I only knew Walt Crowley “from across the yard,” as it were, in school and, later, politics, not personally, but I knew him for a very long time and enough to know things you will not, generally, read about him.
As has been the case with the passing of Norm Maleng and Jennifer Dunn, talking heads (including John Carlson) are lining up to say nice things about Crowley, his service to the community, etc., and it is indicative of the state of the State of Washington that this particular trail of mini-celebrities is now, in death, “beloved” by other celebrities. Most celebrities, I find, are nice people… at least in public… where we can watch them. But they become virtual saints when they pass on.
Crowley became “visible” to the general public in Western Washington taking the “liberal” side of “Point/Counterpoint” mini-debates to John Carlson’s “conservatism” on KIRO TV from 1986 to 1993 and he is now posthumously being lionized as the founder of the equally visible HistoryLink.org. In between, he had, in his own words, “a checkered career in public affairs and journalism.” Crowley worked for, among others, Governor Mike Lowry, Seattle Mayors Wes Uhlman, and Norm Rice, the Seattle Weekly, the now-aborted Monorail project, and various city bureaucracies.
But I first knew of him during his work in 1967. For, while many “dropped out” of school in the late ‘60s to “seek the truth,” Walt Crowley dropped out because he already “knew” it. And the “truth” he knew was that America was the enemy. Crowley quit the UW to became the dominant personality of the Helix newspaper.
The Seattle-based Helix was the central organizing beacon of the hippie movement in Washington and it was the mechanism by which the cultural revolution of drugs and “psychedelic” rock music, art and lifestyle also became the carrier of the twin contagions of sexual anarchy and Marxism. The Helix promoted drugs and “acid” rock, nudity, “open” sexual relationships, homosexuality, Marxist thought and violent revolution.
Crowley was the creative anchor of the Helix, as writer, editor and artist, posts at which he arrived, courtesy of his family, I’m told, already a full-blown Marxist 20 years of age. His considerable visual artistic gift has been mostly forgotten, somehow, over the decades, but he frequently did highly imaginative and quasi-pornographic cover art, typically showing the U.S. Government, Seattle police and U.S. Military as fascists, crushing innocent people beneath their oppressive boots. Crowley made the Helix work. And the work he made it do was the work of Communist Revolution.
Between 1965 and 1972, many will have forgotten, there was a small terrorist war inside the United States. It was a political agenda whose clear aim was the destruction of American culture and “Capitalism” by every available means, including terrorist violence. The Helix covered “the Revolution” by giving positive treatment to the (Marxist) “liberation” groups, like the Black Panthers and La Raza, their activities and ideologies, promoting anti-American protests and printing anti-American propaganda that was indistinguishable from the Party line coming out of the Kremlin. Journalistically, the Helix fought on the side of the Viet Cong, justified the brutal Soviet domination of its vassal puppet States in Eastern Europe, exalted Mao Tse Tung and Fidel Castro and generally cheered the advance of Communist Imperialist/Terrorist subversion all over the Globe, but particularly in America. In Seattle, the Helix held the movement together. Throughout the ’60s the Helix’ hip “revolution” grew in popularity and channeled that energy into opposing the draft and U.S. foreign policy.
By 1970, there were on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, alone, at least six “commune houses” full of young revolutionaries studying Communist theory and learning revolutionary skills, like theft, smuggling, document forgery, manufacturing incendiary devices (terrorist bombs), the strategy, tactics and use of military weapons and methods to violently take over public buildings, like schools, hold people hostage and defend those structures from police assault. The best and brightest of these were sent to Cuba for further training.
Between 1965 and 1972, the Communist “Revolution” Crowley was helping build had successfully used that training, and violently attacked American school buildings, stores, banks, and commercial property with arson, bombs and a variety of techniques of malicious damage, thousands and thousands of times. This is in addition to demonstrations that quickly turned into carefully-planned riots, like the Stonewall “gay” riots in New York in 1969 and on Seattle’s University Avenue the same year. If you are too young to remember, think of the WTO riots happening every week for more than five years, but dispersed out over all America’s major cities and college campuses. But, of course punctuated, in between, with bigger explosions. The “Symbionese Liberation Army” that kidnapped and brainwashed Patty Hearst was not atypical, just more famous because they got Patty.
But the migration of unrepentant Communist Revolutionaries like Crowley and Larry Gossett (King County Council) into the “mainstream” of the Democratic Party was an ongoing theme in the ‘70s. Liberal Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman described his first meeting with Crowley: “I remember him very well because he had a Lenin hat with a big red star on it.” He hired Crowley on the spot. Welcome to the Democrats, comrade.
At the time of KIRO’s Point/Counterpoint, I found Crowley’s emergence, there, as an ostensibly respectable “commentator” a thing of astonishment. Didn’t these people know who Crowley was?
After all, he told us plainly. It had been openly published in the Helix in the letter to the draft board that got him rejected by the Selective Service.
Crowley, with a rhetorical flourish and measurable disdain, took a couple paragraphs to tell the Draft Board all they needed to know to conclude that, while Walter may later have been just perfect for KIRO and Lowry and Rice and Uhlman and the Seattle Weekly, he was not at all suitable for U.S. military service.
They had asked, as standard procedure, if he belonged to any subversive group and if he believed in the violent overthrow of the government of United States of America.
To put it more succinctly, Walt Crowley responded: 1, I’m a Marxist-Leninist, and, 2, Yes.