Gun Sight Cross-Hairs: Sarah Palin and San Diego’s Secret Army Organization of the Seventies

by on January 10, 2011 · 10 comments

in Civil Rights, San Diego

Propaganda card made by the Minutemen in the early 1970's. Click to see a larger version.

By J. Christensen

Has the vitriolic political rhetoric of the last decade laid the foundation for the tragedy in Tucson? There is no denying that the political right laces their rhetoric with hostile intent. Belligerence is a recognized trade mark of America’s right wing. During the election some Tea Party candidates stated that if they did not win they would not accept the outcome. Even Texas Governor Rick Perry toyed with the idea of Texas seceding from the union. And in this climate Sarah Palin adds a familiar symbol; the cross-hairs of a gun sight. A symbol reinforced by the ‘open carries’, the public display of weapons at Tea Party rallies.

I must agree that suggesting Sarah Palin was somehow responsible for the tragedy in Tucson is almost stupid. But her vitriolic contribution to the political discourse of the gun sight cross-hairs is potentially defining. Sarah Palin chose a symbol once familiar in Ocean Beach. It was the symbol of a right wing terrorist group known as the ‘Secret Army Organization’; the SAO. Its meaning was clear.

Thirty-nine years ago this week the SAO followed through on that threat and carried out a drive-by shooting of a house on lower Muir St.; the home of a politically active professor from SDSU. A woman was shot. The message was delivered.

The SAO’s agenda was the violent overthrow of the government. The SAO’s hard right anti-communist agenda and their willingness to use violence as a tool was clear. Is it by accident that Sarah Palin chose the symbol of this right wing terrorist organization?

She is now trying to distance herself from the negative response and the potential public relations fallout. But perhaps the real Sarah Palin is hiding in plain sight. Perhaps her agenda is just as clear? She, more than most, draws imagines using violence as a subtext to her politics. She has, also more than most, contributed to creating the current polarized climate and is recognized by major media was the most polarizing politician on the scene today.

A wise person once said you reap what you sow. Sarah Palin and the vitriolic right have spent a decade sowing seeds of fear and hate, demonstrating that it’s ok to be as mean as you want to be. There are consequences. Perhaps the 22 year old paranoid is one of them. Will the tragedy in Tucson be a wake up call or just another sad event in a continuing string of sad events?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

doug porter January 10, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Here’s another example of the right wing’s inclination towards violence. You can buy a “liberal hunting license sticker” at Patriot Shop, “No Bag Limit — Tagging Not Required.”
for $3.25. You $$$ will go to support “Our mission and operations are funded by — and depend entirely upon — the financial support of American Patriots like YOU!”


Patty Jones January 10, 2011 at 12:09 pm

There was a comment left at Palin’s facebook that has been deleted but said,

“The shooting may not be your fault, but it’s 100% percent your fault that you’re being associated with it.”


doug porter January 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm

For those readers that may not haven been around back when right wingers shot up houses and bombed things here in San Diego, a little history:

I was one the people that resided at the Muir Street house that was shot up. The shooting was of the “drive-by” variety, and the car was driven by Howard Godfrey, who was later revealed as an FBI informant. Godfrey took the took gun used in the shooting and gave it to his FBI superior, who promptly stashed it. Meanwhile the SDPD investigating officers actively pursued that angle that we had somehow engineered the shooting ourselves to draw sympathy for left wing causes.
Months later, the Secret Army detonated at small bomb during a showing of “I Am Curious, Yellow” at an adult theater (porn was, in their view, part of the greater communist conspiracy). Unfortunately for the SAO, there were vice officers and a member of the DA’s staff in the audience looking for evidence to close down the theater. It took one phone call from the SDPD to the FBI to get them to give up their source, who it turns out was acting as a leader for the organization and using his federal stipends to fund their activities.
The FBI informant, who was angered by being busted, went public, forcing the feds to admit that they’d known about the earlier shooting all along. He and others did eventually stand trial for their deeds; the FBI agent who covered it all up was let off scot free.


annagrace January 10, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Wow Doug.


Goatskull January 10, 2011 at 5:49 pm

“All purchases at PatriotShop.US support our Mission of Service to America’s Armed Services”

Pretty funny stuff in a disturbing sort of way. I did 20 years in the military and still work for the military as a civil service employee, and I don’t recall EVER knowing of them before this post, let alone any “support” from them.


OB Mercy January 10, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Doug, that is an amazing story. Thanks for sharing that. I’ve only lived here a couple of years and I’m always trying to find out everything about OB’s history. Never saw this in any historical article or book yet! Wowza!

And Patty, GREAT comment from her FB profile!


Tom Cairns January 10, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Good connection of now and then, Doug. That night, I was sitting on the sofa, facing the window the bullet came through and hit Paula. She was standing in front of me. When Glenn and I came to the house that evening, there was a SAO sticker on the door, and I believe earlier in the day they had left one in Peter’s mailbox at San Diego State. Two shots were fired, but one hit the window frame. And like you said, the FBI agent walked. He had hid the pistol Hoover used under his sofa for 6 months.


Frank Gormlie January 10, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Hi Tom, good of you to stop by. Sorry we didn’t connect last Spring … what happened?


OB Mercy January 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm

What happened to Paula??


Frank Gormlie January 10, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Paula recovered, although I think she had a weakness or defect in that arm for the rest of her life. I know she became a nurse … and lived in San Diego for awhile. Now punting to Doug or Pete or ….


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