Weather Women in Academia: Terror Teachers

In 1969, Weatherwomen Kathy Boudin and Eleanor Raskin collaborated on a book of legal advice for radical activists: The Bust Book: What To Do Till the Lawyer Comes. The answer, per their actions, was different: don’t let the police catch you in the first place.

Not long after the book’s release, the two women went into hiding and participated in the Weather Underground’s most bloody affairs. This included the bomb-making escapade that ended in the deaths of three of their colleagues in Greenwich Village (but thankfully not the hundreds of murders they were plotting), and, for Boudin, the Brinks armored car heist in 1981 that took the lives of two police officers and a security guard.

Eleanor Raskin was not charged in the Brinks massacre. But in one of the many stories that former members of the Weather Underground prefer not to discuss, police captured Raskin and her husband Jeff Jones in New York City just three days after the attack. At the time, Raskin and Jones had been on the run for more than a decade. Coincidence? Not likely.

Fast-forward to today. These former Weather Underground terrorists now share another distinction: they are both professors at law schools in New York State.

Raskin teaches at Albany Law School. Boudin is closer to the scene of their crimes: she has just been appointed Sheinberg Scholar in Residence at NYU Law School. Along with Bernardine Dohrn at Northwestern University School of Law, Kathleen Cleaver at Emory Law School, and Angela Davis’ “prison-industrial complex” activism as professor emeritus at UC Santa Cruz, nearly all the currently free women of the terrorist Left have entered the academic legal profession.

Having an ex-Weatherwoman in the law faculty lounge is an exciting academic accessory; having a former Black Panther is even better, and both are appealing enough to forego the usual tedious vetting of credentials.

Boudin is not even a lawyer.

Kathleen Cleaver has no real academic credentials, only a scattering of outdated agitprop with titles such as “Mobilizing for Mumia Abu Jamal in Paris,” and “The Antidemocratic Power of Whiteness.”

Clearly: even the competent among these criminals were hired because they are unrepentant terrorists. This is the one credential that matters. The candidate must have held a gun to someone’s head in a bank “expropriation,” or firebombed a policeman’s car or a judge’s house; second, they must be unrepentant.

The career trajectories of former Weathermen track heavily on this second point: those who regret their violent pasts have not thrived in academia.

What’s the point of hiring a terrorist if they want to wash the greasepaint off? Mark Rudd learned this lesson in recent years: He made the mistake of sounding mildly regretful about setting bombs in the 2003 documentary film Weather Underground, and he has been backpedaling wildly ever since. The more he denounces his former denunciation of violence, the shinier his academic star glows.