On April 4 the New York Post's Ginger Adams Otis yawned her way through a review of David Remnick's exhaustively researched 585 page biography of Barack Obama (published yesterday). She observed that there's nothing startling in the few new details Remnick marshals. Ms Otis is not quite correct. Contained in Remnick's biography is a ticking time bomb.
In 2008 The New York Times got away with quashing law professor Steve Diamond's warning about the true relationship between William Ayers and Barack Obama. I'd like to see The Times try to quash David Remnick, one of the mandarins in the Liberal Media Establishment, although he might say I heap too much praise on him.
However, my greatest concern is that while the Right Wing Media Establishment will surely seize on Remnick's comments about the Obama-Ayers relationship, they will do as they did in 2008. What they did was divert public attention from the most crucial issue connected with the relationship by focusing on Ayers's past as a terrorist. His present is that he is an influential educator pushing social justice teachings and race-based education theories in American public schools.
Fox News Cable viewers who think they know the meaning of social justice teachings after hearing Glenn Beck's explanations -- sorry to say but he is behind the curve of Ayers and other educators pushing social justice curriculums in the public school system.
Glenn is describing a 1960s version of social justice concepts. The new, improved version, which has actually been around for several years, is so weird that when I first learned about it I figured it couldn't mean what it seemed to mean. My next stage of denial was, "They can't be serious."
They're completely serious about using every single subject taught in public schools, including math and science, as the means to indoctrinate students in the most radical authoritarian Leftist agenda.
For details on this version of social justice teachings, Google "Sol Stern social justice teachings." Steve Diamond and I have both written about the issue as have several others. But I think Sol's explanations are the clearest and most comprehensive introduction for the general reader.
By the way, keep your wits about you when hearing defenses of the teachings because today's social justice crowd is slicker than a Ponzi scheme operator when it comes to fielding criticism. As Steve Diamond noted about them in 2008, 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.”
And realize that Steve is a dyed-in-the-wool Leftist, albeit one who's grounded in the view that the American labor union movement can be the savior of American democracy. I am not knowledgeable enough about union matters to debate Steve on this but from all I've seen, American big labor (as with American big business) is now so tangled up with the state it would take a revolution to detangle them.
And yet Steve's latest book, From 'Che' to China: Labor and Authoritarianism in the New Global Economy, is very clear on the dangers of labor being involved with the state.
The book alerts the general public that SEIU (and, if I recall, some other American Big Labor unions) have gotten in bed with China's authoritarian government; this, on the excuse they're trying to be helpful to their dear downtrodden brothers and sisters in China. What a bunch of phonies.
Where was I? My point is that when a real Leftist gets scared of social justice teachings, that's a sign there is a very serious problem with social justice curriculums in American public schools.
And, while Steve doesn't address this issue in his post, there is also a very serious problem with the teachers unions because they've allowed social justice curriculums to be rammed down their throats. Yet today many teachers risk being blackballed if they don't go along with the social justice program. They need strong support from parents if they're going to stand up to the Ayers crowd and the crowd's buddies in government.
All right; now that I've had my say I'll turn the podium over to Steve. He writes at his King Harvest blog today:
New Yorker’s Remnick Confirms Ayers Role in Obama Rise to Power
In his just-published biography The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama, David Remnick of The New Yorker magazine confirmed the role of Bill Ayers in the appointment of Barack Obama to the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC).
The CAC was a foundation conceived by Ayers and then, with others, designed and led by him, relying on a large initial grant from Walter Annenberg that was then matched by additional donations to implement educational reforms in the city’s troubled schools.
Remnick writes in his book that “Ayers helped bring Obama onto the Annenberg board.”
He gives no exact details or source. His account confirms the Ayers role, which was explained at King Harvest (in its previous incarnation as Global Labor) on April 22, 2008 in a post titled Who ‘Sent’ Obama?
