He tells the story of Phil at a meeting where Bill OC was present and a couple of good looking gals from the suburbs- after which P says they may be moved to take part in an action and George points out to him that they were hot for him, wanted to jump his bones. What?, says Phil- yeh- G says, they were wet for old blue eyes, not likely to take part in any action. I notice from an early picture of Phil that he has matinee idol good looks- was I partly in love w old blue eyes?
G tells tale of Rap Brown going into the underground along with him- going up to Minnesota- are you kidding, Rap says? Later in NYC, Rap is captured and shot several times. G tells story of Rap in the hospital and his wife noticed them wheeling him down the hall- a black Dr. G claims they were going to castrate him- but his wife happened on them and said no way- apparently they had to have her permission? This story sounds preposterous- how would it benefit the authorities to cut off Raps dick?
㺊/16- before bed- G is telling me about an East German Russian spy he got friendly w at Lewisburg- a Robert Thompson also a good friend of mutual friend Bob Malecki- fellow draft prisoner at Lewisburg now living in Sweden (to escape prosecution?). Apparently Beria told Thompson that he was headed on a crucial mission- to spy of U.S. troop movements on the west coast (this was during the Korean War). Then, as he infiltrated the U.S. spy apparatus, he was sent back to Germany and got to shaker J. Edgar Hoovers hand as Hoover told him he was being sent on a crucial mission. Now he claimed to hate them both. George cannot stop talking. I escape to bed, wondering if the only way to become famous is to incessantly sell oneself?
G is seeing Joe Wenderoth tomorrow- one of the Harrisburg 8. G claims the Harrisburg folks though poorly of Phil because of the letters kited out of Lewisburg by informant Boyd Douglas. G has talked w Brendann Walsh today and Brendann tells him to ask me, did I feel pressured by Phil into the blood pouring (no); did it ruin my marriage (no), did Tom Lewis want to do something more militant (G always seems to be trying to take away from the arrogant Berrigan brothers)- (What kind of family is it, he asks, where all the siblings write autobiographies?). I feel G is making a punching bag out of Phil. Of course Phil was a huge influence/mentor in my life. I was seeking direction and I got it from a good man. Phil and Walter Carter were my father figures. So what? Louise was my mother figure. Anyway G has a good heart- and I want him to write a great book (I want to figure in it well).
I go up to the house when Joe is there and ask him out right- George is presenting Phil and Dan in kind of a negative way- as over mythologized and worshipped- do you feel the same way? Joe tells that during the Harrisburg 8- letters that Phil had the informant, Boyd Douglas, smuggle out of prison were what got the others arrested (P talked freely of the plots- to kidnap Kissinger and go under DC in tunnels w explosives. This and the fact that Phil fell for Boyd Douglas- which George says he and Tom Melville told him not to do- and the fact that Phil and Liz were obviously lovey dovey in the letters but had told Tony Scoblick (?) NOT to get married the hypocrisy of it all. I could see that others might share Georges view- still, I told him, we are small in number- it doesnt help us to squabble amongst ourselves. O, says G, Ill let the chips fall where they may- there are some people who are not going to like this book.
Willa Walsh and Liz McCallister, for example. G goes over to interview Brendan and Willa Walsh, of the Catholic Worker VIVA House- long time servants of the poor and fellow peacenik travelers, and Willa wont even talk with him (she told me at Bills event that she was tired of it all!). Geo complains to me before he leaves that he really wanted to talk to Willa about Mary Moylan- w whom Brendann and Willa communicated during her underground. He says that Willa has complained about the macho ness of the actions- the emphasis on men- George resents this.
Before he leaves, G asks me, what is the difference between people like Phil and right wing cult figures like Jim Jones. Now theres a stretch, I think. O says G, if Dan and Phil had been at that event for Bill, people would have been kneeling down praying. I dont think so, I say- these are not the kind of people who are slavish followers- they can see feet of clay- they are thoughtful people. Besides, I say, it takes guts to do actions like ours- facing the weight of government power. But G has a problem w Phils emphasis on going to jail. I am surprised to find out the the mild mannered priest, Joe Wenderoth, cased out other buildings for raids- federal buildings, corporated HQ? He describes one scene where Grady was involved (have to get that film on the Camden 28), where he and another raider were upstairs ikn an office and (I guess) made a call that alerted the guard downstairs because a light went on on the switchboard- so that the guard came up to the second floor where they were tearing up files. His mild response? Hey, you cant do that. The guard is exceedingly fat and they run past him and out of the building. After that, Joe says, the guards began wearing guns! Or Joe casing out some building in
Helene at Allenwood. Georges wife would smuggle whiskey in to the Allenwood Federal Prison Camp. One Christmas, G says, the resisters took in a case of whisky over the fence and left a bottle on each third bunk with a note, Merry Christmas from the Political Community!
They had to climb a 10 foot fence to retrieve it- there was snow on the ground, and the grounds were patrolled by snowmobile. George describes one resister getting caugth in the barbed wire at the top of the fence, and having to climb up and throw him over. After the booze was consumed they would disposed of the bottles by breaking them into pieces in a sock and flushing them down the toilet. But they were snitched out, by of all people, the Jehovahs Witnesswes (also in for refusing the draft- but goody two shoes type characters!)
Once Helene drove in for a visit with booze in the trunk. Geo says they were on to her and always trying to get her. She realized the gates would be closing and somehow, took the car out, after hiding the booze, came back in and got trapped inside the institutions grounds- thus facing charges of at least trespassing and maybe contraband. George was sitting in front of the barracks with a friend, He saw a figure moving stealthily towards the building. One of those sex starved gals from Sunbury, a nearby town, his fellow prisoner jokes- come out to find a horny prisoner. George realizes its Helene and must go help her get out over the fence. She thinks she might have shit her pants in this dangerous maneuver. (First time I ever heard of a woman in this condition!?!)
I still think of George- with all his faults- to be a somewhat lovable cuss. He is, to our movement, like the labor organizers of the 20's and 30's- the Herb Marches and the Wyndham Mortimers and the Farrell Dobbs and that counted for a lot!! So what if he was a "two balled bitch pain in the ass?!" On the other hand- his traits made him rather difficult- as of 9/2009- this story would play out- only time would tell. Let's say, he hs a strong, alpha male personality. (human males like male gorillas- blustery charging and chest thumping).
On 3/19/05- an anti war demonstration- rally at St. Peter Clavers which I attend- march to recruiting station and federal building I do not attend. Dean Pappas, of the anti-war days, gives a stirring speech and I call him the next day and he sends me a copy. Deja vue, I tell him, its so disappointing- a war so like Vietnam, although we could romanticize the NLF a bit- where as the insurgents in Iraq are just another bunch of rabid fundamentalists and nationalists. Earlier in the morning I fantsize that I might be called to speak and write down a few notes. Deans speech is the more appropriate barn burner- style- I tell him- get the crowd pumped up- lots of telling facts, dripping with anger. My bit was much more quiet and poetic. No place for that, sadly? Many old friends are there- Liz McCallister- I tell her I got a nice letter from Ardeth Platte (now at Danbury) (and I seemed to have misplaced it).
Carol Gilbert Welcomed Home
Evening of 5/23/? - welcome home party for Carol Gilbert- a Plowshares demonstrator who has just gotten out of Alderson- the Fed. Prison for women-some 500? Present- many youths- many other Plowshares participants so that I can get some autographs- I come up to old friend Tom Lewis and start talking- I have recently cut off my beard and am wearing no glasses- and your name is? he asks- "Dave Eberhardt"- we both laugh. Tom has a trial coming up on the 25th for a demo on Darfur in DC (at the Sudanese Embassy?) on Darfur -Ramsay Clark gives a good talk- speaks of hypocrisy of Bush on Haiti- as he approaches the front to speak some one calls out- Didnt you used to work for the government?- and Bishop Gumbleton and John Dear- who conducted Phils funeral tells us that he is living in a small town in the desert near Los Alamos- how militaristic New Mexico is. He is continually protesting. He tells of plans for a demo there on the Aug. 6th Hiroshima Anniversary-Liz McCallister presides over the evening along with Susan Crane?- see Frida and Kate Berrigan-food is so good I am tempted to say it was the best meal I have ever had- this crowd offers hope, for sure- President Bush keeps pushing for an ownership society, I am struck by the way Carol Gilbert bashed a weapon of mass destruction- since the government isnt going to disarm- we the people will do it one weapon at a time.
Wash Post, 9/27- ? Arrested in White House Protest- Frida Berrigan, 31, of Brooklyn, NY, who organized the protest . I go on Sat., 9/25-collect bumper stickers, signs, posters and much literature. Am near the stage for Joan Baez entire set. Take 3 rolls of film. Am interviewed by a young rock and roller lead singer for Band called ? , for Fuse Magazine. On way back to car note threesome- cameraman, soundman and another who say they are with an independent affiliation- yeah, I reply, remembering the young men on bicycles at the last anti- Iraq war demo I went to affiliated with the DOD- deep cover- the CIA? I tell them, jokingly, you can always tell the other side by their shoes. Great chants by the group Code Pink: Rita, Katrina, We need another leaduh and War in Iraq; we want our country back.
Young People Involved- Red Emma's
A reunion of peaceniks- on 11/6/?, I attend a meeting from 1:30- 5 at the Cork Gallery at Guilford and Federal- of the GPD-Generations for Peace and Democracy, a group founded by Bill OConnor and Dean Pappas. Bill is soon to die of prostrate cancer and is his old acerbic self- Dean his old enthusiastic self. It is a pot luck and thus a delicious lunch- some 40 persons in attendance. I find it frustrating in that this war is frustrating. I dont get the feeling of a growing movement here. In our day, I felt excited, part of a special and romantic movement- the Catholic left- that might actually win, in the sense that we helped end the draft and the Vietnam War! Will the Iraq War ever end? I know well be present there the way we are in Kosovo, Germany- for many, many years. There is a panel of speakers- one a mother of a soldier killed in Fallujah who works for AFSC. Beside Dean and Bill there are several old friends- Libby Baker, Art Cohen, Ab Logan- which is enheartening- and quite a few high school kids (also enheartening). After the panel we split into focus groups- Lobbying, High Schools and City Wide Organizing. I ask C when I get home, Do I really have the enegry for this? The GPD is so mainstream- let me devote my remaining (and fading) energies to the groups I most love- Jonah House and Viva House and the Catholic Worker and those kinds of demos.
2/17/? I feel myself getting crabbier as I get older- the world looks stupider and stupider every day- especially the men- sometimes I wonder if the greatest works of art- with the occasional exception of an Emily Dickinson or Frederic Chopin are just ignored, lost- what have you- humans are so stupid- we will undoubtedly destroy this planet- Robinson Jeffers was right- Shine Perishing Republic. I am proud to get several letters published on a TV segment that comes on Channel 11 each morning at about 6:45- called Send your answers to a question to the water cooler. I like to imagine myself a TV writer of note and think about all the people that must see this from the eastern shore to the mtns. In the west of the state. Thurs. Am the question was What do you think of the accident where VP Cheney shot his friend? After several hunter friendly responses (always from the rural areas) they print mine: Cheney seems to be treating this like the collateral damage in Iraq. The many misteps of this silent, leaderless administration should lead to a sweep for Democrats in upcoming elections. But then American men do so love violence and their guns. To which anchor man Stan Stovall adds, dont forget mom and apple pie Dave. Cute. Ive had about five other letters printed in this format and have taped them all.
Letters have become my vehicle of choice for writing lately- where else can I actually get a response? For example, I send noted Baltimorean author Taylor Branch my letter about his recent book At Canaans Edge- the third in his trilogy on M L King: A. Lewis review of TBs At Canaans Edge in the NY Times Book Review reminds me of just how dangerous King was- how controversial; now the funeral of his widow brings together politicians who did little for civil rights and words are intoned that civil rights has entered the mainstream. But just as the south fell back into its old, vicious racism after the Civil War, it seems to me that America did not learn much from King and has been quick to retreat from the sunshine of his morality and the movements of the sixties into the usual sullen machismo.
Branch does not miss it, but many of the reviewers pay scant attention to where the dangerous movement lives on- with such groups as the followers of non-violent civil disobediance at Jonah House in Mr. Branchs home town of Baltimore. There are too few leaders of the King stripe in the current anti-war (although Ms. Sheehan comes to mind) or civil rights movements- and yet they ARE here just as they were in the King era- and unsung and controversial now as then. Probably the best memorials to M L King are not in words but deeds, but it is hopeful to me that the much attention paid to the Branch books will highlight what still poses a danger to America and that which it has not embraced at all.
In an interview on WYPR in Baltimore in July of 2009- Branch says that nonviolence did not succeed at all, and gives me the feeling that he is a burn out? I write him- what about Red Emmas, Code Pink? I will not hear back.
Not the Post, Sun or Times replied, but, most importantly Taylor did: The world seems blind to the power of nonviolence, but a new citizens movement can remind us all. I apreciate your steadfastness and your encouragement- which got me to wondering- stedfastness? What had I done lately? I had been sitting on my duff, and had, in truth, become quite corrupt, in so many ways. Life was too good.
Bill OConnor is dying of cancer- the old peacenik- who often gave me a hard time- altho I think he thot of it as just being brutally honest- I remember him telling me I was in a fugue state at the time after the blood pouring- (I think Bill sort of took Fred Weisgals hard boiled side). Mark McGrath- old friend from the chorus- is now Cathys and my stock broker; we needle him (or I do) from the left- and he needles back.
Bill O'Connor Funeral
On 10/15/? occurred a memorial service for Bill OConnor- who had been active at the time of the Catonsville 9. George Mische came into town and stayed at my place from the 13th-18th going over my collection of articles and other memorabilia on the peace movement. All this occasioned many new things to write about. George is again coming from the point of view that the Berrigans were too much mythologized and that they fostered this. He reiterated his story of the genesis of the Catonsville action- that he had proposed it at a meeting at his place on S Street in DC, that he had got the idea at out blood pouring trial when the army witness was testifying about how much damage we caused the draft files it had to be over a certain amount to constitute a felony. Come on, our lawyer had taunted him- these files arent destroyed- defaced maybe- but you can scrape the blood off and read them nonetheless. Either Fred or the witness had mentioned that you would have to burn the files to really destroy them, and a light went on in Georges head. He says that Phil and Tom went white as a sheet when he proposed the burning. Phil said he had planned to go to jail for a little because of the blood pouring and then come out to a semi normal life- now he was back on the edge, plunged back into danger. Well, George told him, I thought thats what its all about? George implies he sort of called their bluff. Lewis said nothing, he recounts, but Bill OC danced around like a little leprechaun- man, when you asked for a show of hands (meaning it was tough on Phil and Tom?).
I had been around Bill plenty in those days, but had had a few contretemps with him- as, it turns out, did everybody. He was a very opinionated, coruscating, critical, obstreperous, obnoxious, pugnacious guy- an intellectuals intellectual. He scared me, but one friend pointed out that once you punched through the surface- he was very engaging. He must have been for there were some 300 + persons at the memorial service. I told one friend, and there were many there from the old days- acquaintances rather than friends- that I would like to have such a function BEFORE I died, not after. But, I asked him, do you think this many persons would come to a function for you? I knew I would never get this many. Were they here because they actually liked Bill, or, was it as w me- he had been a force in their life? The affair gave a sense of community that was rare. I had my one book of poems, the rest not yet arrived, and realized that this was the crowd that would buy it- this was the only crowd that would. There were many moving testimonials about Bill. I had had a falling out w Bill after 2000 and could not even recollect why! Also in the ravages of time department, old friend Leah Heyn- she who introduced me to Cathy- tells me at the event that she had visited me with a bus load of others when we were at Lewisburg. I have no recollection of it!! Bill was a poet- and I feel we would have argued mightily over our differing styles- his a sort of philosophical, accessible, unmusical, prosey, cliched sort of affair. I took photos and kept my mouth shut.
