Obama’s Real Bill Ayers Problem
The ex-Weatherman is now a radical educator with influence.23 April 2008
Barack Obama complains that he’s been unfairly attacked for a casual political and social relationship with his neighbor, former Weatherman Bill Ayers. Obama has a point. In the ultraliberal Hyde Park community where the presidential candidate first earned his political spurs, Ayers is widely regarded as a member in good standing of the city’s civic establishment, not an unrepentant domestic terrorist. But Obama and his critics are arguing about the wrong moral question. The more pressing issue is not the damage done by the Weather Underground 40 years ago, but the far greater harm inflicted on the nation’s schoolchildren by the political and educational movement in which Ayers plays a leading role today.
A Chicago native son, Ayers first went into combat with his Weatherman comrades during the “Days of Rage” in 1969, smashing storefront windows along the city’s Magnificent Mile and assaulting police officers and city officials. Chicago’s mayor at the time was the Democratic boss of bosses, Richard J. Daley. The city’s current mayor, Richard M. Daley, has employed Ayers as a teacher trainer for the public schools and consulted him on the city’s education-reform plans. Obama’s supporters can reasonably ask: If Daley fils can forgive Ayers for his past violence, why should Obama’s less consequential contacts with Ayers be a political disqualification? It’s hard to disagree. Chicago’s liberals have chosen to define deviancy down in Ayers’s case, and Obama can’t be blamed for that.
What he can be blamed for is not acknowledging that his neighbor has a political agenda that, if successful, would make it impossible to lift academic achievement for disadvantaged children. As I have shown elsewhere in City Journal, Ayers’s politics have hardly changed since his Weatherman days. He still boasts about working full-time to bring down American capitalism and imperialism. This time, however, he does it from his tenured perch as Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Instead of planting bombs in public buildings, Ayers now works to indoctrinate America’s future teachers in the revolutionary cause, urging them to pass on the lessons to their public school students.
Indeed, the education department at the University of Illinois is a hotbed for the radical education professoriate. As Ayers puts it in one of his course descriptions, prospective K–12 teachers need to “be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit and . . . be a teacher capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, a teacher teaching for social justice and liberation.” Ayers’s texts on the imperative of social-justice teaching are among the most popular works in the syllabi of the nation’s ed schools and teacher-training institutes. One of Ayers’s major themes is that the American public school system is nothing but a reflection of capitalist hegemony. Thus, the mission of all progressive teachers is to take back the classrooms and turn them into laboratories of revolutionary change.
Unfortunately, neither Obama nor his critics in the media seem to have a clue about Ayers’s current work and his widespread influence in the education schools. In his last debate with Hillary Clinton, Obama referred to Ayers as a “professor of English,” an error that the media then repeated. Would that Ayers were just another radical English professor. In that case, his poisonous anti-American teaching would be limited to a few hundred college students in the liberal arts. But through his indoctrination of future K–12 teachers, Ayers has been able to influence what happens in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of classrooms.
Ayers’s influence on what is taught in the nation’s public schools is likely to grow in the future. Last month, he was elected vice president for curriculum of the 25,000-member American Educational Research Association (AERA), the nation’s largest organization of education-school professors and researchers. Ayers won the election handily, and there is no doubt that his fellow education professors knew whom they were voting for. In the short biographical statement distributed to prospective voters beforehand, Ayers listed among his scholarly books Fugitive Days, an unapologetic memoir about his ten years in the Weather Underground. The book includes dramatic accounts of how he bombed the Pentagon and other public buildings.
AERA already does a great deal to advance the social-justice teaching agenda in the nation’s schools and has established a Social Justice Division with its own executive director. With Bill Ayers now part of the organization’s national leadership, you can be sure that it will encourage even more funding and support for research on how teachers can promote left-wing ideology in the nation’s classrooms—and correspondingly less support for research on such mundane subjects as the best methods for teaching underprivileged children to read. [emp- SC&A]
The next time Obama—the candidate who purports to be our next “education president”—discusses education on the campaign trail, it would be nice to hear what he thinks of his Hyde Park neighbor’s vision for turning the nation’s schools into left-wing indoctrination centers. Indeed, it’s an appropriate question for all the presidential candidates.
Sol Stern is a contributing editor of City Journal and the author of Breaking Free: Public School Lessons and the Imperative of School Choice.
Police in the Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men’s penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.
Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.
Rumours of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa,‘s sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings…
Did Alicia Shvarts find her inspiration here?
