Jerry Rubin, one of two "Conspiracy 8" defendants who came to the Chicago trial under arrest and in the custody of U.S. marshalls, is a co-founder and leader of the Youth International Party (Yippies), and is said to be the "brains" behind the movement. He was a key leader in the 1967 student sit-ins at Berkeley; acted as coordinator of the October 1967 march on the Pentagon; and is an experienced organizer of war protests.
Rubin has been prominent during the trial, if for no other reason than his unconventional dress in court, a yellow and red-striped polo shirt, and the clowning he has indulged in with fellow Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman. He also, however, has featured as the target of much testimony by witnesses for the prosecution, who have related various incidents of his inciting demonstrators during the Convention riots in Chicago, some of which incidents have been detailed in previous Situation Reports.
Rubin was born on 14 July 1938 in Cincinnati, Ohio; graduated in 1956 from Cincinnati's Walnut Hills High School, which is described as having then been "the goal of Jewish mothers with sixth graders"; and in 1961 received an AB degree in American history from the University of Cincinnati. He attended Hebrew University in Jerusalem during 1962-1963; and upon his return to the United States entered the University of California at Berkeley as a graduate student in sociology, but remained for only two months. Thereafter, in the summer of 1964, in a group of eighty-four, he visited Cuba, in violation of State Department regulations, on a trip sponsored by the pro-Castro Student Committee for Travel to Cuba.
It was following this visit to Cuba that Rubin entered upon his New Left career. As one newspaper account expressed it, he became: "Jerry Rubin, public troublemaker, blocking troop trains in California, running for mayor of Berkeley, organizing the march on the Pentagon, getting busted in Chicago." The same April 1969 Washington Post account stated that, "At thirty-one, he lives in a strange man-boy world, completely cynical about manipulating the media, rushing to a TV set so he can see his 'rap' on the evening news, calculating what will drive adults up the wall...(but that) At the same time he is intensely earnest in his role as Marxist preacher to the young."
Rubin, in 1967, was an unsuccessful candidate for mayor of Berkeley, California, on a platform which opposed the Vietnam war and "American imperialism", and espoused Black Power and the legalization of marijuana.
In the fall of 1967, Rubin and Dick Gregory founded the Youth International Party; and in 1968 Eldridge Cleaver of the Black Panther Party suggested that Rubin run for Vice President on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket, on which he was to be the Presidential candidate. (However, at the New York Peace and Freedom Party Convention in July 1968, another was named as "interim candidate for Vice President.") As of August 1968, when the National Democratic Convention began, Rubin was the Chicago organizer for the Youth International Party.
Since launching his new militant career, Rubin has been arrested on a number of occasions: On 24 August 1965, in San Francisco with a group demonstrating against General Maxwell Taylor; on 19 August 1966, in Washington, D.C., for causing a disturbance during a session of the House Committee on Un-American Activities; on 30 November 1966, for demonstrating on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley; on 13 June 1968, in New York City, on a charge of possessing marijuana; and twice in August 1968, during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, on charges of disorderly conduct, mob action, and resisting arrest.
Rubin can possibly best be pictured by quoting his own words, notably statements made by him in an article he wrote for Evergreen magazine (May 1969) titled: "A Yippie Manifesto". In this he describes the Yippies as a "revolutionary religious movement" and states that: "The religion of the Yippies is 'Rise Up and Abandon the Creeping Meatball!!' That means anything you want it to mean. Which is why it is so powerful a revolutionary slogan." Rubin promotes the much-quoted Yippie warning, "Don't trust anyone over thirty!", but says: "We are born twice. My first birth was in 1938 but I was reborn in 1964 in the Free Speech movement...I am four years old." According to Rubin, Bertrand Russell, age ninety, "is our leader."
Regarding the war in Vietnam, Rubin has stated: "The purpose of the Vietnam war is to get rid of the blacks. They are a nuisance. America got the work she needed out of blacks but now has no use for them." "It's a psychological war. The old send the young to die for the old." He sees the U.S.A. as "a military bully in Vietnam."
Some of Rubin's Yippie pronouncements:
"We fight to...do what we want to do whenever we want to do it."
"Prohibitions should be prohibited. Never say No."
"Rules are made to be broken."
"Property is theft. What America got, she stole."
"How was this country built? By the forced labor of slaves. American owes black people billions in compensation."
"'Capitalism' is just a polite schoolboy way of saying: 'Stealing.'"
(Money, according to Rubin should be burned and during rallies he often has demonstrated its burning. Wall Street businessmen are "money freaks".)
"America is a loony bin."
"America does not suffer a cold; she has cancer."
Rubin claims that young whites are dropping out of "white society" with its middle class institutions, schools and homes, and forming their own communities. "We are becoming the new niggers. ... Within our communities we have the seeds of a new society. We have our own communications network, the underground press. We have the beginnings of a new family structure in communes. We have our own stimulants." Their long hair, he says, "is vital to us because it enables us to recognize each other. We have whtie skins like our oppressors. Long hair ties us together into a visible counter-community." The "smell", (and by implication of the dirt) of which he says "white society" accuses the Yippies, he dismisses with the statement: "That's what they used to say about the black people, remember? They don't say that about black people anymore. They would get punched in their _____ mouths." Rubin's speech and his writings are larded with the use of four letter obscenities.
Despite his jester-like appearance and "kookie" ideas, Rubin is sometimes a keen analyst of human nature. He has noted that: "We (Yippies) are a new generation, species, race. We are bred on affluence, turned on by drugs, at home in our bodies, and excited by the future and its possibilities. Everything for us is an experience...we live off the fat of society. Our fathers worked all year around for a two-week vacation. Our entire life is a vacation." Another of his observations is: "The economy is closed. It does not need us. Everything is built."
Rubin frequently makes outlandish statements--some of which even he couldn't intent to be taken seriously. Others, he obviously does believe in and it is sometimes hard to tell what he actually means to say. For example: "Everyone in the world should vote in American elections, because America controls the world. The Vietnamese have more right to vote in the American elections than some 80-year-old grandmother in Omaha. ...I am in favor of lowering the voting age to 12 or 14 years. And I am not sure whether people over 50 should vote. It's the young kids who are going to live in this world in the next 50 years. They should choose what they want for themselves."
Rubin, like the other "Conspiracy 8" defendants, has spent much of his time during the last year lecturing to obtain funds; and he has continued his agitating even while on trial. On 14 October, the eve of Moratorium day, eh spoke on the Berkeley campus of the University of California to some two thousand students, following a talk by former Chancellor Dr. Clark Kerr during which James R. Retherford, former editor of a New Left newspaper at the University, threw a pie in Dr. Kerr's face and was arrested. Rubin spoke of the injustices of the Chicago trial--following which five hundred marched to the jail to support Retherford, and a rock was thrown through the Police Department window.
--Central Intelligence Agency report, 1969