Bill Ayers, a Familiar Face in the Birth of Critical Race Theory
After Attorney General Merrick Garland sicced the FBI on unruly parents protesting Critical Race Theory (CRT) at school board meetings, it came to light that Garland had a dog in the fight.
That dog is son-in-law Xan Tanner, co-founder of Panorama Education, a leading distributor of CRT materials. Among the materials Panorama has recommended for educators is an essay by terrorist emeritus and Obama pal Bill Ayers.
Titled "I Shall Create! Teaching Toward Freedom," Ayers's essay is the first in a 2019 collection by left-wing activist Lisa Delpit. If nothing else, Ayers has been consistent. He has been pumping out frenetic anti-white cant long before it was cool, let alone mandatory.
Writes Ayers in this recent essay, "We must face reality and courageously confront history, tell the truth, and then destroy the entire edifice of white supremacy: metaphorically speaking it means burning down the plantation." The problem now is that Ayers is no longer an outlier. The same FBI that hounded him and his fellow bombers is now hounding parents who protest his subversive nonsense.
What Ayers thinks would matter less were it not for his outsized influence on the educational philosophy of former president Barack Obama. Were Obama merely a former president, his thinking would not matter much, either. But Obama may be more than that. Even Tucker Carlson has openly speculated that Obama is the guy running the show at the White House. What seems clear is that Joe Biden is not.
Equally clear is the mind meld between Ayers and Obama on educational issues. In Obama's 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father, the thoughts on educational reform are channeled through the soulful voices of two older African-Americans. One goes by the name "Asante Moran," likely an homage to the Afrocentric educator Molefi Kete Asante, whom Ayers knew. In Dreams, Moran lectures Obama and his pal "Johnnie" on the nature of public education:
"The first thing you have to realize," he said, looking at Johnnie and me in turn, "is that the public school system is not about educating black children. Never has been. Inner-city schools are about social control. Period."
"Social control" is an Ayers obsession. "The message to Black people was that at any moment and for any reason whatsoever your life or the lives of your loved ones could be randomly snuffed out," he writes in his 2001 memoir Fugitive Days. "The intention was social control through random intimidation and unpredictable violence."
In Dreams, Moran elaborates on the fate of the black student: "From day one, what's he learning about? Someone else's history. Someone else's culture. Not only that, this culture he's supposed to learn is the same culture that's systematically rejected him, denied his humanity."
Precociously Afrocentric, especially for a white guy, Ayers has been making the same case since he first got involved in education. In 1968, as the 23-year-old director of an alternative school in Ann Arbor, he told the Toledo Blade: "The public schools' idea of integration is racist. They put Negro children into school and demand that they give up their Negro culture. Negro children are forced to speak, behave, and react according to middle-class standards."
In 1994, Ayers co-authored an article whose title befits a former merchant seaman: "Navigating a restless sea: The continuing struggle to achieve a decent education for African American youngsters in Chicago." In "Navigating," Ayers echoes the apocryphal Moran, claiming that students who do not meet the idealized "white, working-class, well-fed, able-bodied, English-speaking" model are "met with indifference or even hostility and are deemed 'unteachable.'"
In his 1993 book, To Teach, Ayers makes a sharp distinction between education and training. "Education is for self-activating explorers of life, for those who would challenge fate, for doers and activists, for citizens," he writes. "Training," on the other hand, "is for slaves, for loyal subjects, for tractable employees, for willing consumers, for obedient soldiers." Adds Ayers, "What we call education is usually no more than training. We are so busy operating schools that we have lost sight of learning."
In Dreams, published two years after To Teach, these exact sentiments find colloquial expression in the person of Obama's second educational mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, or "Frank," as he is known. "Understand something, boy," Frank tells the college-bound Obama. "You're not going to college to get educated. You're going there to get trained."
Frank shares Ayers's ideological contempt for training. "They'll train you to forget what it is that you already know," Frank tells Obama. "They'll train you so good, you'll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that s---."
In the mid-1990s, I believe that Ayers's passion for educational reform inspired him to engineer Obama's rise. As an African-American, Obama could help Ayers chart a course he could not do on his own. In "Navigating," Ayers and white co-author Mike Klonsky lay out a detailed analysis of the Chicago school system almost identical to Obama's analysis in Dreams.
Dreams tells us that Chicago's schools "remained in a state of perpetual crisis." "Navigating" describes the situation as a "perpetual state of conflict, paralysis, and stagnation."
Dreams describes a "bloated bureaucracy" as one source of the problem and "a teachers' union that went out on strike at least once every two years" as another.
"Navigating" affirms that the "bureaucracy has grown steadily in the past decade" and confirms Dreams' math, citing a "ninth walkout in 18 years."
"Self-interest" is at the heart of the bureaucratic mess described in Dreams. "Navigating" clarifies that "survivalist bureaucracies" struggle for power "to protect their narrow, self-interested positions against any common, public purpose."
In Dreams, educators "defend the status quo" and blame problems on "impossible" children and their "bad parents." In "Navigating," an educator serves as "apologist for the status quo" and "place[s] the blame for school failure on children and families."
Another challenge cited in Dreams is "an indifferent state legislature." Ayers cites an "unwillingness on [the legislature's] part to adequately fund Chicago schools."
In Dreams, "school reform" is the only solution that Obama envisions. In "Navigating," Ayers has no greater passion than "reforming Chicago's schools."
"Navigating" and Dreams were written largely in the same year, 1994. Ayers was the dominant author of "Navigating" and almost assuredly the muse behind Dreams. Either Ayers helped Obama with Dreams or Obama lifted Ayers's ideas almost verbatim.
Celebrity biographer Christopher Andersen argues for the former in Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage, a flattering bestseller about the first couple published in 2009. Andersen, in fact, zeroes in on the education connection. "What did interest Barack were Ayers's proven abilities as a writer," observes Andersen.
"Ayers had written and co-written scores of articles and treatises, as well as several nonfiction books beginning with Education: An American Problem in 1968. But it was the tone Ayers had set in his latest book — To Teach (1993) — that Barack hoped to emulate."
Andersen makes a strong case for Ayers's active involvement in the crafting of Dreams. "To flesh out his family history, Barack had also taped interviews with Toot, Gramps, Ann, Maya, and his Kenyan relatives," Andersen writes.
"These oral histories, along with his partial manuscript and a trunkload of notes, were given to Ayers." Having been involved in many such projects myself, I find Andersen's description of the handoff of material entirely credible. Although Andersen did not consult with me on the book, he told me afterwards that he relied on two sources in Obama's Hyde Park neighborhood. Understandably, he would not reveal who those sources were.
Andersen's book was widely reviewed — he even appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews — but no one wanted to touch the six pages he spent on the writing of Dreams. A dozen years later, no one in major media wants to even acknowledge that Critical Race Theory has infected American publication, let alone that Marxist terrorists like Ayers helped engineer the virus and a beholden American president helped spread it.
Jack Cashill's latest book, Barack Obama's Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply, is now widely available. See www.cashill.com for more information.
Image: The Brainwaves Video Anthology via YouTube.
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