Are the Black Panthers Part of the "Bad Sixties"?





Mr. Self teaches history at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

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The Black Panther Party never fails to stir both interest and controversy, even decades after its hey day. Brilliant revolutionaries or notorious thugs? A generation's best or worst? The arguments tend to sort into such unhelpful opposites. Indeed, the objective of a recent conference on the Panthers at Wheelock College, titled "The Black Panther Party in Historical Perspective," was to nudge the historical conversation beyond simplistic either/or judgments. The more than 40 papers featured at the conference, coupled with half a dozen books in progress that touch on parts of the group's history, represent an exciting new wave of 1960s scholarship.

The conference came at an opportune time for evaluating not just the legacy of the Panthers but the broader politics and activism of the 1960s and 1970s. We tend to see figures like Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver, as well as the Panthers as a whole, through an entirely moral lens. Were they idealistic inheritors of the civil rights legacy of leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.? Or were they cynical street operators who exploited their popularity for material gain? We want the Panthers, like we want the sixties generally, to yield to absolute judgments of "good" or "bad."

The "good sixties" and the "bad sixties" have been contending in the nation's cultural politics for a long time. How we remember figures like John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Stokely Carmichael, for instance, speaks volumes about how we position ourselves in the present. We fight over things like whether President Clinton inhaled, whether antiwar activists supported the troops in Vietnam, and whether the Panthers were "thugs" because we have never stopped seeking both penance and redemption in this most complex of decades. It is inevitable, and not necessarily wrong, to draw from the past to make sense of the present. But our understandable drive to distill lessons from the 1960s has rendered that period a flat, ersatz Forest Gump-like world of easy moralizing.

History is far more than a game of looking backward and choosing winners and losers, heroes and villains. Would it were that simple. The Black Panther Party was an extraordinarily complicated organization, with chapters in more than two dozen cities by the late 1960s. In the early 1970s, party members were feeding poor children free breakfasts from Oakland to Milwaukee, Los Angeles to New Haven. They revived the national struggle against police brutality, largely dormant since the 1940s. The Party's Ten Point Platform went around the world as a model for the liberation of oppressed people. Their local social programs helped to educate African Americans about sickle cell anemia, and their liberation schools provided an early model of black studies. All of these things were creative, pioneering, audacious.

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At the same time, many of the party's leaders, perhaps especially but not solely Newton, emerged from a world of street violence they could neither abandon nor contain, especially under the strain of constant police and FBI persecution. Any sincere historical inquiry into the life and legacy of the party must not blanche in the face of this reality. The Party's infamous shoot-out with Ron Karenga's cultural nationalist group US on the UCLA campus in 1969 was destructive and ill-timed. Newton's various illegal activities and his well-known megalomania weakened the party. And the party's internal culture of male supremacy was at times deplorable. However, to foreclose any discussion of the party's contribution to African Americans, to the nation, and to the long history of civil rights and black liberation politics solely because of these failings is willfully to don historical blinders.

The Panthers inspired a generation of black intellectuals and organizers, men and woman who were among the most talented activists of their day. They also inspired, and often drew into their milieu, young toughs whose revolutionary diction was weaker than their street instinct. Both were there, side by side. But it is as intellectually dishonest to dismiss the Panthers because of some shady characters as it is to dismiss the labor movement because of Jimmy Hoffa. If we can't take on the complexity of our past, we are ill-prepared to learn from it and even less equipped to make critical judgments in the future.

Let's be honest. One of the reasons that most white Americans, and not a few black ones, are eager to minimize the importance of the Panthers is race. White Americans sought redemption by participating in the civil rights movement. When organizations emerged that did not offer such redemption, whites by and large lost interest and abandoned the movement. The Panthers' mixture of black liberation, anticolonial solidarity, and anticapitalist rhetoric was too provocative an alchemy to attract the mainstream. Many white Americans today cringe at images of Panther radical chic, but many African Americans embrace the party's example of dignity, self-possession, discipline, and intellectual rigor.

If we sidestep the difficult task of assessing a group like the Panthers in their full context, we reproduce the starkest polarizations of the 1960s and 1970s. That is not historical inquiry. It is raw cultural politics. Today, those who would destroy the Panther legacy without taking the party seriously - and, consequently, not taking the Civil Rights movement itself seriously - play on the same racist stereotypes that have been used for decades to discredit black activism and organizing.

