Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Guy in the Neighborhood

Listening to Sarah Palin, you might think that William Ayers walked around wearing an "I Hate America" tee shirt. However, Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn provides some perspective on Ayers standing in Chicago during the years that Barack Obama encountered him:
He was publishing books on education, helping lead a charge to get grant money for school reform and being honored as Chicago's Citizen of the Year in 1997.
Today, some say this was an outrage. Ayers should have been shunned and marginalized, loudly criticized, not embraced, by the city's political and academic establishment.
But the record shows he just wasn't a very controversial figure. Aside from Royko's "I still think he's a jerk" column in 1990, I found only two objections to Ayers' civic rehabilitation in the decade's news archives: a 1993 letter to the Tribune and a 1999 guest commentary.
If there were protests or organized efforts opposing Ayers, the papers didn't cover them.
If any of Mayor Richard M. Daley's feckless opponents tried to use his approval of Ayers as an issue in the 1990s, I can find no evidence of it.
And if any of the pillars of society who helped oversee the Chicago Annenberg Challenge education grants ever resigned or otherwise tried to distance themselves from Ayers, who played a key role in securing those grants, the available historical record is silent on the matter.
It appears that during the period that Obama encountered him, Ayers literally was "just a guy in the neighborhood."

On the other hand, during the years that Todd Palin was a member of the Alaska Independence Party when Sarah Palin attended one convention and addressed another, the AIP openly advocated giving Alaskans the opportunity to vote themselves out of the United States. I suspect that the Palins encountered a lot more open hostility to America than Obama ever encountered with William Ayers.


  1. No "I Hate America" t-shirt, though Ayers did have himself photographed smirking and stepping on an American flag a few years back. CALM DOWN, nobody's suggesting that ought to be illegal. OK? Calm down. The point is, yeah, the guy does kind of make a little bit of a theatrical point of being anti-American. That's pretty much his whole self-image, there.

    ...grant money for school reform...

    Well, they spent the money on left-wing political organizing, not on teaching kids.

    Ayers isn't an educator as normal people understand the term. He's a full-time left-wing ideologue. He didn't move on from left-wingery to education. He used to pursue his left-wing goals by trying to kill people (fortunately, he seems to have been too stupid and clumsy to succeed); now he pursues the same goals through what he calls "education". Ayers believes that our society needs to be eliminated and replaced with something else, and that education is how you do that.

    Look, I know some teachers, and some of them are miles to the left of me. But they teach their subjects honestly because they are honest people, and they hate America (those who do) on their own time. Ayers is not that kind of person.

    I know you can't handle hearing these people criticized. You think it shouldn't be allowed. Well, relax. It's all part of living in a free society. Getting Obama elected won't be enough to put a stop to that, even with Pelosi and Reid doing their part, so you'll just have to endure it for a little while longer.

  2. I know you can't handle hearing these people criticized. You think it shouldn't be allowed.

    Don't be silly. I think that criticizing these people is just fine. I also think that engaging their criticisms on the merits is preferable to demonizing them.