Characterizing the Weatherman as "an American Red Army," Ayers summed up the organization's ideology as follows: "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home. Kill your parents." (1)In April 2008 Sol Stern, one of those tiresome ex-Leftists who do penance by ratting out former fellow travelers, dropped a bombshell on New York City's intellectual establishment:
"[In 2006] He continued to rail against his exclusion from the conference in an interview with the house organ of the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party, an interview printed right alongside some of the memorable sayings of the party’s Chairman for Life, Bob Avakian. Ayers complained to the RCP interviewer that the conference organizers were “taking the teeth out of the [progressive education] critique” and trying instead to “present progressive education as something nice and familiar.” (2)
[William] Ayers’s politics have hardly changed since his Weatherman days. He still boasts about working full-time to bring down American capitalism and imperialism. This time, however, he does it from his tenured perch as Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Instead of planting bombs in public buildings, Ayers now works to indoctrinate America’s future teachers in the revolutionary cause, urging them to pass on the lessons to their public school students.(3)It gets even more interesting but here I pause to recount the intellectual establishment's immediate reaction, which to quote Mark Steyn in a somewhat different context was sprayed coffee, steaming pants and scalded crotches.
Yes, all over Manhattan's Upper West Side cheerful Starbucks assistants ran around mopping latte sprays from laptop screens and handing out wads of paper napkins to customers howling in pain.
It's not as if the intelligentsia didn't already know that William Ayers was bent on
transforming American schoolchildren into Manchurian Candidates. That was old news because in 2006 Sol Stern had publicized Ayers's education work.(4) The stunner was that Stern was not going to keep his mouth shut about Ayers during Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
Now we'll return to Sol hurling thunderbolts:
Indeed, the education department at the University of Illinois is a hotbed for the radical education professoriate. As Ayers puts it in one of his course descriptions, prospective K–12 teachers need to “be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit and . . . be a teacher capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, a teacher teaching for social justice and liberation.”Here I pause to clarify a smoggy term. Just what is "social justice?"
For the tourists, social justice means finding ways to make society more just for all. For William Ayers and other American pedagogical versions of the Weather Underground, social justice 'education' means using every subject taught in public school, including math and science, as a means to teach children that capitalism is evil and that anyone who supports the American way of life is going straight to hell.
Yet as Steve Diamond points out, Ayers and his fellow "authoritarian" Leftists in the teaching profession hide behind the generally understood concept of social justice. "... a meaningless [term] because the minute you challenge advocates of this approach they sound like Mom and Apple Pie liberals."(5)
What exactly is an "authoritarian" Leftist? I plan to write Professor Diamond to ask him that very question. But as near as I can figure, it seems to be his polite term for communists working toward the day when the last capitalist will be strangled to death with the guts of the last lily-livered socialist.
For those of us who've paid no attention to what American education experts have been up to in recent years:
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.Here I'll pause Sol's narrative, so readers who have seen Barack Obama's most ardent followers can wipe coffee spray from their computer screen.
Yes, it's entirely possible that some of the youngest Obamatons were stuffed full of social justice teachings based on textbooks written by an unrepentant Maoist terrorist.
Better set your coffee away from the computer because we're about to follow Sol Stern into the Twilight Zone:
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. Would that Ayers were just another radical English professor. In that case, his poisonous anti-American teaching would be limited to a few hundred college students in the liberal arts. But through his indoctrination of future K–12 teachers, Ayers has been able to influence what happens in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of classrooms.Here, readers who recall my May 6 The truth about Barack Obama's association with William Ayers ... may wonder whether Sol is being coy with regard to what Barack Obama knows about William Ayers.
I wish I could say yes because the alternative explanation -- that Sol did not know the truth about the relationship at the time of the April writing -- is unsettling to the point of eerie.
Yet given Sol Stern's concern about William Ayers's education theories, and also that there is nothing in his 2006 writings about Ayers to suggest Sol knew about the Annenberg Challenge, I think we have to settle for the eerie explanation.
Sol's piece was published on April 23 by the City Journal, a quarterly magazine of the Manhattan Institute. Only the day before Steve Diamond had blown the lid off the Obama-Ayers relationship with Who "sent" Obama?
[...] in late 1994 or early 1995, Obama made what I think was probably the key move in his early career. He was named Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a $50 million grant program to funnel money into reform efforts at Chicago schools. It turns out that the architect of the Annenberg Challenge was Bill Ayers, who designed the grant proposal and shepherded it to success.In two sentences, Diamond makes a mockery of the claim that Obama and Ayers had only a casual relationship. But again, City Journal is a quarterly publication; Stern's article was surely submitted days or even weeks before the Spring 2008 volume was published online.