What I could have said at the event, if asked? Who speaks for the shy and retiring people? I realize that George and Bill are alike in that they are gargantuan egos, enamored of hearing their own voices, terrible yapsters. Bill's wife, Marilyn writes me in 2012 to tell me I have included gossip for which I did not permission. Permission from whom? Gossip? Probably so. That's the juicy part!
My old friend, Bo Lozoff speaks and sings at Stoney Run Quaker Mt. House (9/14). Afterwards I ask him about non-violence and he recounts a story about the Buddha and a ferry- seems a killer was going to sink the ferry and the 500 persons on it and the Buddha is given advance notice- should he then kill the killer? He decides to kill him, but! Not to save the 500- only to prevent the killer from a bad karma! Hmmmm. There is a lot unsaid in this story. True, it demonstates doing everything from a compassionate point of view, but- couldnt the B have restrained this guy? Another question- does he consider himself a leftist (I have asked this of Bo before- and get pretty much the same answer)....that Bo is not into politics in that way- what is the left doing, he asks? I dont get a coherent feeling about it. Again, hmmmmmmmm.
Another Demo in DC
Day before yesterday (9/15), C and I go to the demo in DC; I have put on a soldier outfit- olive drabs w peace patches and a beret. I pass out a leaflet that goes"From the unknown soldier-"- for full text see Funeral of Tom Lewis. I also carry a small sign saying Peace is patriotic. I mingle w the marchers and the crowd around the speakers platform in Park across from the White House.- scoped out by the fascist sniper guys perched up on the roof. I am interviewed by Al Jazeera TV and tell them its a class issue and that there are dictators in the middle east and that the rich few do not share w the poor many. I tell them that this country is run by the military industrial complex and it controls the politicians who could end the war tomorrow (and should) by cutting the purse strings. I am put on You Tube reading the statement on my leaflet- it is later emailed to me but I cant open it up- too much technicality. There are many colorful outfits around (see my photos): Cheney masks, the devil (My next victim is Iran), death (Thanks to Bush for the overtime- and Two great war profiteers- Death and Cheney), a man covered in a bloody sheet (Blood for oil theme- Drive a hummer- fifty miles on a gallon of blood). Etc. It is a beautiful day and Chinese and Russian tourists want to have their pictures taken w me, holding a peace sign w the whitehouse in the back ground. Afterwards we go see the Ansel Adams show at the Corcoran, me still in fatigues.
10/15- I watch Fr, John Dears DVD about non-violence The Narrow Path, and realize that John and I both have shared a cell w Phil Berrigan. John has written some 20 books and travels the country and globe speaking. His film is revelatory and phenomenal! I write him to the effect that I am, at present, holding in my head two ideals- that of Christian pacifism and that of leftist revolution. I know they are irreconcilable when it comes to a belief in God and a belief in the use of violence, but they agree on the need for a redistribution of wealth and the importance of work (work is prayer). But, we know who are enemy is and that we must defeat him- the right, Republicans, capitalists, etc. We can sort out the irreconcilables later, when we win. I remind him that the two Catonsville niners- George Mische and Tom Melville are travelling and publicizing Toms book about Latin America- Through a Glass Darkly. I am helping them three dates here in Baltimore in November. John, like me, shared a cell with Phil. His book- Peace somthing (more here)
I get an email from George asking that persons from VIVA House (Catholic Worker soup kitchen run by friends Brendan and Willa Walsh) and Jonah House (where Phils widow, Liz lives w other Plowshares activists) not be invited to any supper out with himself and John in that he did not have a satisfactory meeting with them on previous visits. I mention this to Max Obusjewzki at the Radical Book Fair. Max is a friend and probably the best organizer for the peace movement in town, if you dont count Liz from Jonah House. Yeh, he says- I remember that from the reunion at Goucher- how juvenile. Max also tells me he thinks Christian pacifism and left revolution to BE irreconcilable. He questions an emphasis on factories and workers. Whatever successful has it led to? Cathy tells me, how about the 40 hour week? I waver between the two philosophies. We must continue with every arrow in our quiver to try to bring down this regime, thats for sure.
The Md. Institure College of Art (MICA) is having a series of events on the Black Panthers. Lat night (Oct. 23) I see a movie that follows 4 previous members as to what they are doing now (as of 2000). A moderator takes questions afterwards, saying, did any one find the movie too light? I reply- the movie has no analysis- it shows Eldridge Cleaver selling bar b que sauce- there are people still active in the struggle today- the same thing is going on- there is no discussion of violence and non-violence- no class analysis- the movie is pathetic. But it was shot in 200- he says. So what? This is the second time I have walked out of a big gathering lately. At the yearly Baltimore Bk Fair I am listening to a TV reporter, Martha Raddetz, talk about her trips to Iraq and the wounded soldiers and White House Press briefings, blah-blah-blah and I tell her I think that, with the exception of Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, you are enabling the war. O Im sorry you feel that way, thanx for coming, says Ms. Raddetz- as I walk out.
Weekend of 10/26,7,and 8 another trip down to Jamestown and Yorktown- very enjoyable, but for my severe gout attack which makes it hard to walk. I am struck by how well organized is the new State of Va. Jamestown museum, as we were previously struck by the village with its enactors and to scale modles of the three wooden ships. Having seen Terence Malicks wonderful film The New World doesnt hurt- although it turns out- wouldt you know- that the locals all snobbishly poo poo it as inaccurate (and the havent even seen it). This trip we are searching for the original location of Werwowocomico- although- here again- the locals do NOT KNOW where it is (excavation began in earnest in 2003 on some private property in Gloucester). We visit Powhatens chimney and Rosewell and the Fort Smith plantation. The Victory Museum is also very well organized and a must for any student of the American Revolution. It is politically correct as is Jamestown w all three cultures represented- the white, native American and negro. What shades of gray in the revolution! I see that Quakers even then were presenting a pacifist view and I decide that I probably would have been a revolutionary. To the point of my discussions w Max about Christian pacifism versus left revolution. Then too, one can see the seeds of the present imperial America in our own revolution! This whole area is one vast military encampment today- what w Fort Eustis, the navy at Newport News and Norfolk, etc., etc.
On 10/29- Joe Tropea interviews me for a movie he is making on the Catonsville 9 and Baltimore 4. I think it went very well. I wear my pink shirt and a nice tie and sit between my two keyboards. (Just as important- if not more so- my Isle of the Dead" by Rachmaninoff- the version for piano 4 hands, arrives from Boosey and Hawkes!!!!...just to put life into perspective. THIS I had been waiting for.
Death, funeral of Tom Lewis
The week of 4/7/8, I hear from Liz that Tom has died in April of 2008. He died peacefully in his sleep in his house in Worchester, Mass. He had had heart problems- stents- as well as neurological problems. Paula told me that he knew his time was coming and probably wished it, in that he never liked to be impaired. His friend Scott Duffie had discovered him and written a fulsome obit. Eulogies were given on the evening of April 10th and the funeral was the next day, both at St Francis Xavier in Hunt Valley, Cockeysville, Md. Another reunion of old friends, another junction of fabulous stories, insights, etc.
At one point George tells me he had asked Liz re Phils death from cancer- did he have insurance and she had scoffed at it as if not having insurance was a virtue and George says I bet T didnt either. Turns out, his sister tells me, that he did. George is wrong again.
At the eulogy I was first to read, George followed. I read my bit on the unknown soldier" see below.
Tom had continued one big protest after another- going on into Plowshares actions- always painting. I always found his art a bit messy. I had also felt guilty- why didnt I continue down the great protest road like Phil and Tom? (Being out of the Catonsville 9 had depressed me- but not so much because I was committed against war- just that I thought I had missed out on history). Tom had definitely not missed out on history. What were his motives? I was to find out. Of course, Geoge scoffed at Tom- calling him Phils monkey.
