After reading Mark Worth's review
Crowley's book on Seattle in
the Sixties (in
WFP issue 21), I wondered if he had actually read the book. It seems a fair
question - after reading a couple chapters, I was too disgusted to
continue. The reviewer appreciates the principled activism of that era.
But unfortunately, Crowley cloaks
himself in the glory of the Sixties while trashing those who acted out
I still remember the day I first met
It was the summer of 1966, and I was handing out leaflets at the Safeway
on Brooklyn, in support of striking farm workers in California. He walked
up to me and said, "I'm an anarchist. I support any strike."
Unfortunately, the clarity of his political thinking has not improved
since those days. Now, he counts the likes of Jim Ellis and Phyllis
Lamphere as the "real radicals."
His book on the Sixties provides
many interesting anecdotes, some of them accurate. But he misrepresents
himself as well as the nature of the progressive movements of those times.
After the Ave. riots of 1969, the
city created the University District Center as a buy-off.
Crowley parlayed his visibility into the
directorship of the UDC. Meanwhile, precious little was done by the city
to deal with police harassment and other real problems that had instigated
people to riot.
Crowley was on the sidelines making snide remarks, Students for a
Democratic Society was organizing a solid anti-Vietnam War movement at the
University of Washington. A core group of several dozen organized campus
anti-war demonstrations of up to 10,000 people. When SDS faltered, other
organizers founded the Seattle
Liberation Front, which brought in even larger numbers of activists and
mobilized thousands against the war, Nixon's invasion of Cambodia, and the
Kent State shootings, and in support of the Chicago Conspiracy Trial
The SLF ran its course also, victim
of its own internal contradictions. Most movements have these. But the
various anti-war organizations in Seattle
had a powerful impact as part of a national movement that restrained LBJ
and Nixon in their war on Indo-China. In addition, many activists
developed a lasting commitment to making this country live up to ideals of
equality and justice.
In the manner that is currently
Crowley distorts the accomplishments of
the anti-war movement. A lot of Sixties veterans have better ways of
continuing to supporting progressive causes.