inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #0 of 37: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Mon 14 Mar 11 12:07
    
This week we welcome Mike Weiss to inkwell, to discuss his new book on
Dan White and the murders of George Moscone and Harvey
Milk, "Double Play: The Hidden Passions Behind the
Double Assassination of George Moscone and Harvey Milk."

Edgar Award-winner, Mike Weiss covered the trial of Dan WHite and the
White Night riots for Time, Rolling Stone, and the Los Angeles Times.
He is the author of two other nonfiction books, "Living Together" and
"A Very Good Year," as well as the acclaimed Ben Henry mystery series.
Weiss was raised in New York City, educated at Knox College and John
Hopkins University, and worked for many years as a reporter in San
Francisco.

Interviewing Mike will be our own <proctor>, Laura Hogan:

Laura Hogan is a lawyer in New York City. After practicing at a bunch
of BigLaw firms (one on the West Coast), she finally landed at the New
York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, where
she’s a staff attorney and is finally happy for the first time in her
legal career.

Laura was bitten by the true crime bug around 1985, when she first
read Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss. To this day, she’s obsessed with
the Jeffrey MacDonald case (in a healthy way, of course), and pretty
much eats up any true crime with a spoon. 

Laura lives in Queens, New York, with her husband and two grouchy cats
with funny names.

Welcome to Inkwell, Mike and Laura!
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #1 of 37: Laura Hogan (proctor) Mon 14 Mar 11 18:08
    
Thanks, Julie! I’m really happy to have the chance to interview Mike. 

I think everyone reading this probably knows the basic facts about the
assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor
Harvey Milk. Just to give a short summary: when he became a member of
the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, Harvey Milk was the
first openly gay man in the United States to win an election to public
office. While on the Board of Supervisors, Milk sponsored a civil
rights bill -- one of the most stringent in the country -- that
outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation; the bill passed in
1978. In November 1978, when he had been in office less than a year,
Milk and Mayor Moscone were assassinated by former supervisor Dan
White. Probably not incidentally, White was the only Supervisor who had
voted against Milk’s civil rights bill.

Of course, the social changes that had taken place in this country in
the 1960s continued to grow in the 1970s, and San Francisco was itself
undergoing a shift. One of the greatest changes you talk about in the
book, of course, was the fact that a large population of gay men --
many of whom, like Harvey Milk, had been involved in the 1960s
counterculture -- was starting to form in San Francisco. Can you talk
about the changes San Francisco was undergoing during the mid- and late
1970s, and how they framed the events you focus on in the book? 
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #2 of 37: Mike Weiss (mikeweiss) Tue 15 Mar 11 16:37
    