O the tributes, the stories. I had not kept up with Tom and all this fleshed out what he had been doing- his mild, humorous self. Remember what he had told Judge Northrup at our trial, when asked for a statement and told, well you have to have some sort of statement he said, Your honor, you can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead thats Laurel and Hardy.
Thatll be 6 years, Judge N retorted. Maybe he felt bad to see his court reuced to the circus it was!
His personal life: George told me that while we were in prison together, (I dont remember any of this- shy?) Toms first wife, Stacia/Stacy had told him in the visiting room- Im in love with somebody else. The somebody else was a woman! She had become a lesbian! O that was the sixties! Me I had the toothseome, fabulous Louise, driving up to visit me in a Corvette.
George says Tom hadnt much luck in his personal wife (a slip- I meant life). His second wife- Andrea Boberly- originally from Hungary- who was present- it turns out- from what Paula (Ts sister) told me, had tired of the constant protesting, the in and out of jail life. Besides there was a huge age difference. They had married when she was early 20s, Tom mid 40s (I guess that could make a difference- I dont see why necessarily). She spent much of the funeral in tears .at first didnt want to talk. If George were truly interested in writing a book, wouldnt he be here to further research it? I get the idea, maybe I should pursue it? Jo Ann Malone is here- who was a member of the DC 9. She tells me George did not have to do with organising this action- which was against Dow Chemical in DC. (Maybe thats why he hasnt mentioned it much to me). They broke out a window and hurled files out onto the street. They turned some files over to newspapers, like the New York Times- and some of Dows secrets were revealed. Jo Ann wears around her neck a piece of glass from the window- which she says Tom gave to her! There were people underneath the window to steer pedestrians out of the way. Tom must have been there. They are thinking about a reunion. We exchange numbers.
Dean Pappas tells me he almost took part in the Catonsville 9- he had been there in some capacity- as a look out? Brendann and Willa Walsh of Viva House had also been there.
The eulogies: Thomas Siemer, author of Gods Dummies for Nuclear War (subtitled) George Bush- I Am A War President, Bring em On had helped build the Navy QA-5C nuclear bomber and worked on the first Star Wars defense system. The fist words out of his mouth from the podium?: Tom Lewis, you saved my life. He went on to describe his feelings on reading about the Catonsville 9 and how he left the defense industry to become anti-war.
Jim Harney described how when Ts car was stolen, he and Tom went looking for it. They actually came across it but the 4 thieves were in it! They followed them into a rough neighborhood- the Brighton Projects (was this Worchester, or Boston?). They debated .what to do? The robbers had stopped and were joined by 4 other young men. They approached the gang. Youve got my car. Tom said. Were not here to bring the police- we just want our car back. The gang broke up into laughter and gave them back the keys. Non-violence in action.
A demonstration was described- one on an anniversary of Martin Luther Kings assassination. When arrested, Tom and others took the names Martin Luther King. All were released except the M L Kngs- who were kept in jail and regularly returned to court and asked their names. When Tom told the Judge that he was Martin Luther King the Judge exploded, O for Chris sakes, youre not even black!. The protesters were released.
Tom had made a gift of his life. He had lived fully. He had brought us together.
His funeral was the next day- the 11th. Father Mc Carthy of Brocton, Mass. gave a wonderful homily. Turns out he runs retreats on non-violence and is an expert on Christian non violence. I ask him about my concern- of feeling left out of the C Nine, of sometimes (not often) feeling guilty about not having pursued protest so assiduously as had Tom and Phil. He says, that is exactly the sort of question we deal with in my workshops. He speaks of a calling, a voco (something in Latin) a charism? The Greek word. In his homily he tells us the first think he though of when he heard of Toms death was David Darst. Why? Darst also had been taken from us so early- Dave dies in a car crash shortly after the action. Perhaps God had fulfilled his will in David, in Tom? They were done. They had done what they were called to do. Mystical concept.
Father McCarthy quotes a Vietnam fighter pilot re napalm- . This must be brought out as McCain runs for President- no one discusses what he did in Vietnam- to me he is merely a war criminal.
Tom as a true hero of the Vietnam War- a hero of mercy- not mercilessness- McCarthy says.
Met Jo Anne Malone of the DC9 group (against Dow Chemical) there- want to get their story- was George involved? They tried to make the link to corporations- a key key link.
originally read in honor of my dear friend
and accomplice-Tom Lewis- at his memorial service from
Dave Eberhardt (poured blood on draft files with him in 1967- the "Baltimore 4" action)
Hi from the Unknown Soldier. I threw away my rifle and went swimming.
You may have seen me slipping away from the column. Shsssssh.
If in a desert "theatre" I leave to go look at the night sky with all its stars- Aldeberan (sp?), Rigel, Spica, Eta Carinae.
I am a statue to the Noble Deserter in the park.
I was inspired by artists like Tom Lewis! He had the "duende"- the spirit, the moxie. He had the will to continue in risky action after action- going forward into the Plowshares movement.
Want to join us? Then practice non-violence, resist war, and don't forget to move to the left.
Forgive them mother for they know not what they do.
Heroes to follow? Tom Lewis, war resisters, Dan and Phil Berrigan,"Plowshares" activists, M. Gandhi, ML King, AJ Muste, Dorothy Day, Quakers, Norman Morrison, Rachel Corrie, Dalai Lama
Authors to read H Thoreau, Dalai Lama, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Wilfred Owen, Gary Snyder" I had used this as a leaflet "approved by Pooh, Piglet and Stuart Little".
Joe Tropea's film
Joe T is doing a "Camden 28" style film and has interviewed many of us- he has written a longish piece that will be in the 5/14 City Paper- cover story? Reminds me of the the other long cover story they did on the Catonsville 9 back in the 90's- by ? - I had helped that reporter a lot also- what was his name? (As the Sunpapers in Baltimore fades out- the City Paper comes on strong. I remember the Sun when Carl Schoettler was a sympathetic reporter and one of their reporters drove us to the blood pouring. The "main stream media" in 2008 was totally compromised. (Actually- will Joe ever get his film finished?- he got some great interviews and I will try to obtain copies- for history's sake at least.
Creative Alliance shows Sachs film
Another showing of Lynn's film "Investigation of a Flame" on May 8th, 2007- this at the Creative Alliance over in Highlandtown. New details? That Phil was removed from his duties as a priest after Catonsville. Liz speaks of a coordinated raid on the draft boards of Delaware- Wilmington? Dover? She speaks of over 100 actions. George later says "over 200" at the 2009 Trial of the C-9 events at the University of Md., College Park. Liz makes a distinction bertween Civil Disobediance and Civil Resistance.
Wonderful story from Lynn about reporter Pat McGrath's giving her the tape from WBAL-TV of the Catonsville action. He had almost lost his job and could have been prosecuted as an accomplice. This magnificent tape was supposed to have been destroyed! Can you imagine that?!? Does it make you wonder how many records of important events HAVE been lost? Lynn Sachs had tracked Pat McGrath down in Annapolis and he had the tape in his basement- where, I think, he had secreted it when BAL wanted it destroyed or turned over to the FBI. They had not shown it when it happened-
That Dean Pappas had called back to Willa Bickham once the action was accomplished so she could take the press packet around to the media- (I need to get Deans opinion as to who thot up the 9 action)- Brendan counters Sachs arguments on the film as to how the 9 specified what kinds of property should be targeted- lady from my jury who is in the movie- Alva Grubb is there and repeats the story- I believe Ive already mentioned this- about her and one other lady holding out for us briefly before the male foreman had them outvoted.
Lynn has added a bit at the end of the film- a sort of academic issues to discuss piece on when do we follow our conscience? Sort of a points for discussion by students
I speak very briefly- to the point that I am 67 and balance two balls in my head- one of revolutionary Marxism and other Christian pacifism I need help I add- good amount of laughter from the crowd of 150? Less? I go on, I dont think theres any one among you that can help me .but I can live with it; I sit down. Not like me .pithy. In 2009, I had the thought that I was searching for a three sided rosetta stone like so: on one side would be the ideology of Christian pacifism; on the other- the ideology of Marxist revolution. On a third side would be a translation that melded the two. Or, I was juggling those two incompatable balls in my head- another image.