There is an even deeper reason to take the Panthers seriously. They spoke the truth about the state of the nation's cities in the 1970s. Between 1972 and 1975, the party ran a series of campaigns for public office in Oakland. In those campaigns, Bobby Seale and Elaine Brown stumped as grassroots politicians on an agenda of urban reform. They pointed to the glaring contradictions at the heart of the urban crisis: rich suburban communities, poor urban ones; good suburban schools, struggling urban ones; mounting black poverty in an era of affluence. Indeed, much of their critique of the Bay Area foreshadowed the statewide debate over Proposition 13 in 1978. The Party made itself relevant to the most important socio-political conversations of the day in California.

To take the Black Panther Party seriously is to take history seriously and ultimately to take ourselves and the process of unbiased historical research seriously. We need not reflexively romanticize or condemn the Panthers in order to understand them. The party is rightly taken to task for its excessive machismo and its inability to shed association with criminal activity. Those are traits any progressive organization would strive to move beyond. But the party also modeled a profound humanism and racial pride and an optimistic, and deeply American, example of democratic community organizing and empowerment. I, for one, hope we can keep and cherish that legacy.

Related Links

  • Rick DelVecchio, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, about new interpretations of the Black Panthers.

  • Kate Coleman, writing in the LA Times about Black Panther revisionism..

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    More Comments:


    cicero - 8/12/2003

    Like it or not,the BPP addressed important social issues.They were young,articulate men and women with an agenda to publicize concerns in the black communities of America.To write them off as thugs and radicals is just as wrong now as the government was back then for not sitting down and listening to the voices of those American citizens.


    Thomas West - 7/29/2003

    In an on-line essay of July 14, 2003, for the History News Network [http://hnn.us/articles/1561.html], Robert Self argues for an objective appraisal of the Black Panthers that will define their virtues as well as their violence. David Horowitz in response [http://hnn.us/comments/15114.html] emphasizes the criminality of the Panthers and likens their defense to the efforts to explain away the crimes of Stalinism. Self himself catalogues some of the violence of the Panthers, along with the male swagger with which they treated their women, and Horowitz adds their practice of torturing supposed police informers. Self does an admirable job of insisting that the Panthers be seen as a whole: who can deny that historians should account for as large a range of facts as possible? Horowitz is right to treat violence as something at the root of the Panther style and creed. But neither Self nor Horowitz addresses the essential ideological point: that the Panthers contributed to an exaltation of racial separateness, and to that extent, to an ideology of identity by group.
    The claim to some distinctive place by blood or ethnicity is probably too tempting ever to disappear. Variants occur on the right, on the left, and in far corners of political advocacy. Zionism bestowed on Jewish settlers a right to Palestinian land superior to the right of Arabs born on it; and if any of today's neoconservative opponents of identity politics have had a bad word to say of that, it is my misfortune not to have come across it. Much of Palestinian radicalism makes an equal claim to entitlement by old blood or culture. In myriad forms, nationalism and xenophobia do the same thing. Diversity is the persuasion of the day justifying identity by race. For a moment, SNCC and CORE and their allies looked beyond this kind of thinking. The Panthers and the later SNCC, and in milder form the incipient self-ghettoizing of special campus programs in race and gender, reveal in their retreat to enclave mentality the gallant hopelessness of the civil rights movement.
    Maybe it is precisely the hopelessness that made the movement gallant. Then what the black race-mongers did, with the acquiescence of liberals, was simply a practical return to human nature in its indolent dependence on self-identity at second hand. So be it. But accommodation should be merely understood, not celebrated.



    Thomas West
    Catholic University
    Department of History (retired)


    Thomas West - 7/29/2003

    In an on-line essay of July 14, 2003, for the History News Network [http://hnn.us/articles/1561.html], Robert Self argues for an objective appraisal of the Black Panthers that will define their virtues as well as their violence. David Horowitz in response [http://hnn.us/comments/15114.html] emphasizes the criminality of the Panthers and likens their defense to the efforts to explain away the crimes of Stalinism. Self himself catalogues some of the violence of the Panthers, along with the male swagger with which they treated their women, and Horowitz adds their practice of torturing supposed police informers. Self does an admirable job of insisting that the Panthers be seen as a whole: who can deny that historians should account for as large a range of facts as possible? Horowitz is right to treat violence as something at the root of the Panther style and creed. But neither Self nor Horowitz addresses the essential ideological point: that the Panthers contributed to an exaltation of racial separateness, and to that extent, to an ideology of identity by group.
    The claim to some distinctive place by blood or ethnicity is probably too tempting ever to disappear. Variants occur on the right, on the left, and in far corners of political advocacy. Zionism bestowed on Jewish settlers a right to Palestinian land superior to the right of Arabs born on it; and if any of today’s neoconservative opponents of identity politics have had a bad word to say of that, it is my misfortune not to have come across it. Much of Palestinian radicalism makes an equal claim to entitlement by old blood or culture. In myriad forms, nationalism and xenophobia do the same thing. Diversity is the persuasion of the day justifying identity by race. For a moment, SNCC and CORE and their allies looked beyond this kind of thinking. The Panthers and the later SNCC, and in milder form the incipient self-ghettoizing of special campus programs in race and gender, reveal in their retreat to enclave mentality the gallant hopelessness of the civil rights movement.
    Maybe it is precisely the hopelessness that made the movement gallant. Then what the black race-mongers did, with the acquiescence of liberals, was simply a practical return to human nature in its indolent dependence on self-identity at second hand. So be it. But accommodation should be merely understood, not celebrated.

