Interesting question. Deliberate destruction of anyone else's property is never ok. Since the 1960's such acts have almost become cliche. They are a measure of the level of frustration of oppressed groups. But they still aren't acceptable acts. I say this as a descendant of one involved in the "real" Tea Party.
I think the decision to bomb the department store was one made in haste by a bunch of juveniles that thought they would "get back at the man" by destroying "the man's" property. I don't think they ever stopped to fully comprehend that their actions might have serious consequences.
I don't think it's ever right to destroy what belongs to another person no matter how justified you feel that your actions may be. I think that by bombing the department store, they sunk to the same level of those they were so vehemently against. It became almost an eye for an eye mentality and in the end nobody one but a lot of people sure did lose.
I think you're right, Janice. The department store bombing was a decision to "get back at the man by destroying the man's property" but I'd capitalize The Man. It was also intended to send a message to The Man that things better change or else. An attempt to excite other protesters who may have felt their message wasn't strong enough or catching enough attention. Those 60's protests expressed rage and frustration with so many different things. The war in Vietnam. Capitalism. Authority. The government. Discrimination against minorities, which at that time meant blacks. Discrimination against women. Basically it was protesting anything that was deemed unfair. And there were a lot of things then that were very unfair and begging to be protested against.
I agree it isn't okay to damage other people's property. For many reasons. It's wrong morally and you never know when destructive acts will have unintended consequences such as those in Libby's book. It also costs the movement the support of people who may agree with the aims of the movement but abhor violence and destruction. There's a difference between peaceful protesters who seek a change in the system and terrorists who want to inspire fear or jump start a violent revolution. Protesters should stay peaceful.
The department store bombing was reminiscent of actual violence by some radicals in that era. Remember the bombing of draft board offices? Remember the famous Greenwich Village townhouse that was leveled when a bomb being put together by members of the Weather Underground accidentally detonated? Three radicals were killed and two injured. Kathy Boudin and Cathy Wilkerson escaped and went on the lam for 10 years until Boudin was caught and Wilkerson surrendered. While she was on the lam, Boudin had a son. One day, while he was at his babysitter's home, she drove the getaway car for a Brinks truck robbery that went wrong. The gang shot Brinks guards and police officers, killing one guard and two police officers.
Boudin's son ended up being raised by Weather Underground members Bill Ayres and Bernardine Dohrn. She was in jail from the time he was a baby until he was in his 20s. So the price of her decision to turn to violence was several lives, huge property damage, her child (and the children of those killed) raised without that parent, and pain and suffering for the families of her victims and her own family. And I don't imagine anybody seriously thinks her actions helped to end the war one day sooner.
I never understood the rationale of bombing property in the US to "bring the Vietnam war home." As Mystery Girl says, it turned public opinion against war protesters and it's morally wrong.
In the context of Libby's book, the more relevant question is whether the department store bombing was realistic for the time, place and characters. I think the answer is a resounding yes. It's also realistic that the characters would come to understand that they were wrong to turn to violence to try to advance their aims.
When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began to focus on the war in Vietnam, I didn't understand and thought it inappropriate. But I later saw that his commitment to non-violent change was across the board, not just about racism. The characters in Libby's book didn't even think twice about their violent act. I do not feel it was justified in any way, shape or form.
I think a more interesting question is, What would happen if Dar and his accomplices bombed a department store -- any building, for that matter -- today? I have no doubt that all three of the characters would have been charged as terrorists, as would most of the real-life members of the Weather Underground, SDS, Black Panthers and other contemporary political groups.
On the other hand, if Dar et al. (and their real-life cohorts) were fighting The Man today, they would probably be hackers or cyber-terrorists, with much farther-reaching impact than any single improvised explosive device could cause.
@ K. Brewer~ It's a scary thought but I think your thoughts are in line with reality. With technology as global as it is now, it's much easier to reach the far masses then it was in the 60s. If it took a week to get 1,000 people to assemble in the 60s, it would probably take a day to assemble 1,000 people now with the use of facebook, twitter, etc... (I totally made up hours/# of people just for arguments sake). I've read newspaper articles about how hs students would tweet in the morning about a fight taking place after school and by the time school is over hundreds of students (even from other schools) have assembled. Goes to show that for all the good technology brings to the world, it can also be very scary when it gets into the wrong hands.
As a rational for bombing property in the US, I should point out that I personally don't agree with bombing things, I think students thought there wasn't any difference between bombing another country, Vietnam, and bombing their own country. If the US was bombing people, you had to bring it home to show them what it was like. As I said, I don't agree with this but I remember listening to people trying to rationalize those types of actions.
Regarding bombing, the intentions behind it. With Dar's group, as with real Vietnam War protesters, it seems to be a case of of bringing the war home, showing The Man, showing our country what it feels like to be bombed. In Spokane, Washington recently, some city workers preparing the route for a large Martin Luther King, Jr. parade discovered a backpack filled with explosives left on a park bench near the route. It was rigged to go off via remote control. Spokane is close to Hayden Lake, Idaho, where remnants of a group of white supremacists live, and Spokane has been the site of demonstrations and marches by that group. One of them was questioned about the bomb, and he denied any knowledge of it, but he said something like, "Of course, we wouldn't have been adverse to seeing it go off."
Even if a bomb targets an empty building rather than people, I agree with the rest of you. It's wrong. How do protesters protest a war by using violence themselves without being hypocritical? Violence makes protest cross the line into terrorism.
Yes, violence makes protest cross the line into terrorism. The recent protests in the Middle East could actually reduce the effectiveness of terrorist recruiting. People may be seeing that peaceful protest can be more effective than terrorism at bringing about change. I recognize that there is a long way to go before we know whether there has been any real change in Egypt, for example, but the fact that peaceful protest led to government change in Tunisia and Egypt is stunning.
While I think that civil disobedience and non-violent protest is the preferred course, there is nonetheless a distinction between destroying public property versus destruction of private property. Ditto for the difference between targeting military personnel as opposed to killing private, civilian citizens. Therein lies the difference between revolution and terrorism.