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Obama Pal Ayers Still Dangerous Radical

From the editorial pages of the Chicago’s City Journal:

Bill Ayers in Chicago, 2007. (Enlarge)

Obama’s Real Bill Ayers Problem

The ex-Weatherman is now a radical educator with influence.

23 April 2008

Barack Obama complains that he’s been unfairly attacked for a casual political and social relationship with his neighbor, former Weatherman Bill Ayers. Obama has a point. In the ultraliberal Hyde Park community where the presidential candidate first earned his political spurs, Ayers is widely regarded as a member in good standing of the city’s civic establishment, not an unrepentant domestic terrorist. But Obama and his critics are arguing about the wrong moral question. The more pressing issue is not the damage done by the Weather Underground 40 years ago, but the far greater harm inflicted on the nation’s schoolchildren by the political and educational movement in which Ayers plays a leading role today.

A Chicago native son, Ayers first went into combat with his Weatherman comrades during the “Days of Rage” in 1969, smashing storefront windows along the city’s Magnificent Mile and assaulting police officers and city officials. Chicago’s mayor at the time was the Democratic boss of bosses, Richard J. Daley. The city’s current mayor, Richard M. Daley, has employed Ayers as a teacher trainer for the public schools and consulted him on the city’s education-reform plans. Obama’s supporters can reasonably ask: If Daley fils can forgive Ayers for his past violence, why should Obama’s less consequential contacts with Ayers be a political disqualification? It’s hard to disagree. Chicago’s liberals have chosen to define deviancy down in Ayers’s case, and Obama can’t be blamed for that.

What he can be blamed for is not acknowledging that his neighbor has a political agenda that, if successful, would make it impossible to lift academic achievement for disadvantaged children. As I have shown elsewhere in City Journal, Ayers’s politics have hardly changed since his Weatherman days. He still boasts about working full-time to bring down American capitalism and imperialism. This time, however, he does it from his tenured perch as Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Instead of planting bombs in public buildings, Ayers now works to indoctrinate America’s future teachers in the revolutionary cause, urging them to pass on the lessons to their public school students.

Indeed, the education department at the University of Illinois is a hotbed for the radical education professoriate. As Ayers puts it in one of his course descriptions, prospective K–12 teachers need to “be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit and . . . be a teacher capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, a teacher teaching for social justice and liberation.” Ayers’s texts on the imperative of social-justice teaching are among the most popular works in the syllabi of the nation’s ed schools and teacher-training institutes. One of Ayers’s major themes is that the American public school system is nothing but a reflection of capitalist hegemony. Thus, the mission of all progressive teachers is to take back the classrooms and turn them into laboratories of revolutionary change.

Unfortunately, neither Obama nor his critics in the media seem to have a clue about Ayers’s current work and his widespread influence in the education schools. In his last debate with Hillary Clinton, Obama referred to Ayers as a “professor of English,” an error that the media then repeated. Would that Ayers were just another radical English professor. In that case, his poisonous anti-American teaching would be limited to a few hundred college students in the liberal arts. But through his indoctrination of future K–12 teachers, Ayers has been able to influence what happens in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of classrooms.

Ayers’s influence on what is taught in the nation’s public schools is likely to grow in the future. Last month, he was elected vice president for curriculum of the 25,000-member American Educational Research Association (AERA), the nation’s largest organization of education-school professors and researchers. Ayers won the election handily, and there is no doubt that his fellow education professors knew whom they were voting for. In the short biographical statement distributed to prospective voters beforehand, Ayers listed among his scholarly books Fugitive Days, an unapologetic memoir about his ten years in the Weather Underground. The book includes dramatic accounts of how he bombed the Pentagon and other public buildings.

AERA already does a great deal to advance the social-justice teaching agenda in the nation’s schools and has established a Social Justice Division with its own executive director. With Bill Ayers now part of the organization’s national leadership, you can be sure that it will encourage even more funding and support for research on how teachers can promote left-wing ideology in the nation’s classrooms—and correspondingly less support for research on such mundane subjects as the best methods for teaching underprivileged children to read.

The next time Obama—the candidate who purports to be our next “education president”—discusses education on the campaign trail, it would be nice to hear what he thinks of his Hyde Park neighbor’s vision for turning the nation’s schools into left-wing indoctrination centers. Indeed, it’s an appropriate question for all the presidential candidates.

Sol Stern is a contributing editor of City Journal and the author of Breaking Free: Public School Lessons and the Imperative of School Choice.

The door to Bill Ayers’ office at the University of Illinois is covered with pictures, cartoons, graphics and various political paraphernalia. (Enlarge)

These details about Mr. Ayers will be showing up in out watchdog media any minute now.

No, wait. We have instead these “ho-hum” reactions from the hard-hitting, fact-digging Chicago media, via Editor & Publisher:

Ayers/Obama Connection Brings ‘So What?’ Reaction In Chicago Media

By Mark Fitzgerald

Published: April 24, 2008

CHICAGO His political opponents think Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s acquaintance with former Weatherman William Ayers is a weak spot worthy of attack, as certain Republican presidential nominee John McCain did again Sunday on a TV talk show.