A judge threw out charges Monday against a college art professor accused of improperly obtaining biological materials for an exhibit protesting U.S. government food policies…
Kurtz is a founding member of the Critical Art Ensemble, which has used human DNA and other biological materials in works intended to draw attention to political and social issues. His arrest drew protests from artists in several countries who called the charges an intrusion on artistic freedom.
If you could steal $11,000 worth of something, what would it be?
For one Toronto bandit over the weekend, it was broccoli.
A Toronto-area trucker — set to deliver 30 skids of the green vegetable — returned to his rig in the city’s east end early yesterday morning to find it had vanished, said Toronto Police Const. Ray Clark…
WATERBURY, Conn. — A 53-year-old Waterbury woman has pleaded guilty to stealing more than 150 paintings reportedly after God told her the end of the world is near.
Diane Catalani was arrested last year. According to court documents, Catalani told a psychologist that she hoarded what she stole to show God before the Apocalypse that there are still good people in the world.
The prosecutor says it’s clear that Catalani was suffering from mental illness at the time she stole the paintings.
A dress-wearing man named Nanu Banu was arrested after exposing his underwear and propositioning women with a wad of cash, according to an arrest affidavit released Tuesday.
Banu, 51, was accused of “disrupting the restaurant and bar because he was walking up to women, pulling off his dress (exposing his underwear) and propositioning women with a wad of money in his hand,” the affidavit states.
Apparently, it was a big wad of money.:
April 23, 2008
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright nontroversy? Not a problem.
“Bitter,” clingy blue-collar types, flag lapel pins? He can navigate those annoyances with ease.
But come November, the Bill Ayers issue rushing up in Barack Obama’s rearview mirror could be a real political problem.
A former member of the Weather Underground organization — a radical group responsible for a string of bombings in the early ’70s — Ayers was a privileged kid turned domestic terrorist. Reformed and respectable, Ayers is now an education professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, an informal adviser to Chicago’s mayor and a past contributor to an Obama campaign. In Wednesday’s debate, Hillary Clinton gave a preview of what to expect from conservatives come the general election should Obama take the nomination: accusations that Obama is cozy with radical liberals. There’s not much the Clinton machine can do with the accusation, seeing as President Bill Clinton commuted the prison sentences of a couple of Weather Underground members.
Conservatives will try to do considerably worse, and they’ll have a lot to work with.
Back in the day, Ayers was a radicalized liberal in the worst way. Not merely because he and his comrades turned to indiscriminate violence, but because of the reason they turned. Chiefly, their paternalistic belief that blacks could not secure civil rights without their helping, explosive hand to guide them. “Black people have been fighting almost alone for years,” read the first communique of the Weather Underground. “We’ve known that our job is to lead white kids into armed revolution.”
Going metaphorically arm-in-arm with Dr. King — as innumerable liberal-minded folks of all persuasions did — was not enough for the Weather Underground. They had to blow stuff up. And they did it without regard for the fact that they were essentially spitting on the memory of a man who was committed to nonviolence. Yes, they were partially radicalized by the killing of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton at the hands of the Chicago police. But many vented their very righteous anger without lighting fuses. But many, also, didn’t fancy themselves modern John Browns leading otherwise helpless blacks to freedom.
The Weather Underground claimed to want to avoid human suffering. But you can’t express yourself with explosives without somebody getting hurt. And the people who got hurt were three of its members, blown up in an accident so tragic it’s actually empty of irony.
But I’m sure at the time the Weather Underground figured they were doing something noble.
And I’m sure Ted Kaczynski figured he was doing the same.
The issue, though, isn’t what Ayers thought then; it’s what he thinks now.
Read Ayers’ memoir, Fugitive Days, which was published — in actual horrific irony — on Sept. 10, 2001. Though I have to admit it’s pretty well written, it’s filled with more paternalism (“A squad of cops in Cleveland had dragged Black men from a motel and shot them down in cold blood, and now we would, I thought, even the score.”) and romanticism of what were ultimately terrorist acts. Ayers was also quoted in 2001 saying that he has no regrets for his past actions, but rather he feels that “we didn’t do enough.” Take a gander at his Web site and see if you find contrition or self-aggrandizement.
What someone did 40 years ago — within reason — should not damn that person forever. But that’s assuming offending individuals pay their debt to society and repent. Ayers has done neither.
I genuinely hope Obama’s got as much distance as humanly possible between himself and Ayers, and that Ayers is just, as Obama said in the debate, “a guy who lives in my neighborhood.”
