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Thread: In a New Climate, Former Weatherman Bill Ayers Speaks

  1. #1

    In a New Climate, Former Weatherman Bill Ayers Speaks

    [QUOTE][B][U]In a New Climate, Former Weatherman Bill Ayers Speaks[/U][/B]

    By David Montgomery
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    William Ayers, the Weather Underground founder, popped up in Washington yesterday from his self-imposed no-publicity, no-comment underground and looked like he was loving the sunshine.

    He gave two speeches, took questions, told jokes, described his Facebook page, signed autographs. He hugged some old friends from his student days in Ann Arbor and came this close to actually palling around.

    Clearly the guy to whom Sarah Palin was referring when she said Barack Obama had been "palling around with terrorists" had a lot of pent-up points to make. For months during the presidential campaign, he said, he had watched himself turned into a "cartoon and a caricature." He said he had been "an unwitting and unwilling participant in this election." But he had remained inscrutable. He had refused "to give a sound bite to the sound-bite culture."

    Now, with Obama safely on his way to the White House, at last he could be Ayers the unmuzzled and unbound. Free at last. He seemed delighted and oh-so-ready when a student at the Georgetown University Law Center stood up and asked him a tough, accusatory question. The young man said he was on his way to the Navy after graduation, and asked if the former antiwar militant wished "harm" on him. The young man declared it a "disgrace" that Ayers was allowed on campus.

    Ayers, 64, just smiled and invited the young man to sit down. He had a lot to say, he said, and this was going to take some time. "I'll talk for a while and
    then you can respond."

    "Not only did I never kill or injure another person, but the Weather Underground in its six-year existence never killed or injured another person," he said. "We did something that was extreme. Some of you would call it not only extreme but kind of nuts. You might call it off the track. You might call it crazy. You might call it defying of common sense. It was certainly illegal. To call it terrorism stretches the definition of terrorism to everything you don't approve of." (He was referring to the Weather Underground's claim of planting several bombs, including in the Capitol and Pentagon, that caused no injuries. But members of the group have also been tied to attacks that killed several people.)

    "As long as I've opened the door about terrorism, let me say one other thing," Ayers added, before saying several other things -- such as the Sept. 11 attacks were "vile," but the "flattening of Fallujah" by the U.S. military was also a form of "terrorism."

    Not too long ago, a guy with Ayers's résumé was just the type the Secret Service might want to keep away from a president. The Republicans made him the sinister star of campaign ads -- while he remained virtually silent.
    Now at last that he is opening his mouth, the voice that comes out is . . . surprisingly soft. Professorial, yes, of course, because that's what he is now, a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His wife -- Bernardine Dohrn, another former leader of the Weather Underground -- is now a law professor at Northwestern University. He was citizen of the year in Chicago in 1997. Ayers and Obama served on charitable boards together, and Ayers and Dohrn hosted a coffee for the young politician in 1995.

    "The demonization of me, the creation of me as a fearsome person, somebody to worry about, is false," Ayers said.

    The ex-Weatherman spoke to about 60 students at the law center and about 400 people last night at All Souls Unitarian Church. He was wearing jeans and a dark corduroy sports coat, sipping from a red water bottle.

    The event had been planned months ago, before the height of the controversy. Ayers had been invited to Busboys and Poets as a respected authority on education. But because of the crushing media interest and huge turnout, the event had to be moved to the church.

    Ayers has three book projects in the works -- a reissue of his antiwar memoir, "Fugitive Days"; a new work called "City Kids, City Schools," which he edited; and the forthcoming "Race Course: Against White Supremacy," a memoir with Dohrn of "our experience in the black freedom movement," he said.

    The evening's crowd was a mix of teachers and education advocates who wanted to hear education theory -- and Ayers delivered -- and political activists and Obama supporters who wanted him to dish about being the designated campaign boogeyman -- and Ayers obliged.

    Outside the church, a handful of protesters waved signs against Ayers, but inside it was all love and admiration.

    "He's mellowed," but in a good way, said Aviva Kempner, the Washington documentary maker, who covered "Billy" Ayers as a student journalist at the University of Michigan in the late 1960s. Even back then, Ayers was first a teacher, working in a community school. "He had the best political button I've ever seen: 'Kids Are Only Newer People,' " Kempner recalled.

    Ayers told both audiences that he had been in Grant Park celebrating with the crowd on the night of Obama's victory. He said the vibe in most large crowds is edged with anger or alcohol, but this crowd "was all joy, all unity, all hope."

    However, he added, "I don't for a minute want to harsh anybody's mellow," but "no president takes us to the promised land."

    That's up to the people themselves, getting engaged. Take it from an ex-Weatherman. "We have to ask ourselves: Yes we can -- what?" [/QUOTE]

    For your reading pleasure.

  2. #2
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    I don't know about you all, but I still can't sleep at night knowing this man is friends (acquaintances?) with Pres-elect Obama! ;)

  3. #3
    [QUOTE=Tanginius;2869361]I don't know about you all, but I still can't sleep at night knowing this man is friends (acquaintances?) with Pres-elect Obama! ;)[/QUOTE]

    I sleep just fine.

    Of course, I would expect such sarcasm from you, you likely like Ayers and what he did. I bet you'd just be giddy if you got a chance to take a class of his, or hear a speech he made.

    By the way, your sig is funny IMO. Still mocking McLame after he got crushed? Petty. Your "Shifted Democrat" map, obvious and unneeded.

    But it does remind me, where is Ron Paul's color on that map? Oh...right. My bad.;)

  4. #4
    [QUOTE=Warfish;2869190]For your reading pleasure.[/QUOTE]

    He's just a fuzzy , cuddly lil' terrorist bear!

