One-by-one, time is catching-up with the fugitive relics of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Last week California police arrested Emily and Bill Harris, two would-be radicals who joined with the ranks of black ex-convicts and used their brand of violence of make headlines in 1975.
Of course the SLA was most famous for their kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. But along the way they robbed a bank and killed a customer to help finance their radical brand of politics. The remnants of the SLA then slipped into the shadows and spent over two decades as average citizens. Surely they must have known someday their past would catch them. But given their arrogance, perhaps not.
The Harrises were arrested along with Steven and Kathleen Soliah, two other SLA alumni and that leaves one remaining member at large. The others were killed in the '70s. Their brand of politics hopefully died with them.
The "radicals" thought that violence would change the political attitude in America. They were wrong of course as most radicals often are. But they used their political views as an excuse for their violence and greed and thus, justified their actions. We hope they spend their remaining days in jail remembering the deceased victim they left dying on the bank lobby floor that day so long ago.
Time has a tendency to soften our views and to create heroes where none should exist. The SLA was a group of thugs and idealists who wanted American to adopt their brand of politics. When they found no one taking to the idea they decided to create havoc to gain attention. Their message was long lost in their violence. We must not allow time to change the truth.
These "radicals" were bad then and they remain bad today. They cannot and should not be allowed to justify their violence because of their noble goals. A crime is a crime regardless of the lofty goals it might seek to change. You need not look beyond the SLA to learn that lesson.