On Bill Ayers

As the election draws near, the friends-and-associates-of-friends-and-associates game is being played, discrediting candidates through their allegiances with the controversial among us. And I’m not so naive as to think both sides don’t play this game; knowing local Democratic politicians and their circles, I’m convinced there’s plenty of similar jackassery among that crowd. That said, the recent chipping away at Barack Obama through his board service with one-time Weatherman and SDS-er Bill Ayers is Classic Republican Chicanery, linking Obama to someone that right wing radio types are already surely casting as “an American terrorist” or “a homegrown terrorist.”

Sometimes, you feel as if you get the measure of a person in a very short amount time. Maybe that’s naive, but in 2003, I had the chance to interview Bill Ayers at Left Bank Books. He was sitting in the cafe space (R.I.P.) that sat alongside Left Bank and we discussed all manner of things political in the hour before his lightly-attended lecture and reading. The notes, in small part, were punched up for The Commonspace’s website; in retrospect, I wish I’d committed the entire audio tape to the screen.

Having just run across some comments by Sarah Palin attaching Obama to Ayers, I remembered the interview and the piece, which had otherwise long slipped from active memory.

I can say this confidently after re-reading the notes: there are people you’d be lucky to have as a teacher, a mentor, a neighbor or a friend. I can’t say I qualify as any of those in relation to Ayers, though I was lucky to have had an hour to sit and chat with him. While I’m sure I didn’t agree with every word spoken by him that hour (only about 96.7%), I had (and have) much respect for the man. And I hope that Democratic lifers have the same respect, understanding that time and distance separate us from our youthful thoughts and actions.

An interview with Bill Ayers.

6 thoughts on “On Bill Ayers

  1. He should be in jail for activities undertaken in the 1960s and 1970s? Life in prison and no parole and all that? And his activities since are deemed of no value by you? Because he’s done quite a lot since then.

    Here’s my thought on your comments to date: if you want to post here, use a real name. If you want to post anonymously or with a pseudonym, I’d recommend the STLtoday.com Current Affairs forum. Thanks.

  2. I expect our friend Ed Martin is spending some time on local blogs stoking this issue. I just got the following email at The St Louis American. I am sure the same message or close variants of it are popping up in every inbox in the Black Press, and I suspect it’s Easy Ed or another Republican operative at work. Obama answered these charges adequately in the primary debate, when Stephanopolous brought them up – guilt by association is a logical fallacy, and Obama was 8 when Ayers was playing terrorist. As for Ayers doing time, we would have to rewrite the Constitution to allow for someone to be tried twice for the same crime, since he beat these charges on prosecutorial misconduct, if memory serves.

    Here is the operative message to beware of:


    My friends and I saw a show with Mr. Sean Hannity on Fox last night that was really eye opening into Obama’s past. It showed Obama’s connection to unrepentant terrorist William Ayers among numerous other scary connections. It was actually terrifying. Why don’t you cover this story?? I think you owe it to the public to lay it all out there. We, as voters shouldn’t have to spend our time trying to find the facts ourselves. After I saw Hannity’s show, I immediately hit the internet and found many facts and stories that confirmed Obama does have ties to that terrorist etc. It is really disturbing. I’m somewhat saddened that I have to ‘go find the news and truth’ myself. I wish it was covered by journalists as it should be. Hope to see you reporting on this. Please do!!



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