Demo at Andrews Air Force Base
On 5/17- I go to the gold mines- gold mines of many personages from Plowshares Actions to talk to- a demonstration organized by Susan Crane and Jonah House at Andrews Air Force Base during the day (it was their annual Air Show) and at night- a gathering to remember Tom Lewis at VIVA House. I say to my friend and photographer to a recent book of Dan Berrigans poems- Adriana Amari- a lot of heavy hitters in this room- people who have been arrested many times (Kathy Boyland and Anne Mongomery, for example- like 5); if there was a ensemble of people who could change the world this would be it.
On the bus down I am talking w Susan Musca and Rosemary Ratondi (sp) from
As one of the speakers remembering Tom- I read Carmine Galente stories from my prison memoirs. I get started and am immediately interrupted by Don Lewis- Toms brother- tell them/us who you are! Later on I realize I still dont know- to a degree. I poured blood and do these interviews to FIND OUT who I am!!
These are an autograph seekers dream events. On the way down to Andrews and way back- nice talks w Frank Code(a?)ro and Steve Kelly. On the way back Frank tells us about the action he and several others took in 1997 at Andrews. They had attacked a B-52 with hammers and blood. He had been shocked to be charged w misdemeanors- had expected much bigger time- due to the Teflon nuns w us. Unfortunately, Frank says- the Teflon wore off later. Steve Kelly was not so fortunate in a Plowshares Action at Bath, Maine, where the group attacked an Aegis Class Destroyer. The group got big sentences because Steve had reached the bridge and done considerable damage to important guidance systems- apparently he knew where to go! There were 200 men sleeping on the ship at the time but the action went smoothly.! Steve and Sr. in later Plowshares Action (11/2009)- submarine base, state of Washington.
At the FedEx field outside of Redskins stadium where people are being shuttle bussed to Andrews, our group is heavily eyed by mps and police of all sorts. We are most all wearing t shirts w various peace slogans although the recommended one is to be War is not a Game. When we finally get to the shake down area thru which all must passed we are met by a line of Andrews mps and an Air Force lawyer. He tells us we have reasonable expectations of illegal action by Jonah House and you are not going to be allowed on the base. A spirited debate follows but we turn back- do not sit down- do not get arrested- do not pass go. We conduct a vigil at the entrance to FedEx field. Max O and a few others from Baltimore have a separate vigil just at the gates to Andrews. Joe Tropea captures this for his movie.
Ab Logan relates another Tom Melville story- this about Jimmy Hoffa having to strip before going into the Visiting Room. The guards told Jimmy- you dont have to strip Jimmy says- but the other guys (cons)? They have to? And then he strips also. Vox populi I quip.
As at his funeral and the night before- many warm reminiscences of Tom- especially from his folks- his very elderly mom- Pauline. Like mine, she was the radical force behind Tom; after the C-9 action she went down town to the Catholic Center tower of power and saw a monsignor or such, challenged him as to why the church does not support this group and was shown the door! Tom comes into view as a whole person for me- I had not known him that well- he was not a showboat!
One story sort of summed him up Tom had always chosen to live in the poorest part of Worchester- even with drug dealers right outside his house. When his daughter, Nora was born, he and his wife began to worry about her safety and whether to move for it. Tom reasoned that because the dealers were Latino, maybe a Catholic mass held out on the streets might gain some respect so that the dealers would leave that particular corner alone. It worked.
Brendann reminisced about Dorothy Days reaction to the actions. At first, she didnt agree, he says. Why? She was very strong into Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But she came around to agree with them.
Sr. Anne Montgomery tells me that on a regular basis she has a Kairos meeting with Dan on the upper west side. That would be something worth attending. I send stuff to Dan and get a noter back- he is 87.
Our folk singer is Dar Williams; she actually mentions the draft board raids in one of her songs.....and of course- Dylan in "Masters of War." Apparently, poet Adrienne Rich refers to the draft actions as well.
Bernadine Dohrn at Corks (302 Federal St,) 2/6/��
An old industrial high rise that has been redone into apartments and lofts and a gallery space (Corks) at 302 Federal St. Great view of the city- Pennsylvania Station- the Md. Institute of Art. Bernadine Dohrn, of the revolutionary Weathermen fame, is speaking-sponsored by the anarchist coffee house- Red Emmas. The hall is packed- 200 people? mainly younger R ed Emma types- a sprinkling of older folk- some I know- Brendann and Willa Walsh of Viva House- John Waters of Hairspray movie fame, Dennis Livingston- an old radical (who along with 9 others bought this building). Bernadine is refreshing- a hopeful talk; she is striking (especially to those of us who grew up admiring her on Post Office wanted posters- the FBIs �� Most Wanted List. Recently a movie has come out (not the first) entitled The Weathermen- a sort of where are they/ what are they doing now documentary. Her t shirt reveals a bit of decolletage and a tattoo on one sagging breast.
B has recently been to Venezuela- talks about heartening developments there. She does not want to dwell on the 60s- the 60s werent the 60s, even in the 60s, she quips. We would be in Ann Arbor and say, but this isnt Columbia, then be at Columbia and say, this isnt France (re the student movements). Referring to our present- it always seems impossible- we cant succeed or that nothing is happening. But she sees hopeful signs- especially the organizing done by the sponsoring group tonight. She speaks of the gathering she has attended in Venezuela where a large map of the world was displayed showing U.S. military bases. She wonders that we do not read about where these soldiers go for R & R? She sees a growing discontent among the families of Iraqi soldiers- she talks about the organizing around bases in the Vietnam days- the effectiveness of the GIs (like Presidential candidate John Kerry) turning in medals etc.
She states that we should not shun electoral politics- (politrix? polyidiotics?)- not take that tool out of the basket. We need to talk to the other side- something I find difficult- try to listen to them, engage them. It is possible, she states, that a thin majority DID vote Bush in. One guy comes up afterwards and says- he thinks the reason was fear. I agree- for the question of values that the media touts as the reason for Bush doesnt ring correct- Americas real values are shopping malls and game shows- regardless of what the religious right may claim. Talk of values is a sham- a sideshow- a diversion.
She has an extended question and answer period. One young man tells us he is a folk song writer and has written a song about putting a bullet through Bushs head (I think the infiltrators from the right may still be among us!). She doesnt recommend it- Part of the artists role is to stir things up, to push the envelope- and youre succeeding in making me very uncomfortable right now- (general laughter). Some want her to give directions and she tells us she is not here to prescribe- she doesnt know, has know answers except to say we need to link issues- as the peace movement linked with the civil rights movement back in our day. She hopes that the young people here will allow us oldsters to participate- were not done yet.
I am pleased to get her signature in an original pamphlet/paperback-Prairie Fire, Political Statement of the Weather Underground- is this an original she asks? Which I got from Southpaw Press. Also confirmed is another longish pamphlet I got from them (for $35.00!) that looks to be printed in Vietnam- an analysis of the Viet War from THEIR side which he advertised as being hers (Bernadines)- it has Dohrn written on the front and a few underlinings to emphasize certain passages. Hey- she exclaims, thats my book. Where did you get it? I can tell that the Dohrnits her handwriting.>
I ask her, was the young blond guy in the Weatherman movie- I think it was in Chicago at the Days of Rage - the one with the base ball bat who said, were going to kick their motherf cking asses- was that Bill Ayers? She responds- Yes (she is married to Bill Ayers) and, I been stuck with this guy. I joke with her that I was very thoughtful when we poured blood- but when I heard him say that, I felt a gut level, YES! She laughs. He had expressed what we all felt. She said she thought the blood pouring was a great action.
A middle aged lady comes up afterwards and tells her that she once lived in a kind of hippie commune in D.C. and a man came in identifying himself as an FBI agent. He flashed his badge and asked did I know the whereabouts of Cathy Wilkerson (a famous Weatherperson). The lady answered him humorously- no, and I dont think shed be anywhere close to here (D.C.). I ask B, How the fu k did you guys get away with all that (a string of very serious and high profile bombings)? No jail time? She reiterates a point made in the Weatherman film- that the other side was worse than we were. I can imagine how pissed off the government was when these folks slipped out of their grasp!
