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Ex SDS Behind Obama’s Anti-War Speech

A former SDS member and friend of Bill Ayers, Marilyn Katz, was the woman who got Barack Obama to speak at the rally where he first spoke out against the war in Iraq in 2002.

From the May 15-21 issue of Time Out Chicago:

Marilyn Katz speaks out in Lincoln Park in August 1968

Take action! Freedom fighters

Six protesters from the ’68 Democratic National Convention rally together again to debate their movement’s legacy and how times have changed.

By Julia Borcherts

Whether you view them as righteous or as radical demons, the 1968 Democratic National Convention protesters had an undeniable impact. The protests and the resulting police riots changed the way the media covered the news, heightened awareness of political, military and social issues and led to changes in the way our primaries impact the general elections. In an effort to understand what went down in our backyard 40 years ago, we found six Chicagoans who participated in the demonstrations, gathered them peaceably in a police- and National Guard–free zone (okay, the TOC offices) and watched some ’68 protest footage to get everyone riled up to discuss that world-changing week…

[Caption for the photo at right:] Marilyn Katz — Then Head of security for MOBE (National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam)

What did you accomplish?

Katz We have a congressional delegation that was forged out of ’68—Danny Davis, antiwar, civil rights; Luis Gutierrez, Young Lords; Jan Schakowsky, consumer and antiwar advocate. It was the ending, for better or for worse, of an illusion which all of us children of the ’50s grew up with—that the U.S. was a total democracy and that our foreign policy was benign. It changed the way power was shared and policy was forged in this country

Did your participation lead to any difficulties or consequences?

Katz: I don’t know for other people; I mean, I think I probably have the longest arrest record of anyone here, since the older Daley really hated me. The longest arrest record—17 arrests in that period of time. But in the end, I think it also made me who I was. And it gave me every skill as an organizer, as an intellectual, as a writer—who left school because I believed there was a revolution. Michael recruited me as a young kid in my sophomore year.

Knowing what you know now, what might you have done differently?

Katz Nothing!

… I think I was who I was now. I think that by the summer of ’68, women were pretty strong, while we were fighting in SDS around women’s stuff, I think Bernardine [Dohrn] and I felt pretty—leadership, in that nobody was going to push us around.

Do you think people were more passionate then?

Katz: Well, men were, as there was a draft—and it very directly affected them. In general, I don’t think the issue was passion, but a sense of possibility. We felt very empowered in the ’60s, that what we did would/could make a difference. The world was a revolutionary place from Paris to Prague, with socialist and progressive countries thriving, and liberation movements throughout Africa. I think today there is a greater sense of desperation, a sense—a reality—that nothing we do will affect Bush, et al. (proven to be true). More people demonstrated against Iraq and Bush just told them, us, and the world to go screw—that no amount of opposition would stop their folly. Thus, the pull of electoral politics this time around…a feeling that only taking over the government can stop the madness.

We learn from The New Republic that it was this same Marilyn Katz who gave Barack Obama the platform where he first spoke out against the Iraq war:

Cinderella Story by Michael Crowley

Is Obama’s Iraq record really a fairy tale?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On the last weekend of September 2002, Marilyn Katz, a p.r. maven and former aide to Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, was awoken by a phone call from her old friend Betty Lu Saltzman. “We have to do something about Bush’s drive to war, ” said Saltzman, a wealthy political gadfly in her seventies. Katz agreed. The two women contacted friends on the local liberal-activist circuit–“a bunch of old sixties radicals,” says Katz–about staging a demonstration. A slew of local politicians were invited to speak. Few accepted. One of them was Obama

From this Washington Post article we learn that this was Barack Obama’s “coming out” as a speaker, according Ms. Katz:

Finding Political Strength in the Power of Words

Oratory Has Helped Drive Obama’s Career — and Critics’ Questions

By Alec MacGillis
Tuesday, February 26, 2008; Page A01

Obama’s first real chance to address matters of higher import came in 2002, when he spoke at a rally against invading Iraq. Marilyn Katz, a longtime Chicago public relations consultant who helped organize the event, recalls it as a kind of coming-out for Obama as a public speaker.

