Ayers, I'm so confused

This whole thing with Ayers confuses me. I understand that people are upset about what he did in the past, but they also like to bring up the fact that he's has "no regrets". From information I've seen, this appears to stem from a comment that was taken out of context.

This is my understanding of things... He was a member/cofounder of a 60's anti-war activist group that was responsible for terrorist acts. He eventually got out and is now a professor. During a 2001 interview, he stated that he had no regrets for standing up for what he believed in. in regards to that interview, he is quoted as saying:

"This is not a question of being misunderstood or 'taken out of context', but of deliberate distortion."


I'm not saying that I agree or disagree with what he did, but I'm just hoping for some clarification. Can someone please explain/correct me
The McCain supporters (including right-wing commentators like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh) like to distort Ayers' comment that he "didn't do enough" to stop the war into "didn't bomb enough".
I think they stood in the same room together. Served on a board together. Big effing deal.

Ack, your question. Yep, Hannity would likely distort something like that. They are GRASPING AT STRAWS with this ayers thing, but their sheep are eating it up.

Last edited by CurlyGina2; 10-21-2008 at 08:57 PM.
He's now a professor at the University of Illinois.

http://education.uic.edu/directory/f...m?netid=bayers

But I don't suppose all the people associating with him at the university are terrorists.
From fact check (which can seem ironic after watching the video below):

Obama speaking to George Stephanopoulos (dang, his last name is hard to spell) during the Democratic primary:
George, but this is an example of what I'm talking about.

This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago, who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.

And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn't make much sense, George.
This is an interesting video: Glenn Beck referecing an Anderson Cooper 360 story on an Ayers-Obama connection

If Ayer's sought Obama to be chair, I'm pretty sure these men had a lot of conversations. After experiencing working for a lawmaker on different committees and the chair of one, I don't think you could get by without a good amount of personal contact. Don't see how things could work otherwise. The actual contact doesn't fundamentally bother me because I don't think that makes Obama share Ayer's overall vision.

Addressing it the way he did might be deceptive -I think it arguably downplays the contact he had with him, but of course it should be expected that he'll downplay it. The vast majority of politicians would. I'll admit I haven't spent as much time entertaining McCain's ties, but I'm not voting for him either, and it certainly wouldn't surprise me if he addressed them in the same manner.
“It was only a sunny smile and little it cost in the giving but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
The McCain supporters (including right-wing commentators like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh) like to distort Ayers' comment that he "didn't do enough" to stop the war into "didn't bomb enough".
Originally Posted by RedCatWaves
Here's the infamous New York Times article that comes from.

Very first lines:
''I don't regret setting bombs,'' Bill Ayers said. "I feel we didn't do enough.''
“It was only a sunny smile and little it cost in the giving but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Did Ayers ever get charged with anything? It seems odd that someone who is supposedly so corrupt and vile would be able to walk free.
Did Ayers ever get charged with anything? It seems odd that someone who is supposedly so corrupt and vile would be able to walk free.
Originally Posted by CurlyCurlies
According to Wiki (so, not exactly the definitive source, but y'know) he was a fugitive for years and by the time he turned himself in, the case had been dismissed due to prosecutorial misconduct.
"And politically correct is the worst term, not just because it’s dismissive, but because it narrows down the whole social justice spectrum to this idea that it’s about being polite instead of about dismantling the oppressive social structure of power.
Fun Fact: When you actively avoid being “PC,” you’re not being forward-thinking or unique. You’re buying into systems of oppression that have existed since before you were even born, and you’re keeping those systems in place."
Stolen.
With regard to the Ayers quote, it was published on the morning of 9/11/01, but was taken prior to that. So, it was not some sort of response to, or commentary on the attacks of 9/11, as has been insinuated.


If Ayer's sought Obama to be chair, I'm pretty sure these men had a lot of conversations. After experiencing working for a lawmaker on different committees and the chair of one, I don't think you could get by without a good amount of personal contact. Don't see how things could work otherwise. The actual contact doesn't fundamentally bother me because I don't think that makes Obama share Ayer's overall vision.
Originally Posted by westcoastcurls
Also from FactCheck...
"To the contrary, Ayers was not involved in the choice, according to Deborah Leff, then president of the Joyce Foundation. She told the Times, and confirmed to FactCheck.org, that she recommended Obama for the position to Patricia Graham of the Spencer Foundation. Graham told us that she asked Obama if he'd become chairman; he accepted, provided Graham would be vice-chair."

