December 6, 2008
Bill Ayers on why terrorizing innocent people doesn't make him a terrorist
Unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers has an eye-popping piece in the New York Times today where he "explains himself" by informing us that he wasn't a terrorist and that all those radicals Obama hung around with weren't really that radical:
"An African-America preacher with a fiery style?". How about a minister who uses his pulpit to attack America, celebrate 9/11, spread conspiracy theories about white people creating the AIDS virus to kill African-Americans? How about a fiery style that includes numerous attacks on "whites". If a white minister had been engaged in this type of behavior would Ayers also merely dismiss it as a "style"?Secondary characters in the narrative included an African-American preacher with a fiery style, a Palestinian scholar and an “unrepentant domestic terrorist.” Linking the candidate with these supposedly shadowy characters, and ferreting out every imagined secret tie and dark affiliation, became big news.I was cast in the “unrepentant terrorist” role; I felt at times like the enemy projected onto a large screen in the “Two Minutes Hate” scene from George Orwell’s “1984,” when the faithful gathered in a frenzy of fear and loathing.With the mainstream news media and the blogosphere caught in the pre-election excitement, I saw no viable path to a rational discussion. Rather than step clumsily into the sound-bite culture, I turned away whenever the microphones were thrust into my face. I sat it out.Now that the election is over, I want to say as plainly as I can that the character invented to serve this drama wasn’t me, not even close. Here are the facts:I never killed or injured anyone. I did join the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, and later resisted the draft and was arrested in nonviolent demonstrations. I became a full-time antiwar organizer for Students for a Democratic Society. In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village. The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices — the ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious — as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation.
The same type of dismissal occurs over Rashid Khalidi, Obama's Palestinian friend. Khalidi was not just a Palestinian ‘scholar". Scholar of what? Mathematics, biology, English literature? One would not know from Ayers description that Khalidi is a Middle East scholar who has used his position to propagate extremist views towards the Middle East and spread calumny against Israeli and America's support for our ally.
One would not know that Khalidi is not just a "scholar" but is in fact an "activist" for anti-Israel causes. Ayers dismisses his own role and relationship with Obama by ignoring his early role in hosting one of Obama's first fundraisers, he ignores the fact that Ayers and Obama served-not just on a board together-but a very small board (7 members) for several years when the both served on the Woods Fund. He also ignores the fact that they were both involved in an entirely separate group; The Chicago Annenberg Challenge that Barack Obama headed for several years. The involvement of Obama at the Challenge is a fact the campaign has done all it can to hide (and Ayers does, as well) because Obama's stewardship - the only executive experience in his career-was a complete failure - a $100 million dollar plus failure.
But perhaps Ayers most 1984-type of act was erasing the violent history of his domestic terror group, the Weathermen. Acts of violence are dismissed as "acts of extreme vandalism".
Acts of "extreme vandalism? Does that include planting bombs at the Pentagon, US Capitol (that he does own up to in a separate paragraph)? Ayers dismisses these because they were planted in "empty offices". Of course, the bombs could have malfunctioned, and easily could have blown up people who came to their offices at unscheduled times. Ayers ignores, as he always does when he writes of these times-bombs planted at the home of a New York State Supreme Court Justice. Would the Times publish a complementary op-ed by John Murtagh whose family was targeted when he was a young boy (his father was the Justice). Maybe the Times could include this section from a column Murtagh wrote for City Journal:
In February 1970, my father, a New York State Supreme Court justice, was presiding over the trial of the so-called "Panther 21," members of the Black Panther Party indicted in a plot to bomb New York landmarks and department stores. Early on the morning of February 21, as my family slept, three gasoline-filled firebombs exploded at our home on the northern tip of Manhattan, two at the front door and the third tucked neatly under the gas tank of the family car. (Today, of course, we'd call that a car bomb.) A neighbor heard the first two blasts and, with the remains of a snowman I had built a few days earlier, managed to douse the flames beneath the car. That was an act whose courage I fully appreciated only as an adult, an act that doubtless saved multiple lives that night.
I still recall, as though it were a dream, thinking that someone was lifting and dropping my bed as the explosions jolted me awake, and I remember my mother's pulling me from the tangle of sheets and running to the kitchen where my father stood. Through the large windows overlooking the yard, all we could see was the bright glow of flames below. We didn't leave our burning house for fear of who might be waiting outside. The same night, bombs were thrown at a police car in Manhattan and two military recruiting stations in Brooklyn. Sunlight, the next morning, revealed three sentences of blood-red graffiti on our sidewalk: FREE THE PANTHER 21; THE VIET CONG HAVE WON; KILL THE PIGS.
For the next 18 months, I went to school in an unmarked police car. My mother, a schoolteacher, had plainclothes detectives waiting in the faculty lounge all day. My brother saved a few bucks because he didn't have to rent a limo for the senior prom: the NYPD did the driving. We all made the best of the odd new life that had been thrust upon us, but for years, the sound of a fire truck's siren made my stomach knot and my heart race. In many ways, the enormity of the attempt to kill my entire family didn't fully hit me until years later, when, a father myself, I was tucking my own nine-year-old John Murtagh into bed.
Though no one was ever caught or tried for the attempt on my family's life, there was never any doubt who was behind it. Only a few weeks after the attack, the New York contingent of the Weathermen blew themselves up making more bombs in a Greenwich Village townhouse. The same cell had bombed my house, writes Ron Jacobs in The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground. And in late November that year, a letter to the Associated Press signed by Bernardine Dohrn, Ayers's wife, promised more bombings.
Ayers claims he isn't a "terrrorist." Can you read the above where one of his victims describes the terror he and his family lived for months, even years following Mr. Ayers "extreme act of vandalism" without concluding that the individual or group responsible didn't have as their motive to terrorize innocents? A terrorist is someone who terrorizes people with violence. That fits Bill Ayers to a "T" and his lying denial that he ever did any such thing only shows him to be a moral coward as well as a despicable human being.
Bill Ayers is the person who is practicing 1984-type strategies - with a willing assist from the New York Times.
Clarice Feldman adds:
Bill Ayers defends himself, saying he never killed anyone. Possibly so, though that would ignore that the bomb he designed was intended to kill innocent soldiers and visitors to Fort Dix and only accidently killed his old girlfriend and other of his confederates.
My friend, JMH, remarks tartly:
Apparently, Ayers is just another guy who was told to keep his mouth shut till November 5th. It's OK to cover him now that he's a simple celebrity, with a handy misspent youth to talk about. He'll probably get better press than Palin: he's articulate, he's academic, what's not to like? You can even pre-order the newest Ayers & Dorhn polemic over at Amazon: Race Course Against White Supremacy , where they are described as "veteran political activists."
Personally, I'm waiting for a book on doublespeak in 21st century American rhetoric.