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Turning Down The Terrorist Emeritus
Academia: In an era when our universities have become liberal re-education camps, '60s radical William Ayers has been denied professor emeritus status. For one brief instance, academia shows a spine.
It was, no pun intended, a bombshell. Ayers, a professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and co-founder of the anti-war group Weather Underground, was denied the honor he requested for himself after a passionate speech by board chairman Chris Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy.
Kennedy said he could not confer the title "to a man whose body of work includes a book dedicated in part to the man who murdered my father." Kennedy referred to a 1974 book co-authored by Ayers, "Prairie Fire," that was dedicated to, among others, RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan and "all political prisoners in the U.S."
Ayers' "body of work" includes Weather Underground bombings of NYPD headquarters in June 1970, the U.S. Capitol Building in March 1971 and the Pentagon in May 1972. A review of his memoir, "Fugitive Days," appeared oddly enough on Sept. 11, 2001, in the New York Times. "I don't regret setting bombs," he told reviewer Dinitia Smith. "I feel we didn't do enough." In the book, he said he found "a certain eloquence in explosives."
John Murtaugh wasn't at the UIC board meeting, but he could have told the members plenty. Murtaugh is the son of a judge whose home got bombed by the Underground on the morning of Feb. 21, 1970. Three gasoline-filled firebombs went off, two at the front door and one under the family car.
Young Murtaugh's father, then a New York Supreme Court justice, was presiding over the trial of the Panther 21, members of the Black Panther Party indicted in a plot to bomb New York landmarks and department stores. Ayers' wife, Bernadine Dohrn, later acknowledged Weathermen responsibility for the bombing.
Ayers became an academic when he realized he could do more damage to our society by controlling what our children are taught than by blowing up buildings one at a time. An idea of what William Ayers had in mind for America's schools was provided in his own words in November 2006 at the World Education Forum in Caracas, Venezuela, hosted by dictator Hugo Chavez.
With Chavez at his side, Ayers voiced his support for "the political educational reforms under way here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chavez. We share the belief that education is the motor force of revolution. ... I look forward to seeing how . .. all of you continue to overcome the failures of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane."
He would teach the teachers and they, through their students, would change the future of America. One of Ayers' descriptions for a course called "Improving Learning Environments" says a prospective K-12 teacher needed to "be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit and ... be a teacher capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, teaching for social justice and liberation."
We have documented his long and intimate association with President Obama. When Obama was making his first run for the Illinois Senate, Ayers and Dohrn had Obama at their house for a 1995 campaign event.
Ayers served with Obama on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago, a liberal nonprofit, from 1999 to Dec. 11, 2002, and in 2001 Ayers donated $200 to "Friends of Barack Obama."
UIC records show that in the 1990s, Ayers was instrumental in starting the Annenberg Challenge, a project to overhaul Chicago public schools. Obama was given the Annenberg board chairmanship only months before his first run for office.
The UIC board did the right thing in denying him the honor. William Ayers, a nutty professor, deserves nothing more than the scorn of a nation he spent his life trying to destroy.