Did Ayers ever get charged with anything? It seems odd that someone who is supposedly so corrupt and vile would be able to walk free.
Originally Posted by CurlyCurlies
According to Wiki (so, not exactly the definitive source, but y'know) he was a fugitive for years and by the time he turned himself in, the case had been dismissed due to prosecutorial misconduct.
Originally Posted by MichelleBFT
The NYT's article mentions the prosecutorial misconduct as well. Although I'm not a fan of the NYT, I'm guessing they used solid sources.

CurlyCurlies, the NYT article/Ayer's interview relays what Ayers was involved in, and what motivated him.
“It was only a sunny smile and little it cost in the giving but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Thanks. I knew it was blown out of proportion but this clarifies a lot for me.
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3a/3b
With regard to the Ayers quote, it was published on the morning of 9/11/01, but was taken prior to that. So, it was not some sort of response to, or commentary on the attacks of 9/11, as has been insinuated.


If Ayer's sought Obama to be chair, I'm pretty sure these men had a lot of conversations. After experiencing working for a lawmaker on different committees and the chair of one, I don't think you could get by without a good amount of personal contact. Don't see how things could work otherwise. The actual contact doesn't fundamentally bother me because I don't think that makes Obama share Ayer's overall vision.
Originally Posted by westcoastcurls
Also from FactCheck...
"To the contrary, Ayers was not involved in the choice, according to Deborah Leff, then president of the Joyce Foundation. She told the Times, and confirmed to FactCheck.org, that she recommended Obama for the position to Patricia Graham of the Spencer Foundation. Graham told us that she asked Obama if he'd become chairman; he accepted, provided Graham would be vice-chair."
Originally Posted by CocoaCoily
Ayer's evidently was instrumental in bringing the Annenberg project to Chicago, and Obama was recruited to be it's chair. We can at least gather that.

As an aside, the interesting thing about Fact Check is that it's part of the Annenberg foundation. Ayer's recieved a $50 million grant from them for the Annenberg Challenge. My honest impression of Fact Check is not that it's a partisan organization, but I wouldn't expect pure non-bias from them, and would expect them to have cross-cutting agendas.

An organization that loaded delivering everyone the facts and not expecting convenient interpretation somewhere would be naive. I'm not saying it's not a good resource, but considering it a gold standard of truth would be naive.

Here's a blogger sorting out (allegedly at least) the details, with respect to how the board legally operated and documents.

I can easily understand why some readers may have become confused by the explosion of stories today on the Obama/Ayers relationship.
The partial story told by the New York Times today is collapsing of its own weight but has likely added to the confusion. Since I am one of the “bloggers” referred to without an explanation in the Times’ story I thought I would summarize the top ten highlights of the current state of play. These ten key points confirm what I have argued all along - that Bill Ayers was responsible for the elevation of Obama to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge board.
1) The key question is whether Bill Ayers had a role in the selection of Barack Obama to become Chairman and President of the $160 million Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a multi year school reform effort started in 1995.
2) This is the key question because if it is true that Ayers played a role in Obama’s selection it indicates that Ayers and Obama had a pre-existing relationship.
3) If Ayers and Obama did have a pre-existing relationship it undermines claims by the Obama Campaign that the relationship between Ayers, an authoritarian political figure who once engaged in bombings to implement his politics, was “tenuous” or “casual” and that Ayers was just a neighbor of Obama’s in Hyde Park.

