June 27, 2010

"As he drove the getaway car carrying the four men, Dwight Armstrong abruptly pulled over. I said, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'You have to look.' And there, above campus, was this huge fireball going up."

Karl Armstrong, remembering his brother, who is dead now, at the age of 58. Dead at the age of 33, in 1970, in Madison, Wisconsin, was Robert Fassnacht.

45 comments:

Oso Negro said...

Ah, for those simpler times, when one could believe that blowing up the Math building would stop the war. Have you drunk that juice?

Roger von Oech said...

Looks like the 40th anniversary observation of that tragic bombing has come a few months early.

I remember the morning it happened. I was hitchhiking across the country, and it was the only story on the radio for several days. There were a lot of anti-Vietnam protests then. This protest-turned-murder, however, hurt the anti-war protest movement.

I could never quite understand how Armstrong was able to return (years later) to Madison and resume a normal life. No sense of shame I guess.

Capt. Schmoe said...

This bastard got what he deserved, an agonizing death from cancer.

Even after killing an innocent and injuring three others in a futile, irrelevant gesture, he felt his actions were justified. What a detestable example of a human being.

Too bad he didn't linger longer.

Youngblood said...

He was a traitor and a terrorist, yet he was arrested in April of 1977 and he was out by 1980.

I'm kind of young compared to a lot of the people here. Can any old heads explain to me how such light sentences were justified at the time?

Also, he was basically a wannabe thug, and I can only hope that his affliction was painful, and he died in pain and terror.

William T. Sherman said...

In the interview with The Capital Times, Dwight Armstrong expressed qualified remorse for the killing, arguing that the bombing itself was a political necessity. “We did what we had to do; we did what we felt a lot of other people should have done,” he said. “I don’t care what public opinion is; we did what was right.”

Hopefully he's roasting in hell right next to Mohamed Atta right now. They can save a spot for Bill Ayers and his buds too.

Youngblood said...

Also, how is saying "I don't care what public opinion is; we did what was right" remorse, qualified or not?

rhhardin said...

With Dwight at the controls — he had only about 10 hours of flying experience — they took to the sky and dropped homemade bombs over a local ordnance plant.

Solo in 8 hours is normal, so it's unremarkable timewise.

Seven Machos said...

we did what was right

Hey, there's a war we disagree with! Let's kill some innocent dude who has nothing to do with it on a university campus. That'll show everybody.

Fuck this schmuck. I'm glad he toiled in obscurity and is now dead.

Ann Althouse said...

"I could never quite understand how Armstrong was able to return (years later) to Madison and resume a normal life. No sense of shame I guess."

He served the prison term that was imposed on him. What, in general, is your view of individuals who have served their sentences and who, on release, start a business and work hard to rejoin the society whose laws they broke? Isn't it most respectable to stay in your original community and attempt to do good, honest work and rebuild your reputation?

And I have drunk the banana smoothies many times.

Kevin said...

I'd say RIP, but actually I hope that that unrepentant murderer burns in hell.

Larry J said...

Robert Fassnacht was unavailable for comment. I wonder how his wife and 3 children feel about the news.

Rot in hell, bastard.

Roger von Oech said...

Ann:

It always seemed to me that these guys got off way, way too easy. 7 years for murder and creating a widow (with three children)?

As far as his return? Well, every community is different — especially Madison. Perhaps there was a lot more understanding there.

If it were me, I'd start over fresh some place new. Of course, if it were me, there wouldn't have been a murder in the first place.

As I said above, that bombing hurt the anti-war movement. It certainly made the "silent majority" listen to Spiro Agnew more closely.

AJ Lynch said...

10th grade high school dropouts in that era were fairly rare IMO. Now, its way more commonplace but concentrated in the big cities.

It's amazing that so many young baby boomers like these dumbass Armstrong brothers thought of themselves as so smart and well informed. Because they weren't.

I look forward to hearing of the death of the surviving brother who appears to have been the "brains" of the operation.

Kevin said...

At least the Oregon Supreme Court refused to admit David Fine to the Bar...

Blue@9 said...

Aw, love the logic of the peace-loving Left: Bombing = Protest.


The next time someone tells you we're waging an immoral war in Afghanistan, make sure to correct him: It's not a war, it's just a big protest.

traditionalguy said...

War is hell said Tecumseh Sherman as he pulled out of Atlanta for Savannah. The late 1960s radicals had declared war on the operator of the Draft Boards that seemed to be out to kill them. We can thank God that Nixon ended the Draft and brought the troops home. Do you remember the move to reinstate the Draft in 2006 just to get the young men to go to war against Bush's Iraq policy?

Psota said...

Not everyone emerged from the Sixties with tenure and backstage passes for the CSN&Y reunion concert. A sad story all around, especially when you consider that guys like Tom Hayden and Bill Ayers were able to emerge virtually unscathed despite having real blood on their hands.

mesquito said...