It is probably only a coincidence, but the Remnick chapter that includes the revelation about Ayers is titled, Somebody Nobody Sent. The odd grammar is actually a reference to an old Chicago political story that was the inspiration for my 2008 post.
The New York Times, on the other hand, had reported during the presidential campaign that “Mr. Ayers played no role in Mr. Obama’s appointment” to the board.
This led to the impression that Ayers was not a key figure in Obama’s rise to political prominence in Chicago.
In several interviews with The New York Times I explained patiently to reporter Scott Shane that only Ayers had the legal authority to appoint board members to the founding board of the Challenge. The explanation was ignored by The Times. See my response to The Times here.
The appointment to the board was a major step up in the career of the young lawyer Obama, who had recently returned to Chicago after graduating from Harvard Law School. A few months after his spring 1995 appointment to the CAC board Obama would be invited to the Hyde Park home of Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn as part of the launch of his first political campaign to win the seat of departing state senator Alice Palmer.
The Times also reported that the Hyde Park meeting was the first time Obama met Ayers and Dohrn then later changed that story -- without explanation or apology to its readers -- when it found that Ayers had lunch with Obama to discuss the CAC earlier that year.
Because of Ayers and Dohrn’s well-known past as members of the violent authoritarian cult known as the Weather Underground in the early 1970s, supporters of Obama went to great lengths to distance him from any links to Ayers and Dohrn -- despite the fact that the relationship was known in Hyde Park and wider Chicago political circles.
The CAC was set up by Ayers to push his peculiar “social justice” agenda in the Chicago school system including support for a controversial school reform measure known as “Local School Councils” or LSC’s.
The LSC’s were set up in the late 80s, with the support then of both Ayers and Obama, to use parents as a battering ram against teachers and principals, in the wake of a controversial teachers’ strike.
Mainstream civil rights groups like Operation PUSH opposed the reform because of its anti-teacher and anti-union animus. Hundreds of principals were pushed out of their positions over the next several years until the state legislature stepped back in and re-centralized control of hiring. For more background see my post here.
Ayers would never have helped engineer the Obama appointment if he were not dead certain that Obama would lead the CAC in the direction he wanted it to go. During its seven year existence the foundation was in a pitched battle with the Daley Administration, which wanted to centralize school management and even tried to convince the Annenberg Foundation to not fund the Ayers proposal.
All that clearly implies that Ayers and Obama had a close, long-term relationship. While no mainstream media outlet has reported that as of yet, King Harvest was told that a senior Obama campaign activist and long time Democratic Party supporter confirmed that the relationship went back to the 1980s.
While Ayers and Dohrn have moved away from their violent past, neither has ever formally apologized for the violence and destruction they were part of, and Ayers at least leaves open the possibility that he would engage in violence again. While the physical damage the Weather Underground inflicted was relatively minor, the political damage was severe. For many decades the reputation of the tiny terrorist group has tainted the entire Left.
Ayers and Dorhn are now part of a larger milieu made up of supporters of multiculturalism and identity politics, which now dominates what many think of as the Left despite the milieu’s inherent inability to build a wider democratic movement for progressive social change.
Figures like Van Jones, Valerie Jarrett, Chris Edley, Goodwin Liu and Linda Darling-Hammond all are a part of the identity politics milieu and are, or have been, close advisors of Obama. Several have had links to Ayers and Dohrn professionally or politically over many years.
A consistent thread in the political world view of Ayers and Dohrn, over many decades, can be found in their hostility to the democratic labor movement. Thus, they were openly hostile to unions in the 1970s and Ayers’ approach to education reform has often put him at odds with unionized teachers.
His approach seems to have rubbed off on the new President, who recently backed the wholesale dismissal of the entire teaching staff of a Rhode Island public school and who has backed reform efforts that hark back to the anti-teacher politics of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and Chicago’s Local School Councils.
Now that Remnick has confirmed the crucial professional link between Ayers and Obama at a turning point in the latter’s career, a lot about the President’s background and politics begins to make more sense.