Radical Son: The Rise of Chesa Boudin
Paul Kengor
by

On October 20, 1981, the guys and gals of the Weather Underground finally did it. They at last carried out a criminal act that not only led directly to deaths but also landed at least some of them in prison. Unlike Bill Ayers, one of several Weather Underground fugitives fleeing the FBI who would later boast, “Guilty as hell, free as a bird! America is a great country!,” the orchestrators of this incident didn’t get away with it.

This time, the plotters, including Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, pulled off an armed robbery of a Brinks truck outside the Nanuet Mall in Nanuet, New York, in which two “pigs” (read: police officers) and a Brinks guard were killed, plus three other officers seriously wounded. Losing their lives that day were Brinks guard Peter Paige and police officers Edward O’Grady and Waverly “Chipper” Brown.

Brown, incidentally, was the only black officer on the force; in fact, he was the first African American member of the Nyack, New York, police department. This was ironic given that the perpetrators did the job in part to finance their war against “racism” in America, the apotheosis of which would be the establishment of a “New Afrika” in America’s southern states.

Kathy Boudin was driving the getaway truck, a U-Haul. The haters of capitalism stole away with over a million bucks they stuffed in their greedy pockets — quite literally blood money.

Boudin was no stranger to violence. She had escaped a precarious brush with death a decade earlier. On March 6, 1970, three Weather Underground troops were fatally injured in an accidental explosion at an apartment in a wealthy section of Greenwich Village in a plan that went awry. As David Horowitz has documented, the original plan had been to produce nail bombs to detonate at a military dance in Fort Dix, New Jersey, where the communist revolutionaries hoped to murder young Vietnam vets reunited for an evening of happiness with their wives. The plan backfired.

Among the dead were Diana Oughton, Terry Robbins, and Ted Gold, all dear friends of Boudin, Gilbert, and Weathermen leaders Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Mark Rudd, Jeff Jones, and John Jacobs. When the bomb went off, Boudin was reclining in a cedar-lined sauna. She stumbled naked out the front door of the smoking apartment, walking away from the dismembered corpse of Oughton, her deceased former Bryn Mawr classmate.

The detonation and death of her friends seemed to have not been enough to set Boudin straight. A decade later came the Brinks blowup.

The Brinks conspirators were arrested. Boudin did long-term prison time when her father, a notorious left-wing attorney, was unable to save his client-daughter from jail. Gilbert did even longer time, as did co-conspirator Judy Clark. Boudin and Clark devoted part of their time in jail to lecturing fellow inmates about “social justice.” Gilbert is still in the penitentiary. Clark just this year was granted parole.

Gilbert had been a classmate of SDS-leader-turned-Weatherman Mark Rudd. Gilbert was a sociology major and chairman of Columbia’s Independent Committee on Vietnam. Rudd described Gilbert as sensitive and brilliant. If not for a life in prison, Rudd notes that Gilbert would have had “a career as a respected professor” in sociology.

No doubt. Such was the path of all these communist revolutionaries: American higher ed. Our universities are havens of Sixties radicals. That’s where the real takedown has taken place.

In prison, Kathy Boudin studied education, publishing articles in journals like the Harvard Educational Review. Her liberal friends fought for her parole, which eventually came in 2003.

Boudin was permitted admission into Columbia Teachers College, where she earned an Ed.D. and became an adjunct assistant professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work. According to her bio on the university’s website, Boudin’s work focuses on “mother-child relationships,” “criminal justice,” “restorative justice,” and “health care.”

But Boudin and Gilbert left another legacy, which, alas, brings me to my focus here today.

At the time of the Brinks robbery, Boudin was not only a Marxist revolutionary but also a Marxist mother. With Gilbert, she had a 14-month-old infant named Chesa. In fact, mom and dad had just left the baby with a sitter that October 20 before they ventured off for their Brinks heist. With Chesa in the hands of the sitter, Boudin put her hands on the wheel of the getaway truck.

Once Chesa’s mom and dad were tossed into the slammer, the baby boy was without a mother and father. What would happen to Chesa? Who would raise the radicals’ son?

