'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Farewell to a "Pacifist Who Meant Business" 

Chicago Seven member and lifelong leftist, David Dellinger, has passed away. From the Washington Post's obituary:

Mr. Dellinger, who had been protesting since the 1930s, was the oldest of the seven (originally eight) Vietnam War protesters charged with conspiracy and inciting to riot after a massive demonstration in the streets and parks of Chicago turned violent. Among the bearded, beaded and wild-haired defendants, he was balding and wore a coat and tie. He and Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and Rennie Davis were convicted of inciting a riot, but the convictions were overturned on appeal.

One of his four surviving children, Michele McDonough, said yesterday that Mr. Dellinger remained actively engaged in issues until just a few years ago. The "last real trip he made," she said, was three years ago when he hitched a ride to demonstrations in Quebec City against the creation of a free trade zone in the Western Hemisphere.

"He felt this is one of the most important times to be active," she said. "He was working on a wide range of things: prisoners' rights, supporting a living wage, demonstrating and writing about foreign policy of this government."

Mr. Dellinger had been to court, to jail and to prison long before the '60s, although that is the era with which he is most identified. He supported union organizing drives in the 1930s and civil rights in the 1950s. He was jailed so often that he had lost count.

"I went from Yale to jail," he said, "and got a good education in both places."

[ ... ]

At the 1969 trial, just before Judge Julius Hoffman sentenced him, he was offered a chance to speak. But when the judge tried to cut him off, Mr. Dellinger said: "You want us to be like good Germans, supporting the evils of our decade, and then when we refused to be good Germans and came to Chicago and demonstrated, now you want us to be like good Jews, going quietly and politely to the concentration camps while you and this court suppress freedom and the truth. And the fact is, I am not prepared to do that. You want us to stay in our place like black people were supposed to stay in their place. . . . "

Tip of the hat to Corrente for pointing out this story.

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