    Thomas West
    Catholic University
    Department of History (retired)


    Josh Greenland - 7/24/2003

    "I give you the benefit of the doubt, in reflection, and must apologize. I thought your post was a sarcastic response to Mr. Horowitz, as Mr. Horowitz is often a lightening rod for sarcastic responses."

    Well thank you, Herodotus, I appreciate that. I'm not big on ambiguous sarcasm. I don't think much of Horowitz, and I have no doubt that he'd be happy to have people believe that Cointelpro or other government provoked violence was perpetrated by the Left, but my question was a serious one.

    One incident in particular bugs me. The Black Panthers showed up at the California Statehouse with a lot of guns, and via this antic got open carry of firearms banned in all Calif. counties except those with under 200,000 population. I've wondered if police or fed provocateurs were involved in that Panther action, with the intention of getting the open carry ban passed.

    "But it seems to me that it would be misplaced to think that a significant percentage of the actions like those of the Weather Underground or the Black Panthers actually came from provocateurs."

    Why? I don't know enough about the Weather Underground to say anything about a claim that they may have been, or may have contained, a provocateur operation. The Panthers were certainly infiltrated. I wasn't implying it in my first post, but I don't see why a significant percentage of Weather Underground or Black Panther type violence couldn't have been government provocations. I don't know the actuality, but the possibility seems viable to me.


    Herodotus - 7/20/2003

    I give you the benefit of the doubt, in reflection, and must apologize. I thought your post was a sarcastic response to Mr. Horowitz, as Mr. Horowitz is often a lightening rod for sarcastic responses.

    I certainly wouldn't dispute the fact that there were government informants within these groups, some who attempted to provoke criminal activities (it is a practice that has continued, sadly, to this day in some circles). But it seems to me that it would be misplaced to think that a significant percentage of the actions like those of the Weather Underground or the Black Panthers actually came from provocateurs.


    Shannon - 7/19/2003

    Josh,

    For our Government to spend two million dollars of taxpayer money to study the far left fringe of American society is irresponsible. I would think that logic would dictate that if Liberals care so much for this disenfranchised group, they would look to the private sector to raise money to 'study' them. I believe that the majority of American's would rather see their tax dollars go to something more fiscally responsible which provides for the betterment of the Country as a whole, such as disaster relief for families who have lost everything they own due to catastrophic events which were out of their control. Liberals applaud Government spending when it suits their own extremist agenda. Give me valid and reasonable arguments for spending tax money on the study of the sexual antics of Gay Indians and Asian Prostitutes. The majority of American's see this as yet another example of Liberal fiscal and social irresponsibility. It's these kind of examples which push the Democrat party further into the rhealm of extremism and out of the rhealm of reality. Which, ironically enough, puts us right back into the absurdity of why the left would consider the Black Panthers to be of any socially redeemable value and worthy of any intellectual discussion outside of the fact they were criminals.


    NYGuy - 7/19/2003

    Ralph,

    Actions speak louder than words.

    But since Byrd is the new spokesman for the democrats I guess he has to be defended and forgiven. Isn't that the christian thing to do, according to Bill's defendants. I guess the distinction is there were good KKK and bad KKK. All depends on your point of view.


    Seems a lot of phony democrats gave Strom great praise while HNN remembered him with a racist article about 4% of his life and then in embarrassnet removed the article from the site.

    So much for decency, professionalism and fairness and the study of history.

    Of course I am sure HNN will have a praiseworthy rememberance of Byrd since he is such an important historical figure and a great pork barrel politician. And, of course a historical figure in the senate. No so with Strum.