At the end, a young man, the host asks B if she would like to go decompress in an adjoining, private room. I joke, wouldnt it be something if she actually enjoys all this- this being amongst a crowd? But as she began her presentation, B said she had expected a smaller crowd- an informal discussion. She states that she is a private person, that the underground was almost enjoyable (exactly how I felt about prison!).
On 2/7- I get a tape from Pacifica Radios Archives that I hadnt know existed- a tape that came up when I typed my name in on the internet, a tape of Phil Berrigan and Dave Eberhardt in the Underground. Turns out that, and I cannot remember doing it- I interviewed Phil after we went underground (our underground that lasted only 3 or 4 days) and provided the tape to WBAI- who provided the recorder? The tape, 23 minutes long, consists of me asking questions and Phil responding- with some very weighty responses on weighty issues- why dont more people go to jail- why did some of the 9 turn themselves in, why do Americans find jail so difficult, etc. I am amazed at how professional I sounded- clipped, reportorial, professional, not my usually thoughty, depressed self. Thank God.
Overall- an inspiring, enheartening talk and exchange with Ms. Dohrn- best (in terms of what is said) since Father Bs funeral. I am proud of her inscription- To Dave, Who Continues to Struggle for Peace and Justice. I am tempted to add: Well .er . meaning Im not struggling very hard at the moment!
I am very moved by Ayers' book- Fugitive Days. It turns out that he considered us part of the Weather Underground while he and Bernadine were there (Tropea on trip to airport- also what was ? i asked him at bk fair?- abt left?) - and that he met Mary Moylan while in the underground. more here- I learned in 2010 about the Baader Meinhof group from the marvelous movie which was made from the book- The Baader Meinhof Complex. Where was it said- that, where the weather people went to the edge of the cliff, the Meinhofs jumped over (into the abyss of violence). influence of Brecht- "The Measures Taken". the weather people bombs hurting no one- the Wisconsin bombing, the David Gilbert, Cathy Boudin affair, my poem to Diana Oughton, Gudrun Enslin daughter of a pastor, the grandiosity of weather people and meinhofs, interview w Aus in the features to the movie- his many revelatory statements- Italian, Japanese, German student movements and violence, e.g.- seem to be no influence of non-violence tactics- (because no civil rts movement? no King?)
Weatherpersons: Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn at Enoch Pratt- 5/13/��-
speaking on their collaboration and their book- A Race Course - against white supremacy . Crowd of 3, 400- well integrated- and how rare is that? Outside a small group of bedraggled right wing protestors- one with a sign comparing Ayers to Timothy McVeigh to the ridiculous effect that he killed as many people? - the usual, pinched face bunch of losers. Conservatives all, I suppose. Starting to wonder about Garrison Keillor also- who posts a contrarian column the next day- thinks hes cute but he just comes across stupid. I write him care of his show, the Writer's Almanac. I won't hear back.
Bill and Bernardine state that what spurred them on at the beginning was the government's assault on the Panthers- the killing of Fred Hampton by the authorities (feds or police) in Chicago. There is talk of the current racism against Muslims and Islam.
The pair are simply- inspirational. They do not consider themselves to be terrorists. They state firmly that they made a mistake and they failed, referring to the Weathermen days. Ayers poos poos any romanticizing the sixties. Well, maybe we did have the best music, muses B, his wife of 40 years. Bill thinks of himself as a patriot, not a nationalist. One questioner asks- do you find anything good about this country? The radical tradition- they respond. They have just visited John Browns farm in upper N Y State. Bill stresses activism- he quotes Rosa Luxemborgs advise to an admirer- a wonderful quote that lists several ways of celebration but ends- put your shoulder to the wheel of history.
Bill and Bernadine are the first to articulate to such a gathering my ideals since Father B- well, maybe Amy Goodman has done so- its so rare. We are a small group in this militaristic, capitalist country- a country with wrong values- easily the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. And yet Bill feels we are part of a majority (who doen't want peace? for example) - he and B stress the positive- a bit foolishly, I would say, but it pleases the gathered. There are a lot of people in this country who don't know left from right, but many more than us do not agree with us! Why? I always ask myself? I have friends who tell me not to underestimate them- that they can be "smart"- but I don't see how they can?
We never killed anyone- they state- contrast that w Nixon, Johnson, Bush. I ask Bill who came up with the phrase- "some property has no right to exist?" (Dan Berrigan?) I ask him, "how is David Gilbert?"- a brilliant writer, in prison for life for his role in a Brinks robbery (I don't believe he was the shooter) . "We saw him last week"- he responds. (O yes, there are still captives from the 60-s- Ernie Conway here in Md. (although I do not know the circumstances there).
On this day, Obama has decided not to release more Abu Graib photos as it might endanger the morale of the troops and incite their enemies. There is much discussion of Obama- one young lady wants to know, "when will we know it's time to be violent again?" (Is this a right wing plant?- like the guy who asks why Bill praised Sirhan Sirhan in the preface to one of his books? ) Bill, wisely, answers neither. Besides praising Martin King's speech at Riverside Church (where he came out against the Vi e t war) B praises Nelson Mandela and refers to his speech defending ANC tactics. I realize that I must remain an existentialist on the question of violence and non- violence- as appealing as being a rigid pacifist might be. Am I going to contradict John Brown? Nelson Mandela? I don't think so.
Bill stresses organizing from the base, the mass, from beneath. It is up to us to force Obama to do right. He quotes Debs who told workers that if he could lead them to the promised land, he wouldn't, because then some one else would come along and lead them out. It is up to us, obviously.
Weather man, Mark Rudd on C-Span
A review of the book- Undergound, My Life with SDS and the Weathermen (published by William Morrow)- by Mark Rudd. As a 68 year old veteran of the peace and civil rights movements, who poured blood on draft files with Father Phil Berrigan in 1967 and who spent 21 months in federal prison for that action, it was a relief for me to hear Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers at and later to hear Mark Rudd in an interview on the Book Channel (CSPAN). A relief in that it is always a relief to hear persons of the same age one can "relate to"- persons that have continued their lives of struggle with integrity- and not gone to selling bar be que sauce or working for state government (as I do- oh- the contradictions- of that more later).
I realize that the Weathermen actually believed in revolution. To me, I had always thought of it in comical terms- I actually heard the word as "rebolution"- in a sort of baby talk which came from one of the underground comics- R Crumb? the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers? It seems out of the question- we were greatly out numbered- we would lose militarily- besides, I was for non violence! O it was all fine to sing about- as w Thunderclap Newman or the Jefferson Airplane or the Beatles- "so you say you want a revolution". It was naieve, Custeristic- as Hampton said.
As if an embarrassment of riches, on 5/ 17, ex Weatherman, Mark Rudd is interviewed by Ishmael Reed, prof. at ?Berkeley, for the Book TV Channel- CSPAN- Mark has just com;oeted a book- Undergound, My life with SDS and the Weathermen. I find him funnier and more honest than Dohrn and Ayers- and I don't mean to put them down. Some of the things Bernardine said in the days of the weathermen- praise for Manson and the Symbionese Liberation Army were really stupid. Rudd freely admits it. Admission of errors- a good thing. He states that the organizing done up until '68 was correct- that after was wrong. We were suicidal- he says of the "Days of rage". As to the Gueveristic armed struggle in the belly of the beast, with its slogan "Bring the War Home"? which to the small band of weather persons proved that they were "more militant than thou"- Rudd says: the Panthers in Chicago told us not to do it- the Vietnamese said we should concentrate on building a mass movement- the Cubans told us no! We went ahead anyway. He praises a book entitled that- Bring the War Home. The author compares the Weather underground to the Baden Meinhof gang, stating that where the Weatherfolk reached the edge of the abyss and drew back- but the Baders jumped over.
