Monday, September 8, 2008

Obama and Bill Ayers

I have made no special study of either Obama or Ayers; so I have been prepared to be corrected. I have not been. Instead someone took something I intended as humorous and frivolous – and concluded I was being vicious. I was responding to what I perceived to be an absurdity, something not worthy of serious treatment, something worthy only of humor, and that is what I intended to supply, but my readers perceived only viciousness. And they wanted to discuss my non-existent “viciousness” instead of the Obama-Ayers issue.

Language is not self-authenticating. I intended to be humorous and can explain the joke if some asks, but if a reader sees “viciousness” instead of “humor,” and doesn’t ask, doesn’t engage in dialogue to find out what my motivation really was, then what is my responsibility for his misperception? Do I have one? Well, if we are having a dialogue, I am responsible for clarifying the ambiguity. If we are merely quarrelling, which we seem to be, then the heck with him.

Since I don’t want to lose sight of the Obama-Ayers issue, I’ll return to what was said. I wrote, “Kouri ends with a 2001 quote from Ayers: "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough." Ayers is quoted in a New York Times article.”

Lefty then responded to my note by writing Barack Obama was eight years old when Bill Ayers was a Weatherman. By the time they met, Ayers had become a perfectly tame and highly respected community figure in Chicago. This kind of phony guilt-by-association is, IMHO, one of the more despicable, if all too typical, tactics of the right.”

Already we are entering absurdity in my view. I previously wrote that Ayers in 2001 said, and was quoted as saying in a NYT article, “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Lefty responded with something utterly illogical.. He said 1) Obama was only 8 years old when Ayers was in the Weather Underground. Why did he say this? No one was saying that Obama was in the Weather Underground. No one was saying Obama was a terrorist. What is in question is the extent to which Ayers is unrepentant (and the 2001 NYT quote states that he was unrepentant) and the extent to which Ayers influenced Obama.

So Lefty 1) makes an irrelevant statement about how old Obama was when Ayers was blowing things up and 2) makes a false statement when he writes that Ayes “had become . . . perfectly tame and highly respected . . ..” This statement is false because Ayers stands by his bombing days. He hasn’t repented his earlier terrorist activities. He wished he had blown up more. He is like the Japanese not apologizing for the Rape of Nanking. You can’t pass that over. Either you are sorry for your past acts or you stand by them. Ayers stands by his. He wished he had bombed more. He didn’t bomb enough.

Actually, I was disgusted with the lack of reading ability I perceived in the people reading my notes. Ayers is not a respectable person if he stands by his bombing activities. Ayers was on a board, described as a Left wing board (although I haven’t checked that out yet), with Obama. Ayers was in regular contact with Obama. They communicated, but, Obama said, “not on a regular basis.”

And so in my frustration at the obtuseness I perceived, I turned frivolous. Now Darcy says my words weren’t “tame.” Probably not. I was getting annoyed but still amused at the obtuse reactions to what I wrote. I did find it Ironic that one of Obama’s mentors, Bill Ayers once wanted to blow up the White House (you can find this in Ayers book, Fugitive Days, I believe.).

Some of my tentative conclusions are open to correction or clarification, but I have heard none from anyone thus far. They just want to talk about my viciousness. But I am interested in how much Ayers influenced Obama rather than whether I exceeded good taste in expressing annoyance and amusement at the inability of my readers to reason logically. It has been stated by several that Obama’s career was launched in Ayers home. Is that true? I don’t believe Obama denied it. He said some other things but he didn’t deny it – at least not that I’ve read thus far. I haven’t read about this exhaustively; so I am open to correction here. But if his career was launched in Ayers home and if there as a long standing relationship including a sharing of ideas, Ayers may well have been one of Obama’s mentors.

In case someone’s knee jerks and they want to say that Obama would never have a mentor like Bill Ayers, I remind them of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. If memory serves, Obama called Wright one of his mentors. Do any of you hear any alarm bells ringing yet, or are you still all worried about my viciousness and whether if I keep it up, as Jacob warns, it will be the end of civilization as we know it . . . or some such expression. I don’t remember his exact words. Obama already demonstrated poor judgment in choosing Wright as one of his mentors. We cannot off hand conclude that he is incapable of making another poor choice in Bill Ayers.

Let’s return to the hypothetical danger of being mentored by Bill Ayers. Lots of people were Leftists back in the 60s, and they became respectable people later on. Perhaps Ayers was one of those. Obama said that he was. Others have expressed the belief that he was, but look at what Ayers actually said. He said in 2001, when Obama was in the Illinois State Legislature, long after Obama’s career had been launched in Ayer’s home, that he wished he had done more bombing. I take that statement of Ayers to mean that Ayers was not respectable.

But Obama says that Ayers was respectable. Let’s consider that. Does Obama say that knowing that Ayers wished he had done more bombing back then? Or does Obama not know what Ayers said to the NYT in 2001 and what he wrote in his book, Fugitive Days? These are not frivolous questions because if Obama finds someone who wished he had done more bombing in the 60s respectable then he, not yours truly is “over the top."

Lawrence Helm

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