A week ago, Chris Hedges wrote that he had encountered Daniel Berrigan, now 92, in New York City's Zucotti Park -- the place where the Occupy Wall Street protesters encamped until they were evicted. There was a time when Berrigan was compared to Guy Fawkes, another Jesuit radical.
Hedges recalled that Berrigan and his brother Philip,
a Josephite priest and World War II combat veteran, along with the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, led some of the first protests against the Vietnam War. In 1967 Philip Berrigan was arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience and was sentenced to six years in prison. Philip’s sentence spurred Daniel to greater activism. He traveled to Hanoi with the historian Howard Zinn to bring back three American prisoners of war. And then he and eight other Catholic priests concocted homemade napalm and on May 17, 1968, used it to burn 378 draft files in the parking lot of the Catonsville, Md., draft board.
The Berrigans were imprisoned. But that experience did not dissuade them from practicing civil disobedience:
In 1980 he and Philip, along with six other protesters, illegally entered the General Electric nuclear missile facility in King of Prussia, Pa. They damaged nuclear warhead cones and poured blood onto documents. He was again sentenced and then paroled for time already served in prison. Philip, by the time he died in 2002, had spent more than a decade in prison for acts of civil disobedience. Philip Berrigan, Zinn said in eulogizing him, was “one of the great Americans of our time.”
Controversy has followed Daniel Berrigan wherever he has gone. And these days he's back in the streets, protesting corporate power. Some say that the young will lead the revolution that is coming. I'm not so sure.