Do you know the name “Larry Grathwohl”? You should. What he did and lived to tell was shocking, and shouldn’t be forgotten. Stick with me and read these words, and pass them along. Here are words about a man whose work and life merit your attention and that of your fellow Americans.
Larry Grathwohl was a distinguished Vietnam vet who in the 1960s contacted the FBI and offered his services in infiltrating Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn’s Weather Underground. That was no small deal; it was extremely dangerous. It was a total self-sacrifice, a leap into hell on behalf of his country. He risked his life and endured some wretched things that most of us would refuse to do. For the good of his country, he became part of an ugly inner circle. He had to plunge into their dark side.
Grathwohl ultimately blew the whistle on Ayers and Dohrn and crew in sworn testimony in the 1970s and (further) in his 1976 book, Bringing Down America: An FBI Informer with the Weathermen, plus numerous times since. He testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 18, 1974, where he spoke at length, and under oath, about his relationship with Ayers and Dohrn, including how Dohrn personally (in Grathwohl’s words) “had to plan, develop, and carry out the bombing of the [park] police station in San Francisco.” In that tragic action by the Weather Underground in February 1970, a young San Francisco police officer named Brian V. McConnell was killed.
When it was learned that Grathwohl was an informant, the Ivy League apparatchiks turned on him with a vengeance, posting his face on “WANTED” posters that they devised. Grathwohl was “wanted,” as it were, “for crimes against the people” as a “pig infiltrator.”
Bear in mind, Grathwohl’s accusers were genuinely violent people who countenanced murder as part of their standard work. These were serious threats that caused much grief in his life.
Nonetheless, Larry Grathwohl persevered. Before the U.S. Senate, Grathwohl bravely testified to the comrades’ willingness to kill innocents. He quoted Bill Ayers’ thoughts during a discussion on bombing a Red Barn restaurant: “We can’t protect all the innocent people in the world. Some will get killed. Some of us will get killed. We have to accept that.”
For the record, Ayers and Dohrn never served a minute of jail time for any of this. They would go on to Ivy League grad programs, tenured positions in academia, books on “social justice,” and, of course, giving their political blessing to Barack Obama in a chilling send-off in their Chicago living room in 1995. Today, the husband and wife are self-described “Progressives for Obama.” Not a single day in prison. As Ayers later celebrated, “Guilty as hell, free as a bird!”
If that makes you angry, consider this testimony from Larry Grathwohl, which he shared in a chilling 1982 documentary:
Grathwohl recalled a meeting he attended with 25 leaders of the Weather Underground. At this strategy session, he pressed his comrades for some specifics as to how they planned to manage the massive social-political American reengineering project they all desired. Grathwohl recounted their response:
I brought up the subject of what’s going to happen after we take over the government. You know, [once] we become responsible for administering, you know, 250 million people. And there was no answer. No one had given any thought to economics. How are you going to clothe and feed these people?
The only thing that I could get was that they expected that the Cubans, the North Vietnamese, the Chinese, and the Russians would all want to occupy different portions of the United States.
They also believed that their immediate responsibility would be to protect against what they called the “counter-revolution.” And they felt that this counter-revolution could best be guarded against by creating and establishing re-education in the [American] Southwest, where we would take all of the people who needed to be re-educated into the new way of thinking and teach them how things were going to be.
I asked, “Well, what is going to happen to those people that we can’t re-educate, that are diehard capitalists?” And the reply was that they’d have to be eliminated. And when I pursued this further, they estimated that they’d have to eliminate 25 million people in these re-education centers. And when I say “eliminate,” I mean kill 25 million people.
I want you to imagine sitting in a room with 25 people, most of whom have graduate degrees from Columbia and other well-known educational centers, and hear them figuring out the logistics for the elimination of 25 million people.
And they were dead serious.
Grathwohl’s deadly account shouldn’t really shock us. Keep in mind that these young revolutionaries, educated at America’s leading universities, many of whom today teach at universities, were diehard communists and moral relativists. They assumed and accepted that millions would need to die to usher in the “better world,” as Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Che, and on and on and on, had always said. The Weather Underground horde in particular was largely Maoist. Compared to Mao’s death toll of 60-70 million, 25 million dead Americans was quite small — actually, almost a third less than Mao’s giant killing field. So, really, in the communist mind, killing only 25 million American resisters was not so big of a deal.
The Weatherman’s talk of re-education centers, too, likewise should not come as a surprise. Such was fully in keeping with the Maoist-Red-Chinese-Vietnamese-Cambodian model that these young “revolutionaries” loudly trumpeted for years. The American Maoists were simply planning to carry out precisely what they had long advocated.
As Larry Grathwohl said, they were serious — yes, deadly serious.
Those words from Larry Grathwohl were shared some 30 years ago. Personally, I first met Larry quite unexpectedly in October 2010 at an event held at the National Press Club in Washington. I was there to give a presentation on my newly released book, Dupes, which documented the information I’ve noted above. The event was sponsored by Cliff Kincaid’s group America’s Survival. When I first arrived, Cliff said, “Come and meet Larry Grathwohl.” I was taken aback. “Larry Grathwohl is here?” I asked, incredulous. “Yeah,” said Cliff. “Come on.”
