Posted on | May 8, 2013 | 31 Comments
Guest Blog by Ryan James Girdusky
Controversy ensued when the news broke that Kathy Boudin, former member of the Weather Underground who was convicted in 1984 of felony murder, received the position of adjunct professor at Columbia University. While it may be ironic that Boudin received a teaching position at a university she was plotted to bomb, she is not the only former domestic terrorist to receive such a position.
At least a dozen former members of domestic terrorist organizations are now college professors. Members of the Weather Underground make up half of this list; some are well known, like Bill Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn, Ayers is now retired from the University of Illinois, while Dohrn is still teaching at Northwestern Law.
Other lesser-known members of the group include Howard Machtinger, who was charged with conspiring to bomb the Detroit Police Officers Association Building and was on the run from the law for five years from 1973 to 1978. Machtinger now works for the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Another Weatherman alumni, Mark Naison, has been a professor at Fordham University for 43 years. His time in the Weatherman was brief; he was a part of SDS and was part of the Columbia University occupation in 1967 and 1968. He was arrested for those protests as well as for a bar fight in 1969. Naison left the Weatherman after his last arrest, for fear he was putting his life in danger.
Eleanor Raskin was also involved in the 1968 Columbia University occupation by SDS. She continued to work with the Weather Underground throughout the 1960s and 1970s; eventually her home was raided in 1979 and bomb-making materials were discovered there. In 1981 she was arrested and prosecuted for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. She began to teach at the State University of New York in Albany and then later at Albany Law School. She currently is an administrative law judge.
After seven years in hiding from the law due to his activities in the Weatherman, Mark Rudd, former spokesman for students in the Columbia student revolt of 1969, avoided a long prison sentence due to a technicality and served less than a year in prison. He is now retired but spent a long career as a math instructor at the Central New Mexico Community College. He still, however, travels around the country in support of different chapters of the Students for a Democratic Society.
Other radical groups from the 1960s and 1970s besides the Weatherman saw their former radical members enter the university system. Jamal Joseph, formerly Eddie Joseph, was a member of the Panther 21, a group of Black Panthers who were arrested for conspiring to blow up railroad lines, department stores and the Botanical Gardens. While the Panther 21 were found not guilty, Joseph did several other stints in prison due to his association with the Black Panthers. He is now a professor at Columbia University.
Fellow Black Panther member Ericka Huggins was the founder of the New Haven Black Panthers during the New Haven Black Panther trials of 1969, during which time the Black Panthers of New Haven were on trial, facing several charges including felony murder of nineteen-year-old Alex Rockley. According to court testimony Huggins was present and assisted in torturing Rackley; another Black Panther member, George Sams, implicated Huggins in the call to murder Rackley. Huggins’ charges were dismissed after the jury was unable to reach a verdict. Ericka Huggins is presently a professor at Laney & Berkeley City College and has been an invited lecturer at Stanford and Cornell.
Distinguished Professor Emerita from University of California, Santa Cruz, Angela Davis, was never an actual member of the Black Panther Party but had several close ties to the group. Before becoming a distinguished professor in the History of Consciousness and the Feminist Studies departments, Huggins was on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List. She had purchased a shotgun two days before it was used in a hostage situation, which left six people dead. She would later be acquitted and run for Vice President in 1980 and 1984 under the Communist Party USA ticket.
Former Black Panther Chief of Staff David Hilliard was convicted on two counts of assault with a deadly weapon in 1968, after he took place in a shootout with Oakland Police. He is currently a visiting instructor at the University of New Mexico.
Steve Best, philosopher professor from the University of Texas at El Paso, is not an accused terrorist; he is, however, the founder of the Animal Liberation Press Office. The ALPO acts as the media office for several animal rights groups, including the Animal Liberation Front, which is a domestic terrorist group. In 2004, the British Home Office told him that they intended to use counter-terrorist measures to prevent him from speaking at an animal rights rally in the UK.
Best was quoted by The Daily Telegraph: “We are not terrorists, but we are a threat. We are a threat both economically and philosophically. Our power is not in the right to vote but the power to stop production. We will break the law and destroy property until we win.” Certainly there are additional members or activists in similar organizations who can be found in colleges or universities across the country.