First, an embittered 60's radical offers his thoughts:
To the Editor:
Re "As Ex-Radical Nears Release, Old Wounds Are Reopened" (news article, Aug. 22):
Prof. Todd Gitlin's characterization of Kathy Boudin's case as representative of a "cultural conflict" appears to rationalize and dignify the elitist arrogance of the Weather Underground movement in the late 1960's into the 1980's.
I, like Mr. Gitlin, participated in the antiwar movement. I was a regional organizer for the Students for a Democratic Society.
The S.D.S. movement was kidnapped by deluded, self-important people like Ms. Boudin, who lived out a revolutionary fantasy that was spawned while she lived a life of upper-middle-class privilege.
The deaths of the police officers and the suffering of their families were tragic. The actions of Ms. Boudin were criminal and socially irrelevant.
Brooklyn, Aug. 22, 2003
And my theory about the second letter is that the Times couldn't dredge up anyone to provide this quote on the record, so they printed this instead:
Kathy Boudin participated in the murder of three persons. Her motive, according to her testimony before the parole board reported in your article, was a desire to play Robin Hood, stealing from whites to give to blacks, because of guilt over the white color of her skin.
The commissioners who granted her parole and who are black "did not explain their reasoning." Their sympathy with her state of mind, although understandable, is deplorable.
Los Angeles, Aug. 24, 2003
The key paragraphs that prompted that observation would seem to be:
...Ms. Boudin, who is white, was a passenger in a rented getaway van the police stopped. One guard was killed during the robbery at the mall, and two police officers died in a shootout with the robbers, who leaped from the back of the van.
...The commissioners who granted her parole, Daizzee D. Bouey and Vernon C. Manley, did not explain their reasoning, but in questioning Ms. Boudin, they seemed to express understanding about what she described as her confused state of mind at the time of the crime, her deep feelings of guilt for being white, and her deep desire to prove that she was committed to helping blacks.
The commissioners, who are black, sometimes finished her sentences or tried to sum up her testimony, according to the transcript. At one point, as she described the kinship she had felt with Civil War abolitionists, Commissioner Bouey interrupted, "You should write a book, or write something."