    One does not have to defend Strum to make a point of the bias and bigotry of others.


    Josh Greenland - 7/19/2003

    Actually, I think I'd rather analyze what it is within the psyche of conservatives that makes them work against the rights of gay people, indians and asians and inveigh against prostitutes while patronizing them as lustily as everyone else does.


    Josh Greenland - 7/19/2003

    Herodotus, you disappoint me.

    I didn't think you indulged in games like straw man argumentation. However, you said, "How foolish and narrow minded to jump immediately to the conclusion that the violence on the left was the work principally of government provocateurs."

    If you were actually responding to my post, then please feel free to quote from it to show where I jumped to any conclusion.


    Ralph E. Luker - 7/19/2003

    Sorry, NYG, but Strom Thurman never apologized for a thing. You made it up.


    NYGuy - 7/19/2003

    Kritz,

    What a phony. You right that the bigot Byrd reformed.

    "I would reply that Byrd has indeed apologized multiple times in multiple forums (i.e. in speeches, on his website, etc.) for the three months he spent in this hideous organization SIXTY YEARS AGO! Senator Byrd's legislative legacy and record of helping America so outshines Dubya's dismal record, not to mention the two other bigots you mentioned, as to make your posting comical."

    He was not half the man Thurman was who also apoligized and change his life but the Democrats and HNN have refused to honor a great war hero. Meanwhile, Byrd pocketed everything that was not nailed down. But, I can see why he would be your hero. The man is unprincipaled and recently just reverted to his ole slave master mentality in his recent movie appearance. You can take the man out of the slave market, but you can't take the slavemarket out of the man.

    You think Byrd is someone to look up and defend. Says a lot about your.


    Herodotus - 7/18/2003

    You're still ducking the whole FreeRepublic/Tim McVeigh thing.


    Stephen Kriz - 7/18/2003


    Backsight Forethought (or whatever silly and pointless nom de plume you care to use):

    I have to say that the posting you had the ungraciousness to deposit on this board is the most smug, disjointed, irrational and utterly pointless pile of guano I have ever had the misfortune of trying to decipher. You make no coherent argument, your writing is nearly incomprehensible and the points you are attempting to make are so obtuse that I hesitate to waste my time typing a rebuttal.

    My point, not that it is worth arguing with someone like you, is that Kaczynski was not a liberal, as the rabid right tries to assert without any support, but by all indications leaned more towards the ideological right, despite (or perhaps because of) his Luddite orientation.

    Your assertion about Bush apologizing causes me to respond, "When, where and for what?" I have never heard that shameless piece of ambulatory sewage apologize for anything! If he has, please give me references, dates and context. I assume your obtuse reference to "Mr. Byrd" refers to Senator Robert Byrd and I further assume that you are making some sort of tangential reference to his brief membership in the KKK in the 1940's. If this is what you are referring to (another talking point from the Limbaugh/NewsMax propaganda files), I would reply that Byrd has indeed apologized multiple times in multiple forums (i.e. in speeches, on his website, etc.) for the three months he spent in this hideous organization SIXTY YEARS AGO! Senator Byrd's legislative legacy and record of helping America so outshines Dubya's dismal record, not to mention the two other bigots you mentioned, as to make your posting comical.

    Sir, or is it Madam, your writing is so bad and your points so far off the mark that I suggest you do yourself a favor and don't post here any more and save yourself a lot of embarassment.

    Regards,

    Stephen Kriz


    Backsight Forethought - 7/18/2003

    If you expected the "canned" responses, perhaps you should have dealt with these factors in your original post. Perhaps not.

    Your response re: McVeigh is a shallow defense. You wrote, "Timothy McVeigh, a disgruntled conservative and Gulf War veteran who frequented the FreeRepublic website killed 169 innocent people in Oklahoma City", not "who, while imprisoned after his conviction and death sentence, was permitted by the authorities to frequent the FreeRepublic website...". A study in tenses might be in order.

    As for the "Kaczynski Crewcut" factor, I am at a loss. I have worn a crew cut, or something shorter since meeting Mr. Army Barber back in the dark, evil days of Reagan. I also have carried a briefcase from time to time, not in the 1960s however. I have been called shy or reserved. Strangely though, I have never mailed an explosive device to a University. I fit all the criteria, with the exception of the 1960s. How to explain this? Help me with this conundrum ?? With my hair I should bomb, but whom ? How, with my briefcase? Yet I thought the 1960s were a time of "peace" and "love"... Oh the humanity...