Just when I thought my day coudn't get any better!

Big Mike said...

What, in general, is your view of individuals who have served their sentences and who, on release, start a business and work hard to rejoin the society whose laws they broke? Isn't it most respectable to stay in your original community and attempt to do good, honest work and rebuild your reputation?

I'm not certain that a law professor is going to like the response. When we, the people, decide that a person has gotten off way too easy, it doesn't matter what the law had to say about it. He got off too easy and his existence within society is a rebuke to us and to our legal system.

Dickens, after all, was perfectly right.

Big Mike said...

Of course, most universities regard physics post-docs as being thoroughly expendable. I'm just taken aback that UW would be quite so open about it.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Psota said... "guys like Tom Hayden and Bill Ayers were able to emerge virtually unscathed despite having real blood on their hands."

Not just unscathed, but celebrated and accorded prestige and influence by their Baby Boomer/Democratic Party/MSM cohort.

Ann Althouse said...

"It always seemed to me that these guys got off way, way too easy. 7 years for murder and creating a widow (with three children)?"

The article says that Karl Armstrong "he received a 23-year sentence [and] was paroled in 1980." That looks like he served 8 years. I agree that 8 years isn't enough (though it wasn't first degree murder). But the shortness of the sentence is the people's fault or the state's fault. You can't blame the convicted man for that part.

"... If it were me, I'd start over fresh some place new."

But wouldn't that be to make it easier?

That said, I know there are some people who have lived in Madison over the years who thought well of Karl Armstrong for his good intentions in protesting the war. So it may have in fact been easier to be here.

edutcher said...

He got off lightly because the Lefties had infiltrated the courts and media by then.

"Poor little terrorist. He believes in peace and love and just wants to make a better world". Sounds like someone else we all know.

Well, he got off lightly except
where God was concerned and He exacted His own punishment. Our sins do catch up with us.

PatCA said...

Yes, for certain privileged persons, terrorism=activism, bombing=protest, and remorse=rationale.

traditionalguy said...

The punishment done to a criminal is all that society claims from him. The offense created during the Jimmy Carter years was that while law abiding young veterans were treated as losers the peace movement was expecting and getting treatment of their 18 to 25 year old criminals with a Juuvenile Court's attitude that boys will be boys and deserve a fresh start as if they just spilled a glass of milk.

dick said...

What he should have been doing is donating at least half his wages to the children and widow of Fassnacht, the man he and his buddies killed. I agree that it is the state that punished him way too lightly. Then he also got off almost scotfree on the methamphetamine lab charges. What is it with Wisconsin and things like this. A minor slap on the wrist for murder, terrorism, treason and then for making meth to sell to the public. He served a total of less than 10 years for all these things and was out there making money. What was happeneing with the family whose father his actions killed? Why is there nothing said about them? They were the worst damaged in this case. Here is a slimeball who got 3 years served for killing the husband and father and they suffer the rest of their lives for what this POS did. Your law there is f*cked!

Meade said...

Q: And post-doctoral researcher husband and father of three?

A: And post-doctoral researcher husband and father of three.

LutherM said...

Remember the victim
The man murdered by the bombers, Robert Fassanacht, has been dead for almost 40 years.

One bomber, Leo F. Burt, is still un-arrested and at large.
Apprehend him, give him a trial,
(not even a jury in the Peoples' Republic of Madison will fail to recognize murder,)
and see how he likes prison.
p.s. and listen to the Liberals cry that "he has suffered enough" a la Roman Polanski

Ralph L said...

How did an 18 yo dropout from a blue collar family get 10 hours flying time?

Madison might be one of the few towns where they wouldn't be shunned or worse.

Could someone in the Carter admin. have ordered their parole before the Reaganazis took over?

David said...

" . . . a political protest that, gone violently wrong . . ."

Huh?

More like, an act of criminal violence, very lightly punished.

Did Robert Fassnacht's mother hear thunder that night too?

David said...

"Can any old heads explain to me how such light sentences were justified at the time?"

Two people: Jimmy Carter & Richard Nixon.

Nixon, because his Watergate resignation had destroyed the already tattered remnants of the authority and credibility of government.

Carter, because his "full, complete and unconditional" amnesty for Vietnam era draft dodgers set the tone for how seriously even violent "protests" were punished.

El Pollo Real said...

Althouse wrote: He served the prison term that was imposed on him.

Good point. My concern is two-fold: first, the still-at-large Leo Burt and secondly, the scum who publicly cheered him almost a decade later. I'm pretty sure those types still populate Madison. Link

MadisonMan said...

Then he also got off almost scotfree on the methamphetamine lab charges. What is it with Wisconsin and things like this.

I'm not sure how you can blame Wisconsin for a sentence imposed in Indiana.

My life has not been something to write home about.

That is midwest-speak for lamenting one's life choices.

Peter V. Bella said...

