Robert Redford’s pro-Weathermen The Company You Keep is likely now playing at an “art theater” near you; as Kathy Shaidle writes in her take on the film, in its own way, Redford’s production charts how the Weathermen have gone from being on the lam, running from the Establishment, to becoming the Establishment themselves, yet another reminder of early Saturday Night Live writer Anne Beatts’ famous observation that you can only be avant-garde for so long before you become garde:
As I joked in 2012, that fictional premise is a stark contrast from the fates of all the real Weather Underground terrorists who now teach at major universities, hang out with the president, get lovingly profiled in The New York Times and elsewhere—do everything except disguise their identities and hide from the authorities.
Hell, they are the authorities.
Just a reminder: Unrepentant Weatherman bomber Bill “Kill Your Parents” Ayers is a highly respected “educator” and a longtime associate of Barack Obama; members of the Weather Underground and other Aquarian terrorists such as Ayers’s wife Bernardine Dohrn, Eleanor Raskin, and Kathleen Cleaver teach at various American law schools, even though not all of them have law degrees.
Weatherman co-founder Jeff Jones, who—don’t you hate when this happens?—”was unexpectedly caught up in a police sweep of individuals suspected of participating in the deadly robbery of an armored truck”—now runs a coalition of labor and environmentalist groups called the Apollo Alliance “and was responsible for drafting President Obama’s 2009 Recovery Act.”
I was going to type “write your own joke,” but then I stumbled upon this:
Addressing those in attendance [at the 1969 Chicago rally], Jones claimed to be the living embodiment of Marion Delgado, a Chicano boy who, at the age of 5, had placed a slab of concrete on a railroad track and derailed a passenger train in California 22 years earlier. Though Delgado had never intended to cause such a tragedy, Jones and his fellow leftists revered the boy’s act for its symbolic value….
Just as publicity for The Company You Keep was revving up, another convicted Weather Underground felon, Kathy Boudin, was appointed an adjunct professor of social work at Columbia University. Boudin served 22 years for her role in that 1981 Brinks truck robbery that left three dead, got Jeff Jones “unexpectedly caught up”—and which inspired the backstory of Redford’s new movie.
Surely not a few impeccably degreed and rap-sheet-free young graduates are wondering right about now, “Who do you have to blow up to get a job around here?”
Many of us forget that the Weather Underground bombing campaign was not a matter of a few isolated incidents. From September 1969 to May 1970, Rudd and his co-revolutionaries on the white radical left committed about 250 attacks, or almost one terrorist bombing a day (government estimates put that number much higher). During the summer of 1970, there were twenty bombings a week in California. The bombings were the backbeat to the symphony of violence, much of it rhetorical, that set the score for the New Left in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Rudd captured the tone perfectly: “It’s a wonderful feeling to hit a pig. It must be a really wonderful feeling to kill a pig or blow up a building.” [Mark Rudd is now is now “a math teacher at a community college in Albuquerque, New Mexico,” Jonah adds elsewhere — Ed] “The real division is not between people who support bombings and people who don’t,” explained a secret member of a “bombing collective,” but “between people who will do them and people who are too hung up on their own privileges and security to take those risks.”
Ultimately, the notion that “The Weathermen were fighting for peace” is just one of “The 4 Most Outrageous Lies in Robert Redford’s New Pro-Terrorist Movie,” John Boot writes at the PJ Lifestyle blog:
The Company You Keep begins with a montage of real news clips (and a fake one) edited together to tell the story that the Weather Underground grew out of the antiwar group Students for a Democratic Society and that its activities were meant to end the Vietnam War by “bringing the war home.” Nonsense. The Weathermen loved war and wanted more of it. They were a murderous group of Black Power and Marxist revolutionaries bent on the violent overthrow of the United States. After the 1970 accidental explosion that killed several terrorists who blew themselves up with their own bombs in a downtown New York City townhouse, the true intent of the bombs was revealed: They were meant to be used to blow up a library on the campus of Columbia University. Not exactly a military target.
Naturally, Rolling Stone gives Redford’s film three out of four stars. You younger readers might not remember this, but there was a time when the magazine praised songs seeking non-violent solutions to problems such as “Give Peace a Chance.”* But that was before Rolling Stone became The Establishment themselves.
* That were often written by people who’d rather you forget that they supported some rather blood-thirsty causes themselves, of course.