Rudd freely discusses his criminal act- of robbery to fund the revolution- not a good fund raising idea. He knew about the notorious town house bomb makers and their plans to put pipe bombs at a military dance at Ft. Dix. He knew about it in advance. He agrees that the old tools of organizing- a la Saul Alinski (and Rudd mentions "community organizer" Obama positively) the Civil Rights and Labor movements are the best. "We were blessed by those two movements and could see that we could have an impact", he states in response to a question about why persons aren't as fired up today (as well as, of course, the draft!). He had organised successfully at Columbia University- and closed the interview by reading his letter to then University President, Grayson Kirk- which ends dramatically: "Up against the wall, motherf ker, this is a stick up"- which Rudd attributes to Leroi Jones. Rudd comes across as more humorous, but not less serious- in fact he has made many astute observations and conclusions. Rudd seems advanced compared to Ayers simple in their two books. He is not mentioned in Ayer's book, but he made it clear that he considered Ayers and Dohrn to be as brothers and sisters- siblings who went thru a time together. Rudd got back to me and I added further questions- do you think the bomb in Greenwich Village might have been set off by the authorities- I have always wondered abt the one that killed Ralph Featherstone here in Md. (on their way to Rap Brown's trial) 2) yr. bit abt Robin Morgan sounds ironic and full of riches beyond belief- can't wait to read 3) my upbringing in the church- conscientious objection, et al- a difference from u 4) what did u guys think of our "destruction of property" efforts?- i have no problem with yours. best, dave e
There is absolutely no chance that agents did the townhouse bombing. The people who died did it. I have total inside information.
Keep in touch, dear friend."........Mark Rudd- after all these years...reading his book- Underground I felt I identified with him more than any one else. His account was humorous and charming. My IO- Intimate Other Cathy would complain about our tactics in the same way Mark was disowning the Weatherman bombings and "Days of Rage" now. He was ashamed of these mistakes and I had nothing to be ashamed of!
As to building a mass movement, some felt that approach to be arrogant- and as to the blood pouring- she poo pooed the idea of "exemplary" actions. Well, I responded- you're wrong. We poured blood because we wanted to, felt we had to- for our own sakes- forget about being an example- we enjoyed doing what we did!! If others saw symbolic attacts on the property of draft files and draft boards as a good tactic, fine. We weren't insisting that they do. Apparently quite a few did because a lot of draft files and boards were destroyed- and some waiting around to be arrested and others just got away with it- as Rudd and the Weatherpeople did when they surfaced and spend no time in prison for deeds far worse than ours.
I marveled how Rudd and the others escaped prison- but, in a way- Phil and me had gotten ours over with w certainty (altho Phil certainly had just kept going in and out of prison)- Rudd and the others underwent years of the prison of underground uncertainty- weaving, dodging, moving hither and yon- what a drag!
August 2009 Faith and Resistance Retreat Notes
Kathy Boylan, on a family trip to Ireland- to discover her roots- tells us how on the way back at the Shannon Airport, where a plowshares action took place, she notices many US soldiers coming through on their way to Iraq? Afghanistan? She confronts them- tells them she is opposed to the war- a gendarme shows up and will not let her board her flight back to the USD unless she shuts up- holds her passport- "You're disturbing their peace", he tells her. She replies, "they're disturbing mine, fighting these wars and endangering themselves and us!" That is the kind of attitude we need.
Kathy, Liz Berrigan/McCallister, Anne Montgomery, Susan Crane, Carol Gilbert, Ardeth Platte- these diminutive (sisters in some cases or ex sisters?) are they a remnant of faith or what?- more like a powerful continuation of the cause. The cause- being Plowshares actions- is, as Phil Berrigan believed- in it for the long haul. Just as Marxists might say. And hopefully there will be a long haul. Living in this country- in "the belly of the beast" makes one wonder. The country suffers from obesity. The power of our movement kept alive... on 8/5 a ratty old film is shown in the basement at St. Stephens', Newton and 16th St. in DC; but it is powerful- barely decipherable pictures and voice over- shows Hiroshima bombings, attempts to minister to the hideously affected. Liz reads a powerful statement by Dorothy Day re Nixon. I have recently seen the Frost-Nixon tapes on Md. Public TV. What a thug is Nixon- and what a panderer Sir David. Nixon should have been interviewed in prison. And yet the MPTV fund raisers gush on about how brilliant he is, how wise in policy?
St. Stephens is a bit run down at the heels- but is in constant use! While I was there other groups meeting? The Iraq Veterans against the War (why didnt we meet together?), people who are vegans and love animals, a womans drumming group, NA, etc.
I am awash in the old and the new days- a refreshing bath- talks of actions, of origins of actions, of reasons persons became peaceniks. For me- anger- my beloved anger in which I am wll pleased.
Anne M speaking of their group of women at Alderson Prison- they were more organized than we males when we were in prison! Lynette Fromme and another (from the Manson group)? And their good relations. Talk of a certain Helen Woodson, whom Liz calls brilliant and yet is still in prison for a Plowshares Action in Kansas City? Liz also criticizes certain of her actions- a starter pistol in a bank? (Sounds Weathermanderish- Weathermanic?). I read abt Helen- her statements- they ring true- but- bullets in envelopes- a starter pistol? I have to agree w Liz- how does this help us? And yet, Helen hurt no one. Her actions were powerful- (burning money in a bank lobby and saying "You worship money"?!?) uncompromising. I think of David Gilbert- still behind bars for his actions- his brilliance. Quite frankly- they are heros. Can we follow them? Were they good tactics? Needs discussion.
Carl Kabats action takes place on Aug. ? in Colorado or Wyoming. He cuts a hole in the fence and attacks a missle silo- removes the clerical garb he has over a clown suit- brilliant- just what we are talking abt. His action should have been headlines! He is mentioned in front of the White House; Obamas faith/ religious outreach arm/ dept. has never gotten back to Art Laffin (disgraceful) and we make a futile attempt to deliver our petition to the press gate. They always turn stuff down.
Sister Itchi- of a Japanese Buddhist order leads demos on two days w her drumming a peace mantra. It goes "Ma Mu Myo (pronounced mee oh) Ren Ge (gay) Kyo (kee oh). It is a mantra that expresses peace for all and supposedly has NO TRANSLATION- can this be true? I should have asked! A survivor of
I am made freshly aware of Thomas Merton's great poem, "Original Child Bomb"- along with Brecht and Owen in the pantheon of great anti war poems, which is used in the liturgies of the Retreat.
The Retreat is well planned by Jonah House,... the world COULD be saved? But it won't!!
I get to read the group statement in front of the black (and I DON'T mean that racially!!) house- a real honor. At one point it mentions Pope Paul 6 saying "No more war, war never again". But he could not possibly have meant it because he never did anything about it. The history of the church viz a viz peace is well described in the film by Paul? Carroll- "Constantine's Cross". Statements like these are like statements by a president- ie- we all love peace, or, we're all against racism. No plan...no specificity!
At one point we sing John Lennon's great peace anthem- "Imagine" where he says, "Imagine: nothing to kill or die for , no religion too."
One evening we watch a film- "On Paper Wings" about the Japanese project of launching balloons on the jet stream to arrive on the west coast w incendiary bombs. 5 Americans died in Bly, Oregon ( you probably never heard about this), and this film deals with a reconciliation effort managed by a Japanese American professor who had, as a youth, been interned at Thule Lake during the war.
I am struck by what Susan Montgomery says about awareness- raising awareness- which this film certainly does....how awareness itself is a tactic. That is- education of others to the issues. I tend to think of action as tactic- not education. What steps must be taken? A .J. Muste said "There is no way to peace- peace is the way"- which, actually, is a confusing statement. Probably taken out of context. Bumper sticker slogans are not usually helpful. A. J. Muste is one of the seminal figures of the last century- him, Debs, Mother Jones. But history does not give them their due?!?!
from Ms. Molly Rush- who participated in the first Plowshares Action at King of Prussia, Pa. (see movie by Antonio(sp?) this on 8/18/9
Phil B. & Elmer Maas have died. I've kept up more with Dan (Berrigan) , although not recently. He's about 88 frail but clear minded and moving soon, I've heard, to an assisted living program - the Franciscans? It's been some time since I've seen Anne, John, and Carl of course is in & out of prison. No word on Dean Hammer; I did hear he became a psychiatrist.
