The Weather Underground

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The 2008 U.S. presidential election brought the issue of domestic terrorism to national attention when it was reported that then-candidate Barack Obama was professionally linked to William “Bill” Ayers, co-founder of the Weather Underground. The Weather Underground was a militant faction of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a national organization representing the New Left on college campuses. The American public was forced to confront the actions of the Weathermen, as they were known, and decide whether or not these former terrorists could be accepted as members of society. Although 60 percent of voters said that it was not a valid campaign issue in an ABC poll, another 37 percent felt that it was. The Weathermen are unarguably an interesting lot, and a subculture worth exploring. At the time of their founding in the early 1960s, the SDS was a group that advocated nonviolence and followed the ethos of the civil disobedience. By 1969, the SDS had over 100,000 members, and was a leading anti-war group. At its peak, infighting severely fragmented the group during their 1969 convention. In the midst of the infighting, a sect that called themselves the Weathermen took control. They got their name from a Bob Dylan lyric, “You don’t need to know a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” They were a group of college students that were keeping up to date with the revolutions in 3rd world countries, and believed that a world revolution was imminent. Bernardine Dohrn, a former leader and cofounder of the Weathermen, said that “White youth must choose sides now. We must either fight on the side of the oppressed, or be the oppressor.” She believed that the Weathermen should join forces with the Black Panthers, but a prominent member said that he viewed the Weather Underground as a “kindergarten revolution,” and didn’t take them seriously. In the same year, several hundred Weathermen moved into houses, which they called “collectives,” in lower income areas...
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