[Marxism] The NYT Oglesby obit

Ethan Young ethanyoung at earthlink.net
Fri Sep 16 14:57:51 MDT 2011

The NYT obit for Carl Oglesby leads with a lie. Oglesby was never “expelled from SDS,” by Weatherman or anyone else.

Carl Davidson, like Oglesby a former national officer of SDS, recalls on the leftist_trainspotters list:

“He was openly criticized at the Austin NC (the last one worthy of the name) as a liberal and not 'anti-imperialist' enough. But he was never expelled.”

So where did the NYT obit writer get this (Gitlin?) – and why wasn’t it sourced – and why wasn’t it checked?

It was not unusual for SDS officers to get a nasty send-off, as the group grew more radical year by year. The artificial generation gap in SDS was exploited by PL in its rule-or-ruin efforts, which in 1969 succeeded in splitting the group.

But right up to the bitter end, there is no record of members being expelled as individuals. The LaRouchites were kicked out as a group in 1968-9 when they opposed the community control of schools movement in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn.

Contrary to the Times, 
-	Oglesby was long gone by the time Weatherman won a majority in the national leadership of the anti-PL fragment of SDS that walked out of the final June 1969 convention.

-	Neither SDS group dissolved in 1969. Both groups kept the name; Weatherman drove its opponents out and then dismantled the group and went underground in 1970-71. The PL group gave up the ghost shortly after.

-	Weatherman was not unique in its advocacy of violent revolution. Not only did the other major factions have the same position, but thousands of independent SDSers were also convinced, by the continued escalation of the Vietnam war and the federally sanctioned murder campaign against black activists, that a better society could only come with a violent overthrow of US imperialism.

Oglesby’s friends might guess how he would have liked being lumped into the “good” New Left in opposition to the later “bad” one as envisioned by Todd Gitlin.ey

More information about the Marxism mailing list