My own feeling about is there's never been one moment of regret. My understanding of nonviolence has evolved and is deepluy influenced by surprise, surprise, Thomas Merton. I go back often to his letter to Jim Forest, "Do not depend on the hope of results...." also his Blessed Are the Meek essay and his commentary in the book he edited, "Gandhi on Nonviolence."
I also deeply respect Gene Sharp and the work he's done on strategies of nonviolent action,And our 8-year River City Campaign's weekly presence at Westinghouse has had a huge influence, esp. on the importance of building trust with adversaries.
John Shuchardt is married and living in Vermont, I believe. I saw him at Dan's 80th birthday party but not at his 85th.
George Mische is a good guy so I'd like to see just what he said. I very much appreciate and admire the Plowshares spirituality, persistence and willingness to take long prison terms. Some actions, I think the Pl. 8 was one, partly due to the shock value that drew attention to first-strike nuclear weapons. [The participation of Dan & Phil, seem to me to have been crucial in spurring others to act.]
But throughout the years so many people have said " I couldn't do what you did." As though I was some kind of hero. It seemed to me in saying that, they're minimizing their importance to the peace movement; even, in some cases, gives them an out. My response always is "But you can do something."
Gandhi, Chavez & King were brilliant in inspiring campaigns that over time involved thousands, even millions, in non-violence. Merton's "Do not depend on the hope of results" is so incisive.. But he was also critical of certain actions and attitudes - see "Blessed Are the Meek." I've come to a definition for me that "success" in a particular goal such as "ending the arms race" may not happen in our lifetimes, if at all. So persistence and faith are essential.
But I'm an organizer. I want to encourage people to use their talents and abilities to work for peace, justice, etc. In my 45 years as an activist, and over thirty years on staff at the Thomas Merton Center, I've seen thousands of persons get involved in campaigns in a myriad of ways. Win some, lose some, but many just keep on year after year. I value each one of them. Whether they spend time in jail or not.
I learned so much during our ten-year campaign at Westinghouse of weekly meetings of our core group, weekly leafleting at W. HQ designing a new one every week, of dialogue with officials, of involving, over the years, thousands in our ongoing campaign, and of many non-violent protests.
I hope these reflections are useful and not too long-winded. Peace, Molly--------------------
conversation w Claire Grady (or ws it Theresa?), 8/20/9: John Grady's daughter (wife?)- John, who was an organizer, like George Mische, of many actions- she is in touch w Ed McGowan who has already written a book on the Camden 28- John,,,John?..the curley haired Irishman- he reminded me of Dylan Thomas (also died of drink) .I ask her- does she have any signatures she can send me? would there be a recording of his cackling laughter- across a room- it haunts me- such a spirit!
......from a blurb on a panel discussion to take place at the U of Md. College Park on 9/15 /9 (part of a Peace Semester- Tim Robbins actors are coming to put on the play : The Trial of the C 9"- "More were involved in the planning and execution of the action taken on May 17, 1968 than just the Catonsville Nine. Joe Tropea moderates this discussion with Dean Pappas, Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham about how they aided in the planning of the Catonsville action. Explore the logistics of what went into that day - from how they made the napalm to what roles they each played in the action and why. As they look back, hear their reflections on the impact of their individual and group actions and if they feel they succeeded in what they set out to do. This panel is part of the Catonsville Nine Engagement Project.
George M writes to wonder whether Dean and Willa had any role in the C- 9 planning? Of course they did- G is feeling left out. No one is going to leave G out! I try to relieve G's anxieties.
I write the person in charge at U of Md to say "there was a wonderful production of Dan's play at ccbc at Catonsville. It is- like many trial plays- a very boring play unless you're into the issues THAT MUCH- the production at Catonsville had many photo and film montages in the back ground and a guitarist singing at times to boot. I often wondered if I wasn't just jealous that I hadn't written the Catonsville 9 play- but I had to say- everythime I saw it- the play is BOOORING- even to me who was there!!! It does not excite in any way- comes across dry and didactic- just HAS to be juiced up- added to some how- which the Catonsville production did. Dan had basically just transcribed the trial. I had to ask myself- isn't that what I'm doing w this memoir- is it in any way memorable- to any one other than me or a historian? I think Dan was hoping the play would be eductional- which it can be- altho persons who need to see it hardly ever do.
written earlier: Trial plays can be plenty boring. Fortunately, Carl Freundel has squeezed juice into Dan's wonderful but didactic play which was presented Nov. 15,6,7,8 at , of all placers- Catonsville Community College in Baltimore Co. Carl hs added a lot- he has the defendants sitting to stage left, the jurors- in cut out stencils- to stange right- and 3 large screens behind with the Judge in the middle screen- blown up like a Morc from Orc or Wizard of Oz- and wearing a mask. He is a giant head commenting on the action- mostly saying: we are not trying the history of civil rights or revolution in Guatamala. He manages quite a range of negative emotions in the eyes behind the mask. Turns out that the Judge is behind the stagfe in aroom with a monitor (this is the kind of thing that has to be done to brikng this dog to life!).
The play starts with the 9 coming in from the audience in regular clothes- then changing into the period dress and taking positions of action at the front of the stage in silhouette as the footage by WBAL tv of the actual burning takes place. The ignition of records by John Hogan goes up in a tremendous burst of fire from which all scatter.
The Judge, prosecution and defense attorney take off their masks at the end but the Judge puts his back on! Again- sort of thing needed to bring this to life!
When I go to these things the audience is commonly just a mutual admiration society- very masturbatory. The actual footage of the 9 is a different thing- and the production at Catonsville started off with that- the news footage brings it to life.
Liz wrote me to tell me she was withdrawing from the Panel at U of Md, 9/ 14-- having learned that George was going to be on it- as follows:
"I am delighted that George Mische will be a participant on the panel and in the conference call on Friday.
I am convinced that, with George involved, you have no need of my presence.
In fact, my presence - making for a total of 5 panelists - is too much.
I feel very deeply that one can totally destroy an evening by having too many "talking heads".
More, I feel that it is far more important that George be there than that I be there.
He was, after all, one of the planners and participants in the action. He served the time for it.
It works well for me from a lot of vantage points as well. I have a full retreat coming up on the weekend for which I am more than 1/2 responsible; we have 93 people signed up for it (in Bangor, PA). Preparing for both has proven to be a real stretch.
So please scratch me out. And best of luck with all your efforts there." this from Liz
I wrote her back that I always express my disagreement with George on the Plowshares stuff- and if he mouths any of it in public, I will try to voice my disagreement- he told me he didn't like my rewriting of the C- 9 Wikipedia entry because I mentioned the Plowshares as a continuation of the 9 type actions- he said I was presumptious and should check w those in the 9. I told him if he didn't like it to get on and edit Wikipedia himself. Dan and Phil Berrigan of the 9 were also in the Plowshares 8 my girl friend Cathy doesn't agree w pacifism- but me- I waver i waver between Christian pacifism and revolutionary marxism and I tell people- if you can solve this for me- please go ahead- I love the Plowshares stuff and I know Dan and Phil do too- dave
Liz writes me on 9/13/9- re origins of the C-9: What I recall hearing about the origins of the C-9 was that folks (like Mische) felt that the Baltimore 4
action was a good idea but that they (you) didn't do it right and it needed doing right. So he began organizing it. And did most if not all of the
scoping, etc. And was really really strong against the use of blood. I believe my source for this was George Mische. I believe that is how he put
it to the 5 of us he called to a meeting in NYC to invite our participation.I don't recall any other information I received about that. Hope this helps.
Thanks and blessings. Liz
.....in this society- the lack of rites of passage for males- glimmers of old archetypes in my life- I create my own rite of passage- prison- i choose the mentors- Walter, Phil, Jay; Leah as match maker for me and C-