Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I'm going to meet Tom Hayden tomorrow! He teaches a class at Clermont College (which is near Pomona) and my friend is in his class. She asked if she could bring me to the class (because I think he is totally awesome!) to meet him, and he said it was OK.

I've been reading several of his books and I focused on his memoir of the 1960s, "Reunion," and it is really good! I contrast what Hayden was doing in the 1960s (getting beaten up trying to register black voters in Mississippi, for example) with what Republican "heroes" were doing in their youth (getting arrested for drunk driving, extolling the virtues of branding, avoiding the draft to get drunk) and I think that Hayden generally come out a little ahead.

I pulled some quotes from "Reunion" for inspiration.

"Politics should flow from experience, not from preconceived dogmas or ideologies."

"It has been fashionable to consider Hoover, who died in 1972, an aberration in his mania to crush dissent. But I now wonder if Hoover didn't represent the subliminal impulses of my parents' generation, the dark underpinnings of an open society. He started from the basic assumption that American was good and that any significant troubles were caused by outside influences. This guaranteed that the sixties protests, which arose from authentic American roots, would be met by misunderstandings, mismanagement, and overreaction. I believe that positive personal and political behavior depends on constructive responsiveness to protest from respected authorities. When the official response is an uncaring rigidity, the healthy character of protest gives way to the aggressive impulses lurking in us all."

"Facing the fundamental arbitrariness of life, we all can choose between competing impulses: the illusion of immortality by the amassing of worldly power or the stumbling effort to improve the quality of life through stubborn love. We chose the latter path in the sixties, and it was the right choice."

On the Kennedy Administration's foot-dragging on civil rights: "One's first reflex in trying to undertsand the slow pace of federal action is to blame it on ignorance, the lack of understanding in the administration of the real depth of rigid entrenchment of segregation in the Deep South. But this comforting explanation seems without merit in retrospect, since the FBI and Justice Department received a regular stream of reports, phone calls, and eyewitness accounts of the mayhem in Mississippi."

Hayden quotes Albert Camus: "All I maintain is that on this earth there are pestilences and there are victims, and it's up to us, so far as possible, not to join forces with the pestilences."

Hayden also quotes Camus as saying the politics of resentment is an "evil secretion, in a sealed vessel, of prolonged impotence."

Thanks for indulging me in this matter.


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