David Dellinger (1915 - 2004)
For opposing war, David Dellinger was jailed during WWII. While incarcerated he and other conscientious objectors were harshly punished for their nonviolent acts of resistance against the racism and brutality inside prison walls.
That he was (according to Leonard Weinglass, a lawyer who defended him in Chicago) “a dissident pacifist as opposed to a passive pacifist” was evidenced in his essay “Declaration of War” from 1945. He explained that he wrote it in response to the US “atomic bombs [that] were exploded on congested cities filled with civilians” in Japan. “The sudden murder of 300,000 Japanese is consistent with the ethics of a society which is bringing up millions of its own children in city slums,” he charged. “There must be civil disobedience of laws which are contrary to human welfare,” he continued. Yet, he insisted, “the war for total brotherhood must be a nonviolent war carried on by methods worthy of the ideals we seek to serve.”
As a lead organizer of the Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam, Dellinger messaged Martin Luther King, Jr. He communicated that King's condemning the war “is long overdue.” “If he fails to act now,” he remarked to a King aide, “history will pass him by.” That spring, April 1967, the iconic Civil Rights leader denounced the war in his landmark speech, “Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam.”
An independent commission (the “Walker Commission”) decided that a “police riot” occurred in 1968 during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. It was, however, the so-called “Chicago Eight” progressive political activists who stood trial. (Later, when one of the defendants, Black Panther leader Bobby Seale, was removed from the case and tried separately, the group became known as the “Chicago Seven.”) To the assistant prosecutor Dellinger was “the principal architect” of the stormy convention week events. But Seale, who was beaten, bound, and gagged in court for demanding his right to the legal council of his choice, called David “a true revolutionary humanist.” He admired him for being “the main Chicago codefendant to support my . . . rights.”
Dellinger was the most outspoken in court. To judge Julius Hoffman he declared, “You want us to be like good Germans, supporting the evils of our decade,” and also “like poor people,” “women,” and “children” who are “supposed to stay in their place.” This court “is a travesty of justice and if you had any sense at all you would know that the record you read condemns you and not us.”
At a Roman Catholic high school booster club gathering, the trial's prosecutor announced, “we've lost our kids to the freaking fag revolution.” “Bobby Seale,” he said while attacking the defendants, “was the only one I don't think was a fag.” For David the comments potentially carried weight. In 1947, his younger brother, Fiske, was murdered for being homosexual.
His death influenced Dellinger. In 1953, activist Bayard Rustin was arrested for homosexual activity and forced to resign from the peace organization, the Fellowship of Reconciliation. (In the judgment of FOR leader, the veteran peace activist Frances Witherspoon whose life-partner was a woman, his continued employment was “at this juncture . . . a considerable liability.” ) Yet, Dellinger stood by him. Praising Rustin's political and organizational skills as “truly inventive, courageous, and brilliant,” he successfully pushed to land him a job at the War Resisters League.
Betty Dellinger noted that her husband “may've been interested in homosexual things.” Indeed, according to David, he had a “short-run sexual liaison” with a male peacenik during a walk to promote peace. He revealed that when younger he received “strong conditioning against homoeroticism” and had dismissed “homosexuality as a disease.” Nevertheless, he developed strong affection for his college roommate who, after Dellinger told him so, “begged” him “never to tell anyone else about it.” “He was,” wrote Dellinger, “ too good a friend . . . to 'insult' me by coming right out and saying that only a queer could fall in love with his roommate.” Ultimately, Dellinger commented that he came “to hold a view that . . . at some natural level everyone is bisexual.”
1. Andrew E. Hunt, David Dellinger: The Life and Times of a Nonviolent Revolutionary (New York: New York University, 2006), 223.
2. Dave Dellinger, “Declaration of War,” in Revolutionary Nonviolence: Essays (Garden City: Anchor, 1971), 18.
3. Revolutionary, 20.
4. Revolutionary, 21
5. Revolutionary, 21.
6. Hunt, 161.
7. Hunt, 161.
8. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam,” (April 1967), note below speech title: “From Ramparts (May 1967), pp. 33-37. This is the authorized form of the original address, slightly condensed for publication by Dr. King,” http://www.h-net.org/~hst306/documents/king.html.
9. Hunt, 201.
10. Hunt, 201.
11. Hunt, 215.
12. Hunt, 215.
13. Hunt, 211.
14. Hunt, 215.
15. Hunt, 215.
16. Hunt, 221-222.
17. Hunt, 222.
18. Ian Lekus, “Losing Our Kids: Queer Perspectives on the Chicago Seven Conspiracy Trial,” in The New Left Revisited, ed. John McMillian and Paul Buhle (Philadelphia: Temple University, 2003), 200, http://books.google.com/books?id=U_Ohks41z2IC&pg=PA200&lpg=PA200&dq=booster+club+fag+revolution+1970&source=bl&ots=AZEySV8eyf&sig=MUvJCq4VyRdnB19XWVBO8eahEjc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=P5rkUI3KPOaJ0QGFt4DwCw&ved=0CEQQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=booster%20club%20fag%20revolution%201970&f=false.
19. “Prosecutor of 'Chicago 7' Denounces 'Fag Revolution,'” February 27, , PDF of a newspaper article from an unnamed newspaper, http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CDkQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fjfk.hood.edu%2FCollection%2FWeisberg%2520Subject%2520Index%2520Files%2FD%2520Disk%2FDemocratic%2520National%2520Convention%2FItem%2520005.pdf&ei=oijaUJSPHoS90AHim4H4DQ&usg=AFQjCNGCF-3P239hU6oJv-uc5GAX07SpTg&sig2=SiF9XAH1pmfemcLceqiNiQ.
20. Hunt, 91
21. Lillian Faderman, To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done for America—A History (Boston: Mariner, 2000), 160.
22. Hunt, 104.
23. Hunt, 105.
24. Hunt 105.
25. David Dellinger, From Yale to Jail: The Life Story of a Moral Dissenter (New York: Pantheon, 1993), 454.
26. Hunt, 24.
27. Hunt, 24.
28. Hunt, 24.
29. Yale, 454.
30. "Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam," VietnamWar.net, http://www.vietnamwar.net/SpringMobilization.htm.
31. "Spring Mobilization," n.p.
32. Hunt, 165.
33. Hunt, 176.
34. Hunt, 172.
35. Hunt, 178.
36. Bruce A. Ragsdale, The Chicago Seven: 1960s Radicalism in the Federal Courts (N.p.: Federal Judicial Center, 2008), 4, http://www.fjc.gov/history/docs/chicago7.pdf.
37. "Judge Orders Bobby Seale Case Dropped," Spokane Daily Chronicle, "Final Fireside Edition," October 10, 1970, front page, http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1338&dat=19701019&id=xKZYAAAAIBAJ&sjid=S_gDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6236,548456.
38. "Bobby Seale (1936— )," under "Biographies," in "The Chicago Seven Conspiracy Trial," History of the Federal Judiciary, Federal Judicial Center, http://www.fjc.gov/history/home.nsf/page/tu_chicago7_bio_seale.html.
39. John D'Emilio, Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin (New York: Free, 2003 ), 192, http://books.google.com/books?id=9bR1TkpkaxwC&q=resign#v=snippet&q=resign&f=false.
40. D'Emilio, 192.
41. "War Resistance and Homophobia: WRL's Hiring of Bayard Rustin," Building Bridges through Revolutionary Nonviolence: Bayard Rustin and the Furture of Peace and Freedom, slide 23, http://www.slideshare.net/warresistersleague/building-bridges-through-revolutionary-nonviolence-bayard-rustin-and-the-future-of-peace-and-freedom.