“People who’d never heard of him said, ‘Who is this guy?’ ” Katz said.

From this New York Times article we learn that Ms. Katz organized Vietnam War protests, threw nails in the street, and more recently, has hosted fundraisers for Barack Obama:

Pragmatic Politics, Forged on the South Side

Published: May 11, 2008

As a leader of Students for a Democratic Society then, Ms. Katz organized Vietnam War protests, throwing nails in the street to thwart the police

“For better or worse, this is Chicago,” said Ms. Katz, who has held fund-raisers for Mr. Obama at her home. “Everyone is connected to everyone.”

Indeed, Ms. Katz has become one of Mr. Obama’s top bundlers, according to the Obama campaign website:

Raising from $50,000 to $100,000:

Wendy Abrams (Highland Park, IL)
Charles Adams (Geneva, Switzerland)

Marilyn Katz (Chicago, IL)

Meanwhile, when the relationship between Obama and Bill Ayers first surfaced back in April, Ms. Katz stepped forward to explain why this was not an issue.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Who is Bill Ayers?

2008 CAMPAIGN | Former radical or respected prof, he’s a liability if Obama’s nominated, Hillary warns.

April 18, 2008


Reached by the Sun-Times on her cell phone, Dohrn declined to comment. Ayers, who was traveling, did not return messages.

But friends like Chicago political strategist Marilyn Katz said Ayers should not be a campaign issue.

Katz met Ayers when he was 17 and they were members of Students for a Democratic Society, a group from which the Weather Underground splintered…

“What Bill Ayers and Bobby Rush … did 40 years ago has nothing to do with” the presidential campaign, Katz said

Funny she would say that.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, October 6th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

8 Responses to “Ex SDS Behind Obama’s Anti-War Speech”

  1. BillK says:

    “What Bill Ayers and Bobby Rush … did 40 years ago has nothing to do with” the presidential campaign, Katz said…

    Once upon a time I would have said she couldn’t have been more wrong, given Ayers and Rush were domestic terrorists – no different from McVeigh.

    However, now that the American public has decided that Government meddling in the economy is more “important” than whether say, Chicago exists as anything other than a radioactive crater, she’s absolutely correct.

    I honestly believe that all the “association” claims being made are having no effect on voters, simply because they don’t care.

    They don’t give a damn about whether Obama is qualified or who he hangs around with.

    They just know he’ll “stick it” to the rich and oil companies and make sure that the Government will take care of everybody.

    If you put “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need” on the ballot, I’m absolutely convinced it would pass by about an 80% margin.

  2. DEZ says:

    Is it just me or does the woman look like one of H.G. Wells Morlocks?
    She sure has the soul of one.

  3. 1sttofight says:

    OT but I just have to post this, Sarahcuda handles a jerk. It is at the very end.


  4. Exeter says:

    It disgusts me, seeing these old mavens of the left crawling out of their s**t-holes like they’re veterans come out of retirement to lead the anti-war charge. They were worthless jello-brained traitors then, and they’ve only grown worse with age. They would be wise to look to their souls – there’s a very special place in hell for their kind.

  5. wirenut says:

    Exeter, my Mothers daughter lives this rot . Family gatherings are short .

  6. 1sttofight says:

    Exeter, my Mothers daughter lives this rot . Family gatherings are short .

    Is that like my brothers brother? If so, I completely understand.

    BTW, The first computer i built from scratch is still running 23 hours later. Keep yalls fingers crossed.

  7. Exeter says:

    You have my sympathy, wirenut. I don’t have any geriatric hippies (or hippy wanna-be’s) in my family, but I do have a lot of “Yellow-dog Democrats” who can’t grasp that their party is no longer the Party of Roosevelt. Trying to convince them otherwise is like shouting up the chimney.

  8. MrPurple says:

    Nice work! I hope there is much more info like this that the good guys have on Obama and his radical associations.

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