The Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) was a major news media event, during the mid-1970s. PBS’ “American Experience”, 8 p.m., May 23, 2005, gave us a fresh look at the organization and its short history.
As it pointed out, in the beginning of the show, many young people, including myself, distrusted authorities. When the SLA called the government “Fascist insects” many of us could identify with that analysis. Much as the Weather Underground, which formed out of the “new left” Students for a Democratic Society, there was a serious belief among young people that our country was sliding into pure fascism. Richard Nixon was our president and even before the Watergate Scandal, we could see our president showing outright contempt for all civil liberties. He was also fighting a vicious war in Indo-China.
The program had plenty of interviews by many of those who were involved or new those involved in the movement.
I remember those days because many of us sympathized with the guerrillas. They scared a system that seemed dedicated to intimidate and disrespect its young people. Of course the SLA probably had no chance of succeeding, even if they hadn’t made several serious errors as the show pointed out. Building an army and taking over the government was not an easy task then, it’s probably impossible today.
However, history does repeat itself. We have a Republican controlled congress and presidency that show at least as much contempt for civil liberties as Nixon did. Our young people are fighting needles war and dying for a pack of lies, in the Middle East, just as in Vietnam in the 1970s.
So we’re not likely to have another guerrilla movement take on the system, but many young and old people, locked out of the system by right-wing ideologs, is causing a slow simmer which is leading to a boil. Our anger is building. We won’t pick up guns, but we will find someway to react to the modern “Fascist insects” of our present government.
And the SLA emblem, the seven headed cobra, looked pretty cool.