4) I believe that Obama and Ayers shared a similar world view with respect to education issues, at least. For example, during their time together running the Chicago Annenberg Challenge they supported funding for groups like the Small Schools Workshop and Local School Councils. These groups were criticized as engaging in “teacher bashing” by union activists and as a “political threat” to school principals by Arnold Weber, a fellow Annenberg board member.
5) I have presented evidence here at Global Labor [published at No Quarter and at the Global Labor blog] that Ayers did in fact play a direct and personal role in Obama’s elevation to the CAC board. This evidence consists of letters exchanged at the time of these events between the national Annenberg Challenge led by Vartan Gregorian, the President of Brown University, and Bill Ayers, on the one hand, and between Gregorian and Adele Simmons, President of the MacArthur Foundation, an advisor to Ayers, on the other.
Those letters state clearly that Ayers was actively engaged in the board selection process in November and December of 1994.
I described those letter to the Times when asked about this and provided them copies.
6) I also argued that these letters are consistent with the legal responsibility Ayers had as the representative of the recipient of the $50 million Annenberg Challenge grant.
7) According to the Obama campaign and now according to emails I have received from the New York Times, Ayers had “nothing” to do with the selection of Obama for the board Chairmanship.
They claim that according to Deborah Leff and Patricia Graham that only Leff and Graham recruited and nominated Obama, respectively. However, in their published story the Times did not quote Leff to that effect. Neither did the Obama campaign in its statement on the matter. I have asked the Times for clarification.
8] If Leff’s and Graham’s current recollections are true, then the written contemporaneous documentation I provided to the Times (letters to and from Vartan Gregorian and Ayers) appears to be contradicted and this leads to a very odd conclusion: that Leff, a lawyer, and Graham went around the back of the legal representative of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (Ayers) to recruit and nominate the CAC board Chairman (Obama).
Why would they have done that? In fact, I do not think they did.
9) In August of 1994, Leff wrote a letter to Brown’s Gregorian lauding Bill Ayers for his leadership in organizing the grant application and said that her Joyce Foundation was awarding $80,000 to his Annenberg working group, the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, to continue their work to secure and establish the Annenberg program. This Collaborative was the group which Ayers represented when he submitted the final Annenberg grant application in November.
Thus, as of August, 1994, Leff’s Joyce Foundation also recognized officially that Ayers was the formal agent for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge applicant, the Collaborative, and they were financially aiding him in that effort.
In addition, letters from the Governor of Illinois, the Mayor of Chicago, the Superintendent of the Chicago school system, the Executive Director of the Woods Fund, the Executive Director of the Polk Bros. Foundation, the Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Council of Chicago Area Deans of Education all sent to Vartan Gregorian acknowledge the leading role of Ayers and/or the Collaborative he formed in the formation of the Annenberg Challenge.
10) To accept the story 14 years later of the Times and the Obama campaign requires us to conclude that Leff, unilaterally against her own board of directors (which in November added Obama), went around the back of Bill Ayers to impose on him secretly Barack Obama as the chair of the Annnenberg Challenge! That is a remarkable conclusion - and of course one that is not yet backed up by Leff herself!
Why not? Most likely because Leff as a lawyer understands now as she did then that whatever her personal role in the selection process, the legal power that Ayers possessed, as the agent of the CAC grant recipient - the Collaborative, to either reject or accept Obama as CAC Board Chairman was clear.Thus, while Ayers may not have suggested the Obama name directly to Leff, only Ayers could approve of the appointment of Obama. No one else possessed the legal power to do so.
More
“It was only a sunny smile and little it cost in the giving but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Last edited by westcoastcurls; 10-22-2008 at 01:49 PM.
Thanks. I knew it was blown out of proportion but this clarifies a lot for me.
Originally Posted by Boomygrrl
Actually, I think when it's really considered, it's not blown out of proportion. I think I've caught some of the connecting Ayer's words to apathy, even support of what happened on 9/11 and that sounds like a convenient lie. As CocoaCoily pointed out, the interview in the NYT was published on Sept. 11th, so compiled before the attacks.

When it comes to how Obama described his relationship with Ayer's and his likely relationship with Ayer's, I completely get the impression he downplayed it....like the vast majority of politicians in the same situation would.

It actually doesn't bother me that he has the connection to Ayer's he likely does. I'm not expecting to like the same idealogy he connects with, and it's not surprising, but to call it a fringe theory, and fringe speculation is dismissing it absent TRUE consideration. It's telling your followers and independents "oh this is cooked up fringe stuff" so that they would be embarrassed to entertain it. Granted there is a lot of cooky stuff out there, this dynamic is very Orwellian. People, no matter what side of the aisle should be sensitive whenever something is labeled to lend that impression. Maybe rightfully so, but it's important to not take the dismissal at face value.
“It was only a sunny smile and little it cost in the giving but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
I just have to say, as someone who was around in the 60's during the Viet Nam war, and because I know a lot of other people old enough to remember that era...I just don't think people care about Bill Ayers. He was an anti-war 60's radical. He wasn't just bombing for the hell of it or to hurt people. He wasn't Timothy McVeigh. Ayers had an anti-war agenda, and the Viet Nam war was even more unpopular than the Iraq war. People tend to forgive a lot of 60's activities, and almost give it a romantic spin. I think Ayers' civil disobedience of the era gets a pass from most older folks. He didn't kill anyone, just damaged some gov't property.
What did he specifically do to damage the property and how extensive was the damage?
Did he make sure no one was in the building, such as the cleaning crew?
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3a/3b
What did he specifically do to damage the property and how extensive was the damage?
Did he make sure no one was in the building, such as the cleaning crew?
Originally Posted by Boomygrrl