Hello, Laura. Just wanted to let you know I grew up in Queens, in
Whitestone, and went to Bayside high school. So, Queens aside, you ask
a good question.
I was struck by your phrase, "Probably not incidentally." Am I wrong
in thinking it suggests that there was a direct connection between how
Dan White felt about gay people and his assassinating Harvey Milk?
(From here on in I'm going to refer to the three principals, Harvey,
Dan and Mayor George Moscone by their first names, as I do in Double
Play. I think the inter-relationships, and most especially the
relationship between Harvey and Dan, was far more complex and nuanced
than is commonly known.
The 1977 election that brought both men to City Hall marked a new era
in San Francisco politics. For the first time, the supervisors were
elected from eleven individual districts and not citywide. Dan White
was a man with absolutely no political experience who was driven by the
conviction that the people of District Ten, for the most part working
class and poor people, needed him to speak for them. Harvey Milk was a
gay man who felt it was high time for gay people to have a voice in
city affairs (although his constituency also included a majority of
straight middle class and working class people)
That political shift was one expression of a prolonged economic
dislocation in which traditional blue collar jobs were disappearing, to
be replaced by jobs in banking and finance, in goverment, and in the
service industries. The Irish and German families who had considered
themselves the backbone of San Francisco's prosperity found themselves
increasingly marginalized. There was a graphic symbol of this profound
shift toward "knowledge workers," as the president of Pacific Telephone
called these newcomers: the highest point in the city had been the
cross atop Mt. Davidson, now it was eclipsed by Sutro communication
tower on Twin Peaks.
So Dan White's constituency, and Dan White himself (he was a former
fireman and policeman whose father and father-in-law were firemen
themselves, and had fourteen siblings and step-siblings) felt his kind
were being displaced, and he was angry about it. Anger and naivete are
a combustible combination (witness Sara Palin).
This was 1977 and San Francisco was also experiencing another
immigration trauma. Never that I know of in the history of Western
civilization had there been a gay neighborhood such as The Castro, with
gays in large numbers summoning their courage and living openly. Who
gays were, what they did, what they wanted, what their values were, was
simply unknown to a great many people. And the unknown, especially the
stigmatized unknown, can be scary.
Harvey had every reason to be defensive around Dan. There are the
differences between the two you mention, Laura. And during his
campaign, White had delivered an intemperate attack on changing
neighborhoods, crime and deteriorating schools. He blamed these ills on
an exodus of families to the suburbs and an erosion of family values.
“A recent headline proclaimed San Francisco a ‘Cesspool of Perversion,’
White said. “Should we continue to be maligned and shamed throughout
the nation? I say NO!...I am not going to be forced out of San
Francisco by splinter groups of radicals, social deviates and
incorrigibles.”
Harvey was a political pragmatist (as well as an idealist and a
pioneer), and he knew theat the progressives on the newly elected
11-member Board of Supervisors, and their ally in the mayor's office,
had only five votes they could count on. Dan White was a political
unknown. On some issues, perhaps he could be a swing vote. Harvey
assumed that Dan needed to be educated. That was Harvey’s approach to
people who seemed suspicious or put off or biased. People close to both
men had the impression that Dan believed there was a bond between
them: they were political newbies, they were outsiders, they
represented politically neglected constituencies.  When Dan’s son
Charlie was born, Harvey was the only supervisor to attend the
christening where Dan introduced Harvey to an uncle by calling him, “my
best friend at City Hall.”
So as I say - and I've probably said way too much already - the
terrible tragedy of November 27th, 1978 has been to be seen in multiple
contexts. Only some of which we've touched on here.
P.S. Truth in advertising: Double Play is not a new book. It was first
published in 1985. Vince Emery Productions has, however, now published
a new ediition. I've made some changes in the original manuscript to
reflect things I've learned. I've also written a new Final Chapter,
bringing the story up to date and, I trust, to its conclusion. In
addition, an index and chapter notes have been added. And if you buy
the book you get a DVD that includes the police interrogation of Dan
White on the day of the assassinations, some police band transmissiions
from that day, and much more.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #3 of 37: Laura Hogan (proctor) Wed 16 Mar 11 08:30
    
Glad to hear you're another Queensian. I'm a pretty recent transplant,
but feel as though I've lived there forever.

I'd like to wait until a little bit later in the interview to address
the point you touch on above -- namely, whether Milk's assassination
was driven by homophobic animus or by a combination of forces. But for
now, since that you've told us a little about the backdrop to the main
events in the book, I'd like to pick up on your point about the
ideological conflicts in San Francisco. I wonder if we could talk a
little bit more specifically about the conflict between conservative
forces -- specifically, the Christian conservative movement -- and the
rising power of gay people in San Francisco. How, if at all, did
conservative Christian opposition to gay rights, both in San Francisco
and in other parts of the country, pave the way for Milk's ascension?
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #4 of 37: Mike Weiss (mikeweiss) Wed 16 Mar 11 11:12
    
Short answer. I don't believe it did. There was an attempt to bar gays
from teaching in public schools - the Briggs amendment. And Harvey
fought that tooth and nail, as you can imagine. That certainly raised
his profile and showed he could fight and win a campaign.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #5 of 37: Laura Hogan (proctor) Wed 16 Mar 11 19:45
    
I probably phrased the question badly, but I think we're saying the
same thing in a slightly different way. Many people (frankly, including
myself before I read Double Play) think of 1970s San Francisco as sort
of a liberal paradise, and Harvey Milk is part of that perception. But
in actuality, there was a very homophobic element in and around San
Francisco in the 1970s (not to mention in the rest of the country),
embodied, at least partially, by people like Senator John Briggs and by
Anita Bryant, who of course based her anti-gay stance on the Bible and
certain tenets of Christianity. For example, you write in the book
about how the fundamentalist threat posed by Anita Bryant acted as one
of Harvey's driving forces.

So in a sense, Harvey Milk's career was based at least partially on
the homophobia from the Christian right, which engendered the Briggs
initiative, which in turn strengthened Harvey both personally and
politically. So it was sort of dialectics in action.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #6 of 37: Ozro W. Childs (oz) Wed 16 Mar 11 20:45
    
Well, that much is true, and certainly there were some San Franciscans
who hated Harvey Milk because he represented the gay movement, which
had among other things started to transform a beloved part of San
Francisco from a Scandinavian neighborhood to a gay mecca. But in
general, San Francisco had been tolerant of pretty much everyone.
Something in Genoese culture, I've always thought, made North Beach a
tolerant place for both beats and gays, and with that background, San
Francisco became the logical place for the hippie movement to thrive.
The Examiner (which tried to represent the neighborhoods) was not so
friendly, but the Chronicle (which represented Pacific Heights and the
liberals everywhere, including in the Jewish community) was friendly to
the longhairs.

This is important, because the gay movement in San Francisco had its
older-generation roots in the Beat era, but it's immediate roots in the
Haight, as I remember from being an avid reader of the old
Express-Times, which spotted the movement towards the Castro before
anyone.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #7 of 37: Ozro W. Childs (oz) Wed 16 Mar 11 20:59
    
Which brings me to Dan White. No doubt he represented the reactionary,
conservative, and Catholic side of San Francisco, and in particular
the resentments of the forgotten neighborhoods -- not only the
Excelsior but also the Irish remnants in the Mission. But I have never
believed he killed Harvey Milk because he hated his being gay. On the
contrary, he had high hopes for this other outsider being an ally
against the establishment, even though he was anti-gay. 

I have always felt that he blamed Milk for egging Moscone into not
reappointing him to his seat on the Board of Supervisors. My take on
the killings was that Moscone double-crossed him, and Dan White went
into City Hall fully intending to kill Moscone in revenge -- a kind of
revenge that any 19th-Century juror would have immediately understood.
And possibly held out for acquittal if the revenge was justified, but
otherwise would have voted for first-degree murder. 20th-Century jurors
just didn't understand how logical and reasonable (but wrong) murder
was in the face of betrayal. Milk? Purely an afterthought. Shocked by
the horror of having killed the Mayor, Dan White said to himself, why
not make it a hat trick and take out the other person who betrayed his
hopes (would have killed Carol Silver, too, if she had been in the
way). I would have voted for first degree murder of Moscone and
manslaughter of Milk under the law as it then existed.

I expressed this opinion long ago on the WELL. Reading Mike's book
then and again now, I don't think he can disprove my theory, but I'm
open to argument.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #8 of 37: Mostly not sure (gertiestn) Thu 17 Mar 11 07:29
    
Mike, I really enjoyed reading your book. I type this post from the
juror lounge in DC Superior Court, where I reported this morning for
jury duty...something I take more seriously now.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #9 of 37: Mike Weiss (mikeweiss) Thu 17 Mar 11 09:18
    
Oz, I certainly see your point and understand your thinking and
clearly you are very knowledgeable. However there is considerable
evidence that Harvey was not an afterthought. On his way to City Hall,
Dan told his aide, Denise Apcar, that he intended to give George and
Harvey a piece of his mind. He repeated that several times. Then
there's the fact that he took ten extra cartidges with him, wrapped in
a handkerchief. That certainly indicates he planned on reloading. In
addition, after his release from prison, he confided in Inspector Frank
Falzon - who was an old friend and had taken his original confession
on the day of the assassinations, a confession in which Dan claimed he
had no plan to shoot anybody - that on November 27, 1978,he had "lost
it", his words, and intended to get not only Geroge and Harvey, but as
you say, Carol Ruth Silver, another liberal supervisor, and Willie
Brown, then the Speaker of the California Assembly and a close ally of
George Moscone. This information is in the Final Chapter of Double
Play, new to the current edition.
I first heard about this a few years ago from Falzon, and later had an
opportunity to tell Willie Brown that he was on Dan's hit list.  He
had been in George's office on that deadly morning, discussing their
annual trip to a lingerie show to buy presents for their wives, when
Dan arrived to confront George. Willie slipped out the back door as Dan
was being shown in the front door of the mayor's office. Had he hung
around, he might well have died as well. That knowledge made him tear
up
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #10 of 37: Mike Weiss (mikeweiss) Thu 17 Mar 11 09:24
    
gertiestn,
Thanks for your post. I know exactly what you mean. Ever since the
White trial, I've viewed jury duty as a solemn obligation. I think the
White jury reached the wrong verdicts. But the reason for that was not
bias or indifference or flippancy, the reason was that the defense got
the jury it wanted. The District Attorney's office, on the other hand,
thought they had a hanging jury but were wrong. They failed to take
into account that the defendant had always been an upstanding citizen -
Vietnam vet, fireman, policeman. A good looking white guy. And
empaneled a jury that, among other things, included four women of an
age and background to be Dan White's mother.
And the defense, specifically tailored to the jury they hoped for but
never dreamed they'd actually get, was brillantly executed.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #11 of 37: Gail Williams (gail) Thu 17 Mar 11 10:23
    
That's one of the depressing things about jury duty.  When I have had
the time and wanted to be selected, I have found myself screened out by
somebody who is stereotyping me. In the past, perhaps looking radical.
Now, perhaps as looking like somebody's mother.  Yet I have complex
and nuanced values.  I hate the whole voir dire operation.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #12 of 37: Mostly not sure (gertiestn) Thu 17 Mar 11 10:49
    
As do I, usually...but I was chosen as a juror in a criminal case just
a few minutes ago (I'm on my iPad in a Starbucks near the courthouse).
Can't say more than that, but I feel especially alert.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #13 of 37: Laura Hogan (proctor) Thu 17 Mar 11 17:12
    
Of course, it drives most lawyers completely bonkers when people try
to get out of jury duty. Or at least most of the lawyers I know. So
it's good to hear that there are people who actually take it as
seriously as it should be taken.

Mike, I'd like to move to talking about Dan White. As you note, he was
a Vietnam vet, policeman, and firefighter, and was from District 8 --
a neighborhood whose citizens were not sympathetic to Harvey Milk or
the gay community. Nonetheless, Dan White's record on gay rights wasn't
actually that bad. Could you talk a little bit about what drove him to
become a Supervisor, how he fared while he was a Supervisor, and what
led up to his resignation? 
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #14 of 37: Mike Weiss (mikeweiss) Thu 17 Mar 11 20:54
    
Sure, Laura, I'll try. I've always wondered exactly what drove him to
run for supervisor. 1977 was a weird year politically, because the
switch to district elections brought all kinds of newcomers into the
mix. And this was San Francisco where you would have no trouble
convening a quorum of weirdos, or for that matter messianic weirdos.
Suddenly, instead of needing maybe $50,000 and a serious organization
to be elected supervisor, maybe $6,000 or $7,000 and a "campaign
manager" was all it took to buy a ticket in this power lottery. But the
moment also brought out a large number of serious, mostly earnest
people who felt that their voice should be heard, that they were the
best conduit for teachers, or gays, or renters to be heard in City
Hall. And of course the professional pols were also running, so the
fields were large and full of unknowns.
Dan fell into the earnest category, with a touch of the messianic. He
fancied himself a bit of a St. Patrick driving the snakes from the land
- later, at City Hall, he described his fellow supervisors as snakes.
And he knew a lot of people. He had been a popular athlete, came from a
large family, knew a lot of cops and fireman. So he felt he could gets
the votes. But he was also willful and determined and energetic. He
believed in himself as a son of the people, his people.He thought he
was special, too. He wanted to be a writer and his hero was Jack
London. And he approached life like an athlete: he thought he could
win.

Once he did win he was lost, of course. He had a high school education
and a high school civics idea about how politics is conducted. He
thought every supervisor should put forward his or her ideas, and that
the best ideas would prevail. He had absolutely no idea that the name
of the game was six votes, and that in order to get those six votes for
the things that mattered most to them other supervisors would
compromise on things that mattered less to their constituents. Nor did
he know anything about the rules and the rules in legislative bodies
are the keys that unlock the treasure chests of power. So he was often
defeated. And he was humiliated in his own district when a youth center
he had opposed was nonetheless approved with the support of Mayor
Moscone and Harvey.
Harvey, on the other hand, was a relatively successful freshman
supervisor with a gift for keeping himself in the limelight. He was
very focused on his constituency and on learning how to work the system
at City Hall. He was also a glib, smart, funny, determined Jew from
New York. He and Carol Ruth Silver, who sat beside Dan, had a running
joke going about what a hunk he was, and which of them he'd prefer. It
was hardly the best way to win Dan's friendship. But Dan's friendship
was of no concern to Harvey, his vote was what was important.Harvey
understood that politics was a business, Dan believed initially it was
something far simplier and far purer, and so was repeatedly
disappointed and discouraged.
Throughout his life, Dan White had a history of quitting and running
when the going got tough. He had quit his high school baseball team in
a fit of pique when his coach wanted him to bunt; quit the police
department when he felt he didn't fit in; quit the fire department to
be a supervisor. He had not anticipated that he would have to give up
his job as a firefighter if he was elected, but he did. Supervisors
earned $9,600 a year, so suddenly he was a big shot but was broke. A
connected fat cat developing a shopping and amusement arcade on a
waterfront pier, Pier 39, gave Dan a lease on the very best stand,
first one inside the door. His wife Mary Ann, a school teacher, was
also putting in long hours at the Hot Potato, often with their infant
son along. Dan felt a faulure because his wife had to work so hard; he
was consistently defeated; he thought City Hall was corrupt and slimey,
and while that may very well have been true it was also his choice to
be there. So he did what he had always done: he quit. Impetuously,
without informing the people who had helped put him there and counted
on him as their man on the board, including the police officers
association and the firefighters union, he resigned.
And, politcally speaking the roof caved in. The pressure on him to
reverse course was relentless.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #15 of 37: Lena M. Diethelm (lendie) Fri 18 Mar 11 17:12
    

It's hard to imagine that he lasted 3 years in the military with 1 yr in
Vietnam - it's not like you can quit the military very easily.

I'm about a 1/3 through the book right now.

One question I have is how his military service affected what happened
ultimately.  It seems to me, not only was he flawed to start with but he
must have come back from Nam with PTSD.  Also, being part of a war must have
contributed to his antipathy towards "The Other(s)" and his self-
righteousness.  So in a way I can paint a scenario where being on the board
of supervisors could have been PTSD triggering because it would have been
hard for him to get a handle on who was really aligned with him/on his side
and his anger at those he felt beneath him having more power (leverage) than
he did.  Where the military might have had more rigid structure, politics
does not.

(Also, Mike, it makes reading easier if you put a blank line or two between
paragaphs, thank you!).
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #16 of 37: mother of my eyelid (frako) Fri 18 Mar 11 17:17
    
Although I've heard a lot of this before, Mike, some of the details are new
and fascinating. Your writing style is extremely readable too. Don't stop.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #17 of 37: Mike Weiss (mikeweiss) Sat 19 Mar 11 11:55
    
Frako, thank you. We're going to be here for several weeks.
 
Lendi, look! a line break between the last paragraph and this one. I
think it's certainly possible that Dan having suffered from PTSD. Four
psychiatrists and a clinical psychologist testified for the defense,
and they diagnosed him as suffering from depression exacerbated by the
pressure he was under and concluded that he acted in the heat of
passion. Of course, their opinions fit perfectly into the defense
strategy, or rather, shaped it. The doctor most responsible for this
approach in the Dan White case was the late Don Lunde, of Stanford. I'm
sure we'll get around tio talking more about this when we begin to
talk about the trial in some depth.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #18 of 37: Mostly not sure (gertiestn) Sun 20 Mar 11 01:56
    
Mike, one of the things that surprised me when I read your book was
how deeply I felt the pain and confusion of Dan White. I am not in the
Bay area & I wasn't there at the time of the killings and the trial.
You did, I think, a remarkable job of giving a fuller picture of who
Dan White was.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #19 of 37: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 20 Mar 11 05:44
    
>discussing their annual trip to a lingerie show to buy presents for
>their wives

!

What did you think of the movie Milk and, to a lesser degree, the
documentary that preceded it?

Where do you think Harvey Milk would have gone from there, had he not
been assassinated?
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #20 of 37: Mike Weiss (mikeweiss) Sun 20 Mar 11 12:54
    
Thanks, gertiestn. When I decided to write the book it was important
to me to find out as much as I could about Dan White, and to treat the
entire matter evenhandedly. I thought the tragedy was immense and San
Francisco had been defiled and irrevocably changed, and for that reason
it was important to have a complete and truthful historical record,
insofar as any book can be complete and truthful. Dan's murderous rage,
his cowardice in shooting unarmed men, and his choice to save his own
skin by hiding behind the kind of psychiatric defense he would have
denounced if he had not been the defendant made me very angry,too. But
I thought my anger was gratutious and needed to be channeled into
understanding. So when you tell me that my book helped you to
understand Dan White, and by implication what happened, I am grateful.

slf -- I enjoyed the movie Milk very much. It was really entertainin
g. I particularly loved the set designs, so true to what apartments
looked like in the Castro and Noe Valley and the Haight circa 1978. And
Harvey's camera store, too. Spot on.

The portrayal of Dan White I found to be formulaic and stiff. On the
other hand, Cleve Jones, Harvey's former aide and the creator of the
AIDS quilt, found the portrayal of Dan to be persuasive, and he knew
Dan better than I did in 1978. On the other other hand, Cleve was an
adviser to Gus Van Sant on the movie and so had a hand in shaping it.

The only other thing that bothered me about the movie was I thought
that the nature of the historic coming out in the Castro, and in other
neighborhoods in SF, was portrayed as being primarily political. As
someone who lived nearby at the time, my recollection is that it was
primarily sexual - a great explosion of suppressed lust and longing.
But I suppose the way it was spun was inavoidable that a biopic about a
politician would focus on politics.

And Sean Penn and James Franco were terrific.

As for Harvey's future, who knows? Conceivably he could have been
elected mayor, or to the state legislature. I think that was pretty
much the ceiling for a gay pol. But of course Harvey was an
extraordinary individual. So there's no telling.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #21 of 37: Lena M. Diethelm (lendie) Mon 21 Mar 11 02:24
    

I do not find Dan White in the least sympathetic.  He was a quitter who each
time he quit thought he was taking the football home with him except he
never had hold of the football to start with - which one he figured that out
each time enraged him even more.

He was a weak man who had spent a lot of time in rigid hierarchical
organizations (military, police, fire dept) only to find out that they were
as flawed as his father had been.

He seems to have been manic depressive, never treated and probably never
would have been given that in the 1970's it was rare to find someone like
him in therapy or seeking psychiatric help.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #22 of 37: Lena M. Diethelm (lendie) Mon 21 Mar 11 02:30
    

One area in the book that is given short shrift, is how much anti-Semitism
there was in a community like Dan White's.  I grew up in San Francisco and
was employed in Sf during the time in the book.  The Catholic community
centered around the parishes was quite insular.  There was a lot of anti-
Semitism - still believing things such as the Jews killed Jesus.  People
might have one or two Jewish friends but overall Jews were not viewed
positively.  With a number of Jews on the Board of Supervisors (Feinstein,
Silver, Milk) there had to have been some antipathy that figured whether
consiously or unconsciously with Dan White.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #23 of 37: Lena M. Diethelm (lendie) Mon 21 Mar 11 02:37
    

Where I worked in Nov 1978, there were people who had family in Jonestown
and there were a couple of employees who were close friends with the Moscone
Family.  So Jonestown & the Moscone/Milk assassinations had impact at the
workplace in a powerful way.

My memories of those few weeks are of disbelief, horror, numbness.  It felt
as though much of the city was in shock - first only with Jonestown but then
doubly so after the killings of Moscone/Milk.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #24 of 37: Mike Weiss (mikeweiss) Mon 21 Mar 11 10:06
    
lendie - I completely agree that Dan White was a quitter and a coward
in the face of adversity. These are points that are emphasized in my
book. One does not have to find him sympathetic - I certainly don't -
to try to understand him and what he did.

As for anti-Semitism, I never considered it although I'm a Jew. You
could well be right. Though Dan did not kill Harvey because of who or
what he was, he killed him because he felt betrayed and manipulated by
him, and because he was an angry and perhaps a sick man.

Yes, those were dark days in San Francisco. What I remember most
vividly was the silence. I rode from the Shell Building in the
financial district where the Time magazine offices were located to my
home in Noe Valley on the J-Church line that evening and not a word was
spoekn in the packed streetcar. The city was quiet as a tomb. The
rolling tragedies were beyond words.
  
inkwell.vue.404 : Mike Weiss, "Double Play"
permalink #25 of 37: Laura Hogan (proctor) Mon 21 Mar 11 10:25
    
I hadn't thought of the anti-semitic angle either, lendie. It's an
interesting theory. I don't think White had a history of open
anti-semitism, and I don't know that he would have been smart enough to
hide it, but it's hard to ignore the "smart-mouthed guy from New York"
angle, which is often code for something a bit more invidious.

Mike, you allude above to the pressure on Dan White after he resigned.
Before we move into talking about the trial, can you elaborate a
little bit about what happened after White resigned, and how that led
up to the assassination?
  

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