April 23, 2008
From the When You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Screw ‘Em Department:
According to Alexander Cockburn at The First Post, the gates of scandal are about to open up on John McCain. He notes that while Hillary will soldier on, John McCain’s past is catching up with him. First come the usual ‘McCain was a collaborator’ charges (which no really takes seriously, not even the opposing candidates most fervent supporters), followed by the mysterious charges of a sex scandal just about to be unleashed:
McCain gets soft-treatment from the claque on his press bus, but the going could rapidly get rough for him. Just as John Kerry got whacked for false claims about his war record in 2004, McCain is already on the receiving end of charges (most recently on the CounterPunch website and newsletter I coedit) that as a POW ‘hero’ McCain collaborated with his captors for three years and was on Vietnamese radio so often he was tagged as ‘the PW Songbird’.
Meanwhile Cliff Schecter, author of The Real McCain says an AP reporter “recounted to me seeing John McCain wander off into the red-light district of Hanoi in 1996 when he was there to normalise relations with the Vietnamese”, and that “a few reporters told me the McCains don’t really live together anymore, and that until the campaign Cindy McCain spent much of her time in San Diego with their daughter, because her husband was just not Johnny-on-the-spot anymore.”
Leftist political ‘analysts.’ The gift that keeps on giving.
April 23, 2008
From the Minority Report:
I don’t know whether conspiracy is the right word although these relationships might fit the dictionary meaning of the word. In any case this time line is interesting
It is very interesting. By choice of chance, Obama is never too far from the ‘most interesting.’
Mark Steyn and James Lileks have reacted on tonight’s show to the 2007 audio of Ayers and Dohrn dug up by Guy Benson. Much should be written about it and what it tells us about Senator Obama, but whether the MSM even notices remains to be seen.
A caller from North Carolina, Steve, noted the obvious: We know what Dohrn and Ayers were thinking about the U.S. in 2007. We know that they know Obama well, and have “vetted” him. And we know they supported him from 1995 forward.
UPDATE: Powerline’s John Hinderacker begins the hard-look at “The Friends of Barack Obama.”
Keep in mind a young radio producer –Guy Benson of WYLL’s The Sandy Rios Show– found audio that no one else in all of the MSM found to launch this story. What else will we be discovering about Barack Obama’s friends, and about the candidate?
Mr. Obama’s apparent inability to confront, forthrightly, the pastor’s poisonous pronouncements and his own relationship with him is, of course, the cause of all the continuing questions on the subject. It had not been in him, for instance, to say publicly that for a pastor to have preached that the U.S. government had embarked on a project to inject blacks with AIDS was an outrage on truth and decency. He delivered a celebrated speech on race, one generally hailed as a masterwork, that was supposed to have explained it all. It was a work masterly, above all, in its evasiveness. Even its admirers, prepared to swallow his repeated resort to descriptions like “controversial” for the pastor’s hate-filled rants, couldn’t quite give Sen. Obama a pass when it came to his beloved white grandmother, or to the not so beloved Geraldine Ferraro, both of whom he suggested were racists in their own right.
These issues – the unanswered, the suspect – which outraged press partisans have for days attempted to dismiss as trivia and gossip, largely forgotten by the public, are unlikely to be forgotten, either today or in the general election, nor are they trivial. This, Messrs. Gibson and Stephanopoulos clearly understood when they chose their questions. Mr. Obama’s answers told far more than he or his managers wished.
Offered a chance to explain the meaning of his remarks about the reasons people living in small towns cling to guns and religion, he went on to repeat them all over again in different words. What there was in those remarks, what attitudes shown, that had offended people, he had still not grasped. In short, what he had said that day he’d meant to say. “What you are, picks its way,” as Walt Whitman told us.
The way has been a long one for the candidates, and what they are is, indeed, picking its way on the campaign trail and during events like that instructive debate. About which, we now learn, there is to be a protest campaign against ABC and the moderators, mounted by assorted journalists and bloggers.
We are at the beginning of a contest likely to repeat itself through November: between that part of the press prepared to put hard questions equally, and all the rest, including those who’ll mount the barricades when their candidate is threatened with discomfiture. Let the wars begin.
Barack Obama would have you believe that he is a ‘new’ kind of politician, when in fact, he is nothing more than yet another Cook County political hack. The only difference between Obama and those Daley machine appointees that preceded him is his race.
The Chicago Democrat machine hoped that Obama’s race and black base of support would camouflage his political origins. When it is all said and done, Barack Obama is more of the same of what Cook County has produced for generations.
No wonder the media is playing along.