It's my understanding that he planted a small bomb, that caused "tens of thousands" of dollars of damage. He didn't take out a whole building or anything.
"And politically correct is the worst term, not just because it’s dismissive, but because it narrows down the whole social justice spectrum to this idea that it’s about being polite instead of about dismantling the oppressive social structure of power.
Fun Fact: When you actively avoid being “PC,” you’re not being forward-thinking or unique. You’re buying into systems of oppression that have existed since before you were even born, and you’re keeping those systems in place."
Stolen.
I was under the impression that Ayers was part of a bombing that killed several NYC officers...is this not true?
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It is not true. The NYC police thing happened after the dissoulution of the Weather Underground and several members went to other radical groups. Ayers was not involved.

From Wiki:

Certain members remained underground and joined other radical groups. Years after the dissolution of the WUO, former members Kathy Boudin, Judith Alice Clark, and David Gilbert formed the May 19 Communist Organization, which eventually joined with the Black Liberation Army. On October 20, 1981, in Nyack New York, the group robbed a Brinks armored truck containing $1.6 million. The robbery turned violent, resulting in the murders of two police officers and a security guard.[6] Boudin, Clark, and Gilbert were found guilty and sentenced to lengthy terms in prison, considered the “last gasps” of the Weather Underground.[48]

The Weatherman group itself never killed anyone (except for 3 group members in the Greenwich Village explosion in 1970), in fact they always gave public warning so people would evacuate.

More Wiki:

They wanted to convince the American public that the United States was truly responsible for the calamity in Vietnam.[2] The group began striking at night, bombing empty offices, with warnings always issued in advance to ensure a safe evacuation. According to David Gilbert, "[their] goal was to not hurt any people, and a lot of work went into that. But we wanted to pick targets that showed to the public who was responsible for what was really going on."[2] After the Greenwich Village explosion, no one was killed by WUO bombs.[27]
We were very careful from the moment of the townhouse on to be sure we weren't going to hurt anybody, and we never did hurt anybody. Whenever we put a bomb in a public space, we had figured out all kinds of ways to put checks and balances on the thing and also to get people away from it, and we were remarkably successful.

Bill Ayers[2]
So when you hear the right's protest that (paraprhasing) "Obama hangs with terrorists that killed Americans," those Americans were actually the 3 members of the WUO killed in that 1970 bombing. Funny how they twist that, huh?


As I see it, Ayers appointed Obama since that was pretty much his job on that board. The recommendations came from letters written by Adele Simmons, whom Obama DID have both friendly and business ties to. That party at Ayers' home that gets bandied about by the pundits that was supposedly thrown FOR Obama? It was actually in Adele Simmons' honor, and SHE was the one whom invited Obama.

I believe the "ties" to Ayers rest soley with the participation on the board, and nothing more. I'll even wager a bet that Obama never even made the connection (probably read a tiny bit about the never-prosecuted cases in law school, but consider the oodles he had to have studied), that Ayers was a former anti-war radical. It most likely never came up at all until Obama's bid to run and a researcher/vetter saw Ayers' name on the board Obama was also a member of. This has gotten so blown away from reality by the hard right that it has caused many (mostly people who get their political info from their church) to actually believe that if Obama were elected that he would just call up bin Laden and invite him over to kill all of the Christians, and Bill Ayers would be more than happy to help.
Hmmm, I guess it does help to put everything into context. Still, blowing up government property is pretty serious. I wonder what kind of spin he put on that in the job interview for the university? I need those kind of bs skills .

I don't think I've ever felt that passionate about something that I'd be willing to go to those lengths, but I wonder if I would feel differently if I were born during times of social unrest.

Last edited by CurlyCurlies; 10-22-2008 at 07:36 PM.

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