When I was a college radical and anti-war activist forty years ago, I was quite the intellectual and (in my estimation) cautious and sober. Though I became an editor and then co-editor of the leading radical magazine of the Sixties, Ramparts, I never threw a rock during the entire era. I never joined a radical sect and never went to Communist Cuba or North Vietnam, which were then the meccas of the radical faith. Although I was a founder of an organization called the “Vietnam Solidarity Campaign,” I never fooled myself that the Communist state that would result from an American defeat would be a “rice roots democracy,” the way Tom Hayden and other leaders of the “New Left” movement proclaimed.
Nonetheless, before the era was over, I was lured by my desire to do humanitarian good and to further the cause of social justice into working with the Black Panthers, a group of radical gangsters who in 1974 murdered a friend of mine (the mother of three children) and a dozen other individuals besides. The project I had become involved in with the Panthers was building an elementary school.
From the vantage of the political and cultural left, my activities with the Black Panthers were neither marginal or extreme. At the time, the Panthers were icons of the progressive intellectuals, symbolizing strong black leaders who were standing up for their “oppressed” community. The entire liberal culture supported them. Leading cultural figures like Garry Wills and Murray Kempton were writing praises of the Panthers in the New York Times Sunday magazine Kempton even compared their leader Huey Newton to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther in the Times’ august pages. To this day The New York Times, The Washington Post and other pillars of the American political culture, celebrate the Panthers – the murderers of my friend and a dozen others – as icons of the “social struggle.”
Fortunately, the Panthers disintegrated in the early Seventies, dragged down by their criminal activities, internecine battles and the sordid brutality of their leaders, Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver. Before he died, Cleaver told a Sixty Minutes audience, “If people had listened to Huey Newton and me in the Sixties, there would have been a holocaust in this country.” Many radicals, among them Cleaver’s most prominent promoter – Los Angles Times columnist Robert Scheer — looked forward to that holocaust and actively encouraged it. The Panthers were the “noble savages” of liberal compassion, symbols of the injustice that America was said to be inflicting on American blacks.
What would have happened if the Panthers had remained intact to the present? What if they had been the arm of an international terror network whose goal was the destruction of the United States? There are such groups in America today. They are radical groups who identify with the violent jihad of Islamacist terror organizations like al-Qaeda, Hizbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas. And they have the support of a radical culture that regards America as the Great Satan, and Muslims and Arabs as the people whom America oppresses.
On campuses across this country, embedded in the leadership of every radical “anti-war” protest group, are organizations that promote the culture of Islamic terrorism and its anti-Western, anti-Israeli and anti-American agendas. One that will serve as an example for the others is the radical Muslim Student Association (MSA). The Muslim Student Association is an organization financed by the Saudis and also by student funds at every university where it operates. The ideas and enthusiasms that it promotes among impressionable college students should give every American cause for concern.