When I was 16, I was a radical.
And I had a good friend who was, maybe, more radical than me.
He was Curt Ellis, also about 16, and the co-founder of the White Panther Party in New Jersey.
I wasn’t a “joiner,” but I identified more with SDS – Students for a Democratic Society.
We went to demonstrations, got busted in the May Day riots of 1971 and created as much mayhem as we could. That’s what misguided youths did in those days.
I kind of lost track to Curt Ellis until about eight years ago, when he was working as a senior policy adviser for America First Policies – an avowedly pro-Donald Trump group.
It was quite a reunion, while it lasted. In 2014 Ellis began writing a weekly exclusive column for WND.
But Curt Ellis died Sunday after a long illness.
Boasting a life journey that spanned from his time as a teenage radical to an activist targeting the IRS for shutdown, it was quite a life.
“My acquaintance with protest marches and the left began before I made it to high school,” Ellis explained a few years ago. “I took it quite seriously, carrying the Little Red Book and studying Mao Zedong’s ‘On Contradiction’ and Lenin’s ‘State and Revolution.’ … We offered draft counseling advice on how to avoid going to Vietnam and never did like the local liberals who didn’t seem to get it.”
Said Ellis: “I started a local chapter of the White Panther Party, an outfit jazz poet-philosopher John Sinclair had launched in Detroit and Ann Arbor. We published an underground paper titled Insurrection, featuring an AK-47 on the masthead. … We were cultural revolutionaries. We staged an all-night rock festival to raise money for the Chicago Seven defense fund, and Jerry Rubin came to speak.”
Ellis likened his involvement in revolutionary protest to membership in the terrorist organization ISIS:
“Given every advantage in life, all I wanted for my birthday was an M-1 carbine,” he said. “I imagined going out in a hail of bullets. Luckily, that didn’t come to pass. What began as protest politics had taken on all the trappings of cult mentality. I understand how some are now drawn to ISIS.”
After being arrested, “in a particularly violent fashion,” Ellis said he began to change.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins beneath your feet,” said Ellis, “and I took the first step. I began to question the orthodoxies of the New Left just as my earlier questioning of other orthodoxies had led me to the New Left.”
Continued Ellis: “The left places its faith in a managerial solution to the problems of human society. I place my faith in a spiritual solution. As Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, ‘The only way out is up.'”
After leaving “the New Left,” Ellis was involved in various forms of media, with four decades of experience in national broadcast and print as a writer, producer, reporter, copywriter and talk-show host.
Ellis studied Broadcasting at San Francisco State University and worked as an on-air reporter for the Associated Press Radio Network in New York City and Public Radio International’s “Marketplace.” He produced and hosted talk-radio shows in Denver and New York City. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN and MSNBC.
As a political communications strategist, Ellis worked on campaigns at the state local and federal level, and served as spokesman for several issue-specific organizations, including the Coalition to Repeal the 16th Amendment.
Ellis traveled around the world and wrote features on destinations in Latin America, Europe, Asia, Israel and Africa.
He used to talk about working on a newspaper called Insurrection. I was right there with him on that project, and the name alone gives you a pretty good idea of its content and viewpoint. It was Nancy Pelosi’s nightmare. Make no mistake about it: We were not liberals. That word would have been an insult to us. We were revolutionaries – at least in our own minds and relationships.
Curt and I reached similar destinations in our worldviews. I think today’s conservatives and libertarians can learn much about the effectiveness of the extreme left from people who were a part of it. And less political people can learn much about its truly evil nature from those of us who were involved.
I’m thankful to have reconnected with Curt Ellis and for having the opportunity to feature his weekend column here on WND. He will be missed.
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