Cold War Very Much Alive In Obama's Hometown
Former Chicago politician and current President of the United States Barack Obama announced during his recent visit to Cuba that the end of the cold war is upon us.
The Chicago Tribune gushed about it:
Capping his remarkable visit to Cuba, President Barack Obama on Tuesday declared an end to the "last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas" and openly urged the Cuban people to pursue a more democratic future for this communist nation 90 miles from Miami.
An end of the cold war? Could it be true?
Not really. It’s an incredible statement for the president to make, particularly a president who hails from Chicago.
The reason is that the cold war not only still reverberates in Obama’s hometown, it thrives, taking on new and perverse forms every day.
To understand how the cold war still operates in Chicago, one has to go back to 1969. At that time, youths claiming they were furious over the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war turned violent.
They formed their own organizations and called for revolution, allying themselves with revolutionary Marxist regimes like Cuba, the Soviet Union, and North Vietnam. One such group was the Weather Underground, comprised of many members who hailed from Chicago, including Obama buddies Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. Another was the Black Panthers.
These two organizations often worked together, sharing a revolutionary sympathy. They were also tied together by a law firm sharing their revolutionary fervor, the People’s Law Office (PLO). The PLO was formed to represent the families of two Black Panthers killed during a shootout with the police and FBI in 1969. The PLO also aided Weather Underground members during the years they were on the run.
All three organizations, the Black Panthers, the Weather Underground and the PLO had strong ties to Marxism. In fact, members of both the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers frequently met with communist leaders and agents, as well as traveled to communist countries seeking support and advice. Members from these groups fled to these countries to avoid prosecution for their crimes in America.
It was the association of these groups with communist countries that compelled the CIA to create a unit that tracked their movements abroad and the influence of foreign, subversive communist countries upon their actions in the United States. Dubbed the MH/CHAOS program, the evidence obtained by this CIA program was chronicled in a book by a former CIA agent Frank J. Rafalko.
Rafalko’s book is an eye-opening account of these revolutionary movements that took shape in the late 1960s, as well as the character and intent of its most prolific leaders. The vast evidence cited in the book rips apart much of the politically correct mythology these groups have wrapped themselves in.
One myth Rafalko undermines is the claim that these organizations were not as violent as many on the right believed they were. Weather Underground members today, for example, claim they never hurt anyone in their bombing campaigns during the 1970s, particularly after several members blew themselves up in a New York City townhouse in 1970. They portray themselves as activists fighting injustices in the name of democratic principle.
Rafalko, whose agency tracked the movements of the Weather Underground, rejects such a notion.
If there was one liberal leftist group that epitomized violence it was the Weathermen…It went from trashing, burning, and street fighting in Chicago to the group decision…to kill police and violently attack military and industrial sites.
On the Black Panthers:
They were the most violence-prone black extremists in the United States, and their desire and intention to destroy white America was chillingly real. The Panthers’ criminal activities and assaults on police officers, resembling Mao’s “harass, attack, pursue, and retreat” tactics, were proof that they were actively attempting to practice Mao’s dictum that political power could be achieved only through the barrel of a gun.
The other myth that Rafalko destroys is the claim that the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers acted in opposition to the Vietnam War. On the contrary, he points out, intelligence gathered by the CIA indicates that the two groups were completely committed to the war, but on the sides of the communists, not the United States.
Rafalko cites numerous examples in which members of both groups sought communist support and advice to foment anti-war fervor at home, in an attempt to aid the communist side. It’s a crucial point in understanding the extremism of these groups, for it is one thing to oppose America’s involvement in the Vietnam on moral and political considerations. It is quite another to oppose it as an agent for one of the most ruthless, cruel political systems in human history.
Rafalko also points out another key fact, the deep criminality that lurked within these movements. Many of their most charismatic leaders were also depraved criminals. Consider, for example, Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver, who fled the United States first to Cuba, then to Algiers.
From Discover The Networks:
But while they were radical icons by day, by night the Panthers grew into a criminal organization that engaged widely in drug dealing, pimping, extortion, theft, assault, and homicide. Indeed, BPP members were arrested 348 times for murder, armed robbery, rape, and burglary in 1969 alone. The heartless cruelty of the organization was articulated with remarkable candor by Eldridge Cleaver when, years later, he described the elation he had derived from raping women:
"I became a rapist. To refine my technique and modus operandi, I started out by practicing on black girls in the ghetto—in the black ghetto where dark and vicious deeds appear not as aberrations or deviations from the norm, but as part of the sufficiency of the Evil of the day—and when I considered myself smooth enough, I crossed the tracks and sought out white prey. I did this consciously, deliberately, willfully, methodically—though looking back I see that I was in a frantic, wild and completely abandoned frame of mind. Rape was an insurrectionary act. It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man's law, upon his system of values, and that I was defiling his women—and this point, I believe, was the most satisfying to me because I was very resentful over the historical fact of how the white man has used the black woman. I felt I was getting revenge."
