opinions &. ViewsnThe Importance of Being a Terrorist en VoguenOtto J. Scott: The Secret Six: JohnnBrown and the Abolitionist Movement;nTimes Books/Quadrangle;nNew York.nby Gordon M. PradlnJLate Spring, planting right on schedule,nthe anticipation of a new cyclenof growth just beginning. After annendless day in the field, James andnMahala Doyle and their daughter andnthree sons had retired shortly after thenevening meal. Now they slept peacefullynin the comfort of their beds. The hot,nhumid night air lapped at the securitynand tranquility of their home. It wasnten o’clock.nSuddenly, a band of eight men invadednthe Doyle household. JamesnDoyle and his two eldest sons were draggednoutside and murdered: the fathernshot in the forehead, one son “stabbednin the face, slashed over the head, andnshot in the side,” and the other hackednat until “his fingers and then his armsnwere cut off” and then stabbed in thenchest. But the murderers were not sated.nAt the next farm they roused a Mr.nWilkinson and “outside in the dark theyncut [his] throat, stabbed him in thenside and over the head.” Finally, a lastnfarm was raided where Dutch Bill wasnmurdered with sabers beside PottawatomienCreek. “One blow severed his leftnhand, except for a strand of flesh, as henraised it in self-defense. His skull wasnopened in two places; and he fell headlongninto the shallows. After his murderersnwashed their sabers and walkednaway, the chilly waters of the riverngradually carried away part of his brain.”nFor the survivors the quiet of the nightnair would never return.ni hus opens Otto Scott’s remarkablenhistory of The Secret Six. As readersnDr. Pradl is Professor of English Educationnat New York University.n6nChronicles of Culturenwe are immediately confronted with thengraphic details of the five murders committednby John Brown and his gang onnMay 24, 1856, and the stark realitynof this terrible image will not leave ournmind’s eye. We are off on a narrativenjourney that will eventually end withnthe events surrounding the Harper’snFerry Raid, but any illusions we mightnpreviously have had regarding Brown’snheroic mission against slavery are banishednforever when, in the first chapter,nwe are forced to deal with events as theynreally happened on that bloody night innreally interested in the subject itselfn(Burns in this instance), but rather innthe symbolic and political usefulness ofnthe subject. Thus all manner of irrationalitynis justified by the morality ofnthe idealized abstraction.nAfter establishing these repulsivenportraits of Bloody John Brown and thenMassachusetts abolitionists, Scott goesnback in time to chronologically paintnthe entire panorama of the growingnconflict between the North and thenSouth over the slavery question. Then”A popular audience mighl find the book interesting: .scholars will prefer . . .”n— Library JournalnKansas, almost 125 years ago.nScott completes the perspective ofnhis narrative by placing a second andnequally damning image before the reader.nIn Chapter Two, we witness a scenenof violence that occurred in Bostonntwo years prior to Brown’s nighttimenmassacre. Anthony Burns, a slave fromnVirginia, was being tried under thenFugitive Slave Law, and three of thenSecret Six (Parker, Howe, and Higginson)nwere trying to agitate a crowd tonconfront the authorities for his release.nIn the ensuing struggle one of thenguards was killed. Reverend Higginson’snself-serving assessment of this eventnshows us the fanatical, bloodthirstynaspects of the holy crusade of the abolitionists:n”There had been other fugitivenslave rescues in different parts of thencountry, but this was the first drop ofnblood actually shed.” Scott, however,njuxtaposes this tale of the armchairnradicals with the conclusion to Burns’nstory: “A month later Burns, by thennreturned to Virginia, had his freedomnpurchased by some modest and quietncitizens, who paid to send him to OberlinnCollege. In due course he wouldnemerge a Baptist minister.” In suchnrighteous movements men lose theirnbasic humanity because they are notnnnSecret Six formed a loose association ofnrespectable New Englanders whose antislaverynfeelings ended by blinding themnto the realities of violence, but in partnthis myopia was the result of theirnability to distance themselves from thenviolence by retreating to the safety ofnthe social circles in which they moved.nThe six included: Dr. Samuel GridleynHowe, husband of Julia Ward Howenand famous worldwide for his work withnthe blind, the deaf and the mute at thenPerkins Institute; the Reverend TheodorenParker, a leading transcendentalistnintellectual who loved books (more thann12,000 lined the walls of his study)nand bears (his admirers sent him dozensnof bear figurines, statuettes and drawings);nGerrit Smith, a New York millionairenwho supported a variety ofneccentric philanthropic schemes andninitially was a noted pacifist, servingnas a vice president of the AmericannPeace Society; George Luther Stearns,na wealthy lead-pipe manufacturer withnthe instincts of a gambler who was almostnwiped out trying to corner thenlead market, but was subsequentlynrescued by Boston friends; the ReverendnThomas Wentworth Higginson, a prolificnwriter, but also a restless man ofnaction (he would later lead a regimentn