How did old pal Bill Ayers finally outrage university liberals? By the author of Dupes.
Every now and then, our monolithic, woefully over-priced universities do something right. A case in point is the news that University of Illinois trustees have denied emeritus status to a tenured faculty member: Bill Ayers.
Gee, with everything in his record, how did Ayers finally outrage university liberals? Well, it wasn’t his past as a fugitive fleeing the law, when he assumed aliases taken from names of dead babies in cemeteries in towns where he hid. It wasn’t even his more recent statements about harboring “no regrets” over bombing the Pentagon or police stations; after all, many aging tenured radicals, like Ayers in the 1960s, once referred to the military and police as “fascists” and “pigs.” No, what did it was Ayers’ dedication of his 1974 book, Prairie Fire, to no less than Sirhan Sirhan, assassin of Robert F. Kennedy.
The catalyst, of course, had to be something offensive to liberals, but we’ll take it.
It turns out that one of the university’s trustees is Christopher Kennedy, son of RFK. Kennedy implored the university community to “understand my motives and reasoning,” noting, “How could I do anything else?” Indeed.
Kennedy shouldn’t expect much level-headedness in return. This is, after all, the university community. One Ayers colleague told the Chicago Tribune she was “shocked” by the decision. And, naturally, the dean at the School of Education that hosted Ayers since 1987 protested that Ayers has been a “very good colleague” whose “good far outweighs any negative press.”
Of course, the decision by the trustees was a no-brainer, but in our horribly un-diverse universities — ideologically dominated by the left — the real shock is that a just, sensible decision has been made.
The fuller history here is worth revisiting. Let me backtrack a bit.
Published as the “political statement of the Weather Underground,” Prairie Fire was signed by four Weather Underground members: Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Jeff Jones, and Celia Sojourn. Its contents are as alarming as its dedication.
“We are a guerrilla organization,” explained the authors, more than one of whom teaches in our universities. “We are communist women and men, underground in the United States.” This junior communist manifesto endeavored: “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…. The only possibilities are victory or death.” “Our intention,” wrote the revolutionaries, was “to disrupt the empire” of “U.S. imperialism,” “to incapacitate it.”
Citing “THE BANNER OF CHE,” the manifesto pledged that, “The only path to the final defeat of imperialism and the building of socialism is revolutionary war.” That “war,” the authors promised, “will be complicated and protracted. It includes mass struggle and clandestine struggle, peaceful and violent…. Without armed struggle there can be no victory.”
Che Guevara was the poster boy for Prairie Fire, as full pages inside the book featured loving illustrations of the god-like communist revolutionary. “In our own hemisphere,” wrote the four authors, “Che Guevara urged that we ‘create two, three, many Vietnams,’ to destroy U.S. imperialism… and opening another front within the US itself.”
One might think that the advocacy of such things might have gotten Bill Ayers rejected from admission into Columbia University’s Teachers College only a few years later. It might have hindered his hiring by the University of Illinois’s Department of Education in the first place. Both are bellwethers of the wretched state of America’s schools of education.
And it likewise — one would hope — might have kept a young politician named Barack Obama from seeking Ayers’ political endorsement.
Alas, it did none of those things.
The latter example, on Obama, is worth revisiting here, for several reasons reinforced in this latest Ayers episode: The articles in the mainstream media reporting on the trustees decision either downplayed or misrepresented Ayers’ association with Obama. The Chicago Tribune reported only that Ayers and Obama “worked on a school-reform initiative together.” MSNBC mumbled that Ayers “once served” with Obama on “a Chicago charity’s board.” Clearly, liberal journalists are still protecting Obama here, forcing the rest of us to do their jobs. In fact, the Ayers-Obama relationship was not insignificant. This certainly matters, as Obama was elected leader of the free world by oblivious Americans voting for “change.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
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