As some in Berkley/Oakland and Austin, Texas celebrate the murders of four police officers by child-rapist Lovelle Mixon, the recent release of Sarah Jane Olson, fugitive, murderer, attempted cop killer and Weather Underground activist should remind us of the origins of the sentiment “kill the pigs.”
Well-off radicals like Olson descended on poor communities in Oakland in the late Sixties, when it was hip to do so, and fomented violence there in the name of “revolution.” When the wretched stakes for real community members wore out their welcome, these itinerant revolutionaries trotted back to their to upper-class enclaves, leaving conditions in the impoverished, urban, minority neighborhoods much worse than they found them.
There is a direct path from the careless radicalism practiced by Olson to those who are celebrating the murder of four police officers today. When someone calling himself the “Prisoner of Conscience Coalition, Minister of Information” posts anonymous internet screeds threatening police sympathizers and mocking the murdered officers, he is mimicking “kill the pigs” rhetoric that should have died out when the last Weatherman traded his dashiki for a pair of Hush Puppies, reinstatement to the family trust fund, and the tenure track. The Hush Puppy crowd has much to answer for in Oakland this week. So, too, has the anonymous POCC Minister. Everything old is new again, as evinced by the instantaneous, postmortem rehabilitation of Mixon himself.
Meanwhile, amazingly, a few journalists are still defending Olson. Last week, Twin Cities Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario fired off a “humorous” column complimenting the post-conviction conduct of both Sarah Jane Olson and Stanley Dean Baker, a confessed cannibal who murdered a social worker and was found with the woman’s hacked-off fingers in his pocket.
Rosario’s column, “Come On, Sarah Jane Olson is not Osama Bin Laden,” starts off as a jokey comparison between Olson and Baker (Which would you rather live next to, the cookie-baking mom or the cannibal?). But in an apparent warm rush of good feelings about any convicted killer, Rosario abandons this modicum of judgment and spends the rest of the piece paying tribute to the good character of both.
Funny stuff, hacking a social worker to pieces. Rosario cracks a joke about Baker’s nickname (Fingers). He slavishly praises one parole officer who calls Baker “brilliant,” and claims — as if it matters, or is true – that Baker never killed again. He doesn’t manage to get around to bothering to name Baker’s forgotten victim, but he does take the time to scold the public for not adequately appreciating a parole system that gives men like Baker a second chance. He also expresses outrage that Baker lost a job, once, after people learned of his grotesque crimes. That “injustice” arouses his slumbering indignation. Anything for a convict, you see.
Pretty appalling stuff. But the most dishonest aspect of Rosario’s column is what he leaves out – the facts of Sarah Jane Olsen’s unfunny crimes. Olson participated in the murder of Myrna Opsahl, a mother of four. She planted explosives under police cars that were parked in public places. She kicked a pregnant woman in the stomach during a bank robbery, causing her to miscarriage. Rosario doesn’t mention these facts. He talks about her cookie-baking instead.
A week and four dead police officers later, Rosario’s whitewash of Sarah Jane Olson’s attempts to kill policemen is even less forgivable. It’s rhetoric like this, and the unrepentant posture of Olson herself, that lives on, sadly, in neighborhoods in Oakland that can ill afford such self-destructive theatrics.