August 24, 2010

"Three years of intense protest activity at the University of Wisconsin reached terrible superlatives on August 24th of this year."

The year was 1970.
An explosion so powerful it broke windows six blocks away, and so loud it woke up citizens over six miles from campus reduced the side of the new addition to Sterling Hall to a shambles. The wall disappeared, and steel-reinforced concrete dangled as if it were limp spaghetti.

Across Lathrop Drive, the Old Chemistry building sat windowless, and up the hill, Birge Hall was a mass of shattered lab equipment and glass. Days later, the dislodged ceiling in B-10 Commerce fell in on a group of bankers attending a seminar.

The blast killed UW research assistant Robert Fassnacht, leaving a wife and three children without their father....

Years of research were destroyed in the blast. Though the bomb was aimed at the Math research Center, it takes up only three floors of the building. The physics department occupied the basement and other offices in the new wing, and the astronomy department used the top floor and roof. The explosion reduced to tiny fragments the carefully ground mirrors in the two telescopes on the roof of Sterling Hall.

Heavily damaged was a particle accelerator operated by the Physics Department in the basement of the building. Only about 15 labs in the United States possess the kind of accelerator and associated computer system as the one that was in Sterling Hall.

Ironically, while physics and astronomy research was set back as much as 12 or 15 years in some cases, the Math research Center was back in operation the day after the blast.

Serious doubts have entered into the minds of many scientists working at the University of Wisconsin. The despair which accompanies seeing decades of work go up in smoke runs deep now, especially since there is every reason to believe that it could just as easily happen again.

“Clearly, you can’t just let the rubble lie, because then they’ve won hands down. But on the other hand if you get all blown up again in a year, it’s really futile,” said Professor Robert Borchers, as he surveyed the bombed-out shell of what used to be his nuclear physics laboratory.

Will the effect of such despair be severe? It could well be. According to Borchers, “lots of people have simply talked about getting out of academic life. I think that’s a very real possibility.”

116 comments:

former law student said...

I was hoping to read about the three years of intense protest activity, to better understand Ruth Conniff's infant teargassing.

Scott said...

AlphaLiberal, oh AlphaLiberal, where are you hiding?

jimbino said...

I think it funny to imagine that math research could be interrupted by a bomb. Since there's no there there, the math is easy to reconstruct.

MadisonMan said...

I have never asked my parents about their reaction to the bombing. They're both grads of the UW (so are all my grandparents), and although we lived in PA at the time, it must have resonated with them.

I was 9 at the time and don't really remember it.

Kirby Olson said...

There's more on this bombing at Wikipedia here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sterling_Hall_bombing

Three of the bombers were caught and later released. It's something like the Ayers-Dohrn situation. Very little jail time.

Two of the brothers ended up with a deli in Madison called Radical Rye on Main St. One of them also operated a juice cart in front of the library building called Loose Juice.

One of the four bombers was never caught.

The peace movement was incredibly violent as the 60s turned into the 70s.

roesch-voltaire said...

I didn't defend this action then or now, but do want to point out that many of us in the anti-war moment were against violence and continued to demonstrate in a peaceful manner. In fact many of us felt that Dorn and Bill Ayres, and Armstrong, had taken the movement in the wrong direction. For me the Milwaukee 14 was more inspiring.

MadisonMan said...

I wonder -- if the bombing occurred today, would today's more rapid communications mean that the Sauk Co Deputy would not release them after stopping them on Hwy 12? I'd like to think that it would, but I'm not sure.

Big Mike said...

@roesch-voltaire, in your dreams! A small minority in the anti-war movement may have been non-violent, and perhaps you were part of that minority, but on the whole the movement was incredibly violent. I was around then, too. I know whereof I speak.

shoutingthomas said...

Drugs played a major role in intensifying the hysteria of the left in the late 60s and early 70s.

Repeated use of LSD leads to an almost psychotic state. The Weathermen, in particular, were heavy users of LSD.

This LSD induced psychotic state intensified the rhetoric of the left. You'd be surprised how many people were talking like OmegaLiberal.

Add to that the intentional attempts to break down sexual identity that were also common to the left. The Weatherman demanded that their members sleep with a different comrade every night. Enforced homosexuality was also part of the political propaganda.

As the most extreme members of the left disintegrated in drug induced psychosis and self-induced sexual torture, no action was off limits in the war against U.S. imperialism and racism.

The extreme left embraced a scorched earth policy around 1969.

If you read OmegaLiberal carefully, you will hear all the same arguments repeated. The pursuit of perfect justice and Utopian equality justifies anything and everything. Those who refuse to go along are so evil that they deserve to be destroyed. The status quo of injustice simply cannot be tolerated!

And, always, the U.S. is the very emblem of evil. Back then, the extreme left was still enamored with Stalinism. Many, like Robert Cook, still are.

Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, two leaders of the Weathermen, famously discussed the need to "eliminate" up to 25 million counter-revolutionaries in America. This conversation was overheard by an FBI agent.

rocketeer67 said...

I was only a child during the early 70s. But as I went to school with and befriended dozens of Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s and 1980s, and learned about their harrowing ordeals, my view of anti-vietnam War protesters at the time was crystal clear nonetheless: shallow cowards, willing to consign thousands to hell on earth to preserve self-delusions about their own mistakenly-assumed moral purity - not to mention their own physical comfort and safety.

roesch-voltaire said...

