Re: [xmca] Bill Ayers Breaks Silence...

From: Tony Whitson <twhitson who-is-at UDel.Edu>
Date: Sun Nov 09 2008 - 11:38:33 PST

BTW, Does everybody know that Ayers is our incoming Vice President for
AERA Division B (Curriculum)?

On Sun, 9 Nov 2008, Tony Whitson wrote:

> It's in the Nov 7 IN THESE TIMES, at
> and it's in a discussion thread on
> There's a lot to be said about this. I don't have time now, but I'll drop
> just a couple brief observations:
> 1. At the time in 2001, I took Bill's refusal to "repent" his activism as a
> principled stance, one not letting off the hook those who might have been
> bystanders during those days -- and who might now need to consider some
> responsibility for being "unrepentent bystanders."
> 2. While I did not support the actions by the Weather Underground, I
> understood that they were doing what they thought had to be done to stop the
> war. During those times, it is unarguable that John McCain was the agent of
> innumerably more bombings, with innumerably more deaths and injuries
> inflicted on civilians. Like Hitler's bombing of England, this was meant to
> terrorize the civilian population. This was not state-sponsored terrorism, or
> state-sanctioned terrorism, but simply state-conducted terrorism. And from
> all that I have heard, John McCain remains an unrepentent (aerial) terrorist.
> On Sun, 9 Nov 2008, Au, Wayne wrote:
>> XMCA-ers,
>> Not sure where this originated (other than Ayers himself), but I just got
>> it forwarded to me and thought it would be of general interest to folks on
>> this list.
>> Wayne Au
>> Bill Ayers | What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been
>> =
>> by Bill Ayers
>> Whew! What was all that mess? I'm still in a daze, sorting it all out,
>> decompressing.
>> Pass the Vitamin C.
>> For the past few years, I have gone about my business, hanging out with
>> my kids and, now, my grandchildren, taking care of our elders (they moved
>> in
>> as the kids moved out), going to work, teaching and writing. And every
>> day,
>> I participate in the never-ending effort to build a powerful and
>> irresistible movement for peace and social justice.
>> In years past, I would now and then -- often unpredictably -- appear in
>> the newspapers or on TV, sometimes with a reference to Fugitive Days, my
>> 2001 memoir of the exhilarating and difficult years of resistance against
>> the American war in Vietnam. It was a time when the world was in flames,
>> revolution was in the air, and the serial assassinations of black leaders
>> disrupted our utopian dreams.
>> These media episodes of fleeting notoriety always led to some
>> extravagant and fantastic assertions about what I did, what I might have
>> said, and what I probably believe now.
>> It was always a bit surreal. Then came this political season.
>> During the primary, the blogosphere was full of chatter about my
>> relationship with President-elect Barack Obama. We had served together on
>> the board of the Woods Foundation and knew one another as neighbors in
>> Chicago's Hyde Park. In 1996, at a coffee gathering that my wife,
>> Bernardine
>> Dohrn, and I held for him, I made a $200 donation to his campaign for the
>> Illinois State Senate.
>> Obama's political rivals and enemies thought they saw an opportunity to
>> deepen a dishonest perception that he is somehow un-American, alien,
>> linked
>> to radical ideas, a closet terrorist who sympathizes with extremism -- and
>> they pounced.
>> Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-N.Y.) campaign provided the script, which
>> included guilt by association, demonization of people Obama knew (or might
>> have known), creepy questions about his background, and dark hints about
>> hidden secrets yet to be uncovered.
>> On March 13, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), apparently in an attempt to
>> reassure the base, sat down for an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox
>> News.
>> McCain was not yet aware of the narrative Hannity had been spinning for
>> months, and so Hannity filled him in: Ayers is an unrepentant "terrorist,"
>> he explained, "On 9/11, of all days, he had an article where he bragged
>> about bombing our Pentagon, bombing the Capitol and bombing New York City
>> police headquarters. ... He said, 'I regret not doing more.'"
>> McCain couldn't believe it.
>> Neither could I.
>> On the campaign trail, McCain immediately got on message. I became a
>> prop, a cartoon character created to be pummeled.
>> When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin got hold of it, the attack went viral. At
>> a
>> now-famous Oct. 4 rally, she said Obama was pallin' around with
>> terrorists.
>> (I pictured us sharing a milkshake with two straws.)
>> The crowd began chanting, "Kill him!" "Kill him"-- It was downhill from
>> there.
>> My voicemail filled up with hate messages. They were mostly from men,
>> all venting and sweating and breathing heavily. A few threats: "Watch
>> out!"
>> and "You deserve to be shot." And some e-mails, like this one I got from
>> "I'm coming to get you and when I do, I'll water-board
>> you."
>> The police lieutenant who came to copy down those threats deadpanned
>> that he hoped the guy who was going to shoot me got there before the guy
>> who
>> was going to water-board me, since it would be most foul to be tortured
>> and
>> then shot. (We have been pals ever since he was first assigned to
>> investigate threats made against me in 1987, after I was hired as an
>> assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.)
>> The good news was that every time McCain or Palin mentioned my name,
>> they lost a point or two in the polls. The cartoon invented to hurt Obama
>> was now poking holes in the rapidly sinking McCain-Palin ship.
>> That '60s Show
>> On Aug. 28, Stephen Colbert, the faux right-wing commentator from
>> Comedy
>> Central who channels Bill O'Reilly on steroids, observed:
>> "To this day, when our country holds a presidential election, we judge
>> the candidates through the lens of the 1960s. ... We all know Obama is
>> cozy
>> with William Ayers a '60s radical who planted a bomb in the capital
>> building
>> and then later went on to even more heinous crimes by becoming a college
