Truth elusive when participants evade responsibility

by Audrey Berlowitz

All written analyses of the killings of Nov. 3rd 1979 ‘– including Jordan Green’s ‘“Unfinished Business’” [June 28, 2006] ‘— leave the reader with the image of a vortex sucking up the verbiage of all involved. At the center of this vortex is the truth, which remains somehow abstruse and inaccessible to us. The reason why this ‘“truth’” continues to elude us has nothing to do with a political conspiracy or cover-up. The atmosphere of ‘“mystery and horror’” surrounds an event to the degree the participants, who made the event happen, are not fully willing to divulge the messy details of their involvement and, most importantly, are not in any meaningful way willing to take responsibility for their words and actions.

Truth is always a complex construction involving memory, fact and feelings. The truth, which sets us free, has to be worked on and created by all participants ‘— this requires risk, candor and rigorous self-critique.

Jordan Green’s article on the Greensboro Nov. 3 killings leaves me thinking the tip of the iceberg has only been grazed in the process of finding the truth. All parties still have too much at stake in preserving the veneer of their legal and/or moral innocence. The way the Greensboro police officers (captains) passed off their responsibilities and duties on that day reminds me of children passing a hot potato at a birthday party, of the squeal of the child’s protest when the potato lands on his or her lap. Instead of getting immersed in the ideologies of the conflicting political groups, which led them to their quackish ‘“low profile approach,’” they (as protectors of community peace) could have soberly identified the risk of violence as well as a plan to prevent it.

Many of the former members of the CWP seem to still believe in the leftist fallacy that if you struggle for good things ‘— worker’s rights, racial justice ‘— the means are irrelevant. It is not only possible but imperative that we, on the left, rigorously critique, in private and in public, the entrenched ideologies by which we formerly and presently live(d), otherwise we risk reproducing the blinding ignorance of many on the right.

Lastly, though I have not read through the transcripts of the trials, it is hard for me to comprehend how four of the five Nazi members could not be convicted for the devastating and inexcusable murders of five human lives. This legal legacy also feeds the vortex and thickens the fog that continues to hover over the incident of Nov. 3.

Audrey Berlowitz lives in Greensboro.