Like so many others who relish and draw inspiration from the turbulent protest years of the ‘60s, it was with a great sense of sadness and loss that I read of the passing of Abbie Hoffman (Part I, April 13). Though the conservative establishment has long labeled him a “radical,” Hoffman was by far one of America’s greatest patriots. Unlike the current brand of “national heroes” who wrap themselves in the flag seeking America’s best interests merely as a guise for seeking their own, Hoffman was one who struggled for our country’s best interests by fighting for the greater good of all, be they impoverished blacks in the South, peasants in a North Vietnamese hamlet, or those who found sanctuary among the threatened waterways of New England.
Having read all of his books and attended his Los Angeles lectures, I have always been deeply affected by his curious brand of humorous yet compassionate politics. He avoided the dogma and self-serving activism of both the extreme right and left; he simply sought to lessen the degree of suffering and apathy which so terribly afflicts our 20th-Century conditions.
Abbie Hoffman was a champion of the people whose “unpatriotic” stances have always been misunderstood, but represent the hallmarks of true democratic principles, nonetheless. It is most unfortunate that the world has lost such a great man at a time when we are left with so few who aspire to take his place.