Saturday, October 18, 2008

Clearing the Air about Ayers

William Ayers, is a past member of the Weatherman ~ a Vietnam era radical group. Ayers, in the here and now is a distinguished professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. John McCain's camp has accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists", citing a 1995 meet-the-candidate coffee gathering, that Ayers hosted at his home for Obama when he was running for Illinois State Senate. The two also served together on a Chicago school reform group and a charity board.
Ayres & his wife were considered fugitives for years, until they surrendered in 1980 and charges against him were dropped because of government misconduct, which included FBI break-ins, wiretaps and opening of mail.
"He gives of himself greatly to his students. He gives of his time, his energies, his committment,", said Pamela Quiroz, an associate professor who works in the college of education with Ayers. "He is just a superb individual."
Quiroz is among more than 3,200 people, mostly academics, who have signed an online petition protesting the "demonization" of Ayers during the campaign. (Source Register Guard).

Ayers is quoted as saying: " "We weren't terrorists," Ayers told an interviewer for the Chicago Tribune in 2001. "The reason we weren't terrorists is because we did not commit random acts of terror against people. Terrorism was what was being practiced in the countryside of Vietnam by the United States."

In a letter to the editor in the Chicago Tribune, Ayers wrote, "I condemn all forms of terrorism — individual, group and official". He also condemned the September 11 terrorist attacks in that letter. "Today we are witnessing crimes against humanity on our own shores on an unthinkable scale, and I fear that we may soon see more innocent people in other parts of the world dying in response."

Views on his past expressed since 2001
Ayers was asked in a January 2004 interview, "How do you feel about what you did? Would you do it again under similar circumstances?" He replied: "I've thought about this a lot. Being almost 60, it's impossible to not have lots and lots of regrets about lots and lots of things, but the question of did we do something that was horrendous, awful? ... I don't think so. I think what we did was to respond to a situation that was unconscionable." On September 9, 2008, journalist Jake Tapper reported on the comic strip in Ayers' blog explaining the soundbite: "The one thing I don't regret is opposing the war in Vietnam with every ounce of my being.... When I say, 'We didn't do enough,' a lot of people rush to think, 'That must mean, "We didn't bomb enough shit."' But that's not the point at all. It's not a tactical statement, it's an obvious political and ethical statement. In this context, 'we' means 'everyone.'

Ayers is a passionate activist, he was involved in The Weathermen, which were initially part of the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM) within the SDS, Students for a democratic society. Their founding document called for the establishment of a "white fighting force" to be allied with the "Black Liberation Movement" and other "anti-colonial" movements, to achieve "the destruction of US imperialism and the achievement of a classless world."

Ayers later worked with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley in shaping the city's school reform program, and was one of three co-authors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge grant proposal that in 1995 won $49.2 million over five years for public school reform. In 1997 The City of Chicago awarded him its Citizen of the Year award for his work on the project. Since 1999 he has served on the board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, an anti-poverty, philanthropic foundation established as the Woods Charitable Fund in 1941.

Ayers is the author of many books, including

• Teaching for Social Justice: A Democracy and Education Reader
• Refusing Racism: White Allies and the Struggle for Civil Rights
• Teaching the Personal and the Political: Essays on Hope and Justice
• Teaching Toward Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action in the Classroom 

This is just another aspect that needed to be vetted. Yes, Ayers was a radical activist back in the radical 60's anti Vietnam war era. Apparently the government broke it's own rules, and was not able to prosecute him for those actions. But that is not the end of the story. Ayers went on to refine his passion into teaching, and is still teaching to this day. He raised his own two children, and a third child of another activist who was jailed. The child, is a Rhodes scholar. I just thought it would be good to tell the whole story.

So Obama is palling around with Community Organizers & a distinguished College Professor!

Apparently a few American citizens are ok with that.......


DivaJood said...

Oh, WELL DONE! About time someone told the truth about Ayers.

How the Right Wing makes mountains out of molehills by spinning the truth. They do it well by lying with the truth. I hate what our nation has become.

Anonymous said...

Since everything else has been unvetted, I figured Ayers probably has more to his story than the small part of his life the rethugs are telling.

I thought it was interesting his remark that what the US was doing in Vietnam was terrorism.

He turned his radical/activist roots into being an excellent teacher.

The "authorities" screwed themselves over with dirty tricks.

Go figure!


LET'S TALK said...

Very good information on Ayers. I think divajood is correct, "the Right Wing makes mountains out of molehills"

Now if the American people would read the type of information that is posted here, they would see where the Right is trying to take us.

Fran said...

Let's Talk: It is unfortunate that with 26 years in the Senate, John McCain does not feel his experience and voting record are the things that would Wow people into voting for him. He has sided with Bush, and he chose a running mate who is not qualified- or *ready for prime time*. That means his only strategy has become attacking the opposition.

Ayers has denounced violent action-- during the Vietnam war era, the opposition to war was much more personal & heightened- since they had enacted the military draft. Young men were being forced to go to fight and die in a war that was questionable. This was not just a mater of opinion, their lives were on the line. And it was the first war that had actual on the scene film footage, which had graphic scenes of the trauma and chaos.
What was going on there was not being filtered or sanitized.

Once again, there is more to the story than the republican party likes to tell. It is a smear campaign. Once again, McCain has crossed the line, and continues to be his own worst enemy.

LET'S TALK said...

I agree Fran, this is nothing more than a smear campaign. I never thought that Americans would go down this road again.

The Ayers matter is just brought out because McCain has no place else to go.

Fran said...

Let's Talk: He has no place to go, but his campaign is headed straight to .... hell?

D.K. Raed said...

I don't get why is Ayres is considered "unrepentent". He turned himself in for justice. That means he was willing to take the punishment for his crimes. If he was truly unrepentent, why would he turn himself in?

The way the McCain campaign refers to him, I keep forgetting he has a real first name, other an "unrepentent terrorist".

Good exploration of Ayres career, Fran. Back in the day, I'm sure I would've preferred his company to that of a short womanizing flyboy with a bad temper.