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

From: Michael Boatright <michaelboatright who-is-at>
Date: Sun Nov 09 2008 - 19:12:07 PST

I'm also confused. Based on the logic that informs Francine's very
thoughtful and provocative email, Samuel Adams, James Otis, George
Washington, and Thomas Jefferson would be labeled terrorists by today's
definition. In history books, however, they're typically referred to as
revolutionaries and in some instances freedom fighters.

On Sun, Nov 9, 2008 at 9:55 PM, Au, Wayne <>wrote:

> Francine,
> I'm a bit confused by your email, in that I'm not sure why you would assume
> XMCA-ers wouldn't be familiar with these issues or that we all have some set
> of rose-colored glasses on regarding the state of politics in the US.
> I sent the original email mainly as a point of interest and information, as
> I thought it was important for folks to see what Ayers had to say after many
> months of media-hyped attacks. If you feel that was an incorrect use of the
> list, then perhaps there are some invisible codes I am not aware regarding
> "proper" list behavior. I see this list, in part at least, working in and
> around a cluster of educational issues that include Vygotsky's scholarship
> and ideas in addition to talking politics - because the two are totally and
> inseparably intertwined. Certainly the recent posts/discussion about Allan
> Luke's paper are part of a political discussion around schools, inequality,
> and social/cultural reproduction - an educational project that, yes, as
> anyone who knows him and his work, even Bill Ayers is a part of whether one
> likes it or not.
> And in that regard, I would say that you never know whom on this list might
> be good friends with Bill Ayers, may have spent time with him, and maybe
> even knows him quite well. For instance, he's actually quite a loving and
> caring person who has supported me greatly over the last 10 years or so, and
> I have no qualms about that relationship at all.
> Further, you also never know who does or does not have rose-colored glasses
> regarding Obama. On the one hand I am absolutely ecstatic about the end of
> the Bush/Cheney era for all of the obvious reasons both domestically in the
> U.S. and internationally. It is a good thing for the world that this man
> will not be in power anymore. It is also a landmark event when a highly
> racist society like the U.S. votes an African American into its highest
> office, and I recognize the importance of that as well (this fact even makes
> me happy on some levels).
> On the other hand, Obama certainly represents status quo politics in many,
> many ways. He's against gay marriage and has played semantic games about his
> position on neo-liberalism and free trade. He's certainly not a socialist of
> any kind, and in fact was quite willing to give $700 billion of U.S.
> taxpayer money to the large corporations who created the current financial
> crisis in the U.S. to begin with. He wants to escalate the war in
> Afghanistan even as he wants to draw down troops in Iraq (with Iran next on
> the list - for better or worse). Most recently he has considered putting
> Joel Klein - head of NYC public schools - in as Secretary of Education. Joel
> Klein is very conservative, anti-teacher, pro-standardized testing, and by
> all accounts, mostly inept as an administrator. While there is reason to be
> hopeful with the change of administration, not all of us think of Obama as
> the savior that he is being made out to be.
> Wayne
> P.S. - I prefer candor from my Marxist activists, but Bill Ayers isn't even
> Marxist so I'm not sure it applies here...
> On 11/9/08 5:29 PM, "larry smolucha" <> wrote:
> Message from Francine Smolucha:
> XMCA-ers,
> Is it too soon to take off our rose-colored glasses???
> While one of the strengths of the XMCA list-serve is its international
> network,
> that international network includes only a few people versed in Chicago
> socio-political matters.
> (one, two, three maybe four people on the XMCA list?)
> How many XMCA-ers even knew who Bill Ayers was until the election?
> How many XMCA-ers knew who Barack Obama was??????
> It is remarkable how judgemental some people are, from afar.
> Don't kid yourself into thinking that the Chicago connection ends when
> President-Elect Obama
> takes office. The latest news has Congressman Rham Emmanuel as Obama's
> Chief of Staff
> and Valerie Jarret as Obama's choice to fill his vacated Senate seat. Who
> are they???????
> According to the news media the former President of the State Senate Emil
> Jones, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.,
> and David Axelrod (co-dreiector of the Obama Campaign) all have their eyes
> on positions in Washington.
> Should we care??? So what if former Illinois Senator Obama brings many of
> his poltical friends from Chicago to Washington.
> But, it is something to think about: If you believe the federal government
> in Washington was already broken, then would adding the
> Chicago political machine fix it?
> Many of us expect to see Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the lead prosecutor
> from the U.S. Attorney General's Office in Chicago,
> removed and sent into an obscure job somewhere. Patrick Fitzgerald is
> widely respected for his ethical and professional behavior.
> He is also the lead prosecutor in the Tony Rezko case. Rezko born in Syria,
> has ties with Illinois Giovernor Blagoyevich
> and former Illinois Senator Barack Obama, and was allegedly running a
> shadow government in Illinois. Tony Rezko is supposed to be
> sentenced in January (do a Google search to find out what he was convicted
> of.)
> In regard to Ayers, would your University keep you on the faculty if you
> publicly boosted of setting off bombs in
> government buildings during you college days? - and you are on record since
> then stating that you only regret you
> did not do more. (See: the Ayers autobiography "Fugitive Days" (2001), and
> interviews in the New York Times
> (on September 11, 2001) and in the Chicago Tribune (August 2001).
> How do you like your social activists, Marxists, and/or revolutionaries? Do
> you prefer candor, double-talk, or
> doublespeak? Or does it depend on who the audience is?
> As for me, I may just be a 2nd generation Polish-American "factory" girl
> from the South-Side of Chicago, who overachieved
> by earning a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and becoming a published
> translator of Vygotsky's works,
> but when I speak or write, I do my best to maintain the genuine scholarly
> tradition that I find in the writings
> of Lev Vygotsky. Destiny placed psychologists like Vygotsky, Freud, and
> Erikson in critical historical times
> and they took on the responsibility to bring some insight to the events
> unfolding.
> (By the way, isn't today Vygotsky's birthday? - How poignant.)
> I do not want to discourage any of you who might be looking forward to
> having the 2016 Olympics in Chicago.
> The Chicago Lakefront is gorgeous - as you could see in the videos from the
> election night rally.
> But there are other problems here, that we live with every day - at school,
> at work, or just walking down the street.
> President-Elect Obama is in my prayers. Winning the Presidential Election
> was the easy part.
> No comes the hard part.
> > From: wau@Exchange.FULLERTON.EDU> To:> Date: Sun, 9
> Nov 2008 10:19:14 -0800> Subject: [xmca] Bill Ayers Breaks Silence...> >
> 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).>
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> Wayne Au
> Assistant Professor
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> CSU Fullerton
> P.O. Box 6868
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> Office: 714.278.5481
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> "Education must keep broad ideals before it, and never forget that it is
> dealing with Souls and not with Dollars." - W.E.B. DuBois
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Michael D. Boatright
Graduate Assistant
Department of Language and Literacy Education
University of Georgia
125 Aderhold Hall
Athens, GA 30602 (currently being forwarded to)
xmca mailing list
Received on Sun Nov 9 19:12:59 2008

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