>> professor. ... Let us keep fighting the culture wars of our grandparents.
>> The '60s are a political gift that keeps on giving."
>> It was inevitable McCain would bet the house on a dishonest and largely
>> discredited vision of the '60s, which was the defining decade for him. He
>> built his political career on being a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
>> The '60s -- as myth and symbol -- is much abused: the downfall of
>> civilization in one account, a time of defeat and humiliation in a second,
>> and a perfect moment of righteous opposition, peace, and love in a third.
>> The idea that the 2008 election may be the last time in American
>> political life that the '60s plays any role whatsoever is a mixed
>> blessing.
>> On the one hand, let's get over the nostalgia and move on. On the other,
>> the
>> lessons we might have learned from the black freedom movement and from the
>> resistance against the Vietnam War have never been learned. To achieve
>> this
>> would require that we face history fully and honestly, something this
>> nation
>> has never done.
>> The war in Vietnam was an illegal invasion and occupation, much of it
>> conducted as a war of terror against the civilian population. The U.S.
>> military killed millions of Vietnamese in air raids -- like the one
>> conducted by McCain -- and entire areas of the country were designated
>> free-fire zones, where American pilots indiscriminately dropped surplus
>> ordinance -- an immoral enterprise by any measure.
>> What Is Really Important
>> McCain and Palin -- or as our late friend Studs Terkel put it, "Joe
>> McCarthy in drag" -- would like to bury the '60s. The '60s, after all, was
>> a
>> time of rejecting obedience and conformity in favor of initiative and
>> courage. The '60s pushed us to a deeper appreciation of the humanity of
>> every human being. And that is the threat it poses to the right wing,
>> hence
>> the attacks and all the guilt by association.
>> McCain and Palin demanded to "know the full extent" of the Obama-Ayers
>> "relationship" so that they can know if Obama, as Palin put it, "is
>> telling
>> the truth to the American people or not."
>> This is just plain stupid.
>> Obama has continually been asked to defend something that ought to be
>> at
>> democracy's heart: the importance of talking to as many people as possible
>> in this complicated and wildly diverse society, of listening with the
>> possibility of learning something new, and of speaking with the
>> possibility
>> of persuading or influencing others.
>> The McCain-Palin attacks not only involved guilt by association, they
>> also assumed that one must apply a political litmus test to begin a
>> conversation.
>> On Oct. 4, Palin described her supporters as those who "see America as
>> the greatest force for good in this world" and as a "beacon of light and
>> hope for others who seek freedom and democracy." But Obama, she said, "Is
>> not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America." In other
>> words, there are "real" Americans -- and then there are the rest of us.
>> In a robust and sophisticated democracy, political leaders -- and all
>> of
>> us -- ought to seek ways to talk with many people who hold dissenting, or
>> even radical, ideas. Lacking that simple and yet essential capacity to
>> question authority, we might still be burning witches and enslaving our
>> fellow human beings today.
>> Maybe we could welcome our current situation -- torn by another illegal
>> war, as it was in the '60s -- as an opportunity to search for the new.
>> Perhaps we might think of ourselves not as passive consumers of
>> politics
>> but as fully mobilized political actors. Perhaps we might think of our
>> various efforts now, as we did then, as more than a single campaign, but
>> rather as our movement-in-the-making.
>> We might find hope in the growth of opposition to war and occupation
>> worldwide. Or we might be inspired by the growing movements for
>> reparations
>> and prison abolition, or the rising immigrant rights movement and the
>> stirrings of working people everywhere, or by gay and lesbian and
>> transgender people courageously pressing for full recognition.
>> Yet hope -- my hope, our hope -- resides in a simple self-evident
>> truth:
>> the future is unknown, and it is also entirely unknowable.
>> History is always in the making. It's up to us. It is up to me and to
>> you. Nothing is predetermined. That makes our moment on this earth both
>> hopeful and all the more urgent -- we must find ways to become real
>> actors,
>> to become authentic subjects in our own history.
>> We may not be able to will a movement into being, but neither can we
>> sit
>> idly for a movement to spring full-grown, as from the head of Zeus.
>> We have to agitate for democracy and egalitarianism, press harder for
>> human rights, learn to build a new society through our
>> self-transformations
>> and our limited everyday struggles.
>> At the turn of the last century, Eugene Debs, the great Socialist Party
>> leader from Terre Haute, Ind., told a group of workers in Chicago, "If I
>> could lead you into the Promised Land, I would not do it, because someone
>> else would come along and lead you out."
>> In this time of new beginnings and rising expectations, it is even more
>> urgent that we figure out how to become the people we have been waiting to
>> be.
>> ---------
>> Bill Ayers is a Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior
>> University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the
>> author of "Fugitive Days" (Beacon) and co-author, with Bernardine Dohrn,
>> of
>> "Race Course: Against White Supremacy" (Third World Press).
>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list
> Tony Whitson
> UD School of Education
> NEWARK DE 19716
> _______________________________
> "those who fail to reread
> are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
> -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

Tony Whitson
UD School of Education

"those who fail to reread
  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                   -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
xmca mailing list
Received on Sun Nov 9 11:46:26 2008

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