Paul Buhle, Jesse Lemisch: Former SDS members making news

Historians in the News

In an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, historian Maurice Isserman identifies Brown University's Paul Buhle, as one of the three key leaders of the new SDS.

Although Buhle holds no official position in the new SDS, he is among the principal elders involved in the effort to revive it and is an editor at Next Left Notes. Now in his early sixties and a senior lecturer in history and American civilization at Brown University, he joined the original SDS while an undergraduate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He still writes with the sense of enthusiasm and mission that characterized the radical manifestoes of the 60s, as suggested by his comments in Next Left Notes:"With a great deal of cooperation and energetic effort from students of all kinds, SDS can become great again. Building it, growing personally while sharing the project with old friends and those not discovered yet, can be the most rewarding experience imaginable."

The two other key leaders says Isserman are Bruce D. Rubenstein,"a lawyer in his late fifties with a personal-injury practice in Hartford, Conn." and Thomas Good, the editor of Next Left Notes. Good, says Isserman, disparaged another historian at the debut convention of the new SDS last August:

Some months before the convention, another veteran of the original SDS, the historian Jesse Lemisch, wrote a long article in the journal New Politics criticizing the nostalgia that was evident in some radical circles for the days when the Weathermen were on the march and on the lam. Lemisch's jeremiad, and other negative appraisals of the new SDS, including — full disclosure — some critical comments that I offered in response to an inquiry from a New York Sun reporter, did not sit well with Good. He began his account of the August convention for Next Left Notes by mentioning that on its opening day a fellow SDSer presented him with a"fuck Jesse Lemisch" T-shirt. He proudly wore it at subsequent sessions. It was, he averred,"an in joke that wasn't really mean spirited." He characterized Lemisch to his 11-year-old son as"just a grumpy old SDSer who is still fighting the battle of 1969 — although he means well, he sees Weathermen popping up in his soup."

Click here for an excerpt from the Isserman article.

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