Mike there were large enough numbers to support David Dellinger's Liberation Magazine, among others. Hundreds participated in Teach-Ins, and remember the many folks who helped with draft counseling. Often the violence associated with the marches, from my perspective, came from by-standers, or the police.

shoutingthomas said...

Often the violence associated with the marches, from my perspective, came from by-standers, or the police.

I used to believe this crap, and I marched in quite a few of those demonstrations.

Decades later, I talked to family members who are in law enforcement, who covered these demonstrations.

Demonstrators deliberately sought to provoke law enforcement officers in the hopes of triggering a violent response. Among the tactics: women squatting and pissing on the shoes of police officers, demonstrators in the back lines throwing rocks and bottles at police, screaming insults in the faces of officers, etc.

The 1968 Days of Rage demonstration in Chicago was planned deliberately to provoke a violent response from the Chicago police. The name says it all. For months before the Days of Rage, Weathermen and their allies carried out a media campaign in which they vowed to bring the city of Chicago to its knees, and to humiliate police officers.

john said...

It's a sad state of affairs when one of the bombers got a longer sentence for drugs than for murder. These guys got off very light (sentenced 7 yrs and serving 3).

Sofa King said...

“lots of people have simply talked about getting out of academic life. I think that’s a very real possibility.”

And the ones with conservative values, perhaps fearing their very lives, largely did.

The result is what we have today.

traditionalguy said...

If we could only think up a system of peaceful change/revolutions by free elections, then maybe we can live tigether in peace and prosper. The Tea party is only violent in their words directed at Congress persons. So when can we have a vote to kick the bad people out?

SteveR said...

The scary thing is while some people then, and now, were just crazy and stupidly rebellious, there's no small percentage that truly believe in that crap and our glad when it happens, or at least understand how it can be justified.

Some of those people now have great power and influence, is it any wonder there so damn careless with liberty?

Scott M said...

So when can we have a vote to kick the bad people out?

Arizona has a chance to do just that today. I confess, though, that I do not understand the logic behind open votes in which anyone with a pulse and 18 years of growth rings on their femur can vote in either party's primary.

Big Mike said...

While we're at it, can we Puh-leeze stop calling these twits "progressives"? What's "progressive" about pushing the same old BS that they've been pushing since the 1930's?

US bad, everybody hostile to the US good.

Capitalism bad, socialism good. Let the enlightened graduates of the Ivy League (and maybe Stanford, Berkeley, and UC Santa Cruz) do all the deciding for the rest of.

Violent demonstrations were really non-violent, just like "war is peace" (also by Orwell).

Tibore said...

Protest my ass. Let's call it what it really is: Malicious criminal activity. As well as manslaughter.

Big Mike said...

Often the violence associated with the marches, from my perspective, came from by-standers, or the police.

I'd call BS, but I see that shouting thomas beat me to it. As I wrote posted today in another thread, the purpose of the marches was to provoke a violent response, then it was "chicks to the front."

Shanna said...

Could somebody explain why they were targeting the math department? They never mentioned that in the article.

lemondog said...

I wonder -- if the bombing occurred today, would today's more rapid communications mean that the Sauk Co Deputy would not release them after stopping them on Hwy 12? I'd like to think that it would, but I'm not sure.

Isn't anything remotely terror-related swept into the 'Patriot Act' allowing authorities greater leeway to detain?

edutcher said...

Anyone who remembers those years will recall the phrase, "throwing rocks and bottles". Anyone remember the 'non-violent' demonstrations in Chicago in '68? The non-violence was all in their mouths.

The little darlings did, in fact, everything they could to provoke violent response by the cops and ARNG troops. The trick was to slug a cop while the cameras were focused elsewhere so that, when they turned, all the viewer saw was the cop hitting the poor widdle kid. The Communist front organizations held workshops to teach this sort of thing.

roesch-voltaire said...

shoutingThomas-- I guess I missed those events you describe because by 69 I was working in Appalachia. As I started working in the anit-war movement in the very early days, I can honestly say the demonstrations were small, peaceful and not popular. Not until 67/68 did the movement pick up numbers. Perhaps Kent State is an example of the tragic mixture of violence both from the demonstrations, and the state. What factor LSD had in affecting this, I can not say.

Der Hahn said...

The ‘non-violent majority’ always seems willing to prove their commitment to peaceful protest by not doing a g**-da** thing about the violent yahoos who just happen be a part of the movement. Funny how it always works that way.

Joe said...


The ‘non-violent majority’ always seems willing to prove their commitment to peaceful protest by not doing a g**-da** thing about the violent yahoos who just happen be a part of the movement. Funny how it always works that way.


Uh yeah....
1) I'm there for the Hippie Chicks, and they don't want some blood spattered, bedraggled SNAG that was standing With Da Man...
2) Uh they're VIOLENT, meaning they use VIOLENCE, if they'll hit a "Pig", you know the guy/gal with armour, night stick, pepper spray, taser and fire arm, what will they do to ME...the guy/gal in a T-shirt, with nothing?

Dood/doodette this is not hard, it’s not Rocket Science….I want to “pull” the chick, not have my face caved in…..

Sigivald said...

Shanna: The math center was the "Army Math Research Center", which was evidently doing something at least vaguely related to the war.

Can't find any details of what it was, though.

AJ Lynch said...

Mad Man:

You are a 3rd generation of college grads! You must carry a lot of guilt due to your silver spoon upbringing? Heh.

MadisonMan said...

AJ, it's worse than you thought: My ancestors have been going to the UW since the 1860s. Dad and his Dad were both professors and Dept Heads.

AJ Lynch said...

I was 16 in 1968 and we did not pay much attention to this protest stuff. It seemed like small beans compared to the 1968 assassinations [my family supported Dems and especially the Kennedys].


wv =modemen

Joe said...

The Army Math Research Ctr. could ahve been involved in Cryptography, Fire Control, Intelligence and Modeling, any number of things.

Or Remedial Math for soldiers....

AJ Lynch said...

Holy crap and you are slumming at this blog? Your ancestors would be ashamed of how you have turned out. LOL.

Shanna said...

Shanna: The math center was the "Army Math Research Center", which was evidently doing something at least vaguely related to the war.

Gotcha, thanks! I wasn't really sure what that was about. (2+2=WAR)

Fen said...

According to Borchers, “lots of people have simply talked about getting out of academic life. I think that’s a very real possibility.”

Someone please explain to me how Bill Ayers is now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago?

Joe said...

1) I blame Nixon, he escalated the war by invading Cambodia and bombing Laos, and by winning the Election of 1968. Had Nixon done none of these things this act would not have been necessary.
2) I blame the US Army, they operated a US Army Math Centre at a US university. This goad of a Capitalist-Mega-Technic Monopoly Finance Tool of Imperialist World Domination was simply too much to be borne!

lemondog said...

Shanna: The math center was the "Army Math Research Center", which was evidently doing something at least vaguely related to the war.

Can't find any details of what it was, though.


If you can stand listening to the narrator, Youtube 'bout 2 min into mentions the purpose of the Army Math Research

The Sterling Hall Bombing: Destruction of a Movement

AJ Lynch said...

Fen:

Everyone knows liberals can use the N-word, say "Hymietown", be felons or former anarchists but they still will get a 2nd chance from the ruling elites. I thought you knew that. LOL.

shoutingthomas said...

Someone please explain to me how Bill Ayers is now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago?


It's a disgrace. I've let my alma mater know.

President Obama launched his first statewide political campaign in Bill Ayer's front room in Chicago.

Please explain to me how Obama got away with that, and managed to get elected president.

garage mahal said...

President Obama launched his first statewide political campaign in Bill Ayer's front room in Chicago.

This is actually false. His campaign was launched at the Hyde Park Ramada.

Scott said...

@shoutingthomas:

Obama was the cartoon character candidate; drawn in simple lines, like Gerald McBoing-Boing. You could make him into anything you wanted him to be.

His relationship with Bill Ayers (who ghostwrote his books) was, as Al Gore might put it, an inconvenient truth. It didn't fit the comic's storyline. So, it was irrelevant.

I hope the Democrats pay a huge price for what they have done to the United States.

The Drill SGT said...

The math center was the "Army Math Research Center", which was evidently doing something at least vaguely related to the war.

applied math, called Operations Research, is the application of math concepts to solve practical problems. Elsewhere, UM for example, it is called Industrial Engineering. Many MBA programs have OR specializations.

I was an OR guy in the Army. Though when the bomb went off, I was in Vietnam.

I very much doubt that the Army Math was doing cryto. In that period, NSA kept that inhouse.

Dr John Barkley Rosser, the head of Army Math, was in WWII the head of ballistics research. In those days of analog computers most of that was the development of "firing tables". the paper tables for each type of gun and shell that computed trajectories.

Ballistics research was the first use of digital computing. ENIAC was designed to calculate artillery firing tables for the United States Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory, but its first use was in calculations for the hydrogen bomb.

Another WWII use of OR was in the development of search patterns for anti-submarine warfare.

Thus the entire computing world we have today can be traced back to those evil Army guys and also their evil USAF counterparts who designed the Internetz. Who says nothing good comes out of the Defense budget :)

So it's likely that they could have been doing similar work on battlefield missiles.

More likely using computing power to solve assignment modesls or transportaion models involving the calculation of inventory stockage levels and reorder points for supplies.

whatever it was, It was likely fairly mundane.

MadisonMan said...

This is actually false. His campaign was launched at the Hyde Park Ramada.

During Hyde Park Ramadan. That's how I read that originally.

I refuse to buy bifocals! I am not that old.

garage mahal said...

His relationship with Bill Ayers (who ghostwrote his books)

What's your proof of this?

Scott said...

Some say that the John McCain campaign frequently stated...

"In 1995, Barack Obama launched his political career in the house of William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn."

...which is about as true as...

"The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton."

It may or may not be factually accurate, but it neatly packaged an essential element of Obama's intellectual heritage -- one that his campaign and surrogates tried to obliterate because it only served to make Cartoon Obama a real person. And no way in hell did they want that.

Joe said...

Drill Sergeant,
It ivolved the Army and therefore was INHERENTLY evillllllll, again this is NOT Rocket Science.

Though with your moniker, you are so lcose and steeped in the evilllllll you may not fully comprehend the evilllllness of anything associated with the US Army or the US Armed Forces, generally.

But they are, since 1945, the Focus of Evil in the Modern World...From 1941, June 22, until August 1945 they were LESS evil, being involved in the Great War to Crush Late Stage Capitalist Imperialism i.e., Fascism.

