By Joe Campbell
November 7th, 2007
Leonard Lopate had Cathy Wilkerson on his show on WYNC Public Radio. Wilkerson was a member of the Weathermen, a radical organization that had splintered off from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1969 in order to undertake more extreme actions such as bombings and other terrorist attacks on U.S. government facilities. The Weatherman’s goal was to effect the overthrow of the American government. At the very end of the interview, Lopate asked Wilkerson about why today’s antiwar movement was weaker than the antiwar movement Wilkerson was part of in the 1960s.Last Wednesday,
Lopate: There are many different theories for why we don’t have as strong of an anti-war movement today as we did in the 60s and 70s. The draft is given as one of the reasons. Do you think the excesses of groups like SDS may also have played a role?
Wilkerson: Quite to the contrary, I think actually more people are active today and that young people are far more sophisticated about world issues today than we were [in the 1960s].
Lopate: Well we’re not seeing the marches, that we saw the same kind of activ… people throwing themselves at the Pentagon…
Wilkerson: There’s plenty of local marches and plenty of local action which doesn’t get in the press necessarily other than the local press. There’s far more activism now than there was then. What’s lacking is that sense of engagement with power. We had that in the 60s because we had come out of the civil rights movement which was the foundation of everything we did and they had won and changed the conversation in this country, so we had the sense that young people could really change something, in a way that young people today have never had that experience. And so there isn’t the public sense of engaging with power. [italics added]