Well, the radicals chose two fellow radicals to raise the boy. No less than the infamous Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn subsequently raised the orphaned child. Boudin happily agreed to let Bernardine become her son’s mother. She turned over the nurturing of her son to the author of the “four-finger salute” that Bernardine had conceived in December 1969 at their “War Council” in Flint, Michigan; Bernardine adopted it as the new slogan of the Weathermen. The four fingers represented the fork that Charles Manson’s “Helter Skelter” killers had left in the womb of actress Sharon Tate after murdering her in Los Angeles in August 1969.

“Dig it!,” reveled Bernardine from the War Council podium. “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!”

It was a sick display. Even Mark Rudd shuddered. Rudd many years later recalled that the assembled “instantly adopted as Weather’s salute four fingers held up in the air, invoking the fork left in Sharon Tate’s belly.” Rudd translated this message for the wider world: “The message was that we sh-t on all your conventional values, you murderers of black revolutionaries and Vietnamese babies. There were no limits to our politics of transgression.”

No, there were not. And the charming, loving Bernardine became mom to Chesa Boudin.

So, where is Chesa today?

The answer to that question brings us to the events of November 5 in the ideological loony bin that is San Francisco.

Chesa Boudin, the boy of Kathy and David and Bernardine and Bill, is now a grown man with radical views of his own. Earlier this month, the radical citizens of San Francisco elected the radical son as their district attorney. This son of two Weather Underground terrorists — described by Democracy Now! as Weather Underground “activists” — is now the DA-elect of San Francisco.

Predictably, of course, Chesa is as left-wing as they come and has been for a long time. Back in March 2009, in an article he wrote for the Nation, Chesa described himself as a “foreign policy adviser to President Hugo Chavez.” Now he seeks to bring the Chavez revolution home to San Francisco. The son of two convicts sentenced to prison for murder promises to reform the criminal justice system.

The San Francisco police union is not exactly enamored. It dumped $50,000 into a new political action committee to defeat the 39-year-old radical. “After further evaluating the positions and words from Chesa Boudin, we have determined that he is not only the wrong choice, but the dangerous choice, for district attorney,” warned Tony Montoya, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association. “He will work harder at finding ways for criminals to get back on our streets than protecting crime victims and increasing neighborhood safety.”

Chesa says his parents’ experience inspires his plans to reform the justice system. “Chesa Boudin’s parents were incarcerated when he was just fourteen months old for driving the getaway car in a robbery that tragically took the lives of three men,” Chesa’s campaign website says. “Chesa’s father is still in prison. Chesa knows first-hand the destructive impacts of mass incarceration…. This experience caused Chesa to dedicate his career to making our country safer by reforming our criminal justice system.”

Interestingly, the “progressive” Chesa struggled to get the backing of the California Democratic establishment, most of whom, including Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, endorsed his Democratic opponent. But he was vigorously endorsed by the likes of former Communist Party USA vice-presidential candidate Angela Davis and by the runner-up for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders.

Chesa’s victory was celebrated by Bernie, who hailed his comrade from his Twitter account: “Now is the moment to fundamentally transform our racist and broken criminal justice system by ending mass incarceration, the failed war on drugs and the criminalization of poverty. Congratulations @chesaboudin on your historic victory!”

Fittingly, Bernie invoked the language of “fundamental transformation,” calling to mind the promise of one Barack Obama. Yes, the Obama who was friends with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. As even the New York Times acknowledged, it was a special moment in the Chicago living room of Bill and Bernardine in 1995 when Illinois State Sen. Alice Palmer announced a young, unknown Barack Obama as her chosen successor. The rest was history. Obama became the man who on the eve of the November 2008 presidential election vowed to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” Americans voted for him overwhelmingly.

That transformation continues apace as more and more Americans elect leftist radicals like Chesa Boudin.

One wonders what’s next for Chesa’s and Obama’s Democratic Party. Maybe a U.S. Senate seat in California? No doubt Californians will be ready for that transformation, too. The wheels of “progress” push forward. And the ghosts of radicals past haunt us still. Nice job, San Francisco.

Paul Kengor
Paul Kengor
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Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College in Grove City, Pa., and senior academic fellow at the Center for Vision & Values. Dr. Kengor is author of over a dozen books, including A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism, and Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.
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