Monthly Archives: June 1974

1974.06.21: Rally Protests SLA Slaughter (Workers’ Power)

Workers’ Power, June 21-July 4, 1974
[Michael Letwin present]

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1974.06.04: Red Tide Emergency Bulletin

1974.06.04 -- Red Tide Emergency Bulletin (Censorship)_Page_1 1974.06.04 -- Red Tide Emergency Bulletin (Censorship)_Page_2 1974.06.04 — Red Tide Emergency Bulletin (Censorship)

1974.06.01: The Hearsts and the SLA: The Shootout (Red Tide)


Red Tide #13
Summer 1974

The Hearsts and the SLA: The Shootout
[By Michael Letwin]

The massacre of 6 reputed members of the Symbionese Liberation Army (S.L.A.) on Friday, May 17th in South-Central L.A. proved two fundamental things. One was that a few armed people who try to take on the government are going to be quickly killed. The other was that the racist cops will not hesitate to use Vietnam style terrorism methods on anyone who challenges them. In the case of this shootout, this meant the total disregard for the members of the black community which police occupy every day, and which they turned into a battleground.


Whether or not you agree with the methods of goals of the S.L.A., one cannot help but notice that what the cops did in the black community, which included not warning inhabitants of the area of the impending massacre, the deliberate burning of the house occupied by the S.L.A. (and subsequent refusal to put out the fire) and generally [G]estapo like methods employed in the S.L.A. members’ destruction, was sickening. Can you imagine them doing the same thing in Beverly Hills?


The cops however were not the only ones to have fun on that Friday afternoon. The news media also had quite a field day. Reporters considered themselves brave guardians of the truth, while callously mentioning that thank god no one but the S.L.A. members were seriously hurt or killed. (They don’t count.) It was clear whose side they were on[,] especially when they all stated practically in unison that “this is the stuff that Medal of Valor Awards are made of.”

We agree completely: the murder and disregard for poor and working people is that very material that cops get patted on the back for. And after all, it takes a lot of courage for the police to attack 6 people when there are only about 500 of them with the most advanced automatic weapons available!


We on the R.T. feel that the S.L.A. will accomplish nothing but their own death with the elitist and ineffective methods they use. But however crazy, they were created by a destructive and rotten system, and we do not support their massacre by the police. This feeling was expressed quite a bit by members of the besieged community who felt that the police attack was totally unjustified[,] and it is quite clear that their sympathy lay with the S.L.A.

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See:] 

1974.06.01: Board Supports Censorship (Red Tide)

Board Supports Censorship






Red Tide #13
Summer 1974

Board Supports Censorship
[By] Michael Letwin – Uni High

On March 25th, one of those strange meetings took place at the Board of Education[,] in a committee [that] was assigned to deal with the question of censorship of [official] school newspapers.


This issue has been raised strongly for about a year, primarily by a teacher at Canoga Park High in the Valley, Mike Weiner, who is the journalism advisor, and who has been fighting to have freedom of expression in school newspapers.

The Board of Education wants to be able to make sure that[,] while they now are sometimes forced to allow off-campus publications a certain amount of freedom, they still have control over school newspapers.

Anyone who has ever worked on the staff of a school paper will know that students can print only what the teacher “advisor” and/or school administration allows. Articles are always being censored that criticize the school, or in some cases, the policies of the government or those that express unpopular ideas.


The Board’s main argument was that since school papers are part of the normal school curriculum, they are not covered by the U.S. Constitution or by the State Education Code (section 10611)[,] both of which guarantee students the right of freedom of expression on campus. This view was expressed especially by Board member Newman, and by the Board’s attorney, Ron Apperson.


Apperson put forward a proposal[,] which says that it is the principal and school authorities who should decide what should be able to go into school papers. It also said that under certain conditions[,] students should be able to write controversial articles. However, anyone who has ever dealt with administrators knows that in a rule that gives them any power of censorship, it will be used more often than not as an excuse to suppress students’ rights to express themselves.