  5. #5
    [QUOTE=kaol;2869372]He's just a fuzzy , cuddly lil' terrorist bear![/QUOTE]

    No way! He's a respected intellectual, education expert and teacher.

    I wonder, if he's ok as many here have argued, then perhaps Obama should consider him for Secretary of Education? After all, he IS an expert on the topic. And as he says, he never hurt anyone and neither did the Weatehr Underground.

    So "William Ayers for Secretary of Education" in my book.

  6. #6
    its funny how everytime someone mentioned he bombed the pentegon no one included the little tidbit that there were no casualties or injuries... im certainly not condoning the activity but i honestly never heard that part until now.

  7. #7
    [QUOTE=Warfish;2869388]I wonder, if he's ok as many here have argued, then perhaps Obama should consider him for Secretary of Education? [/QUOTE]

    Couldn't be worse than the brilliant men and women responsible for No Child Left Behind, to be fair to Billy. He'd also be a better Secretary than he was a bomber, he was pretty awful at that stuff.

    If Powell really wants the position I can't see past him for it. Ayers would make me turn on the talk radio, though.

  8. #8
    [QUOTE=bitonti;2869394]its funny how everytime someone mentioned he bombed the pentegon no one included the little tidbit that there were no casualties or injuries... im certainly not condoning the activity but i honestly never heard that part until now.[/QUOTE]

    Does that really make a difference? He's lucky there were no casualties. And that article is right -- under normal circumstances, the Secret Service wouldn't let a guy like that within 500 yards of the President or President-Elect.

    I can't figure out why everyone gives this guy a free pass.

  9. #9
    [QUOTE=pauliec;2869481]Does that really make a difference? He's lucky there were no casualties. [/QUOTE]

    maybe they were lucky (stupid) or maybe they planned it that way.

    either way calling him a terrorist is almost an insult to real terrorists. Tim McVay and Osama Bin Ladin are terrorists, this guy isn't. blowing up a bathroom with no one in it is troubling, but doesn't really inspire terror. Criminal ok, terrorist is pushing it.

  10. #10
    [QUOTE=pauliec;2869481]

    I can't figure out why everyone gives this guy a free pass.[/QUOTE]

    oh and no one gave him a free pass... he's paying a big debt for crimes perpetrated decades ago.

  11. #11
    [QUOTE=pauliec;2869481]Does that really make a difference? He's lucky there were no casualties. And that article is right -- under normal circumstances, the Secret Service wouldn't let a guy like that within 500 yards of the President or President-Elect.

    I can't figure out why everyone gives this guy a free pass.[/QUOTE]

    well, I don't think he got lucky, from what I read they called ahead and told them to evacuate the building before the bomb went off...

    still..a stupid dangerous and crazy radical act.....

  12. #12
    So if no one died in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh could be leading a happy, fullfilled life as a university professor? Ok, I get it.

  13. #13
    [QUOTE=bitonti;2869494]oh and no one gave him a free pass... he's paying a big debt for crimes perpetrated decades ago.[/QUOTE]

    And that debt is......what again? He's an excpetionally wealthy high-level Professor at a qwell respected institution, an expert on Education serving or served on many elite boards on the topic, and lives a life and lifestyle that most (the workers Obama always talks about) would envy.

    So what was his "debt" again? If you mean the media, who allowed him to dictate his terms (said terms being "no comment to the one guy who tried to visit him) then wow, I feel for the guy. Must. Be. Tough.

  14. #14
    [QUOTE=bitonti;2869493]maybe they were lucky (stupid) or maybe they planned it that way.

    either way calling him a terrorist is almost an insult to real terrorists. Tim McVay and Osama Bin Ladin are terrorists, this guy isn't. blowing up a bathroom with no one in it is troubling, but doesn't really inspire terror. Criminal ok, terrorist is pushing it.[/QUOTE]

    Main Entry: ter·ror·ism
    Pronunciation: 'ter-&r-"i-z&m
    Function: noun
    1 : the unlawful use or threat of violence esp. against the state or the public as a politically motivated means of attack or coercion
    2 : violent and intimidating gang activity terrorism> —ter·ror·ist /-ist/ adj or noun —ter·ror·is·tic /"ter-&r-'is-tik/ adjective


    How is he not a terrorist?

  15. #15
    [QUOTE=SanAntonio_JetFan;2869560]So if no one died in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh could be leading a happy, fullfilled life as a university professor? Ok, I get it.[/QUOTE]

    I doubt he'd still be in jail, let alone executed, probably be in a nut house. Anyways, Bill Ayers is defiantly scum, how did he get off anyways?

  16. #16
    [QUOTE=bitonti;2869394]its funny how everytime someone mentioned he bombed the pentegon no one included the little tidbit that there were no casualties or injuries... im certainly not condoning the activity but i honestly never heard that part until now.[/QUOTE]
    So if I try to punch your mom in the face but miss, it's all good?

  17. #17
    Would you consider yourself a terrorist?

    [QUOTE=BrooklynBound;2869601]So if I try to punch your mom in the face but miss, it's all good?[/QUOTE]

  18. #18
    [QUOTE=cr726;2869618]Would you consider yourself a terrorist?[/QUOTE]

    No. A punch thrower? Yes.

  19. #19
    People who want to make a "political statment" throw around the word "terrorist" way too freely.

    Trying to punch someone's mom would make you a PUNK.

    [QUOTE=BrooklynBound;2869628]No. A punch thrower? Yes.[/QUOTE]

  20. #20
    [QUOTE=cr726;2869633]People who want to make a "political statment" throw around the word "terrorist" way too freely.

    Trying to punch someone's mom would make you a PUNK.[/QUOTE]

    Glad we got [I]that[/I] cleared up.

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