The Patriot Post® · An Interview With Larry Grathwohl (Part 1)
If your church’s new pastor had a long and well-known history of atheism, contradicting church doctrine, or fire-bombing churches, would you trust him to serve the church community in good faith, and to do everything in his power to uphold the church’s principles and practices? More to the point, would you continue to attend that church, and to take your children there?
If people dedicated to the complete destruction of the United States as a constitutional republic became power players in the public school establishment, would you expect them to build an education system that fostered and preserved the tenets of republican citizenship as understood by America’s founders? Would you continue to support the public schools, and send your children there?
For a hundred years, the main intellectual force behind America’s educational establishment has been John Dewey, a socialist and open critic of the Enlightenment, American individualism, and American constitutional government. What kind of education system should people have expected Dewey and his admirers to promote? Should anyone be surprised that the public school establishment built largely according to his theories has become an anti-American cesspool of collectivism, irrationalism, and immorality?
Today, the educational insanity has reached new heights. The public school establishment has devolved from following the wisdom of men who hoped to remodel America in a Marxist image to following men who have actively sought to instigate violent revolution. The church leadership, as it were, has devolved from atheists to fire-bombers.
Bill Ayers, a leader of the Weather Underground terrorist organization, became a “respected” professor of education – a teacher of teachers – and a leading theorist on early childhood education. If you are one of those who wish to remain blissfully in the fog about this fact or its implications, you had better stop reading now.
Larry Grathwohl is the military veteran who volunteered to infiltrate the Weather Underground as an FBI operative in 1969. He is probably best known for his firsthand account of a Weatherman meeting at which the organization’s leadership, including the future Professor Ayers, discussed the logistics of how, after the communist revolution they were trying to spearhead, they would murder the ten percent of the American population that would likely remain resistant to the communists’ re-education program.
Grathwohl has often been interviewed about that meeting, and his days among the Weather Underground (WU). The focus of those interviews used to be on the radicals and their terrorist operations. More recently, interviewers have turned to Grathwohl to help them highlight Barack Obama’s own radicalism, by reminding people of the true nature of the “guy in Obama’s neighborhood.”
Rather than retrace these (important) angles, I chose to tie Grathwohl’s knowledge of Ayers and the rest of the WU leadership to the issue of public education. Alarming as it is that the president of the United States has, and has carefully concealed, a personal association with a lifelong revolutionary communist, I believe even that pales in comparison with the mainstream influence and respectability that Ayers, and some of his old cohorts, have come to enjoy in the field of childhood education. A president with Marxist inclinations and attitudes is a great threat. Entire generations of children receiving their first years of moral and intellectual education at de facto Marxist re-education camps – that is a societal catastrophe.
Recently, I have been urging anyone who will listen to stop making excuses for allowing the government to continue controlling the education of their children, and to get any child under their influence out of the public education system now. Stop rationalizing inaction: modern public education, as the few intelligent, noble, suffering teachers in the system can tell you, is a Dewey-rigged atrocity, a forced-retardation machine. In America that machine is now, increasingly, being reprogrammed as a direct socialist indoctrination system. One of the leading programmers is Bill Ayers.
From my own interview experiences, I know that one often feels dissatisfied with one’s answers after the fact, and wishes one could go back and refine one’s statements. With this in mind, I conducted my interview with Larry Grathwohl in writing. I sent him my questions, in the order presented here, and he answered at his leisure. I trust you will find his responses as bracing and thought-provoking as I do.
Daren Jonescu: From your time among the WU, what was your understanding of the relationship between the group’s members and the Cuban DGI? Were they just basically admirers of Castro, or did the WU have some kind of genuine operational relationship with the DGI, KGB, or any such organization?
Larry Grathwohl: In my knowledge of the connections the WU maintained with the Cuban DGI and with other communist bloc countries, it was extensive. The WU created an organization called the Venceremos Brigade with the sole purpose of sending members of their underground cells to Cuba for training in the administrative functions of organizing a revolution, as well as being trained in the creation and the use of explosives. The Venceremos Brigade itself was composed of young students who were sent to Cuba under the guise of being there to help harvest sugarcane, but included were members of the WU whose reason for being there was to receive this specialized training from the DGI.
Additionally these trips to Cuba were utilized in order to maintain contacts with the North Vietnamese and other communist bloc countries. As an example Kathy Boudin traveled extensively through the Eastern Bloc countries of that time frame and also attended the University of Moscow.
At one time it was intended for me to travel to Cuba for this indoctrination and training; however I was able to convince the WU leadership that I didn’t require this kind of training being that I had been in the U.S. military. Therefore my name was taken off the list and someone else was sent in my place. I did have the opportunity to meet and discuss their experiences in Cuba with some of the individuals who were part of the first Venceremos Brigade.
This connection between the Cubans and the WU was so extensive that in the event that an individual lost contact they could go to a Cuban Embassy in Canada and simply tell them that they were (the first name didn’t matter) Delgado, which was a codename to be used to re-establish contact with the WU. I also know of at least one incident where Bill Ayers and Naomi Jaffe traveled to Canada to make contact with the Cubans in the Québec Liberation Front in order to obtain funds in the amount of at least $7-$10,000. They returned to Buffalo, New York after having been gone for a day and a half, with this money.
I have no direct knowledge of how involved the KGB was in directing the DGI and therefore the effect they may have had on the WU. However, it is my understanding from intelligence sources I have since come in contact with that the DGI was essentially run by the KGB. Again, I have no direct knowledge of this but it seems apparent from other information that I have seen and developed through the years that this was the relationship that existed between the Soviet Union and the Cubans.
DJ: Why exactly did the WU want to overthrow the U.S. government? In favor of what?
LG: Specifically the WU intended, as their ultimate goal, the total destruction of U.S. imperialism and of course our government. They intended to replace our current government with what they referred to as “democratic centralism.” They claimed that this was the current form of government of the Cuban islands and this was what they intended to establish here in the United States. Additionally they felt that certain portions of the United States would be occupied by third world countries after our destruction. They estimated that 100 million citizens of the United States would have to be re-educated after the revolution had succeeded.
DJ: How would you answer people who say, “Oh, back then all the young people talked that way. Kids do all kinds of crazy things that they regret later.”
LG: Yes, it is true that many people during that time spoke in extremely radical terms, especially regarding their government and what needed to take place in order to change what they saw as the evils of U.S. imperialism. Most of these groups, however, believed in a nonviolent means of achieving these goals and it was only the WU who felt that the only possible way of achieving this change was through violent revolution. There are many who were part of this movement during this period of time who feel that the WU had undermined their activities and ultimately destroyed any possibility of their success. This is one of the great criticisms that exists of the WU and their tactics during that period.
Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn among others claim today that they were merely an antiwar group but this is not the truth. In all of their writings and all of their political manifestoes they made it very clear that they were a violent revolutionary organization inside the belly of the beast, as they called it, and that their purpose was the destruction of the U.S. and what they called U.S. imperialism.
DJ: For many people, the hardest part about accepting the true motives of subversives like the WU is that when we see them on TV, or read their later writings, they often just seem relatively “normal.” It’s hard for people who think of “bad guys” in movie terms to accept that evil people really are “normal” for much of the day – they are human beings, after all, and therefore they do many of the same things we all do.
Please give me some insight into this issue: Did the WU, even during those violent early days, sometimes seem like relatively normal people? Could someone meeting them in a non-WU context see Bill Ayers or Mark Rudd as ordinary, or even likable?
LG: While there were some members of the WU that I took a personal liking to, I cannot say that of the individuals that I knew as members of the leadership collective. This would have included people like Bill Ayers, Mark Rudd, Bernardine Dohrn, Jeff Jones and others. These people were absolutely vicious in their dedication to overthrow the government by any means necessary, including the use of bombs and shrapnel in order to create the greatest injury and death to people they deemed as enemies. There were some who I knew as part of the operational personnel who were more to my liking and the difficulty surrounding these individuals was knowing that I was betraying them and their friendship as I continued to pass information to the FBI. So the answer to this question is yes there were some who were relatively normal and therefore likable, but this did not include the leadership which was extremely focused and intent upon destroying every remnant of democracy including innocent bystanders who might unfortunately be in the way.
DJ: The quote for which you are probably best known is your account of the WU leadership’s discussions of post-revolutionary “re-education camps in the southwest,” and of the likelihood that ten percent of the U.S. population, the “diehard capitalists,” would have to be killed. I would like to focus on the “re-education camps.” To the best of your knowledge, how did the WU conceive of these camps?
LG: [T]his conversation took place in Cleveland, Ohio, at a meeting for the organization to begin its underground activities, which included what they referred to as strategic sabotage. Of course this meant bombing symbols of our government as well as individuals whose positions were meant to protect and defend. The conversation involving the re-education camps and the elimination of approximately 25 million people began as a result of my inquiring as to what we (the WU) would do when and if our revolution succeeded and we were forced to deal with the everyday operations and logistics of running a country. There was very little interest in what would need to be done in order to feed, house, clothe and otherwise provide for the population. The main focus was what had to be done in order to protect themselves from what they construed as the counterrevolution which they expected to occur shortly after they had seized power. Because of this it would be necessary to establish re-education centers in the Southwest with the purpose of indoctrinating people into the new order and beliefs of their revolution. They estimated that 25% [of the camps’ 100 million occupants] or 25 million people would not be able to assimilate or accommodate this re-education and therefore would have to be eliminated. [T]hese individuals could be worked to death, starved to death or shot depending upon what works best for the revolution.
While I cannot remember everyone that attended this meeting, I do remember that Mark Rudd, Cathy Wilkerson, Bill Ayers, Linda Evans and other members of the leadership were present. The most remarkable thing that affected me at that time was the amount of education that these people had in comparison to myself and to the general population. Many had graduated with postgraduate degrees from some of the most prestigious universities in the country, and here they sat in a room on a cloudy afternoon seriously discussing not only the need but the means to eliminate 25 million people, with absolutely no pangs of conscience or hesitation.
Author’s Note: I conclude Part 1 by emphasizing one aspect of Grathwohl’s last point here. In noting their level of education, Grathwohl is reminding us of the WU leadership’s ages. Ayers and Gilbert turned 25 the year Weatherman was formed, Dohrn was 27, Boudin and Jaffe 26. In 1980, when Ayers and Dohrn finally surrendered to police – without apologies for their “underground” activities – they turned 36 and 38. The following year, Boudin and Gilbert, aged 38 and 37, participated in a murderous Brinks armored car robbery with members of the Black Liberation Army. The haze of distance is a convenience for those inclined to dismiss any relation between the WU’s “youthful” radicalism and their “mature” work in education and social justice – a convenient lie, that is.
To be continued in Part 2.
(This article originally appeared at American Thinker.)