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In what could literally become a blast from the past, the reorganized Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) will hold a national convention next month in Chicago. The meeting comes 37 years after the original SDS radicals created havoc on the streets of the city, especially their militant wing, The Weathermen:
Students for a Democratic Society, the "New Left" organization whose numbers swelled on college campuses in the 1960s, has resurrected itself and is planning its first national convention in 37 years. Next week, on August 4-7, the reconstituted group returns to Chicago, the same city where SDS had its headquarters and where rioting erupted at the 1968 Democratic Party convention.
"We're attempting to have a convention that is unifying, to heal the wounds of the last convention," an SDS New York regional coordinator, Thomas Good, 48, said. "Our radical ideas include health care for everyone and stopping torture as an instrument of foreign policy."
Er, wait a minute. Thomas Good would have been eleven years old in 1969. Whose wounds does he propose to heal? He cannot possibly have participated in the meltdown of '69. It looks like Good wants to play-act at radicalism, attempting to capture the rage of a by-gone era in order to feel better about himself now.
One man who actually has a claim to have "wounds" from the last convention -- in other words, he wasn't a pre-adolescent at the time -- is former SDS member and now author Maurice Isserman:
"I am a little skeptical or bemused at the idea that you can go back and pluck a name out of history," a Hamilton College history professor, Maurice Isserman, 55, said. The author of "If I Had A Hammer: The Death of the Old Left and The Birth of the New Left," Mr. Isserman remains unapologetic about his own membership in SDS in 1968-9 but is nevertheless baffled why anyone would want to re-create the group today. He compared it to "something like a costume drama" of "dressing up in other people's clothes."
It's more than playing dress-up; it demonstrates the lack of credibility from which the radical Left suffers today. Their hard-line socialism and terrorist apologism has few takers today, and the Thomas Goods of the world lack any kind of influence as a result. Instead of winning converts by intellectual debate over the merits of their policies - a sure-fire losing proposition -- they want to gain attention by changing brand names, hijacking "SDS" in order to associate themselves with a time when people didn't realize that New Left radicals offered nothing but totalitarianism and nihilism.
Consider this the Trekkie convention of the Left: they get to "dress up" like their favorite radicals of another era, talk in their language, and make everyone view them as people in desperate need of a life. The only assets that the SDS-Trekkies lack over their sci-fi counterparts are sensible source material, good intentions, and cool costumes.Sphere It View blog reactions
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