Bill Ayers: Legally, he is a terrorist

Ethel C. Fenig
In what Ed Lasky called an eye-popping piece,  Bill Ayers explained why terrorizing innocent people doesn't make him a terrorist.

Ayers' self righteously claimed in a
NYTimes op-ed , "I never killed or injured anyone."  (A sheer stroke of luck.)
But the means justified the idealistic ends.  If the nation wouldn't listen and do what the oh so superior William Ayers wanted well then, the spoiled kid just had to have his way.
Peaceful protests had failed to stop the war. So we issued a screaming response. But it was not terrorism; we were not engaged in a campaign to kill and injure people indiscriminately, spreading fear and suffering for political ends.
"Wrong!" proclaims University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner explaining in The Volokh Conspiracy.
There is no doubt, however, that at least under current law, he would be considered a terrorist. Here is a definition of terrorism in U.S. law (22 USC 2656f(d)f(2)) (there are others as well but similar):

the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents

The Weather Underground was a subnational group; exploding bombs is an act of violence; government offices are non-combatant targets (the Weather Underground also bombed banks); and the use of violence had the political goal of ending the Vietnam War. "Screaming response" or no, this was terrorism.


Under current law, Ayers was a terrorist. This definition is not idiosyncratic; similar definitions can be found in the laws of foreign countries and in international treaties. Ayers seems to think he ought to be excused for violence because his motives were good, but that is the excuse that terrorists always offer—that their political goals justify their use of violence—and naturally the legal definition could not permit such a defense without subverting itself, or turning every terrorism trial into a debate about whether the political ends of the defendants are "good" or "bad" from a moral or political perspective.


Now who would you believe?


(a) a terrorist who said he wasn't a terrorist because he had the best of intentions.

(b) a University of Chicago law professor--a colleague of The Office of the President-Elect no less--who cited solid legal evidence that he was.


Professor of Education William Ayers was and is a terrorist. 


Case closed.

In what Ed Lasky called an eye-popping piece,  Bill Ayers explained why terrorizing innocent people doesn't make him a terrorist.

Ayers' self righteously claimed in a
NYTimes op-ed , "I never killed or injured anyone."  (A sheer stroke of luck.)
But the means justified the idealistic ends.  If the nation wouldn't listen and do what the oh so superior William Ayers wanted well then, the spoiled kid just had to have his way.
Peaceful protests had failed to stop the war. So we issued a screaming response. But it was not terrorism; we were not engaged in a campaign to kill and injure people indiscriminately, spreading fear and suffering for political ends.
"Wrong!" proclaims University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner explaining in The Volokh Conspiracy.
There is no doubt, however, that at least under current law, he would be considered a terrorist. Here is a definition of terrorism in U.S. law (22 USC 2656f(d)f(2)) (there are others as well but similar):

the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents

The Weather Underground was a subnational group; exploding bombs is an act of violence; government offices are non-combatant targets (the Weather Underground also bombed banks); and the use of violence had the political goal of ending the Vietnam War. "Screaming response" or no, this was terrorism.


Under current law, Ayers was a terrorist. This definition is not idiosyncratic; similar definitions can be found in the laws of foreign countries and in international treaties. Ayers seems to think he ought to be excused for violence because his motives were good, but that is the excuse that terrorists always offer—that their political goals justify their use of violence—and naturally the legal definition could not permit such a defense without subverting itself, or turning every terrorism trial into a debate about whether the political ends of the defendants are "good" or "bad" from a moral or political perspective.


Now who would you believe?


(a) a terrorist who said he wasn't a terrorist because he had the best of intentions.

(b) a University of Chicago law professor--a colleague of The Office of the President-Elect no less--who cited solid legal evidence that he was.


Professor of Education William Ayers was and is a terrorist. 


Case closed.