My guess is that prior to Diamond's investigative report, Obama's work for the Annenberg Challenge and Ayers's connection to the grant program were not well known outside a small circle of grant-making organizations/corporations and Chicago public education professionals -- although I think one would have to be naive to assume it wasn't known to the Democratic National Committee by the time Obama was promoted as a candidate for the presidency.
In any case Obama knew Ayers so well, was so familiar with Ayers's professional work, that terming him an "English" teacher was not a mistake; it was an attempt to suggest to the public that his relationship with Ayers was casual.
Diamond's report makes it clear that the relationship was close and work-related over a period of years. And it's clear from Obama's willingness to work for Ayers's pet project that he was in general agreement with Ayers's political philosophy and approach to public education.
To send you on your way with a spring in your step I'll quote a few more passages from Stern's April 2008 article, although I hope you'll go to City Journal and read the whole thing:
Ayers’s influence on what is taught in the nation’s public schools is likely to grow in the future. Last month, he was elected vice president for curriculum of the 25,000-member American Educational Research Association (AERA), the nation’s largest organization of education-school professors and researchers. Ayers won the election handily, and there is no doubt that his fellow education professors knew whom they were voting for.Recently on Fox News, Democratic strategist Bob Beckel tried to brush off concerns about Obama's relationship with a "terrorist" by retorting, "Ayers is a couple years away from an assisted living facility."
In the short biographical statement distributed to prospective voters beforehand, Ayers listed among his scholarly books Fugitive Days, an unapologetic memoir about his ten years in the Weather Underground. The book includes dramatic accounts of how he bombed the Pentagon and other public buildings.
Either Beckel didn't know or didn't care that it's not Ayers's past but his present that should be of immediate urgent concern when asking about Obama's political views. America's parents need to know about Ayers's education ideas and true relationship with a man in sight of the White House. Ditto for American captains of industry and capitalist financiers who are throwing money at Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
1) A Guide to the Political Left
2) The Ghosts of Bill Ayers; Sol Stern, FrontPageMagazine, October 17, 2006
3) Obama's Real Bill Ayers Problem; Sol Stern, City Journal, April 23, 2008
4) "Social Justice" and Other High School Indoctrinations; Sol Stern, FrontPageMagazine, April 13, 2006
The Ed Schools’ Latest -- and Worst -- Humbug; Sol Stern, City Journal, Summer 2006 edition
See also #2 above.
5) Eduwonkette: Sol Stern and Bill Ayers Debate on "Social Justice" Teaching; Dr. Stephen F. Diamond, Global Labor blog, April 22, 2008
Diamond's discussion is a portal to a world that for all its grave importance to Americans exists outside the general public's eye. The post links to Sol Stern's piece for City Journal, Ayers's reply, and a discussion of social justice by people in the education sphere.
Cross-posted at RezkoWatch and No Quarter
Dr Diamond replied to my question about the authoritarian Left, which I have published today under the title, "The great unanswered questions" about Barack Obama's relationship with William Ayers. Note that Diamond provides more information on the web of connections relating to the Ayers-Obama relationship. See Carol Lee-Rev. Jeremiah Wright mention.
I am also providing the link to RezkoWatch's publication of today's post because they added pictures (I really like the one with Mao and Stalin together) and added data on the Lee-Wright-Dohrn connection that my post does not contain. Yes, that would be the same Dohrn who is married to Ayers. What a collection of characters.
Thanks to the reader who submitted this post to the Watcher of Weasels Council, and thanks to WoW readers and the Council! I am proud to report that this post has come in second place in this week's vote for a non-Council entry! Thanks also to Council Member Dave Schuler at The Glittering Eye for his comments.
October 9, 2008; 9:30 AM Eastern Time UPDATE
I'm updating this post because of intense media/public attention to the William Ayers-Barack Obama relationship.
Much has come to light recently about the relationship. One of the people who have been driving this story is Steve Diamond. He is an American law professor, political scientist, union activist, and a leftist -- and, it is important to note, someone who was born and raised in Chicago.
Mr Obama has gotten past the press, but no one from the Chicago political machine gets past Steve Diamond.
You might want to proceed to Diamond's October 6, 2008 post, Ayers/Obama Update: The David Blaine Award Goes to The New York Times Magic Act. The post, published at Diamond's Global Labor blog, has the best summary he's provided so far of Ayers' educational theories and how Obama has served to promote them.
