My husband, Oleg Atbashian, was recently given a 24-hour deadline by Cliff Kincaid of America’s Survival to design a new book cover for the re-release of Bringing Down America: An FBI Informer with the Weathermen, a 1976 fact-based story by Larry Grathwohl.
Set in 1970, this riveting narrative chronicles one year of life on the lam with leaders of America’s most infamous domestic terrorist organization, as seen through the eyes of an FBI infiltrator posing as a radical communist. Prior to the publication, Larry Grathwohl testified before several federal Grand Juries, the U.S. Senate, and at the Mark Felt/Ed Miller FBI Trial. Today he is still an active participant in the national debate on issues related to national security and terrorism.
Kincaid’s project was urgent because of the upcoming (April 5, 2013) domestic release of Robert Redford’s motion picture, The Company You Keep, which negates Grathwohl’s documented testimony and engages in historical revisionism.
While the artistic qualities of Redford’s yet unreleased independent film are being challenged by even liberal critics, Variety magazine has already created sympathetic buzz with a barrage of articles, calling the movie an “unabashedly heartfelt but competent tribute to 1960s idealism,” adding that “[t]here is something undeniably compelling, perhaps even romantic, about America’s ’60s radicals and the compromises they did or didn’t make.”
Redford’s film is based on the eponymous 2004 novel by Neil Gordon, the literary editor of The Boston Review and a frequent book reviewer for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Predictably, Penguin Books has just reprinted his overt romantization of leftist terrorism as a movie tie-in, with a sexy new cover featuring Robert Redford himself.
According to the publisher, “Set against the rise and fall of the radical anti-war group the Weather Underground, The Company You Keep is a sweeping American saga about sacrifice, the righteousness of youth, and the tension between political ideals and family loyalties.”
The Los Angeles Times offers this mind-boggling editorial review:
The Company You Keep works as a thriller, but the adventures … are grounded firmly in larger political and moral issues, in this case the passionate conviction that the radical opposition in the ’60s to the Vietnam War represented the high point of American idealism, the best dream America ever had, a dream embodied in the 1962 Port Huron Statement of the Students for a Democratic Society (“antiwar, antiracism, and anti-imperialism”), a dream abandoned.
In reality, according to Larry Grathwohl, “[t]he Weather Underground was not anti-war; it was pro-war. In fact, it waged war on the United States, in close consultation with foreign enemies of the U.S. in such places as Hanoi and Havana.”
Notions like “sacrifice” and “ecstatic righteousness of youth” may sound admirable, but Grathwohl, who lived underground with the real characters, witnessed “a world of hatred, drugs, and free sex.” He saw, up close, a gang of thugs who admired the Manson killers, plotted bombings, murders, and political assassinations, and aimed to overthrow the constitutionally elected US government. There is nothing sacrificial about terrorists who shoot up a police station and boast, “Our lawyers will make fools of the pigs.”
At a 2009 “Justice for Victims of Terrorism” conference, Grathwohl recalled: “Bill went on to describe how Bernardine Dorhn, a Weather Underground central committee member and considered the leader of the Weather Underground, had to plan and commit the bombing of the Park Station in San Francisco. This bomb contained fence staples and was placed on a window ledge during a shift change ensuring the presence of the greatest number of police officers and the greatest possibility of death and injury. Several Police Officers were injured and one, Sergeant McDonnell, was killed by fence staples used in the bomb. He was in the hospital for two days before he succumbed to his injuries.”
Grathwohl’s book describes military training Weathermen received in Cuba with Russian weapons, and details how sympathetic professors helped set up Weathermen bases across American campuses. The author establishes a link between the Weatherman and Arab terrorists, exposing along the way America’s most radical network made up of lawyers, college professors, and members of left-wing clergy.
In a utopian vision of the new Weather society there was no place for the American family or dissenting opinion; all opposition was crushed and those who held power before the Revolution were executed. Their view of Cuba and Red China as models for a new America was downright chilling.
Weathermen also targeted high schools, which they saw as “prisons.” It is not a contradiction, however, that the most prominent of the erstwhile terrorists, Bill Ayers, later made a career in education. He simply continued to spread the same anti-American radical ideology by other means. By training teachers to indoctrinate American children, he exploded the country from within more efficiently than his homemade bombs ever could.
With the sitting U.S. President effectively starting his political career in Bill Ayers’ living room, the 40-year-old story of the Weather Underground and its radical ideology isn’t going away. Instead, it has moved to the very center of the currently ongoing battle for Americans’ hearts and minds.
Hence the release of Robert Redford’s film and Gordon’s revisionist novel on the side of the radical Left – opposed by the efforts of Cliff Kincaid and other liberty-loving, patriotic Americans to bring back Grathwohl’s true account of the events and the characters involved.
Among all the dismal realities of radical revolutions, perhaps the most important one barely gets mentioned: replacing the existing monetary system with the government distribution of goods and services. Money gives people the freedom to choose. Without it, free citizens become slaves to the state. While we still have the freedom that comes with money, let’s use it.
Don’t give Robert Redford any of your earnings. When Larry Grathwohl’s Bringing Down America is re-released, buy it, read it, give it to friends and family, and spread the word.
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