Friday, October 24, 2008

Aristorant: William Ayers

I was watching O'Reily Factor Friday evening, and there was yet another segment on Ayers. Bill O'Reily continues to assert that Obama should "throw Ayers under the bus." I got curious and decided to research William Ayers just to see what the fuss was all about.

Initially, I just figured that Ayers was some 60's militant/hippy who was raging against the establishment and a government, that in his view, was not living up to their end of the constitutional bargain in fighting a debacle of a war in Vietnam (uh hum, Iraq anyone?). Ayer's brand of radicalism was not original and was one example in hundreds of global occurrences. In the 1960s, countries around the world underwent political transitions. From Brazil to Prague, groups around the world toppled military and political dictatorships. In the U.S., protests and acts of civil disobedience were the result in significant strides in civil rights and women's rights. Ayer's acts of anarchy and violence are not excusable, but in context, Ayer's "terrorist" past is best left in the past and in no way imply that he is on the same level as Al Qaeda. Islamic radicalism today is far more serious.

Now, many say that William Ayers is a domestic terrorist, hence McCain-Palin's assertion that Sen. Obama "palls around with terrorists (although he is just one person no plural)" and that he "launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist. Now, apparently the fact that Ayer's acts with the Weathermen organization were 40 years ago doesn't matter. Ayers is a university professor and author. He went through a trial process but never served time. Some federal misconduct resulted in the dismissal of his charges. So, he went through the system, and by chance, he lived to tell (and write about it) his story as a free man. This brief synopsis would lead some to leave Ayer's story in the past. Yet, some people want to keep hammering on the point that Sen. Obama should not have been associating with such a person. Some even go so far as to place Ayers in the same category as Al Qaeda. I think the comparison is remote.

Ayers is not current terrorist. And he was not a terrorist when he met Obama. Moreover, Obama served on a board with Ayers and others who have ties to both political parties. Governor Sarah Palin's argument that Obama "would view America as so imperfect to pal around with domestic terrorists" is a grave exaggeration. I think that the McCain Campaign has harped on this point to their own detriment. There is too much information out there today for these same tactics to hold water. America views terrorism through the lens of the WTC bombings on 9/11. Next to that tragic morning, Ayer's acts, 40 years ago, do not carry the same weight. Even more so now that he is an old college professor. Lastly, Ayers has gone on to clarify what he meant when he said that he had no regrets and wished they could have done more. To this point, Ayers has said that he meant they could have done more to try to stop the U.S. war in Vietnam.

Mud-slingging is NOT aristocratic.


Ryan said...

Twaun, I think some level of culpability for this situation deserves to be placed on Obama or his media people. While I agree with your take on Ayers, I think Obama should have been more forthright about their relationship from the beginning. Obama continually stated that he and Ayers served on a board and lived in the same neighborhood and that was pretty much it. Well, their relationship was definitely closer than that. It has now been revealed that they worked in the same office for two years and Obama had glowingly reviewed one of his books, which is something that his camp denied. Like I said, I have no problem with Obama's relationship with Ayers, but it's not aristocratic to hide how well you know someone.

Twaun said...

The story still would have been blown out of proportion. There are politicians in the current campaign and present administration with questionable ties. Honestly, I would be interested in Ayers. For the reasons I wrote about, I feel like he has an interesting story. But to spin their relationship to the point of implying that Obama is palling around with terrorists is a total stretch of the truth. In this political climate, in which they have try to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Obama, his admitting to any substantive relationship would have been deemed an admittance that he pals around with terrorists. His professional and academic relationship with Ayers does not make them good friends.

Brant said...

I think Obama has been pretty forthright about this situation from the beginning. I think that if he would have put too much emphasis on it, then it would have been blown way out of proportion like Twaun said. With the way the McCain-Palin campaign has been operating, I don't think there could have been any way that Obama could have handled this in a way deemed acceptable. And if we are going to chastise Obama for his relationship with Ayers, why are we only pointing the finger at him? What about the University of Chicago? (Which is one of the premier institutions of higher learning in the country) The rest of the UC faculty? The charities he served on boards for? This situation is nothing but a distraction--which is all the Republican party has left.