Bill Ayers Speaks Out (and Palin does to)

I sat on this one for a bit, waiting to see what would develop…turns out not much else.

One of the more crazy-stupid storylines of the 2008 election was the “Bill Ayers is a terrorist and so is Obama” attacks.

I was scrounging around the internet, and I found a video of the “unrepentant terrorist” talking about his passion for teaching…

For some reason…despite being available the entire time…this particular statement of purpose never made it into the national conversation.

As you can see from the video and Ayer’s other interviews, the guy is pretty much nothing but an aging hippie, trying to share what he’s learned with others. He does talk in the video about the passion you need for teaching, and the need to understand the moral value of moral work. When you don’t get paid that much in cash, you need to understand how you *are* getting paid, and appreciate that. If you can’t, then by all means go for the cash or you will be miserable. Seems fairly insightful to me.

There’s also a bit in there about being an out of control young person…you might have heard of that chapter of his life.

Ayers did speak directly to the Obama issue after the election…(also directly after)

The onetime anti-war radical who lives in the same Chicago neighborhood as Obama said in a newspaper interview he has had no contact with the Obama campaign and considers the GOP vice presidential nominee’s accusation absurd.

“Pal around together? What does that mean? Share a milkshake with two straws?” Ayers said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I think my relationship with Obama was probably like thousands of others in Chicago. And, like millions and millions of others, I wish I knew him better.”

“I didn’t do anything,” Ayers said in the interview, which was posted Tuesday on the Post’s Web site. “It’s all guilt by association. They made me into a cartoon character, they threw me up on stage just to pummel me.”

He also blamed the media for not making it clear that the accusation was groundless.

“The dishonest narrative is that guilt by association has some validity,” Ayers said, adding that the media’s performance was “kind of shameful.”

And he’s dead on there. Remember how I mentioned how that video above has been available through the entire election cycle and you never saw it on TV? That’s beyond “kind of shameful”.

Those quotes are from the AP article. Here’s the one from the man himself.

Whew! What was all that mess? I’m still in a daze, sorting it all out, decompressing.

Pass the Vitamin C.

This is an acid reference. Like I said…aging hippie.

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.

He gives a bit of history and then mentions when the poo-flinging got really started…

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.

He also gives a good, real-world example of how political attacks evolve and “mature” in the right-wing echo chamber…

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.

To point out there that “I regret not doing more” is all about the Vietnam War…and the 9/11 timing was just that…is an exercise in futility. While it is a completely rational and logical argument, the 9/11 emotional tide removes any chance of coherent discussion. Which was the point, you see.

He then goes on for a bit, I would highly recommoned reading the article. He is a good writer, with an important point.

That important point, that our shameful media missed completely, is this…

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.

Spoken like a true terrorist, eh?

Someone thinks so….

But the governor, who had accused Obama during the campaign of “palling around with terrorists,” repeated her criticism of his one-time relationship with William Ayers, a founder of a radical political group in the 1960s.

“I still am concerned about that association with Bill Ayers,” Palin told CNN. “And if anybody still wants to talk about it, I will, because this is an unrepentant domestic terrorist who had campaigned to blow up, to destroy our Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol. That’s an association that still bothers me.”

I’ve seen a bunch of Palin protesting too much over the last few days. I thought it was very funny when the other Republican governors all skirted questions about her.   My guess is a fade into something of obscurity, for her sake.  If she *really* wants to stay on the national stage and be respected as an informed, legitimate candidate, I would recommend going back to school for the next four years.

Maybe get an advanced degree.  Study geography, and U.S. history, and sex education.  There’s lot of room of improvement, so she’s got that going for her.

Heck, maybe she could take a class from Ayer’s on the cultural import of the 1960’s.  That’d be a hoot.

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