Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Stephen Ostrander

Viewpoint: League members, unwilling to share power, malign opponents

First Published: The Stanford Daily, Volume 197, Issue 72, 7 June 1990.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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ASKIA MUHAMMAD, AN old friend of mine and a ranking member in the Nation of Islam, once told me “Stephen, always remember to question everybody.” “Even Minister Farrakhan?” I asked. “Even Minister Farrakhan.” he answered.

This is something I have always remembered. It is the reason why I have questioned and subsequently opposed the League of Revolutionary Struggle.

The League exists on this campus, and a lot of people are desperately lying to personal and political friends in a vain attempt to maintain power on this campus.

Many of these friends have approached me to ask for my information about the League. The disillusionment that I have witnessed on their faces after telling them the truth and my sources is something I never want to see again. What sense of morality leads to these lies?

My commitment to progressive/liberal politics is well known. My involvement in the ASSU Committee on Democracy in Education, the People’s Platform, the takeover of University President Donald Kennedy’s office and the California Progressive Student Alliance speaks for itself. While my work in these organizations represents a significant part of my life, my commitment to progressive politics comes from my parents.

In the 1960s, my father worked in the Washington, D.C. civil rights movement as an assistant minister in a black church. As a result of his work with such movement figures as Stokely Carmichael, James Bevel and Martin Luther King Jr., the Federal Bureau of Investigation tapped the telephone lines in his church office and in our house. As a result of the FBl’s “counterintelligence program” (COINTELPRO), my father was interviewed several times about his and others’ activities.

I heard stories about this from a very early age. Through this, I believe I understand subversion and redbaiting, as well as political commitment.

I first became suspicious of outside influence during and after the takeover. Many strangers suddenly appeared. A lot of information was never clarified.

But it was the overwhelming rhetoric that led me to question individuals I thought were my friends. In one of our many meetings after the takeover, Council of Presidents member David Brown, who was leading the meeting, constantly substituted “The Enemy” for “The Administration” in his remarks. When I objected to this, several people, who I now know to be League members, verbally assaulted me.

Every time I suggested that we needed to work with the administration in order to secure the demands of the takeover, League members would scream at me that I was naive and would publicly question my politics. I am still proud that I took part in the takeover, even though I resent that it was secretly controlled by the League.

As a resident assistant in an all-frosh dorm, I have tried to get people involved in issues of multiculturalism. While some of them will never fully appreciate other cultures, most have simply become disillusioned. They feel like they must be “politically correct” or else they will be considered to be racist.

This eventually leads to the belief that multiculturalism is inherently political. It is not. The League, in its quest for revolution, has used the struggle for multiculturalism as a front. As a result of their commitment to politics rather than people, they have done more damage to multiculturalism at Stanford than anyone else.

The reason why the League is important is that it is a powerful secret organization on this campus. Its members are unwilling to share power. Neither are they willing to share credit for the many gains that have been made at this university.

This attitude can be found in Steve Phillips’ assertion that “The Daily articles represent an attack on the progress made at Stanford in the ’80s. To attack those of us named in the article is to attack that progress.” Phillips’ political vanity attests to the League’s assumed ownership of progressive politics at Stanford.

League members who have written letters to the editor over the past few weeks have illustrated this arrogance of power. Behind a shield of “smear campaign,” “racism” and “red-baiting,” they have proposed that information on the League is untrue (which it is not) and represents a “McCarthyist” attempt to subvert the student of color communities. Anyone who has dealt with the the League knows that they are the foremost experts on defamation of character on this campus.

An excellent example of this can be found in former COP member Canetta Ivy. Canetta, like most members of the Black Student Union, opposed the tactics of the takeover. For taking this reasonable stance, those of us in the takeover were told by the League members that Canetta was a “blacker-than-thou” sellout, who was also racist. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I believed the hype.

When I participated last March in a trip with BSU members to Selma, Alabama, to observe the 25th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March, I got to know the real Canetta. The real Canetta is the baddest, most dedicated and loving sister I know.

Many people associated with the League members have been led to believe that Canetta is the ultimate evil at Stanford. This is just one small example of the League’s power.

I would like to ask League members to stop lying. I often wonder if they can. While much of the information about the League remains out of print, I am thankful that the basic fact is out: The League is here.

Even with the intimidation of League members, I have faith that activists on this campus now know what time it is and hopefully will not be afraid to question their political environment.

To the members of the League of Revolutionary Struggle, I have only one thing to say: try to keep your integrity, because in the end, it’s all you got.

Stephen Ostrander
Senior, American studies