WV: "fibles" very small and cute lies, that propagate rapidly, especially in Genetically Engineered Wheat, they have a marked preference for politicians.

garage mahal said...

Yea close enough.

John said...

It is not so much that it happened as it is these little bastards got away with it. I am sure most anti-war protesters did not support what they did. But the fact remains they returned to Madison and were welcomed back into society. As far as I am concerned that means the entire anti-war movement owns these and other creatures like them.

Scott M said...

@Joe

Currently, the best soundbyte for someone saying EEEVIIIILL is the aging, semi-senile Mermaid Man on Spongebob. I know cuz I gots kids (even though I knew it before they were old enough to watch TV).

For my money, nobody says FOOL better than plankton as well.

shoutingthomas said...

From Wikipedia:

Obama and Ayers first met in 1995 when Ayers and Dohrn hosted a small gathering at their home in the Hyde Park section of Chicago, the neighborhood in which the Obamas lived, at which then-state Senator Alice J. Palmer introduced Barack Obama to the group as her chosen successor for the 1996 Democratic primary. Dr. Quentin Young, a longtime physician who also attended, said it was a small group—maybe a dozen or so people—who were being introduced to the next senator from Chicago's South Side. The formal announcement and endorsement by Palmer was held at the Ramada hotel.

If this tiny distinction makes you feel better, garage, you're welcome to it.

John said...

Stop feeding Joe. He is clearly performance art.

Irene said...

MadisonMan said, "During Hyde Park Ramadan. That's how I read that originally."

Ah! So did I!

(And I have trifocals.)

El Pollo Real said...

Madisonman wrote

AJ, it's worse than you thought: My ancestors have been going to the UW since the 1860s. Dad and his Dad were both professors and Dept Heads.

Yeesh. That sounds like John McCain's lineage.

Were you a maverick too? :)

shoutingthomas said...

Obama and Ayers first met in 1995 when Ayers and Dohrn hosted a small gathering at their home in the Hyde Park section of Chicago...

Whoops!

Even that bit is a whopper!

Obama and Ayers had been political allies for years before this little party. The even shared office space.

AJ Lynch said...

Ramadan Inn - yeah I went by one just the other day.....and the flashing sign read "No Vacancies For Infidels".

TosaGuy said...

"Someone please explain to me how Bill Ayers is now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago?"

He is now retired and drawing a State of Illinois pension. I haven't quite got my head around how disgusting that is.

prairie wind said...

women squatting and pissing on the shoes of police officers

Those sixties chicks must have been pretty flexible. Or the shoes as big as sleds.

hombre said...

Another prosecutor and I were assigned to advise the local police Tactical Unit during a "protest" at the University of Arizona in the early 70s.

When the usual bottles and rocks didn't provoke the cops, the "protesters" started throwing pieces of concrete from a vacant lot. After the third cop went down, and the third warning was given,
the lieutenant ordered the remaining ten, or so, members of the Unit to use their nightsticks to disperse the crowd of a couple of hundred screaming "protesters."

God, what a joy to behold. Conrete chunks left behind and pussies on the run!

It will be gratifying to see them on the run again, along with their anti-American progeny, in November.

Joe said...


John said...
Stop feeding Joe. He is clearly performance art.


LIAR...I am not:
1) Nude
2) Lying on a shower curtain
3) Covered in chocolate;
4) Asking the audience to examine my gentailia;
As an exercise of "art" to demonstrate the absurdity of the concepts of privacy and personhood in a racist, bigoted, homophobic society Post-Industrial Capitalist Society!

Scott said...

@AJ Lynch: That was the Ramallah Inn too.

Scott said...

... and at the Chicken Ranch there's a sign, "We Reserve the Right to Refuse Cervix to Anyone"

Scott said...

While at a local diner which shall remain nameless, there's a sign, "We Reserve the Right to Serve Refuse to Anyone"

Kirby Olson said...

The name of the restaurant on main street in Madison was Radical Rye. Rye is the basis for making the original LSD:

"LSD was first synthesized by Albert Hofmann in 1938 from ergot, a grain fungus that typically grows on rye."

(WIkipedia article on LSD.)

So the restaurant's name was a direct reference to LSD. You have to wonder what they were putting in the bread.

I can't understand why they didn't do more time. One reason was probably the age of the perpetrators. They were all under 20 when they detonated the bomb.

Joe said...

Further,I hold that "John"-dead, white European Male, Name-is a racist, and a bigot for attacking me...I demand Althouse expell him, in the name of tolerance and diversity!

It is only by standing united, and marching in lockstep that we achieve Freedom in this nation!

Joe said...


I can't understand why they didn't do more time. One reason was probably the age of the perpetrators. They were all under 20 when they detonated the bomb.


You might also examine their socio-economic status, and race...white, middle to upper middle class, college students.

The SLA got shot up, the Weather Underground could afford decent lawyers, and looked like the judge...they got more leniency.

Pogo said...

"I can't understand why they didn't do more time. "

Because the Ramsey Clarkization of the American judiciary was in full swing at the time.

El Pollo Real said...

From the linked Badger Herald story: ...former Daily Cardinal night editor David Fine. Fine and three others were summarily placed on the FBI’s “most wanted” list.

What did the Daily Cardinal have to say about this august anniversary today?

Anybody?

wild chicken said...

"the "protesters" started throwing pieces of concrete from a vacant lot."