The catch is that the summary is presented as part of Diamond's ongoing discussion of how The New York Times has continued to suppress and distort his investigation -- even though three reporters from the paper have recently interviewed him several times.
(I note with sarcasm that Diamond watchers know that this state of affairs represents an improvement since May, when the Times ignored his letter to them about his research on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and the work that Ayers and Obama did for it.)
The negligence of the U.S. press in reporting on Ayers' theories and Obama's relationship with him is a story unto itself; it's perhaps the strongest indictment to date of the present state of American journalism. But if you want to go straight to the summary, scroll down to the 14th paragraph of the October 6 report:
So what is the evidence of the influence of Ayers' world view on Obama and his presidential candidacy?And read from there.
If you want to delve further into the story, you can start with Diamond's April 22, 2008 post, Who "Sent" Obama? which I also linked to above, and read forward from there. Not all his posts since that time are about the Ayers-Obama relationship and related matters, but the majority are.
If you get stuck at the discussion in the summary about reparations on account of refusing to believe your eyes, Diamond's May 24, 2008 post Apparently Obama does, indeed, support reparations will assure you that you read right the first time.
The posts at Global Labor are the very best background on all the issues touching upon the Ayers-Obama relationship. As far as I know only one other person, Sol Stern, is both knowledgeable enough to discuss Ayers' ideas in authoritative fashion and willing to speak up very frankly in public about them.
Stanley Kurtz, the Conservative commentator who has studied Diamond's research and undertaken his own research on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and the Obama-Ayers relationship, has provided a helpful introduction in a September 23, 2008 report for the Wall Street Journal.
Yet Kurtz (who holds a PhD from Harvard in social anthropology) started his journey of discovery from outside the teaching profession and without a thorough background in the education ideas promoted by Ayer's and his colleagues.
One glance through Diamond's summary tells that Kurtz is still on a learning curve. He is not alone. The news media are so far behind Diamond that at this rate it will be 2015 before they catch up.
Barack Obama has banked on this great Cloud of Unknowing. And yet a reading of Diamond's summary reveals that this is not rocket science he's talking about; it's just that for years the mainstream media have avoided examining the education topics that Diamond and Stern discuss.
Given Dr Diamond's October 6 summary, readers might ask whether I have considered changing "Maoist" to "neo-Stalinist" in the title, now that I've gone further on my own learning curve. The answer is no.
I will let political scientists such as Diamond parse the differences between neo-Stalinism and Maoism. In the end what does it matter if you refer to a death camp by a number, or name it the 'Bluebird School of Reeducation?' Stalinists, Maoists, Fidelistas, etc. -- they all boil down to a military-backed gang of thugs.
And my view is that William Ayers and Barack Obama are not ideologues of any stripe; I see them as totalitarians behind their word screens. They want unquestioning obedience to their commands; they want everyone to think and act in unison, and they know this can only be achieved through indoctrinating children.
Any doubts I had that Obama is a totalitarian were resolved a few days ago when I studied the “Positive Behavior for Effective Schools Act,” otherwise known as education bill S.2111, which was introduced by Obama.
The bill has not passed, as yet, but the wording is a clear indication that Obama's idea of child education is using the public school system to effect massive state intervention in every area of a child's life.
As to what exactly Obama means by "positive behavior" -- the bill does not spell it out. But study Steve Diamond's writings, and Sol Stern's, if you want to see behind Obama's screen of words about making American public school graduates better candidates for higher education and leveling the playing field for the nation's poorest children.
Finally, Obama's relationship with William Ayers is just one of many he developed with the far left/authoritarian stream of American politics. If you are just coming to a study of Obama's involvement with such Americans, the best place for an orientation is the blog The Real Barack Obama (RBO), formerly RezkoWatch.
The blog has amassed a thick dossier on Obama's web of political alliances, including those branching from his involvement with the convicted criminal Tony Rezko.
There are few puff pieces at RBO, and those are to leaven the grim revelations. Many of the posts are original reports, which are meticulously researched and cross-referenced. The blog also acts as a relay station for daily media reports/opinion pieces on Obama's relationships.
I warn that once you start digging through RBO's archives you will be stunned at how much information the mainstream media has left unreported about Obama's relationships. Yet RBO is closely followed by mainstream news outlets working on Obama stories, so there is no question that the information has been ignored.
The Real Barack Obama, and Steve Diamond's Global Labor blog, are examples of citizen journalism at its finest.
The question, however, is how much longer the American democracy can survive if its citizens cannot depend on professional journalists for accurate news on vital issues.