Just curious. Why such a long winded obit? Is it just NYT literary elitism or are they genuinely sympathetic to this murderer?

kcom said...

Here are a few select lines from the NY Times story:

The watershed moment in the brothers’ activism,

"Activism" doesn't involve bombs. The sentence should have read, "The watershed moment in the brothers' turn to terrorism"

And there, above campus, was this huge fireball going up.

Again, activism doesn't involve huge fireballs. When you hit that zone, you've crossed the line from activism to something else.

On the 19th, at a farmers’ cooperative, he bought about 1,700 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer

1700 pounds? More than three quarters of a ton? Again, not activism, but rather criminal destruction. That was way beyond a protest bomb and well into Timothy McVeigh territory.

And, speaking of McVeigh, I wonder if you'd ever see his actions described in the New York Times in such antiseptic terms (The brothers returned the Corvair — they had promised their mother they would.). While hardly a hagiography, the article is incredibly bloodless in its description of the events and the people involved. Really, what was the point of this whole article? A murderer's career is eulogized and his victim is only mentioned in passing? Bah, humbug.

And I agree with those above that the sentences imposed (and the failure to have them serve even those sentences) is pathetic.

Mr. Fine was arrested in California in 1976, pleaded guilty and received a seven-year sentence. He was paroled in 1979.

By the looks of it, he served an absolute max of three years. And depending on when in '76 he was charged and sentenced and when in '79 he was paroled, it could have been much closer to two years. For killing a father of three.

Blue@9 said...

On the 19th, at a farmers’ cooperative, he bought about 1,700 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer

1700 pounds? More than three quarters of a ton? Again, not activism, but rather criminal destruction. That was way beyond a protest bomb and well into Timothy McVeigh territory.


Yeah, no kidding. No doubt the NYT would give McVeigh a spurring hagiography if it weren't for the fact that he was too successful as an "activist."

Oh, and The Man that McVeigh was fighting was not the right Man

Ken Mitchell said...

Armstrong should have died in prison. What a shame that he did not.

pst314 said...

"That said, I know there are some people who have lived in Madison over the years who thought well of Karl Armstrong for his good intentions in protesting the war."

Good intentions? That pretty well sums up the moral cesspool that is Madison. Armstrong and his ilk were not against war; they were on the other side.

And that makes him and his defenders traitors who deserve only contempt and intolerance. (And I can think of some who have lost friends and relatives to commies who would advocate far a far stronger response than a vague intolerance.)

pst314 said...

So what is it about the cretins in Madison, Hollywood, and numerous college towns that inclines them to embrace evil?

MadisonMan said...

Armstrong should have died in prison. What a shame that he did not.

I'm glad he was out and not costing taxpayers money. Apparently, he lived a clean life once he got back to Madison.

If a person is judged to be no danger to society, and he or she serves some part of the term to which he/she has been sentenced, why keep spending money to keep them incarcerated?

C R Krieger said...

I had met Robert Fassnacht, through my wife, who was his cousin.  His loss was the loss of a very bright and inquisitive mind.

It is fortunate that his oldest son had a cold that night, otherwise he would probably have gone with his Father to the Math Lab.  It was the son's birthday.

Chance plays a large part in war, and this was war—this was terrorism.

While I wish Mr Armstrong had spent more time in jail, none of us can know how he will now be spending eternal life.

Regards  —  Cliff Krieger

LutherM said...

After reading some of the comments, I have to write
FOR THE RECORD:
(1) the Ohio National Guard had killed protesting students at KENT STATE less than 4 months before the Madison bombing, and, although some were indicted, a Federal Judge dismissed the case;
(2) regarding the bombers who were convicted and served time, a quote from the movie "BUGSY", " Everybody deserves a fresh start every once in a while."
(3) there is something wrong with one bomber, Leo F. Burt, being still un-arrested and at large, while the man murdered by the bombers, Robert Fassanacht, has been dead for almost 40 years.

p.s. MADISON, WI, (also known as the Peoples' Republic of Madison), is NOT, as one writer wrote, "a cesspool".
It has a fine University, is the Capital of Wisconsin, has a reputation for good public schools, etc. Its politics are not "to the Left of Chairman Mao", just an extension of La Follette Progressivism gone askew- all in all, a fine place to live, if you like cold winters, the possibility of snow in May, etc.

Sofa King said...

If a person is judged to be no danger to society, and he or she serves some part of the term to which he/she has been sentenced, why keep spending money to keep them incarcerated?

Failure to exact retribution demanded by justice is always a danger to society.

pst314 said...

"After reading some of the comments, I have to write FOR THE RECORD: (1) the Ohio National Guard had killed protesting students at KENT STATE less than 4 months before the Madison bombing..."

Are you unaware of what those protesters were doing???

pst314 said...

"Everybody deserves a fresh start every once in a while."

Even unrepentant terrorists who kill in the service of Stalinist monsters?

That's a finely tuned moral sense you've developed. /sarc