    In any regards, if you have not heard Conservatives disown and damn McVeigh than you have not been listening. Perhaps they have stopped since his execution, but once a rabid dog is down, one goes on. Nobody carries on about McVeigh on the right the way the left handles "MUMMIA!!!", or the Rosenbergs.

    I have also heard Mr. Bush apoligize, also Mr. Lott, Mr. Thurmond, etc. They've apolgized longer, for less, than Mr. Byrd, who ought to be run out on a rail.

    I don't understand the Limbaugh reference. Find something worthwile or interesting to say and someone will hire you to talk for 3 hours. I think you would get as tiresome as Limbaugh though, and a lot quicker. So a right winger is worth $15 million a year on the radio, what do the 3 nightly anchors pull in?? Give some, take some. Simple as that.

    Maybe the old adage is true, "only the worm never hears the bird", or something like that.

    Warmest regards.


    Herodotus - 7/18/2003

    How foolish and narrow minded to jump immediately to the conclusion that the violence on the left was the work principally of government provocateurs. Try giving that answer in a generals examination as to the sources of 60s radicalism...it was all the work of Hoover's FBI!


    Shannon - 7/17/2003

    Rather than than pontificate over the social impact the Black Panthers had on the people they terrorized over 30 years ago, I think I'd rather analyze what it is within the psyche of liberals that makes them want to spend tax payer money for scientific research on gay indians and asian prostitutes.


    Herodotus - 7/17/2003

    I like how Kriz can argue in nearly the same breath that President Bush is an idiot and the world's cleverest fascist.

    It makes me wonder what the apparent intelligence of everyone else in the world is supposed to be.


    Stephen Kriz - 7/17/2003


    Not that it makes a whit of a difference, but McVeigh was a FreeRepublic user while in prison. My point still stands that McVeigh was a conservative, not a liberal.

    I expected (and got) the canned answers from the right-wingers, namely that (1) Ted Kaczynski (a/k/a the Unabomber) was a liberal, and (2) What about the Earth Liberation Front? Both come right out of the Rush Limbaugh Talking Points Manual for Brainwashed Conservatives.

    To which I respond: (1) Kaczynski wore a crewcut and carried a briefcase while at the University of Michigan when he was a student there in the 1960's and later when he taught at Berkeley. By all accounts, he was apolitical, but those who knew him from college characterized him as very shy and conservative. Given that some of his victims were college professors, further discredits the hypothesis that he was a "liberal". (2) How many people have the ELF killed? None that I am aware of. I am a leftist and I completely reject their violent means. They are anomalous and do a huge disservice to both their own cause and to the left in general. I have yet to hear a conservative reject McVeigh and his views and means. But this is consistent with an observation I have posted here before, which is: Being a conservative means never admitting you are wrong or saying you are sorry. Our bird-brained president is Exhibit #1.


    Shannon - 7/16/2003

    Why is it that it's always the Liberals who have the most violent responses in a debate? Mr. Kriz, I suggest you take a more intellectual approach to rebute Mr. Horowitz, your posting left me with a really bad taste in my mouth. Once I got past the first paragragh I found my self skipping through your post. I'm sure we could get into nice game of 'My Party's Criminals Are Better than Your Party's Criminals', but the fact remains that Conservatives don't protect and defend their criminals. Isn't McVeigh dead, and aren't Bernadine Dorhn and her partner in terror Bill Ayer's very much alive, free to teach and lecture to our children? Aren't they touted by Liberals as being "Forever Rad"? They were terrorists. They plotted bombing and murder of innocent people. Yet they are, 'forever rad'... go figure.


    Backsight Forethought - 7/16/2003

    Excellent point on McVeigh. Others come to mind as well. How about that rabid conservative known as the Unabomber, his manifesto was right out of the Heritage Foundation playbook. As far as conservative Islamists with "balls", would that include the fellow who shot up the El Al counter in California ?? Maybe the one who shot the two Federal Agents while they sat in their car at a red light in Maryland (or was it Virginia?). Or how about the burning of Freddie's Fashion Mart in NY, encouraged by that paragon of virtue, the conservative Al Sharpton, a current Democrat running for Pres.


    Herodotus - 7/16/2003

    Ah, the Hitler apologist returns.

    I've become curious about these repeated references to this freerepublic website you mentioned, so i did a bit of poking around to see what it was. A weird site.

    It seems that it was set up in 1996.

    Could you explain how Timothy McVeigh was a member of it when he blew up the Murrah Federal Building in 1995?

    As for your assertion that it's only right wing conservatives who pose a threat, could you explain where the Earth Liberation Front, an organization listed as a terrorist organization by the government, fits in?


    Josh Greenland - 7/15/2003

    I wonder how many of those acts of violence and murder were committed by government agents who'd infiltrated the Black Panther Party? Cointelpro was operating against the BPP, that's well know.


    Christopher Scott - 7/14/2003

    I'll agree with Mr. Horowitz on a blandly general level by saying that historical events are not immune from the moral judgments made upon them. But I do think that Robert Self is fundamentally correct by pointing out that the general historical memory (or meta-narrative) of the Black Panther Party is incomplete. Even more importantly, my take on judgments of the BPP, from what I've read and heard so far, usually stem from an individual's relation to it. Most opinions I've heard are from people who were alive when its most notorious events occurred. That level of proximity and subjectivity seems ill-prepared to render an accurate assessment of its place within larger worldviews. Yet proper scholarship would not wait for all contemporaries to pass away to be written. Instead, the views of the Panthers' insiders as well as its detractors, indivduals both helped and harmed by it, and perhaps most importantly the historical judgment that accrues from events occurring with the passage of time all should play a role. This is all a roundabout way of saying that Self is correct in that current scholarship on the movement is incomplete. Whether or not historical judgment changes from further analysis should not deter historians from continuing to probe the ether in the search for historical accuracy.


    Stephen Kriz - 7/14/2003

    Much as it pains me, I have to agree with David Howoritz, that the Black Panthers were a violent group in the 1960's and early 1970's and at that point in history, posed a threat to our liberties. However, for the better part of 30 years, the Panthers have been primarily a political group and have posed little danger to the public at large.

    However, today it is violent conservatives that constitute the greatest danger to our Republic and to the world at large. The two most murderous acts of terrorism in American history, after all, were committed by conservatives. Timothy McVeigh, a disgruntled conservative and Gulf War veteran who frequented the FreeRepublic website killed 169 innocent people in Oklahoma City in 1995 and was an ardent American conservatives. The 19 hijackers who crashed planes into the WTC, Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11th, 2001 were Muslim fundamentalist conservatives, who were horrified at the decadence of American culture. I see little difference between them, and say, Jerry Falwell. (Although the Wahhabis have more balls than the sniveling coward Falwell.)

    From Francisco Duran, who unloaded an assault rifle into the White House on 1994 after listening to Rush Limbaugh's radio program to Russell Weston, another right-wing nutball who carried a gun into the Capitol in 1998 and killed two security guards, it is the gun-loving right-wingers who are leaving a trail of blood and death behind them into history.

    Let's also not forget Frank Corder, who foreshadowed the WTC attacks by almost 10 years when he tried to crash a small Cessna into the White House on Sept. 13, 1994. Corder was a wigged-out conservative who hated Bill Clinton. Or Eric Rudolph, the recently captured survivalist, who bombed several women's health clinics in the 1990's in the twisted belief that taking adult lives was somehow less egregious than taking the life of a fetus. These right-wingers are sick perverts whose loopy view of morality justifies (in their minds anyway), the taking of innocent life. Include Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz in that group while you are at it.

    No, Davey boy, it is not the liberals in this country who are the clear and present danger - it is sick, twisted conservatives like yourself!


    david horowitz - 7/14/2003

    The article by Robert Self reflects the travesty of so-called academic scholarship in many areas of the university today, particularly studies favored by the academic left. The conference referred to was a celebration of the Panthers by acoyltes, idolators and the credulous. The Black Panthers were not "associated" with criminals as Self suggests, they were criminals. This is not a matter of controversy between credible scholars. It is a fact. The infamous New Haven trial of Panther leaders for the torture and murder of Alex Rackley all by itself establishes this, since nobody inside the Panther organization or arguing for the Panther organization denied (or has since denied) that torture of alleged police informers was a Panther practice. In 1970 Edward Jay Epstein wrote an investigative article for the New Yorker and reviewed (if memory serves)348 felony charges against Panthers for crimes ranging from wife-beating to armed robbery. Kate Coleman, Hugh Pearson and I have written about the beatings, the drug dealing and the murder in particular of Betty Van Patter -- although there were roughly a dozen murders that can be traced to the Panthers. All of these crimes were committed by Panther leaders using the apparatus of the party for their deeds. Neither Coleman nor Pearson nor myself were included in this conference, nor was any paper on these subjects discussed at the conference.

    In the Communist era there were legions of intellectuals who devoted their intelligence to covering up and denying the crimes of Stalin. There is really no difference here except in the scale.

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