“Days of Rage,” which has characterized the extended riots in Seattle and in other American cities, was borrowed from the riots of the late sixties conducted by the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) and its faction, The Weathermen. Why the rage? Many of the radicals in both instances came from affluent families. And why is the rage expressed in violent terms? These are questions that many have pondered, though their pondering has produced few cogent answers.
Thomas Powers has given us a thorough inspection of the SDS movement in his book, Diana, The Making of a Terrorist. The author uses Diana Oughton, daughter of a well-to-do family in Dwight, Illinois, as the centerpiece for depicting other students on the periphery who came to believe that violence was “the only way.” Diana’s mother tried to talk her radicalized daughter into leaving the Weathermen. “But honey,” she warned, “you’re only going to make things worse. You’re only going to get yourself killed.” “It’s the only way, Mommy,” Diana firmly stated. “It’s the only way.”
Violence proved to fulfill her mother’s prophecy and to be Diana’s undoing. Shortly before noon on March 6, 1970, an explosion tore through the front wall of a century-old townhouse in New York City. Diana and three of her co-workers were its tragic victims. The Assistant Chief Inspector of the investigation offered the simplest and least emotional explanation of what had taken place: “The people in the house were obviously putting together the component parts of a bomb and they did something wrong.”