Looking back over those days and the few guys I knew then who were trying to avoid service...I think the more alpha protesters were trying furiously prove something, that they weren't merely afraid of the violence of war, it was the principle of it all.

I think many had a huge problem with guilt, with so many other guys submitting to the danger and discomfort of military service then and in WWII. The resisters are still carrying it around and it comes out as a defensive, still-radical, would-do-it-all-again attitude. Some are guilty because they didn't protest but merely avoided.

Meanwhile I came to loathe the resisters more and more and respect the ones who served.

Ann Althouse said...

"Protest my ass. Let's call it what it really is: Malicious criminal activity. As well as manslaughter."

Why manslaughter? The original charge against Armstrong was first degree murder. He pled guilty to second degree murder. Why do you think the act in question didn't constitute first degree murder? Do you think you can *intentionally* blow up a building and when someone dies, just say I was hoping there was no one in it? I'm not an expert on Wisconsin criminal law... especially backdated to 1970, but I think the charge of first degree murder was a good one. Why plead guilty to second degree murder otherwise? Manslaughter is obviously too low of a charge.

Irene said...

History of the Badger Herald.

Courage amid chaos.

c3 said...

Scott;
open votes in which anyone with a pulse and 18 years of growth rings on their femur can vote in either party's primary

In AZ if you ARE NOT REGISTERED WITH A PARTY (i.e. independant) you can choose to vote in one of the party's primary (not both). So a democrat cannot vote in the republican primary.

As for the pulse part, I don't understand. Are you suggesting there should be health qualifications to vote?

hombre said...

Why do you think the act in question didn't constitute first degree murder? Do you think you can *intentionally* blow up a building and when someone dies, just say I was hoping there was no one in it?

Assuming first degree murder in Wisconsin required a premeditated killing, a belief that the building was empty would have constituted a defense to first degree.

In the unlikely event that a jury found that the defendants held that belief, and that it was reasonable to do so, the verdict would be guilty of the lesser included second degree murder.

The Drill SGT said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Protest my ass. Let's call it what it really is: Malicious criminal activity. As well as manslaughter."



To put it in context. They used the same thing McVey did. A truck bomb with 2,000 lbs of fertilizer fuel oil mix.

This wasn't some Ayers pipe bomb symbolism.

It was a ton of explosive designed to level the building and everybody in it. Given the nature of university labs and computing facilities in general, one ought to anticipate the building would have people inside, but no matter, they were those evil dupes...

Hombre said...the lieutenant ordered the remaining ten, or so, members of the Unit to use their nightsticks to disperse the crowd of a couple of hundred screaming "protesters."

Never used a batton in action. I was a Hood in the early 80's and we had to train for riot duty. Thought we had to go to Arkansas. The Cuban boat people were causing trouble in one of the refugee camps. These were the crooks that Castro tossed out.

anyway, we had 2 sets of gear. one was the shields and 3 ft battons with face shields on steel pots

the other was M-16s with naked bayonets fixed.

We preffered the M-16 version. Because ultimately crowd control is about maintaining a decisive level of intimidation. Outnumbered 50-1, you need to instill fear and you need to maintain rock solid unit integrity on your side.

Naked bayonets with potentially loaded weapons do that :)

These were trained troops BTW, not National Guard. We practiced hard for the mission and no, the weapons weren't loaded, (except for the officers), but we locked magazines in to keep the scare up.

Naked steel, foot stomping wedge of troops and a couple of good SGTs keeping everybody in formation. Hard to mainatin protester morale :)

hombre said...

Manslaughter doesn't fit.

Scott M said...

Because ultimately crowd control is about maintaining a decisive level of intimidation.

Funny how that works on the foreign policy stage as well, huh? Less funny that we're probably going to be reminded of that fact in the next decade or so.

hombre said...

The Drill Sgt. wrote: ...anyway, we had 2 sets of gear. one was the shields and 3 ft battons with face shields on steel pots

the other was M-16s with naked bayonets fixed.


The Tac Unit had shields and face shields with some sort of composite helmets. I don't recall the length of the sticks, but they were adequate. LOL

The M-16s w/bayonets, however appealing, would probably have been considered excessive under the circumstances.

One of the helmets, btw, split under the concrete barrage.

The Drill SGT said...

Funny how that works on the foreign policy stage as well,

"Let them hate us as long as they fear us more?

- A Roman Emperor

Big Mike said...

Assuming first degree murder in Wisconsin required a premeditated killing, a belief that the building was empty would have constituted a defense to first degree.

In the unlikely event that a jury found that the defendants held that belief, and that it was reasonable to do so, the verdict would be guilty of the lesser included second degree murder.


I've read that lights were on, indicating that someone was inside working.

David said...

Thank you Professor for your focus on the anniversary of this terrible event.

Michael Haz said...

I was there when it happened, asleep in an apartment about eight blocks east of Sterling Hall.

The blast threw me out of bed. I scrambled into the dark hallway and ran into others; we all thought that a bomb had been detonated in the basement of our building. We ran apartment-to-apartment making certain everyone was awake and okay. Then we helped the grad students get their notes, manuscript drafts, computer data cards, etc. out of their apartments in into cars for safe keeping.

We heard the approaching sirens of emergency vehicles, and were astonished when they went past rather than stopping. It slowly dawned that the explosion hadn't been in our building, but was somewhere on campus.