I was expecting to see the shady, undercover, ’70s-looking guy in the Weather Underground’s “WANTED” poster. That was my only association with the name of Larry Grathwohl. Instead, I saw a normal-looking (and older) guy, a humble and harmless and shy man who shook my hand and thanked me for my book. I was embarrassed. “You, thank me?” I said. “No, please. Let me thank you. I wrote a book in the safety and comfort of my office. You risked your life going undercover with monsters.” He shrugged off the compliment. He seemed nervous to be there, and, frankly, had the look of someone who had seen hell — who had been to hell and back.
I spoke to Larry again last July, at another event hosted by Cliff Kincaid’s group. We talked only for a few minutes, which, even then, was the longest I ever spoke to him face to face. What he told me in those few minutes would make your hair stand on end. I learned that he had actually attended (again, undercover) the hideous “War Council” held in Flint, Michigan on December 27, 1969. It, too, is worth remembering:
The event was attended by some 400 student troops from the SDS/Weathermen crowd. Among the ringleaders was student radical John Jacobs, who came up with a fitting slogan for the gathering: “We’re against everything that’s good and decent.”
That was precisely right, and was quickly made clear when an indecent Bernardine Dohrn grabbed the microphone and pumped up the faithful. True to form, the future childcare advocate at Northwestern University went on a scorching rant. She described the group’s mission: “We’re about being crazy motherf—ers and scaring the sh-t out of honky America!” The crowd roared.
Like at a radical revival meeting, Mark Rudd, the SDS-turned-Weather-Underground leader who had earlier shut down Columbia University, got caught up in the fervor: “It’s a wonderful feeling to hit a pig [a policeman]. It must be a really wonderful feeling to kill a pig or blow up something.”
Likewise moved by the spirit, Kathy Boudin, who was one of the few Weathermen who ultimately did jail time, declared all mothers of white children to be “pig mothers.” (For the record, all of the radicals were rich white kids exploiting and fomenting racial division in order to unravel America.) Invoking the unity of the Christmas season, Boudin led the brethren in a new rendition of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas:” “I’m Dreaming of a White Riot….,” she sang. She then shouted about “doing some sh-t like political assassinations.” (Boudin, like Bill Ayers, would later be admitted to the graduate program in education at Columbia University.)
Those sentiments were just the tip of the iceberg, especially in terms of what Bernardine was thinking. The lovely Bernardine enlightened her comrades with her thoughts on the vicious Tate-LaBianca murders that had been recently executed by the satanic Charles Manson “family.” The future childcare advocate spoke excitedly about how the Manson family ripped open the dead Sharon Tate’s belly and shoved a fork inside, near the dying/dead infant in her womb. Dohrn thrilled:
Dig it! First they killed those pigs. Then they ate dinner in the same room with them. Then they even shoved a fork into the victim’s stomach! Wild!
One would like to say that this moment of bloody madness startled even the hardcore in that room, but that would not be accurate. The faithful, from Bernardine’s sweetheart, Bill Ayers, to everyone else in the hall, knew that Bernardine was serious — and they dug it. As Mark Rudd later reported, the assembled “instantly adopted as Weather’s salute four fingers held up in the air, invoking the fork left in Sharon Tate’s belly.”
This is not quite the flowery image of the children dancing with daisies captured by modern hagiographers and ’60s documentarians. Today, there is no Kodak moment of the four-finger salute thumb-tacked on the bulletin boards outside the office doors of the tenured radicals in their Ivy Towers, where idealistic education majors can take copious notes.
They “dug it,” alright — which brings me back to Larry Grathwohl and our conversation in Washington last July.
As we spoke about this particularly gruesome event, Grathwohl told me that he had been there and witnessed the entire spectacle. I noted that there has been some debate as to how much the rest of the room celebrated in Dohrn’s bloodlust. There’s an obvious reticence by the radicals to today step forward and admit they once celebrated the infamous four-finger salute. Bill Ayers has been asked to comment on the episode many times. The best face that Ayers has tried to put on the event is to claim that his sweetheart was being “ironic” or had employed “rhetorical overkill” (bad choice of words) or was speaking “partly as a joke” (but never fully). Among the radicals from that period who have investigated the incident is David Horowitz, himself a former communist who today is a leading conservative. Horowitz has set the record straight: “In 1980, I taped interviews with thirty members of the Weather Underground who were present at the Flint War Council, including most of its leadership. Not one of them thought Dohrn was anything but deadly serious.”
And so, when I asked Larry Grathwohl if Dohrn and the others were indeed serious, and whether the rest of the radicals had joined in the salute, he confirmed vigorously. “Absolutely!” he said. “No question. Remember, I was there. I saw it.” As further proof, he added a tidbit that made me nauseous: Larry said that the rest of the evening, as the peace-loving “flower children” danced, they gleefully danced with their fingers in the form of the four-finger salute, moving their arms up and down and back and forth, laughing joyfully. Larry demonstrated for me.
“Oh, my,” I muttered. “How awful.” “Oh, yes,” he replied. “It sure was.”
Somewhat speechless, I slowly remarked that I needed to sit down with Larry and get this kind of information on the record. He agreed, noting that there was so much more, all likewise sick and unbelievable. We agreed we would do that. Maybe next year.
Alas, for Larry, there will be no next year.
I was shocked last week to learn of Larry’s death in his late 60s. I got the news from Trevor Loudon, who had become a good friend of Larry. It’s sad news. Larry was too young, with too much left to tell us. He is survived by Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Mark Rudd, Kathy Boudin, and their comrades who today fundamentally transform the country that Larry risked his life for.
May Larry Grathwohl rest in peace, free from the torments he once endured in this often grotesque world. He now resides in a far better place, the complete opposite of the hell of the Weather Underground.