"Whitewashing the 1960s Anti-War Movement"
What You Need To Know:
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 is a well-acted, dramatic movie. However, it has a Anti-American, anti-capitalist, politically correct worldview. It falsifies history to make the defendants look better than they were. In reality, the defendants repeatedly made statements advocating violence. Also, all of them sympathized with the communist tyrants in Vietnam and Cambodia, who eventually murdered 2.5 million people in the late 1970s. To learn more about this movie, please visit our review of THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 at Movieguide® dot org (movieguide.org).
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 is a political drama about the United States government’s trial against a group of antiwar leftists in the late 1960s who were accused of inciting riots at the 1968 National Democrat Convention in Chicago. THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 is a well-acted but over-the-top, deceptive propaganda movie that whitewashes the violent, communist leanings of the antiwar activists in question.
After setting the stage and introducing the main characters, the movie presents highlights from about 12 days of the trial, which lasted more than four months. These highlights are interspersed with scenes of the defendants conferring with their lawyers and with each other, plus dramatic flashbacks to the situations that occurred in Chicago during the protests. Attorney General John Mitchell orders two lawyers in the Department of Justice to charge eight protest leaders with conspiracy, crossing state lines to incite a riot, impeding law enforcement officers, and teaching others how to make incendiary devices. The defendants included: Tom Hayden, a primary organizer for the communist group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); Rennie Davis, also of the SDS but acting on behalf of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (MOBE); David Dellinger, a long-time antiwar activist and coordinator for MOBE; Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, co-founders of the Youth International Party, also known as the Yippies, who were expert at gaining notoriety by staging outrageous political pranks and theatrical protest stunts; two graduate students named John Froines and Lee Weiner; and, Bobby Seale, co-founder and chairman of the Black Panther Party.
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 is a well-acted, dramatic but over-the-top and deceptive propaganda movie. Ultimately, it whitewashes the violent, communist leanings of the antiwar activists featured in the story.
Like most movies about historical events, THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 condenses some events to fit its story into a two-hour timeframe. Such a technique is to be expected and is usually fine.
However, the movie clearly has a Romantic, Anti-American, anti-capitalist, politically correct worldview that falsifies history to make the eight defendants look mostly non-violent, solely interested in justice, and merely concerned with stopping an allegedly “unjust” war to save lives, including the lives of American soldiers. For example, Tom Hayden was publicly advocating political violence as early as 1967. His SDS group (Students for a Democratic Society) was a radical Marxist organization formed in 1960 that aimed to establish a communist government in the USA like North Korea. Also, the Black Panther Party co-founded by Bobby Seale was a violent Marxist group that engaged in drug dealing, prostitution, extortion, assault, rape, and even murder (see the entry “Black Panther Party (BPP),” at Discover the Networks, https://www.discoverthenetworks.org/organizations/black-panther-party-bpp/). In reality, all the protest leaders at the trial publicly sympathized with the communist tyrants in Vietnam and Cambodia, who went on to murder 2.5 million people in the late 1970s. In fact, Hayden even visited the totalitarian communist state North Korea with his wife, Jane Fonda. Also, with the help of Senator Ted Kennedy, Hayden and his Chicago 7 co-defendant David Dellinger lobbied the Democrats in Congress to withdraw funding from South Vietnam. They were successful in getting the Democrats controlling Congress to withdraw American aid to the anti-communist forces in South Vietnam. This defunding led directly to the massive slaughter and oppression of millions of people in Vietnam and Cambodia by the communist, anti-capitalist victors in civil wars in those countries.
All that said, the movie is pretty correct in its depiction of the judge in the case, an elderly man named Junius Hoffman (no relation to Abbie Hoffman). Throughout the trial, Judge Hoffman was extremely hostile to the eight leftist defendants and their lawyers. He refused to delay the trial to let Bobby Seale’s attorney recover from gallbladder surgery. Judge Hoffman’s hostile attitude toward the defendants and their lawyers gave them a very strong case to appeal their convictions and the judge’s multiple contempt citations. Some of his contempt citations were upheld, because they were well founded, but the appeals court refused to give the lawyers and the defendants any fines or prison time for them due to the judge’s clear hostility throughout the trial.
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 also includes many “f” words and strong profanities, strong violence, and some sexual and drug references. Moviegoers won’t learn much real history from this abhorrent, deceitful movie.