Introducing Bill & Bernadine To 30-Something & Younger Voters

If you were an adult in the early 1970's and attentive to current events, you may not need an introduction to William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. This is for 30-something and younger voters.

If the Bill Ayers controversy involving Barack Obama harks back to events before you were born, you may wonder what all the noise surrounding his affiliation with Bill and Bernie is about.  As a nefarious couple, Bill and Bernie are probably as obscure to your generation as Julius and Ethel Rosenburg were to mine. That's understandable. Using personal examples, permit me to give you one perspective on Obama's friends. 

On February 16, 1970, I was 23, in the Army, with fresh-cut orders for deployment to Vietnam. My wife was 8 months pregnant with our first child. I got a departure delay until the baby was born. I was sitting at a picnic table at the Enlisted Men's Club at Fort Dix, awaiting my flight to "the Nam," drinking "near-beer," when the radio announced that the Ohio National Guard had opened fire on students at Kent State. So I remember the times, all too well.    

I also remember that Bill and Bernie were prominent members of the Weatherman, known colloquially as the Weathermen and later the Weather Underground Organization, was an American radical left organization founded in 1969 by leaders and members who split from the Students for a Democratic society (SDS) (or claimed to be the actual SDS).

As Weathermen, they had nothing to do with barometric pressure. What they were about was pressuring the U.S. government to end the bombing and killing in Vietnam by doing a little domestic bombing and killing of their own. They even succeeded in killing three of their comrades via botched bombing attempts. (So far as I know, there's been no suggestion that their names appear on the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Wall.  Although, that wouldn't surprise me coming from some quarters.)

On February 16, 1970, Officer Brian McDonnell of the San Francisco Police department's Park Station was sitting near a window in the station when a bomb placed on the ledge exploded near midnight.  He died.

According the (February 17, 2003),

"Investigators in the early ‘70's said the bombing likely was the work of the Weather Underground, and not the Black Liberation Army, which was implicated in the Ingleside attack [where another police officer was killed]."

The murder of McDonnell is unsolved. On November 10, 2003, KRON 4, "The Bay Area's News Station," reported that

"KRON 4 News has learned that three years ago, San Francisco police secretly re-opened the case...And now, sources tell us, those investigators have identified potential suspects: former members of two military groups in the '60 and ‘70s -- the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army, people who've been out of the spotlight for decades. The most prominent among them is Bernadine Dohrn, a former leader of the Weather Underground and now a law professor at Northwestern University in Illinois."

After years of hiding, Bill and Bernie turned themselves into the authorities on December 3, 1980, in New York. 

There's much more to the story, but this will introduce you to the couple.  Perhaps some day we'll see them do the perp walk for McDonnell's murder. One can Hope.

In a generally favorable article written about Ayers that ran in the New York Times on, of all days, September 11, 2001, the author, Danitia Smith, wrote,

‘"I don't regret setting bombs,' Bill Ayers said. ‘I feel we didn't do enough.' Mr. Ayers, who spent the 1970's as a fugitive in the Weather Underground, was sitting in the kitchen of his big turn-of-the-19th-century stone house in the Hyde Park district of Chicago. The long curly locks in his Wanted poster are shorn, though he wears earrings. He still has tattooed on his neck the rainbow-and-lightning Weathermen logo that appeared on letters taking responsibility for bombings. And he still has the ebullient, ingratiating manner, the apparently intense interest in other people, that made him a charismatic figure in the radical student movement. ...

Mr. Ayers, who in 1970 was said to have summed up the Weatherman philosophy as: ‘Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that's where it's really at,' is today distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. And he says he doesn't actually remember suggesting that rich people be killed or that people kill their parents, but ‘it's been quoted so many times I'm beginning to think I did,' he said. ‘It was a joke about the distribution of wealth.'...

In 1969, after the Manson family murders in Beverly Hills, Ms. Dohrn told an S.D.S. audience: ‘Dig it! Manson killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they shoved a fork into a victim's stomach.' In Chicago recently, Ms. Dohrn said of her remarks: ‘It was a joke. We were mocking violence in America. Even in my most inflamed moment I never supported a racist mass murderer.'"

Such comedians, huh?  It was all a joke. The Weathermen admitted to setting 17 bombs. Cue the canned laughter.