Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Problem of Obama's Tenured Radical Friend

Bill Ayers Office

There are some interesting developments concerning Barack Obama's relationship to Bill Ayers, the former '60s-era radical who's now a professor at the University of Illinois.

Sol Stern's got interesting piece up over at City Journal, "Obama’s Real Bill Ayers Problem:
The Ex-Weatherman Is Now a Radical Educator With Influence":

Barack Obama complains that he’s been unfairly attacked for a casual political and social relationship with his neighbor, former Weatherman Bill Ayers. Obama has a point. In the ultraliberal Hyde Park community where the presidential candidate first earned his political spurs, Ayers is widely regarded as a member in good standing of the city’s civic establishment, not an unrepentant domestic terrorist. But Obama and his critics are arguing about the wrong moral question. The more pressing issue is not the damage done by the Weather Underground 40 years ago, but the far greater harm inflicted on the nation’s schoolchildren by the political and educational movement in which Ayers plays a leading role today.

Read the whole thing.

Stern's arguing that Ayers radical pedagogy is debilitating generations of American schoolchildren through the indoctrintation of anti-American radicalism:

Ayers’s texts on the imperative of social-justice teaching are among the most popular works in the syllabi of the nation’s ed schools and teacher-training institutes. One of Ayers’s major themes is that the American public school system is nothing but a reflection of capitalist hegemony. Thus, the mission of all progressive teachers is to take back the classrooms and turn them into laboratories of revolutionary change.

I see plenty of evidence of this on my campus, but Stern, in discussing Ayers' radical classroom agenda, gives Obama a pass on his ties to the former Weatherman.

Not buying it, Andrew McCarthy's posted a response, "Re: Obama's Real Bill Ayers Problem":

Of course it's an enormous problem that Ayers has so much influence. But Stern writes:

"If [Mayor Richard] Daley fils can forgive Ayers for his past violence, why should Obama’s less consequential contacts with Ayers be a political disqualification? It’s hard to disagree." It's not at all hard to disagree. Daley is a hack, while Obama — who claims to be a transcendent unifying figure — wants to be president. Ayers hasn't merely engaged in "past violence"; he is saying in the here and now that he's sorry only that he didn't carry out more terrorist attacks — and it's in the here and now that Obama (who aspires to be commander-in-chief during a global war against terrorists) has cultivated him.

Stern further writes:

Unfortunately, neither Obama nor his critics in the media seem to have a clue about Ayers’s current work and his widespread influence in the education schools. In his last debate with Hillary Clinton, Obama referred to Ayers as a “professor of English,” an error that the media then repeated.

Baloney! Obama is pretending to be clueless and Stern is falling for it.

As I recounted in this piece, Obama not only served for years on the Woods board with Ayers; he also appeared with him on a panel arranged by Associate Dean Michelle Obama at U-Chicago in connection with which (a) Ayers' "social justice" work to fight against the incarceration of juvenile criminals — which had utterly nothing to do with teaching English — was elaborately described, and (b) Obama was joined with Ayers precisely because his (Obama's) work as a state legislator to fight jail sentences for juvenile criminals dovetailed perfectly with Ayers' conception of "social justice."

Obama did not call Ayers an English teacher because he was confused or misinformed. He called Ayers an English teacher because he was lying. That is, he was intentionally minimizing his relationship with an anti-American revolutionary with whom Obama has been friendly, collaborative and entirely comfortable.

See also, the Chicago Tribune's profile of the tenured radical, Ayers, Though Quieter, 'Still Outspoken'":

Photo Credit, "The door to Bill Ayers' office at the University of Illinois is covered with pictures, cartoons, graphics and various political paraphernalia Thursday morning. Ayers himself was nowhere to be seen after his name came up Wednesday night in nationally televised debates between presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton," Chicago Tribune.