Sometimes when articles are censored, the student who wrote it suffers personally. For instance[,] there was an incident at Palisades High School where a woman who wrote an article denouncing the War in Vietnam was sent to “opportunity room” for several days, and upon returning was told to write an article on the cheerleaders. Although such drastic measures usually do not occur, censorship on a daily basis of school papers happens all the time.


Another thing that happens on many occasions is that students have been taught so well throughout their years in school that you are not supposed to write articles that do not deal with the homecoming queen and senior class activities, that students do not even think of writing different kinds of articles. It is this censorship[,] [which] is much more subtle and effective[,] that is most dangerous.


At the [Board of Education] meeting, speakers from the Red Tide attempted to make the above points, but as usual, the Board members said that they’d “think about it.” This lack of response was just as true for “liberal” member Hardy as it was for conservative Newman.


Finally on April 22nd, the Board of Education voted 4-3 to allow principals to censor whatever they want out of school newspapers. The decision was summed up in a statement by reactionary Board member Chambers, when he said that papers must reflect “morality, ethnics and good taste.” His no doubt.

Mike Weiner is not giving up. He and the Journalism Teachers Association are suing the Board of Education to allow more freedom in school papers. We support the actions of these journalism teachers. Yet we do have some tactical criticisms. They have failed to solicit active student support for their actions, a step [that] is indispensable to the success and maintenance of student rights. We also go a step beyond the JTA.


We feel that the only real solution to the question of censorship is not to have any. Once any power is granted to administrators to censor, it will probably be abused. School papers should be run by the students and teachers who [produce] them, with all students and teachers having access to them. This is a democratic solution, [and] in our opinion, the only lasting one.

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See:]


1974.06.01: Destruction L.A. Rapid Transit (Red Tide)

Rapid Transit

Red Tide #13
Summer 1974

Destruction L.A. Rapid Transit
[By] Michael Letwin – Uni High

We of the Red Tide are always talking about how the rich rule this country in their interests and not in the interests of the vast numbers of people. Here’s an example.

A recent article in the L.A. Times (2/25/74) reported that three huge corporations: General Motors, Standard Oil of California, and Firestone Tires, have played a dominant role in destroying more than 100 electric train transit systems (rapid transit) in 45 cities – including Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, St. Louis and Los Angeles – between the years of 1932 and 1956. According to a recent study made by Bradford C. Snell, Southern California was hit hardest by the conspiracy of the above-mentioned companies.


For those of us who don’t remember, Southern California once had the world’s largest interurban electric railway system[,] which was run by Pacific Electric. In 1945 alone, its “Big Red Cars” carried 110 million passengers. The last of these trains ran in 1961, only 59 years after the line was opened.


Snell says the destruction of the system was accomplished by National City Lines, a sort of front company for GM, Standard Oil of Calif., and Firestone Tires. These companies gave $9 million by 1950 to convert 16 states to GM buses. The bus lines were sold to operators who were required to sign a contract specifying the types of equipment they could buy. Slowly but surely, these companies were able to buy up the smog-free rapid transit systems in many cities and provided instead noisy, dirty buses that take hours to transport one, instead of the high speed clean rail system. The fact that these buses were so unpleasant had the effect on many more people to buy cares, causing more smog, freeways, but most importantly – profits for GM and its partners!

We all know how good it would be to have a decent rapid transit system, which could be [non]-polluting, clean and fast. L.A. and the surrounding area once was provided with one.


It did not disappear by accident! When several of the world’s largest corporations saw that they could make more money, even if it meant that the people of the area would suffer, they jumped at the chance.

It is for this reason that we advocate a social and economic system which would be democratically controlled and owned by the large number of working people in society, so that the power of a few of the rich to ruin the rest of our lives for profits would no longer exist.

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See:] 


1974.06.01: Black History Series No. 9: History of An Unfree People: The Myth of Lincoln (Red Tide)


Red Tide #13
Summer 1974

Black History Series No. 9: History of An Unfree People: The Myth of Lincoln
[By Michael Letwin]

The story of Abraham Lincoln as told to us in school and elsewhere is probably one of the . . . falsest ones in the history of the U.S. No other public official has had the virtually un-criticized write-up in history that he does. Lincoln is presented as a common man, unpretentious, and most importantly – a humanitarian. He (so they tell us in school) was so good that[,] out of his milk of human kindness, he freed black people from slavery.

It’s a lie.


First of all[,] Lincoln planned his political career to a much greater extent [than] most politicians of his time, and perhaps of ours. He used his image as a “common man” to get himself elected and he actually owed his early political successes not to his taking courageous stands on weighty moral issues, but rather over his popular fight to move the state capital of Illinois to Springfield!

In Lincoln’s 1836 campaign for the Illinois state Legislature, he made it clear how he regarded the civil rights of blacks: “I go for admitting all whites to the right of suffrage [vote].”

During the tumultuous years before the Civil War, Lincoln was surprisingly silent on the subject of slavery. He went so far however [as] to denounce abolitionists (those who really fought for an end to slavery), claiming that it was much more important to obey the law than it was to free black slaves.

Lincoln also refused to condemn the “Fugitive Slave Law,” which allowed slaves who escaped from their Southern bondage to be chased, caught, imprisoned and returned to slavery[,] even in the Northern states where slavery was illegal. An example of this attitude was shown when in 1849, in penning a law to abolish slavery in Washington D.C., he made sure that the law included a provision stating that slaves who came to D.C. after escaping from other areas should be returned to their masters by “active an efficient means.”


It was not until 1854, at the age of 45, [that] Lincoln publicly declare[d] himself to be against slavery. On October 4th at a speech delivered at the Hall of Representatives in Springfield, Illinois. . . . Lincoln went as far as saying that the slaves might be freed and kept “among us as underlings.”

When Lincoln finally did come out against slavery, he did so mainly on the grounds that black slave labor was a threat to white free labor (as if the way that people work today is “free”). He did in no way advocate equal rights of any sort for blacks[,] as illustrated in a speech given in Peoria, Ill.:

The whole nation is interested in the best use shall be made of these territories. We want them for homes for free white people. This they cannot be, to any considerable extent, if slavery be planted within them.

And on Sept. 18, 1858, in Charleston, South Carolina:

I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races [applause], that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people. . . . And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.


As we all know, Lincoln was elected president in 1860. In his inaugural address in 1861, Lincoln made clear that while he was against slavery in the new states (stolen from Indians and Mexicans), he would not attack it in the South.

Now this seems kind of weird for the reason that Lincoln did fight a [w]ar against the South[,] which had the effect of freeing black slaves. But let’s look more closely.


The Civil War developed when the economic system of agricultural slavery in the South could no longer exist side by side with developing Northern industry. The War was basically a contest between the two systems as to which would be in total control. The South left the Union because the North was winning. It came down to a fight between the big capitalist class in the North against the slave and land owning aristocracy in the South.

Lincoln was the representative of the wealthy industrial class in the North.

However what Lincoln and many others at the time did not understand was that in order to win the War, the North had to destroy the economic power of the South, and this included slavery.

Lincoln stated early in the War that his purpose was to bring the South back to the Union with slavery intact.

In fact when General Fremont of the Union army declared slaves to be free in Missouri[,] and Gen. Hunter did so in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, Lincoln promptly countermanded the orders.


When Lincoln did sign the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 it was because he finally realized that in order to destroy the South, slavery as an institution of the South had to be destroyed in order for the North to win. He also knew that even if the North won militarily, unless he did away with slavery, the basis for the War would again exist.

So when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, it was not out of his milk of human kindness, but rather because he finally got wise to reality. It was not until this point also that blacks were permitted in the armed forces of the North (not as equals, of course).

Another funny thing about the Emancipation Proclamation was that it freed slaves in areas only where the South was in control and therefore out of reach of Lincoln, and conspicuously excluded other counties where the Union was in control. It was done “as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion.”

Perhaps Lincoln’s “great” deed could be summed up best in his own words: “I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me!”


Now granted, all of this differs sharply from the lies in school textbooks like “History of a Free People” and “Our American Republic,” but it is only one lie of many [about] black history.

SOURCE: The American Political Tradition – Hofstadter

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See:]