But here in Chicago, home to both men, the charge that Obama has been friendly with the former political radical has gone nowhere.

Ayers’ extremist past has “has never bothered anyone in Chicago,” Chicago Sun-Times political columnist Lynn Sweet wrote after Obama was questioned about his relationship with Ayers in last week’s debate with Hillary Clinton.

“That’s why back in the day when Obama was starting his political career — making a visit to the Ayers home while running for a state Senate seat, and then agreeing to being on panels with him and serve on a foundation board together — it was no big deal, or any deal, to any local political reporters or to the editorial boards of the Sun-Times or Tribune,” Sweet added.

And it’s no big deal still to the Tribune editorial board, which has not endorsed a Democrat for president since 1872.

“Ah, we know Ayers too,” a Tribune editorial said last week. “And his wife, Bernardine Dohrn. If you know people in Chicago academic circles, chances are you know Ayers and Dohrn. They have not been repentant about their days in the radical, anti-war movement in the 1960s and their time fleeing federal authorities. They should be. There is still time for them to be. But they have done good work in Chicago–Ayers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dohrn at Northwestern University Law School’s Children and Family Justice Center.”

Ayers also was given the seal of approval by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, nobody’s idea of a radical and someone who doesn’t need a weatherman to know which way the political winds are blowing.

The Ayers episode is one reason “that Americans are angry about Washington politics,” Daley said.

One more example is the way Sen. Obama’s opponents are playing guilt by association, tarring him because he happens to know Bill Ayers,” Daley said in a statement issued last week.

Daley called Ayers “a valued member of the Chicago community” who is “worked with me in shaping our now nationally renowned school reform program.”

Chicago’s pundit class is not exactly unanimous on shrugging off the Obama/Ayers connection. Steve Chapman, a Chicago Tribune columnist of libertarian bent who also serves on the paper’s editorial board, argued Sunday that the relationship, which he said Obama was disingenuously trying to downplay, does matter.

“It’s hard to imagine he would be so indulgent if we learned that John McCain had a long association with a former Klansman who used to terrorize African-Americans,” Chapman wrote. “Obama’s conduct exposes a moral blind spot about these onetime terrorists, who get a pass because they a) fall on the left end of the spectrum and b) haven’t planted any bombs lately.

“You can tell a lot about someone from his choice of friends. What this friendship reveals is that when it comes to practicing sound moral hygiene, Obama has work to do and no interest in doing it.”

But locally, Obama is far more likely to be rapped for being too palsy, or at least endorsing, the feckless president of the Cook County Board, Todd Stroger. Chicago media critic Steve Rhodes, in his blog The Beachwood Reporter, rarely lets slip an opportunity to contrast Obama’s national image as a daring leader who will bring “change you can believe in” with his get-along, go-along relationship with city and Cook County political hacks.

He once suggested this question to Michelle Obama for an interview the Sun-Times was promoting: “How do you square Barack’s campaigning as a change agent with all the profiles of him that describe him as a cautious, conservative, ultra-pragmatic legislator?”

The Chicagoist Web site, while also mostly shrugging off the Ayers “controversy,” said it pointed to disturbing pattern:

“While their relationship just might be a tempest in a teapot — or in Obamaspeak, a ‘distraction’ — is the fact that Obama is once again downplaying a friendship really the bigger deal? After all, this is the same guy that originally tried to claim he hardly knew Tony Rezko, and had only performed a few hours of legal work for him. Where’s that famous Obama transparency? This is a ‘new kind of politics’?”

Maybe one of the problems with our country is that “teachers” like Ayers no longer cause outrage. We have been gradually conditioned to accept them.

Or, as the first article notes, we have defined deviancy down.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, April 24th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

20 Responses to “Obama Pal Ayers Still Dangerous Radical”

  1. Steve says:

    Mr. Limbaugh is talking about this article as we speak.

  2. 1sttofight says:

    Does anyone know exactly how Ayers escaped procecution in the weatherman crimes?
    I have searched and only found vague references to a liberal judge letting him off, but no facts.
    Do any of yall know ?

  3. wardmama4 says:

    1st – from what I read the ‘surveilance’ photos that identified them – were ill gotten (no/bad) warrant – so he and she walked.

    I have a question – isn’t arson, especially in the terms of tampering with a trial – without a statute of limitations? Someone, anyone legal out there? Now that they (apparently even Ayers has written a book re his WU days) – spilling their guts I think it would be righteous justice to have their arrogance and greed, hang themselves.

    Keep talking, keep passing this on – we need to Stop Him Now and as the last debate proved – we are going to have to drag McCain to the winners circle – he is being too bi-partisan and too willing to cross the aisle to do an damn thing toward winning the election.

    BTW, my dil sent this [It is Howard Stern, graphic language warning] – to show you how stupid the average Obama supporter is:


    It would be funny – if these people weren’t being bussed in to vote.

  4. 1sttofight says:

    Thanks wm4, I heard it was some kind of technicality, but did not know exactly what it was.

  5. texaspsue says:

    “It would be funny…….”

    I agree wardmama. This is pathetic, 1/2 of America doesn’t even know what they are voting for. . Here’s another video that would be funny if it weren’t so close to the truth.

    Obama National Anthem….


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