FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

He Was a Friend of Ours

by RON JACOBS

 

I’m in shock. I just received an email from a very good friend here in Vermont telling me that David Dellinger died the afternoon of May 25th. Dave was a lifelong antiwar activist who refused to fight in World War Two and actively opposed every US war since then. He was 88 years old and had been suffering from worsening health. Indeed, he had just been moved to a nursing home not more than two or three months ago.

Although I only met Dave five years ago when a group of us sat in on Representative Bernie Sanders’ office in opposition to his support of the bombing of Yugoslavia, he has been an influence on my life and thought ever since I first heard about him in junior high. As a young peacenik who found the militancy and flamboyance of activists and groups like the Black Panthers and Yippies quite appealing, it was David Dellinger’s thoughtful, yet militant antiwar stance that provided me (and millions of others, it seems) with a fundamental belief that what I was doing was worthwhile. After all, this man had devoted his entire adult life to opposing imperialism and the wars that system demands without ever even throwing a brick at a cop. Like the Berrigan brothers and Martin Luther King, Jr., his commitment to nonviolence was total. At the same time, he understood that pacifism was not passivism.

Although my political development took a turn away from nonviolence as the 1960s turned into the 1970s, Dave continued to be an inspiration. As I grow older and continue to work against racism, war and imperialism, his principled stance continues to take on greater meaning. Direct action does work.

Anyhow, back to the 1960s. Perhaps the most meaningful historical moment in Mr. Dellinger’s life from that period was his role in organizing the protests against the Vietnam war during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and his subsequent indictment by the Justice Department for (among other things) conspiracy to cross state lines with the intent to incite a riot. Dave and his fellow “conspirators” became popularly known as the Chicago Eight. After the eighth conspirator-Black Panther Bobby Seale-was bound, gagged and taken from the courtroom, the eight became seven. The trial continued, proving to the world what kind of democracy the US was. The Judge, Julius Hoffman, did everything in his power to help out the prosecution, including charging the defendants with contempt almost every time they attempted to challenge testimony that they felt was untrue or wrong. Although this particular conspiracy charge did not hold, Dellinger and four other defendants were convicted of individually crossing state lines with the intent to incite a riot.

Undaunted, Dave Dellinger continued on. His presence at antiwar actions in his chosen home of Vermont and around the world was something one depended on. He never stood on the sidelines and watched. His analysis was as clear as his commitment. Although an ally of all those who oppose the system of war and racism, he remained a staunch pacifist, but never let that get in the way of his opposition to the ills of capitalism or his solidarity with those who shared that opposition but differed with his tactics.

Live like him.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is being republished by Verso.

He can be reached at: rjacobs@zoo.uvm.ed

 

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

More articles by:
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail