The Weather Underground

Sam Green, Bill Siegel. | 92 minutes. <br>The Free History Project.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Though it has been years in the making, the timing of this documentary portrait of the Weathermen — college students who spent the ’70s planting bombs and plotting revolution — is uncanny. Watch the film, and it’s impossible not to wonder what response the Weather- men’s bombs might provoke today.

The documentary traces the Weathermen’s violent opposition to the Vietnam War — starting with breaking shop windows in Chicago in 1969 and escalating to the bombing of a U.S. Capitol lavatory in 1971. Aided by a superb array of archival news footage and present-day interviews with former Weathermen and one of the FBI agents who pursued them, the film captures the symbiotic relationship of the right- and left-wing political zealotry of the Vietnam era. The violence and racism of that war spurred the activists to splinter from the Students for a Democratic Society. But, equally true, the government and the media used the Weathermen’s strikes to discredit the entire antiwar movement.

With the fall of Saigon in 1975, the militants ran out of ammunition, so to speak, and their numbers dwindled. The film concludes with ’80s images of one-time radical Jane Fonda leading the nation in a recuperative workout, and the sight of former Weathermen member Brian Flanagan winning $20,000 on Jeopardy. You don’t need a weatherman to know that only the most bizarre act of nature could change the prevailing winds today.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest