40th Anniversary of the bombing of Sterling Hall, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jon Wetzel/The Badger Herald/The bombing of Sterling Hall made a wall disappear and reinforced concrete dangle like limp spaghetti.

24 August 2010

Blogger Ann Althouse is a law professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has been writing about the bombing of Sterling Hall at that university on this date in 1970.

Monday, August 23, 2010
“The terror is right here in our state, in our city, and on our campus. The terror is not something that happens elsewhere to others.”

The Wisconsin State Journal republishes the editorial it ran on August 25, 1970. Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the bombing of Sterling Hall, here at the University of Wisconsin.

[I]t isn’t just the radicals who set the bomb in a lighted, occupied building who are guilty. The blood is on the hands of anyone who has encouraged them, anyone who has talked recklessly of “revolution,” anyone who had chided with mild disparagement the violence of extremists while hinting that the cause is right all the same.

Posted by Ann Althouse at 9:45 PM

“I really believed that the revolution was coming.”

Posted by Ann Althouse at 9:47 PM

“Recording booth will capture memories of Sterling Hall bombing.”

Posted by Ann Althouse at 9:49 PM

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

“Three years of intense protest activity at the University of Wisconsin reached terrible superlatives on August 24th of this year.”

The year was 1970.

An explosion so powerful it broke windows six blocks away, and so loud it woke up citizens over six miles from campus reduced the side of the new addition to Sterling Hall to a shambles. The wall disappeared, and steel-reinforced concrete dangled as if it were limp spaghetti.

Across Lathrop Drive, the Old Chemistry building sat windowless, and up the hill, Birge Hall was a mass of shattered lab equipment and glass. Days later, the dislodged ceiling in B-10 Commerce fell in on a group of bankers attending a seminar.

The blast killed UW research assistant Robert Fassnacht, leaving a wife and three children without their father….

Years of research were destroyed in the blast. Though the bomb was aimed at the Math research Center, it takes up only three floors of the building. The physics department occupied the basement and other offices in the new wing, and the astronomy department used the top floor and roof. The explosion reduced to tiny fragments the carefully ground mirrors in the two telescopes on the roof of Sterling Hall.

Heavily damaged was a particle accelerator operated by the Physics Department in the basement of the building. Only about 15 labs in the United States possess the kind of accelerator and associated computer system as the one that was in Sterling Hall.

Ironically, while physics and astronomy research was set back as much as 12 or 15 years in some cases, the Math research Center was back in operation the day after the blast.

Serious doubts have entered into the minds of many scientists working at the University of Wisconsin. The despair which accompanies seeing decades of work go up in smoke runs deep now, especially since there is every reason to believe that it could just as easily happen again.

“Clearly, you can’t just let the rubble lie, because then they’ve won hands down. But on the other hand if you get all blown up again in a year, it’s really futile,” said Professor Robert Borchers, as he surveyed the bombed-out shell of what used to be his nuclear physics laboratory.

Will the effect of such despair be severe? It could well be. According to Borchers, “lots of people have simply talked about getting out of academic life. I think that’s a very real possibility.”

Posted by Ann Althouse at 10:10 AM

Professor Althouse recently posted this article, Just how liberal/left-wing is the University of Wisconsin-Madison?

Update: At MichelleMalkin.com, “Left-wing campus embraces unapologetic, murdering peacenik bomber”:

Nope, not Bill Ayers.

Meet Karl Armstrong. Via the Wisconsin State Journal (hat tip-reader Gregor):

The bombing of Sterling Hall on the UW-Madison campus by anti-war radicals in the early morning hours of Aug. 24, 1970 has a peculiar hold on Madison even 40 years later, in part because of the many lives that were changed by the blast — most notably the lives of Robert Fassnacht, the researcher killed in the explosion, and his family.

Here’s a look at what has happened to others involved in that history-changing moment.

Bomber: Karleton Armstrong

From his juice stand on Library Mall, Karleton Armstrong will hand you a strawberry smoothie and you might never know he was responsible for bombing Sterling Hall 40 years ago.

For the past 30 years, he has lived in Madison as a respectable businessman, the proprietor of Loose Juice, and before that, the popular sandwich shop Radical Rye.

Watch this video for more praise and paeans to Armstrong as he blithely makes smoothies on campus — and brags that the murderous attack was “the right thing to do.”


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