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November 1, 2008
Bill Ayers Dedicated His 1974 Book to RFK's Assassin
While they were fugitives from justice, Sen. Barack Obama's friend, associate, and political mentor William Ayers and three of his radical Weather Underground co-conspirators, including his wife Bernardine Dohrn, dedicated their 1974 book Prairie Fire to a rogue's gallery that included Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles in 1968. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity brought this fact to national attention on their respective radio and television programs on October 30.
As Ayers and company wrote in the book:
We are a guerilla organization. We are communist women and men, underground in the United States for more than four years. . .We need a revolutionary communist party in order to lead the struggle, give coherence and direction to the fight, seize power and build the new society.
While living underground, as has been widely reported for decades by many histories of the period, Ayers and his comrades planned and executed a number of violent terrorist attacks in the U.S. on a wide variety of targets, including the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, several courthouses, and a New York City police precinct. Ayers et al provided a list of their actions on page 16 of Prairie Fire.
There is a perverse irony in the Sirhan dedication. Robert F. Kennedy's brother, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), was the most prominent Democrat politician to endorse Ayers' pal Barack Obama fairly early on in the campaign last January 28. Sharing the stage at that endorsement was RFK's niece, Caroline Kennedy. Ms. Kennedy later went on to co-chair Obama's vice presidential selection committee.
Ayers, often referred to by Hannity and others as an "unrepentant terrorist," has not disavowed his violent activities. In a feature article about Ayers published in The New York Times on September 11, 2001, titled "No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives; In a Memoir of Sorts, a War Protester Talks of Life With the Weathermen," Ayers said "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough." Ayers made similar declarations in the 2003 documentary Weather Underground, which was broadcast nationally on PBS in April 2004. Elvis Mitchell, the Times' critic who reviewed the film when it opened in New York City in June 2003, took note of the filmmakers' "apparent sympathy" with their subjects, who Mitchell described as "the young, violent and glamorous antiestablishment militants of the 1960's."
It is not known if Ayers has had any second thoughts about Prairie Fire's dedication to Sirhan Sirhan. Recent attempts by a handful of journalists to question Ayers have not been successful. On October 24, 2008, after an attempt to question him on the street outside his Chicago home by Jesse Watters of Fox news, Ayers called the police.
Another link between Robert F. Kennedy and Barack Obama, again one tinged with irony based on Obama's association with Ayers and Ayers' book dedication, is this one: The canonization of RFK received a major early boost on August 29, 1968 with the broadcast of a documentary about the slain senator, Robert Kennedy Remembered, which was shown on the closing night of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and carried on all three networks that were covering the convention. This past summer, many PBS stations around the country broadcast the film, its first showing on television in 40 years, as part of PBS' fundraising drives.
The producer of Robert Kennedy Remembered, who won an Academy Award for the film, was the late Charles Guggenheim. Guggenheim's son Davis Guggenheim produced Barack Obama's half hour infomercial that ran on three commercial TV networks and at least four cable TV channels on October 29, 2008.