More and more emergency vehicles raced past. They were heading in the direction of the (old) University Hospital. A neighbor said "My God, did a boiler at the hospital explode?" We got dre4ssed and ran toward the hospital, partly form curiosity, and partly to offer help evacuating patients from the hospital.

The street was filled with glass three blocks away. We got to Sterling Hall, which was across a narrow street from the hospital, and saw that it's front had been blown off. One side of the hospital had been severely damaged; it's windows were gone. Nearby buildings were heavily damaged and buildings several blocks away lost their windows. There was a crater where the explosion had occurred.

My roommate asked a fireman "What happened?" He answered "It was a bomb." That answer was shocking. How could it have been a bomb? You mean someone did this on purpose? How can that be? the peace movement isn't about bombs, it's about peace?!

A cordon was set up and we were pushed back. Standing near a fire truck so I could hear its radio I heard a fireman report finding one body in Sterling Hall. Stunned, I stood for a few more minutes than walked back to my apartment.

Two days later I cut my shoulder length hair and notified my landlord that I wouldn't remain as a tenant for the fall term.

I was done with UW and Madison, except for completing my studies. I rented and apartment west of Middleton and commuted, spending as little time on campus as possible. I didn't attend my graduation.

The anti-war movement was a sham; a cover for violent anarchists. It wasn't actually anti-war; it was mostly anti-draft, and nothing more. It was over-indulged white males who didn't want to be conscripted. It would never have happened if there hadn't been a draft.

I don't have a romantic version of the late 60s in my head. I lived through it, it was horrible. Sure, the music was good, the weed was abundant, "liberated" coeds eschewed underwear, and contraceptive sex had no risk. It was still an awful time.

Karleton Armstrong was lucky. He should shill be rotting in prison.

Roger von Oech said...

Thanks for posting this, Ann.

40 years ago today, I was hitchhiking across the country to start graduate school at Stanford.

I've always remembered this senseless bombing because for two days (from Ohio to Colorado) the radio of just about every car I got into had this story as the lead news event.

That was another world.

MadisonMan said...

Michael Haz, thanks for your story, I found it very interesting. It must be a vivid memory!

Original Mike said...

I heard the blast. I was delivering papers that morning on the east side, about 5 miles away. Then a few years later, I went through the physics program at the UW. Always thought about it while walking through the reconstructed courtyard next to Sterling Hall.

Original Mike said...

jimbino said: "I think it funny to imagine that math research could be interrupted by a bomb. Since there's no there there, the math is easy to reconstruct."

Yeah, they weren't exactly the brightest bulbs on the tree, were they?

Big Mike said...

@Michael Haz, please confirm. Those four SOBs set off a bomb across a narrow street from a hospital? With windows facing out toward Sterling Hall? And maybe patients on the other side of those windows???

I mean, it was obscene that those four bastards ignored the lights being on in the physics lab, but there is no way they couldn't know that they were putting hospital patients at risk.

Pogo said...

Haunting experience, Michael, and thanks for telling us.

Original Mike said...

"Those four SOBs set off a bomb across a narrow street from a hospital? With windows facing out toward Sterling Hall? And maybe patients on the other side of those windows???"

Yep. That's exactly what they did, though I'm pretty sure there were not patient rooms facing Sterling Hall (at least there weren't a few years later when I started working in the Hospital).

Michael Haz said...

Big Mike - University Hospital was indeed located across the street from Sterling Hall, and patients were indeed injured by flying glass.

The Army Math Research Center suffered little damage and was back in operation within one week.

The Physics Department suffered a great amount of damage, including the total loss of several professors' research materials accumulated over more than 25 years.

There was organized violence on the U of W campus before the bombing, and a lesser amount afterwards as the instigators left town for safer environs.

Firebombing of University and commercial buildings was common. Groups of protestors would hide at night, then throw rocks, filled bottles and chunks of concrete at passing police patrols.

Classes, especially in the Business and Engineering buildings would be interrupted by false bomb threats, by protestors and by people simply standing up mid-lecture and screaming until campus police removed them. Protests were usually held near libraries so that the resultant tear gas would drive out students who were studying.

It wasn't anti-war protesters doing most of it, it was anarchists. The same kind of anarchists that now show up at IMF meetings, political conventions, etc.

You could spot them, walking around on campus, Mao's Little Red Book carried in their hands. "Uncle Ho's gonna win" was as common as "how ya doin'?"

El Pollo Real said...

Original Mike. Charter Street runs between the front of Sterling Hall and the old University Hospital. The van was parked in the back of Sterling next to the Annex. So techically, the bulk of Sterling Hall was protecting the hospital.

AST said...

Ah, the good old days. The Chicago Seven. Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies. Not even Saul Alinsky liked what they did.

When the protests against the war in Iraq started up, it seemed like there were a lot of middle-aged people reliving their youth, albeit not quite so destructively.

Big Mike said...

@El Pollo, I'm Big Mike. Original Mike someone else. Someone more ... original.

Patrick said...

Is that idiot Karleton Armstrong still peddling falafel on the mall? Back when I went to the UW, I fantasized about tipping his cart over. Never did, but always felt like that guy should be in prison.

El Pollo Real said...

Sorry about the mix-up Big Mike.

Michael Haz said...

Patrick - Yes, he's peddling juice from a cart now. Local hero.

