Children of the Left

Via Politics in the Zeros, the story of Chesa Boudin, son of former members of the 60's Weather Underground who are now in prison. Chesa, himself an activist, particularly on the issue of children of the imprisoned, has just been named a Rhodes Scholar from Yale.

"Since his parents' arrests, Boudin has become part of the family of two other former Weathermen, Bill Ayers, now an education professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and Bernadine Dohrn, director of the Legal Clinic's Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University. "

"Boudin often is invited to speak at conferences, to prison officials and other groups as an advocate for children whose parents are imprisoned. He also is member of Yale Coalition for Peace, helping organize protests against military action in Iraq. He hopes to pursue a career fighting for human rights and social justice issues in developing countries in Latin America."

What a great story and affirmation that we can influence and inspire our children--it really resonated with us. We don't talk about "TalkLeft, Jr." much here as we don't want to interfere with his privacy, but we don't think he'd mind us mentioning that he is interning this year, his senior year at N.Y.U., at the Cardozo Law School Innocence Project, run by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, and is in the process of applying to law schools. In high school, he worked for McVeigh's lead attorney Stephen Jones. According to him, it was then he decided the values of the defense side were not just the values of his mother, but his own.

Three months after the McVeigh trial ended, we were asked to write an article for an internet publication, Women of Colorado, and we were given our choice of topics. We chose the death of Princess Diana, which had happened a month earlier. We had been home watching tv the night of her fatal car accident, and when it was confirmed that Princess Diana was dead, it shook us pretty badly--even though we hadn't really been Diana admirers up to that point. We opened the laptop and began writing to try to sort our our feelings, and it was this piece that we chose for publication in Women of Colorado. We called it "Diana, Queen of Hearts," and while it began with our reflection on her contributions to those less fortunate, it ended up being about the contributions the rest of us could make. It began:

"The Princess of Wales died this evening."

"Mostly I remember her contributions and her humanitarianism. She went to Bosnia and Angola to protest land mines. She was photographed shaking hands with an AiIDS patient. She visited sick children around the world. Even after her divorce from Prince Charles, she continued her contributions - to the Red Cross and other charities, particularly those dedicated to helping the sick and the young."

"Outpourings of shock and sympathy were received tonight from heads of state the world over - particularly for her young children. Young and vibrant, the Princess clearly made her mark on the world. She was adored in Great Britain - and she will be eulogized for many years to come. I heard a newscaster say tonight that Princess Diana often said she wanted to be remembered as the "Queen of People’s Hearts." I have no doubt she will be. Will the rest of us be so fortunate?

..."I wonder what made so young a woman realize the gratification she would feel from making contributions to others instead of just being on the receiving end? This is the lesson I hope her untimely passing bestows upon the rest of us."

After some paragraphs discussing our feelings about the contributions that criminal defense lawyers make to society, we talked about bringing our 16 year old son on board as a member of the McVeigh Defense team:

" Every day after school from 3:00 to 5:00, he worked at Stephen Jones's office. I paid him myself, so it did not cost the public any money. He was a clerk, a gofer, a xeroxer, a discovery organizer. He helped with exhibits. He filed pleadings with the Court. He occasionally attended court sessions . He became part of the community of 30 people from Oklahoma, Texas and elsewhere who took a hiatus from their lives to preserve and protect our legal system, by ensuring as best they could that a defendant charged with the largest act of domestic terrorism in the nation's history would receive a fair trial. "

"The result: First, he and I had the closest year we ever had. We fully shared in and discussed the case. More importantly, we came to new levels of understanding of each other, as individuals, not just as mother and son. We related to each other as people - I finally learned to stop treating him like a child and began listening to his opinions. In return, he not only listened to mine, but sought them out, on a variety of topics important to teenagers, not just those related to the case."

"Second, and what I am so supremely proud of, are the values he learned and embraced by working inside our criminal justice system. He is proud of his contribution. He is proud of me. He has become deeply committed to the notion that everyone charged with a crime deserves the best defense possible, regardless of her ability to pay. He has learned that only when the trial is fair, can society trust in the integrity of the jury's verdict. "

"My son has learned compassion. He believes in his heart of hearts that the presumption of innocence lies at the very core of our criminal justice system, and that it must be preserved at all costs. He knows that while there are flaws, America has the best criminal justice system in the world. I believe he will bring these values and lessons with him, to college and beyond."

"I have learned the value of contributions to my own sense of personal well-being, as well as to those persons who directly benefit from them. If I could grant a wish for all of us, especially tonight as I find myself profoundly saddened by the loss of Princess Diana, it would be to be like her - to live our private lives as we wish, but to figure out how we can contribute to those less fortunate among us and then do it, so that we not only help others, but also enrich ourselves and teach our children in the process."

We have to believe that Chesa Boudin's parents are as proud of him as we are of our child--in the end, there is no greater contribution any of us can make as parents than to send our children out into the world to find their own way, and watch as they choose a career of public service, or one dedicated to improving the plight of those less fortunate, be it in medicine, law, politics, education, or any other field. Even law enforcement.

We hope we get to meet Chesa one day.

P.S. Happy Birthday Nic, 22 today.

< Celebrity Anti-War Letter | Domestic Spying Tools and Qualms >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort: