The last revolutionary

When we see her face, the question we will be asking is how could one of those bright, caring people like Kathleen Ann Soliah turn into one of the brutal killers of the SLA and then emerge again as a bright, caring mother named Sara Jane Olson?

She came from a conservative California home, was active in high school and studied theater in college. Nothing to indicate a future criminal in that.

She married a doctor, volunteered in Africa, and continued to give her time and efforts to good causes, like cooking food for the homeless. She raised her kids right and stayed far away from trouble.

But something happened in those middle years and it was the ’70s.

It’s difficult to see it now, but the country was torn by the insanity and death brought by the Vietnam War. The government’s violence was then unjustly used against peaceful protesters and radicals. Why not fight back?

It was at that point that Kathleen Soliah saw her best friend, Angela Atwood, killed in a fiery shootout with the hated LAPD. At a protest in Berkeley she said her friend had been “viciously murdered by 500 pigs.” That’s how people talked back then.

But it was her actions that have put Sara Jane Olson where she is today, and she’ll have to live with her decisions. The people who lived the ’70s know that many had to ask themselves this question: Do you destroy property and take up arms in the name of changing unjust situations? Is violence against others justifiable under the circumstances of the ’70s? That was the line that most didn’t cross, some did.

The members of the SLA were caught up in the anger and the vengeance of their time. Now they are caught up in it again, only it is coming the other way.