Darcy said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, Michael. Knowing you, I totally get the "I'm done with this!" turning point.

So admirable. And smart!

William Tyroler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ken in sc said...

Ann, most civilians don’t know the difference between murder and man slaughter.

Tibore said...

"Why manslaughter? The original charge against Armstrong was first degree murder. He pled guilty to second degree murder. Why do you think the act in question didn't constitute first degree murder? Do you think you can *intentionally* blow up a building and when someone dies, just say I was hoping there was no one in it? I'm not an expert on Wisconsin criminal law... especially backdated to 1970, but I think the charge of first degree murder was a good one."

Don't read so much into my post, Professor. What I was saying was that those bombers weren't engaging in some form of honorable protest; rather, I'm declaring that they were commiting a heinous crime instead. I reached for the word "manslaughter" instead of "murder" as a spur-of-the-moment collioquial choice, not as a judgement of the severity of the crime. If First Degree Murder was what was originally charged, then I'm actually aggravated that it got reduced.

Whether back in the '70s, in the '90s like with Oklahoma City, or today, if some bastard blows up a building, I won't protest at all if he gets charged with First Degree Murder. No, I'll cheer it on.

Big Mike said...

@El Pollo, don't apologize. The odds are 99:1 that he's younger and more handsome.

Irene said...

Michael Haz, thanks for sharing your experience.

I have walked past that spot every morning for the last eight years, and there isn't a day that I haven't thought about what happened.

Your description brought it to life for me.

William Tyroler said...

I think the charge of first degree murder was a good one. Why plead guilty to second degree murder otherwise? Manslaughter is obviously too low of a charge.

Second degree was the more appropriate charge, but in the nature of things a large reduction in prison time creates its own incentive. First degree carried mandatory life and 2nd (if memory serves) up to 25 years. That was a significant inducement, but there was more, namely the state's acquiescence to turning the sentencing into a very free-wheeling event that basically had two purposes: 1) tie Army Math into war atrocities; 2) establish that non-violent protest was over time met with government violence, so that the bombing should be seen as an inevitable result of government repression. I'm not endorsing these views, I'm simply saying that the opportunity to politicize the case was an inducement, along with reduced exposure, to accept the reduced charge.

In other words, the plea wasn't because the charge of 1st degree was so compelling. First degree required specific intent to kill, and the bombers took steps, however ineptly, to minimize that possibility. As a result, the state likely would have had at least some difficulty proving the intent element, and therefore had its own proof-related incentive to offer the reduction.

For that matter, the defense might have been able to negate not only the intent element of 1st, but the depraved-mind (utter disregard for human life) element of 2nd. The argument would have been that by phoning in a warning the bombers evinced some regard for life, as opposed to the utter disregard required. Acquittal altogether may or may not have been likely but it was a possibility. And so both sides profited by the resolution. Second degree, depraved-mind murder, was probably the right one on the facts -- whether or not a jury might have found otherwise, it is fair to say that the bombers acted without intent to kill anyone but also without any regard for human life. Manslaughter (defined then as either "heat of passion" or disproportionate defensive force) didn't fit at all.

Big Mike said...

@Tibore, as I commented near the end of a different thread, the bombers got away with slaps on the wrist. Karl Armstrong was sentenced to 23 years, but served only 7. Karl's younger brother Dwight and co-conspirator David Fine got off even easier: sentenced to only 7 years, served only 3.

After 40 years Leo Burt is still at large; it doesn't appear that anyone is actively looking for him.

Considering that they killed a man, it's nowhere near enough.

blake said...

Wow, Michael. I'm with Darcy.

William said...

More out of curiousity than conviction I attended an anti-war demonstration in Central Park. The speaker I remember was Abbie Hoffman. There was a line of police around the speaker's platform. Abbie said he didn't need the police to protect him from the people. He asked the people to help him move "the fucking pigs" away from the platform. The police stood back, but Abbie was obviously trying to start something. He continued to address them in the most abusive language possible. It seemed to me very manipulative. Some of the kids there were hardcore demonstrators, but most were onlookers hoping to find a seperate piece. The leftists had a bedrock belief that if they could goad the police into a beat down, those beat down would inexorably become committed revolutionaries. There was a deliberate effort to make the people act against the police, and the police to act against the people..... I left the demonstration early. It didn't end in violence, but not for lack of trying on Hoffman's part.....It was patently manipulative. The left lambasted the army for turning young men into killers, but their efforts to turn young people into revolutionaries were just as sleazy.....I'm now thinking of that young man who gave Wikileaks all that classified info. By any definition, he was a very troubled young man. (How such a screwed up young man was given access to all that info is another story.) The Wiki crowd apparently encouraged him in all his dreams of moral grandeur and self-importance. The young man will probably spend a considerable portion of his life behind bars. Another moral triumph for the left.

Paul said...

Karleton Armstrong SERVED SEVEN little years for that.

Dwight Armstrong SERVED THREE little years.

David Fine SERVED THREE little years.

Leo Burt ran and has never been caught (or hopefully got tossed under a bus.)

But then Obama’s friend, Bill Ayres, walked after killing a policeman.

jr565 said...

Michael Haz wrote:
It wasn't anti-war protesters doing most of it, it was anarchists. The same kind of anarchists that now show up at IMF meetings, political conventions, etc.

You could spot them, walking around on campus, Mao's Little Red Book carried in their hands. "Uncle Ho's gonna win" was as common as "how ya doin'?"

I'm sure there were some antiwar protesters there too, but isn't it funny (not in a ha ha way) how NOTHING has really changed in the protest movements? You may not see as many bombs, but there is still that political theater, and some of the same chants, the same people walking around with socialist paraphenelia and the same basic arguments being expressed. If you scratch beneath the surface you'll find some stalinist or socialist group putting on the show.
And the same anarchists are still marching around throwing stuff at cops or breaking windows of stores. How utterly boring that they haven't learned anything. And despite all the petulant rage, it's just some asshole who likes to throw rocks at things. When anarchy becomes a cliche of itself, it ceases being revolutionary and becomes ordinary. Plus, if you actually take the masks off a lot of the anarchists they are usually trust fund babies who's parents have more money than god.Utter hypocrites.

former law student said...

Unconvicted, later assassinated leader of the antiwar movement:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-NRriHlLUk

Damn near everybody I went to high school with was in the antiwar movement. The teachers were uniformly against the war. The American Friends Service Committee came to campus to counsel us how to avoid the draft. Not even the children of those who fled Communist takeovers of their Eastern European countries were eager to put their lives on the line to keep Viet Nam from turning Red. We envied the guy we knew who was the son of a prominent GOP politician, who got into the Illinois Air National Guard.

In college nobody was pro-Viet Nam War, not even the ROTC members. But, during college and through the 70s, I met vet after vet who had never come close to seeing combat. The example that sticks in my mind is the Army clerk who had spent the war typing and filing, commuting to work from a shared apartment, somewhere in the South.

Only the guy who had volunteered to be a Marine had seen combat. Unfortunately for him, his sense of the importance of studying had been lost over his tour of duty, and he quickly flunked out.

former law student said...

But then Obama’s friend, Bill Ayres, walked after killing a policeman.

1. What was the name of the policeman Bill Ayers killed?

2. Was Bill Ayers ever tried for this policeman's murder?

3. Was Bill Ayers ever arrested for this policeman's murder?

4. Was Bill Ayers even in the same state as the policeman at the time of the policeman's death?

former law student said...

William Tyroler's analysis seems sound.

In other jurisdictions, felony murder would be a possibility -- the prosecution would only have to show that the killers had the intent to commit the felony, and the homicide occurred as a result. I'm forgetting my crim law, but as I recall entering a building with intent to commit a felony therein is the felony of burglary. I expect blowing up a building is a felony.

Some Schmuck said...

A month before this bombing there was the bombing at Camp (now Fort) McCoy.

They blew up a power substation, attempted to blow open a water reservoir (but just left a hole in the ground next to it) and, set off a bomb under the Telephone Exchange.

As luck would have it, I was supposed to be working there that night but didn't go.

It left a hell of a mess but their clumsiness came through. They set it on the inside edge of the cinder block cable entrance and it blew through a couple of walls into an office area.

If they had put it on the sides of the the cable vault it would have been unrepairable.

We made Walter Cronkite, where a field reporter interviewed one of the detail that was brought in to clear the rubble. He pointed at the hole in the floor for them. But he didn't work there, had never been there before and knew nothing. The rest of us kind of snickered about dumb reporters.

That was July 26 and it was done by the American Serviceman's Union members. Active duty soldiers who were on temporary assignment (TDY) from Ft Carson. The "Camp McCoy 3" as they were termed by the other Vietnam protesters. They did a couple of years in prison and disappeared.

I left and was assigned to Bangkok. Not the worst thing that ever happened to me.

No one was killed or injured. So when the UW explosion killed the grad student we were stuffed down the memory hole and never heard of again.

In 1995 I was passing through and stopped there. No one working in that building that day knew anything about a bombing.

Original Mike said...

"Charter Street runs between the front of Sterling Hall and the old University Hospital. The van was parked in the back of Sterling next to the Annex. So techically, the bulk of Sterling Hall was protecting the hospital."

Actually, the van was parked on the south side of Sterling Hall. There is an ally which runs from its location, between Sterling and Chamberlain, which would have funneled the blast out onto the Hospital. But it is true that the van was not in front of Sterling Hall, which would have been worse for the Hospital.

Original Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Original Mike said...

"@El Pollo, don't apologize. The odds are 99:1 that he's younger and more handsome."

You'd lose that bet, Mike.

Calypso Facto said...

Even when my son attended UW orientation THIS SUMMER, Prof. Harold Scheub extolled the virtue of the Vietnam War protests "held by young people like you on this very campus" in his welcome speech. I was appalled and wanted to ask him why he thought endorsing domestic terror was a good idea...

Michael Haz said...

@Former Law Student - San Francisco Police Sergeant Brian V. McDonnell was killed by the Ayers/Dohrn bomb.

Answers to your three other questions can be found in several places online.

James Bond said...

I knew David (Buzzy) Fine when I was in high school. He was spouting commie tripe even then. His father though it was funny, and called him "Little Lenin".

The little b*****d killed an innocent man and did all of three years.

Kirk Parker said...

AJ,

I was only 14, but my friends and I paid plenty of attention to this. One of our number was the younger brother of the Peace and Freedom VP candidate, and we were all young student radical wannabes. A few of the group--those with laxer parent supervision than I had--actually were attending STD meetings in Seattle with some of their older siblings.

Fortunately I got out of that mindset before I did anything regrettable...