Robert Redford: Sympathy For Terrorism?

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In our age of terrorist bombings, intentionally designed for “collateral damage,”, one would assume that the Left would holster their bizarre views of terrorists as either misunderstood victims or patriots.

Not so with liberal actor Robert Redford, who back in publicity junkets for his film, The Company You Keep (2012), expressed sympathy for the Weathermen, an ultra-violent Maoist-worshipping terrorist group from the 1960s.

The film features a character (played by Redford) who is ambivalent, even remorseful, about the bank robberies he engaged in during Weathermen days. But, the film also has another Weatherman character, unashamed of the actions she took on behalf of “the revolution,” (played, of course, by Susan Sarandon).

But whatever balance Redford as director tried to achieve was negated by his public statements regarding the group.

Redford stated he was aware of their violent activities, which he called extreme, but then proceeded to rationalize it away by saying that all political movements have to be that way. Despite this awareness, he stated that he “more than sympathized” with the group and “what they were trying to do.” Redford has even gone so far as to label them “patriots.”

What the Weathermen were “trying to do” was violently overthrow the American government, or in the words of Tom Hayden, “bring the [Vietnam] war home.” Unlike their much-admired Vietcong, they didn’t burrow into tunnels but engaged in gun battles with the police (one of their victims was the first black police officer on the Nyack Police Force) robbed banks and blew up buildings. If they had been true patriots, then their role models would have been Americans; instead, they admired Mao and Castro, and even praised Charles Manson (one of the group, Bernadine Dorhn, even lauded the Mansons for eating in the kitchen after killing Sharon Tate and for driving a fork into her belly).

By indicating his awareness of the Weathermen’s violent history, Redford cannot assume the role of misinformed liberal. He is, in essence, going to bat for a group that has the same goals of Muslim terrorists today–the destruction of America. If Redford was truly “more than sympathetic” does this mean he wanted to grab a gun and plastic explosive and join them?

I hope not, for his sake. But Redford is not known for his intellect. In interviews, he comes across as that prisoner in The Living Color skit who uses big words without knowing what they mean. Redford may not be aware of the full implications of what sympathy means. Basing this on Redford’s stance against the Vietnam War falls apart when applied to the Weathermen. They wanted the war to continue so that their role models, the Vietcong, would win. If Redford tried to excuse away the violence as a temporary measure until American support for the war stopped, then this too collapses. The Weathermen, although declaring no need for their organization after the Vietnam War wound down in 1973, continued their destruction. They blew up the State Department of State in 1975. And in 1981 they robbed a Brink’s armor truck that resulted in the death of three people.

Redford has expressed a dovish foreign policy in the War on Terror, but his sympathy with the Weathermen makes one wonder whether such peace-loving sentiments could change if Weathermen Part Two arrives.