Rafalko chronicles the strategies by which these groups operated, pointing out that one of their primary targets was students at American universities.
But as the Vietnam War ended and the civil rights legislation passed, groups like the Black Panthers and Weather Underground lost their momentum. By the end of the 1970s, they were all but finished. At the end of the Vietnam War, the CIA ended the MH/CHAOS program.
Just what became of these radicals in the years after the war is a murky part of history, only recently coming to light.
What is emerging now is clear evidence that the most strident revolutionaries in the 1960s who were not killed, imprisoned, or didn’t flee to Cuba or Algiers continued their war on the American system. This time, though, they did not travel around the country in Volkswagen busses, approaching students in their grungy clothes and talking about worker’s paradise. Their tactics changed remarkably, but their goals remained the same: undermine the system by any means necessary.
And so many of these radicals remained in or returned to Chicago, where many graduated from prestigious universities. They moved into three key fields, journalism, law, and higher education.
Their war on the American system took shape in what is now called the wrongful conviction movement. It was the claim that the Chicago cops with whom they battled in the 1968 riots were little more than racist thugs who go around framing innocent people, particularly African Americans. By the early 1980s, this group had focused their energy on former police commander Jon Burge.
Over the course of the next thirty years, they made steady gains. Scores of convicted killers and rapists were released from prison, the detectives who arrested them accused of the worst offenses. They remained particularly successful pushing their agenda in universities, just as they had in the 1960s, where law and journalism schools created whole departments aimed at exonerating inmates they claimed were innocent.
What these activists were really doing was undermining the criminal justice system, shifting the power away from the courts to their own supporters in the media and political system. This is the origin of the anti-police hysteria sweeping the country, a hysteria that has drastically increased crime and chaos throughout the country, including riots and looting.
Many journalists who graduated from university programs that heavily promoted the wrongful conviction mythology bought into the anti-police narrative without bothering to check any of the facts. The conduct of some journalists was worse, so woefully biased it appears as if they were not simply inept, but more like co-revolutionaries.
Wrongful conviction lawyers began making millions in settlements from the city. They purchased more political power. They had come a long way, once blathering radicals on the far outskirts of the country’s power structure, living underground, now among the city’s most powerful players. Leading the charge was the PLO, the law firm that had formed to represent the Black Panthers and who had been helping Weather Underground members on the run.
The PLO and their allies scored their greatest victory in 2010, when they got federal prosecutors to indict former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. What a twist of fate. In the 1970s,these groups were under scrutiny for their associations with communist countries and their connection to domestic terrorism. Now they had the feds working for them.
But just as these former 1960s radicals achieved their greatest victory, their mythological world began falling apart under the cumbersome, inconvenient rules of evidence.
The university that most embraced the wrongful conviction mythology of these former 60s radicals was Northwestern, which worked hand in hand with the PLO on wrongful conviction cases. In fact, the university even hired former Weather Underground founder Bernardine Dohrn for a tenured teaching position in the university’s law school, despite the fact that Dohrn’s radical, criminal past prohibited her from actually practicing law.
Evidence began to emerge that faculty at Northwestern had engaged in potentially illegal conduct in their efforts to free convicted killers and vilify the Chicago police. Then in 2014, prosecutors released a man from prison, Alstory Simon, who had been framed by Northwestern Professor David Protess in a complicated conspiracy to spring convicted killer Anthony Porter from prison.
Simon’s release from prison undermined the most influential wrongful conviction case in the state’s history. Now a host of other exonerations bear all the hallmarks that they too are frauds.
So powerful has the wrongful conviction movement become that no journalists, politicians or academics are willing to own up to the destruction the wrongful conviction movement truly has done in Chicago. No one is willing to admit the “ends justify the means” strategy that revealed itself in the machinations of these radicals in the 1960s continues until today in their ludicrous claims of wrongful conviction.
And all of this brings us back to President Obama announcing in Cuba that the cold war is finally over. It’s a striking statement from a president who hails from Chicago and who once began his presidential bid in the home of Weather Underground founders Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, both self-avowed Marxist revolutionaries.
Not even Obama’s most strident detractors would say he is a stupid man. So just why Obama would claim the cold war is dead when the city is in ruins, largely through the machinations of the worst communist warriors in the nation’s history, remains a mystery.
Perhaps Obama misspoke. Perhaps he is deluded. Perhaps he was merely too intoxicated standing in the country whose revolution holds his leftist cohorts spellbound even to this day.
Perhaps. Whatever his intent, his claim about the cold war was ludicrous.
The truth is that the revolution has never been more powerful in the Crooked City.
Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and writer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, which played a critical role in the release of Alstory Simon from prison, is available on Amazon. His articles have appeared in Playboy, The Chicagoan, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and New City. He is currently working on his third book about former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and the Hobley arson, titled Burn Patterns.