Getting the 'Ayers Issue' Straight

 If we move beyond the retort of being 8 years old at the time, and consider what we already know, there is plenty of disturbing evidence from Obama's own past about the Ayers relationship. 

According to Rasmussen Reports public opinion polling, 50% of voters believe that the "Ayers issue" has hurt the McCain campaign. According to the report, 57% say it is not an important voting consideration. And finally, 59% of all voters believe Ayers will have hardly any or no influence over the policies of a potential Obama administration.
These numbers particularly disturbing. And so let's get this "Ayers issue" straight.

Yes, William Ayers and wife Bernadine Dohrn were anti-American domestic terrorists who bombed US targets. And sure, both have remained insolent about their terrorist activities, proudly declaring no regrets and "we didn't do enough."

But set aside the 1960s terrorism for a moment. What is pertinent is that the terrorist-turned-educator transitioned from assailing America's buildings to assailing America from within them.

When the question of Obama's relationship with Ayers was raised in his April primary debate with Sen. Clinton, he dismissively responded with the now famous falsehood that Ayers was just "a guy who lives in my neighborhood." We know the Ayers-Obama relationship goes well beyond this. An Ayers-pattern has emerged; Obama is hiding something and therein lies the "Ayers issue."

Ayers is on the board of the Miranda International Center think tank in Venezuela. The group calls Ayers "the leader of the revolutionary and anti-imperialist group . . . [who has] developed courses around the urban reform of schools, problems of capitalist education, and investigation."

In a 2006 speech at the World Education Forum in Venezuela, Ayers said, "We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution . . . I look forward to seeing how he and all of you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education."

Sol Stern observes that Ayers "still boasts about working full-time to bring down American capitalism . . . 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." In the Ayers social justice model of teaching, "knowledge-based and politically neutral curriculum" is gone.

Ayers & Obama

1) In 1995 Obama kicked off his Illinois Senate run in the living room of Ayers. Also in attendance at this political coming-out party was Communist Party member Quentin Young. The obvious question: Did Ayers introduce and launch someone he did not know, someone not in accord with his own agenda?

2) The same year, Obama had been chosen by Ayers to be the first chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a public school reform project co-founded by Ayers. We are once again faced with the question: Did Ayers hire someone he did not know, someone not in accord with his agenda?

Having reviewed the CAC Board of Directors meeting minutes, Stanley Kurtz concludes that it "clearly involves significant consultation between the board, headed by Obama, and the Collaborative, co-chaired by Ayers." The materials "show that Mr. Obama and Mr. Ayers worked as a team to advance the CAC agenda."

CAC received a $50 million matched grant which the two used to advance radical alternative education. Funding, however, did not go directly to schools but rather to "external partners" with whom the schools were required to affiliate, writes Stanley Kurtz. Many of the partners were radical community organization groups, ACORN among them.

Another such group, given over $1 million, happened to be Ayers's Small Schools Project, a radical alternative education project founded by Ayers and directed by Michael Klonsky, an Ayers friend and former chairman of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist).

CAC also funded a group called the South Shore African Village Collaborative, philosophically a "carbon-copy" of the worldview of Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ pastor, Jeremiah Wright. One goal, according to its grant application to the Annenberg Challenge: "Our children need to understand the historical context of our struggles for liberation from those forces that seek to destroy us."

3) Obama served with Ayers on the Board of Directors for The Woods Fund of Chicago. The Fund gave $75,000 to ACORN, $6,000 to Obama's church, and $60,000 to the Children and Family Justice Center founded and run by Dohrn, wife of Ayers. The Fund also gave $50,000 to the Ayers/Klonsky Small Schools Network.

In two separate grants, $75,000 was given to the Arab American Action Network, founded by well-known anti-Semitic spokesman for the PLO and Yasser Arafat Rashid Khalidi.

Ayers, Dohrn and Obama were in attendance at a 2003 AAAN farewell party for Khalidi who was leaving the University of Chicago for a position at Columbia University, reported the Los Angeles Times. The Times has a videotape of the dinner but refuses to release it to the public; apparently the tape is damaging to the Obama campaign.

The video tape is said to include tributes by Ayers and Obama. The Times reported that Obama gave Khalidi a "special tribute" as he reminisced about conversations "around Mona and Rashid's dinner table" that had been "consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases."

With evidence mounting and his "a guy who lives in my neighborhood" no longer tenable, Obama admitted, "And so I have talked to [Ayers] about school reform issues." He most assuredly would have, and these "talks" would be far more than casual; they clearly would have been policy and agenda related.

The record - that is, the parts the public are allowed to see - shows the two comfortably working along side one another. Do they accomplish all of the above while having opposing agendas?

And this is the "Ayers issue."

1) First, it is an issue that goes to Obama's honesty and forthrightness with the American people. Why is he secretive about what he initially called a "flimsy" relationship? Why has he been gradually changing his story as the facts emerge?

2) Second, this goes to Obama's judgment. Obama did not work against a radical domestic terrorist who continues to have radical views, he worked along side him.

3) Third, it follows, this goes squarely to Obama's ideology itself. What in Obama drew the radical Ayers into alliance with him? And why was Obama so comfortable moving within his sphere and advancing his agenda?

The "Ayers issue" is not 1960s terrorism.