Sunday, February 11, 2018
"The Radical Story of Patty Hearst" starts on CNN
“The Radical Story of Patty Hearst” aired its first two segments Sunday night, Feb. 11, typical link. Victim, or terrorist? Or both simultaneously.
Jeffrey Toobin (author of a 2016 book “American Heiress”) offers commentary. He focuses on the very radical approach of the SLA, the Symbionese Liberation Army which believed it was waging war on capitalism. Former SLA member Bill Harris narrates. The film actually starts with an aged Steven Weed (her boyfriend at the time) narrating.
Toobin characterizes the Hearst incident as the only major political kidnapping on US soil in US history. (The Getty event in 1973 happened in Italy.) Toobin somewhat dismisses the deepest moral irony of the existence of a “vanguard Army”.
The SLA had not thought of its demands when it kidnapped Patty Hearst on Feb. 4, 1974, after shooting Oakland school superintendent Marcus Foster in November 1973.
It then issued demands that the Hearst Family make huge donations to feed the poor in Oakland (the “People in Need” program). Volunteers had to be recruited to actually do the work. A crime leads to the generation of a social service agency.
Governor Reagan criticized the people who accepted the food on terrorist terms.
The SLA looked at itself as following the Geneva Convention and following prisoner of war rules. Gradually, Patty started to believe the revolutionary ideology as giving her own life meaning.
The SLA actually thought Hearst had more money than he did (sort of the Getty problem in “All the Money in the World”).
The transformation of Patty into a “revolutionary” seems to happen in weeks.