Copyright Chicago Tribune Co. Aug 27, 1996
Bernardine Dohrn and William Ayers took to the streets 28 years ago to protest what they considered the injustices in the world, especially the war in Vietnam.
The former leaders of the Weather Underground still are fighting injustice, but--adapting to the changing landscape of American politics--their current arena is the World Wide Web.
After Dohrn, who wound up on the FBI's Most Wanted List, and Ayers resolved their legal woes, they wound up, together, in the Chicago area.
They work in social programs--she at Northwestern University and he at the University of Illinois at Chicago--and today enjoy the status of folk heroes in leftist circles. And they have discovered the Internet as a medium for social change.
The Web allows 1996 activists to push their ideas without getting their heads bloodied as they did in 1968, said Henry DeZutter, a long-time Chicago political activist and one of a new breed of cyberspace-oriented activists.
This time, the protesters' points can be made with "a few clicks of a personal computer's mouse rather than a few raps of a cop's club," said DeZutter, whose own group, The Community News Project of Chicago, is making heavy use of the Internet for the Democratic National Convention at http://www.mcs.net/ commnews/.
Tuesday night, Dohrn and Ayers will open their home in Hyde Park to debut an ideologically oriented site on the World Wide Web, where the whole skein of 1996's protest movements are within the click of a computer mouse for all who call it up at http://www.democrats.com.
The invitation reads "The Progressive Wing of the Democratic Party hasn't gone underground. . . . We're on the Internet!"
Dohrn and Ayers did not respond to requests to discuss the Web site plans, which also involve more mainstream Democrats, including David Lytel, who set up President Clinton's Web site at http://www.whitehouse.gov.
"There is a lot of room for different ideas in progressive politics, and we're proud to be associated with Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers," said Lytel.
Lytel's White House site is a huge repository of information about the Clinton administration, ranging from sound files of the family cat's meow to the full text of treaties and bills the president has signed into law.
With Bill and Hillary Clinton joining activists such as Dohrn and Ayers on the Web, the Internet covers the American political spectrum as the Democrats gather on the West Side.
This content includes everything from tasteless taunts to carefully crafted arguments.
Among the most information-packed is a site directed at delegates and reporters posted by DeZutter's Community News Project, which is funded in part by the MacArthur Foundation.
Many of the most confrontational of the Web sites are linked to a Web page at http://www.cs.uchicago.edu/cpsr/ccia/ sponsored by the Chicago Coalition for Information Access.
This site offers links to radical protest tips and resources, including a list of who plans to protest what and where, and information about how protest organizers can find legal help from the National Lawyers Guild in the event of arrests.