Re-post – Terrorists and Friends

Terrorists and Friends
{San Francisco summer 85}

“… well i guess we couldn’t do much worse than Reagan and his clan.” I had only recently began discussing politics with my generally liberal Democrat parents.

“You know I’m actually beginning to like George Schultz” my mother offered, her view changed later after the Iran-Contra affair.

“Mom! Do you know what Schultz is proposing to do with ‘terrorists’?” I was trying to control myself, but not doing very well.

“No” she said in a tone designed to slow me down.

“He wants pre-emptive strikes against them.”

There was a noticeable pause and she replied, “You, know I’m not sure that’s such a bad idea.”

“Mom, he’s talking about killing my friends” still trying to control my voice.

“Oh, that would be terrible”, but she sounded more confused than convinced. We never got into the details. I didn’t get a chance to explain that some friends had found out thru the Freedom of Information Act that their non-violent political group had been classified as “domestic terrorists” by the FBI. I didn’t explain i believed that “pre-emptive strikes” on anyone meant guilt until proven innocent, or possibly guilty until dead. I fear she hung up the phone that day thinking i hung out with people who bombed airplanes.

A year later in a marathon discussion in the with my father at the San Francisco Hyatt Regency.

I told him i would probably be voluntarily arrested at a demonstration in the future. This upset him significantly, he felt it was pointless, dangerous and potentially damaging to my career. We talked a lot about the US involvement in the contra war against Nicaragua.

At one point he got angry, “By associating with these people who wish to overthrow our government you align yourself with terrorists killing people!” he justly proclaimed.

“By not challenging our governments mercenary attacks in Nicaragua you are aligning yourself with the murder of innocent civilians.” He’s a bright man, he could see my point, even though he did not agree.

“Do you really consider yourself a terrorist?” Calm now, his question was genuinely curious. “It’s a trick question, Dad, King George considered the revolutionary Washington a terrorist, because he
refused to fight by the ‘rules’ of war. There are probably folks in Japan who considered Oppenheimer  who developed & Truman who dropped the Bomb terrorists, if you can define what it is for me i will tell
you if i am one.” I rambled.

Instead he asked, “Well then, what do you consider yourself?”

“Generally, just a radical, on a good day an organizer or a revolutionary. Some one unsatisfied enough with the status quo to make a stink about it and someone concerned enough with the future to propose an alternative agenda and work on its experiments.”

“What kind of experiments?” In many ways his unconditional love for me shown thru the entire exchange.

From here we drifted off into a more comfortable, but still stressed conversation on collective businesses, multiple relationships and intentional communities.