Ayers today, gone tomorrow?

Barack Obama is making Dan Uggla’s slump look mild.

His steady decline in the polls culminated today, on the second day of his Convention, to show him dropping behind McCain [by 2 points], for the first time since March. That’s not the bad news.

William Ayer’s is the bad news. An unrepentant terrorist with ties to Obama. A writer from National Review [a conservative] magazine was trying to research those ties. John Kass from the Chicago Tribune documents his difficulties – an excerpt below, entire article copied at end of post:

Kurtz’s research was to be done in a special library run by the University of Illinois at Chicago. The library has 132 boxes full of documents pertaining to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a foundation vested heavily in school reform.Kurtz believes the documents may show Obama and Ayers were close—far closer than Obama has acknowledged—over oodles of foundation gifts on education projects the two worked on together.

First the librarians told Kurtz yes, come look. But by the time Kurtz landed in Chicago, the librarians changed their minds. The donor of the documents hadn’t cleared his research. Perhaps they’ll let him look at the documents on Nov. 5.

The relationship between the ambitious Obama and the unrepentant Ayers is a subject that excites Republicans, who haven’t really thwacked that pinata as hard as they might. It really irritates Obama and his political champion, Chicago’s sovereign lord, Mayor Richard M. Daley.

“This is a public entity,” Kurtz told us Wednesday. “I don’t understand how confidentiality of the donor would be an issue.”

You don’t understand, Mr. Kurtz? Allow me to explain. The secret is hidden in the name of the library:

The Richard J. Daley Library.

Aug 28 – Funny what a little publicity can do. A few days later the files were available. Here’s how the Obama campaign is handling it – by intimidation.
————————————————————————-
Michael Barone of US News & World Report and Fox, weighs-in:

Which leads us back to Barack Obama, who is now a U.S. senator and will shortly become the Democratic nominee for an office that even Chicago regards as more important than mayor. And the question presents itself: How did this outsider from Hawaii and Columbia and Harvard become a somebody? His wife, Michelle Robinson Obama, had some connections: Her father was a Democratic precinct committeeman; she baby-sat for Jesse Jackson’s children; and she worked as a staffer for the current Mayor Daley. Obama made connections on the all-black South Side by joining the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church. But was Obama’s critical connection to le tout Chicago William Ayers? That’s the conclusion you are led to by Steve Diamond’s blog. And by the fact that the National Review’s Stanley Kurtz was suddenly denied access to the records of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge by the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois-Chicago Circle. (Kurtz had already been given an index to the records.) Presumably the CAC records would show a closer collaboration between Ayers and Obama than was suggested by Obama’s response at the debate that Ayers was just a guy “in the neighborhood.”

The increasingly sharp McCain campaign had the wit to ask the University of Illinois to open up the CAC records. But it didn’t seem likely the university will open them up; as John Kass puts it in a characteristically pungent column in the Chicago Tribune, “Welcome to Chicago, Mr. Kurtz.” Now the University says the archives are open. But Kurt’s friends wonder if they have been flushed of inconvenient documents in the meantime.

Does it matter if William Ayers was the key somebody who made Barack Obama a somebody? I think it does. Not that Obama shares all of Ayers’s views, which surely he does not. Or that he endorses Ayers’s criminal acts, which, as he has pointed out, were committed while he was a child in Hawaii and Indonesia. But his willingness to associate with an unrepentant terrorist is not the same as Daley’s.

——————————————————————————–
Chicago Tribune article
When Daley says shhh, library is quiet on Obama

John Kass

August 21, 2008

Conservative writer Stanley Kurtz—researching an article for the National Review about connections between Barack Obama and former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers—made a big mistake.

The poor man took a wrong turn on the Chicago Way. Now he’s lost.

Kurtz’s research was to be done in a special library run by the University of Illinois at Chicago. The library has 132 boxes full of documents pertaining to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a foundation vested heavily in school reform.

Kurtz believes the documents may show Obama and Ayers were close—far closer than Obama has acknowledged—over oodles of foundation gifts on education projects the two worked on together.

First the librarians told Kurtz yes, come look. But by the time Kurtz landed in Chicago, the librarians changed their minds. The donor of the documents hadn’t cleared his research. Perhaps they’ll let him look at the documents on Nov. 5.

The relationship between the ambitious Obama and the unrepentant Ayers is a subject that excites Republicans, who haven’t really thwacked that pinata as hard as they might. It really irritates Obama and his political champion, Chicago’s sovereign lord, Mayor Richard M. Daley.

“This is a public entity,” Kurtz told us Wednesday. “I don’t understand how confidentiality of the donor would be an issue.”

You don’t understand, Mr. Kurtz? Allow me to explain. The secret is hidden in the name of the library:

The Richard J. Daley Library.

Eureka!

The Richard J. Daley Library doesn’t want nobody nobody sent. And Richard J.’s son, Shortshanks, is now the mayor.

Obama, wearing the reformer’s mantle, has generously offered to extend that reform to Washington, even to Kenya, but not Chicago, because he knows Shortshanks would be miffed.

Ayers, a former left-wing radical accused of inciting riots during the anti-war protests in the 1960s, is now also under Shortshanks’ protection. After Ayers finally resurfaced in 1980, he got a job the Chicago Way, as a professor at UIC.

The Tribune’s City Hall reporter, Dan Mihalopoulos, asked Daley on Wednesday if the Richard J. Daley Library should release the documents. Shortshanks didn’t like that one. He kept insisting he would be “very frank,” a phrase that makes the needles on a polygraph start jumping.

” Bill Ayers—I’ve said this—his father was a great friend of my father,” the mayor said. “I’ll be very frank. Vietnam divided families, divided people. It was a terrible time of our country. People didn’t know one another. Since then, I’ll be very frank, [Ayers] has been in the forefront of a lot of education issues and helping us in public schools and things like that.”

The mayor expressed his frustrations with outside agitators like Kurtz.

“People keep trying to align himself with Barack Obama,” Daley said. “It’s really unfortunate. They’re friends. So what? People do make mistakes in the past. You move on. This is a new century, a new time. He reflects back and he’s been making a strong contribution to our community.”

Mr. Kurtz finally got his answer. It should grace the cover of the National Review, with a cartoon of Shortshanks, dressed like a jolly Tudor monarch, holding a tiny Obama in his right paw, a tiny Ayers in his left:

They’re friends. So what?

Welcome to Chicago, Mr. Kurtz.

The Republican National Committee lost no time in demanding that Obama personally defy Shortshanks and call for the documents to be released from their dungeon.

“The American people have a right to know more about Barack Obama’s relationship with unrepentant terrorist William Ayers,” said RNC spokesman Danny Diaz in a statement. “Will Barack Obama step forward and call on the university to immediately release all the records?”

No chance, Danny.

“It leads me to have tremendous fear for the documents,” Kurtz said. “What if they are going through them right now and deciding which names to take out? I’m completely alarmed. I think public scrutiny is the only way to save the documents.”

He should be worried. Though national pundits get thrills running up their legs when Obama speaks, it’s when Daley says “I’ll be very frank” that you’ve got to worry.

Kurtz fears “they’ll manage to take this all the way past the election.”

You think?

Even before Shortshanks, when Chicago had a true reform mayor, his freedom of information officer was Clarence McClain, a former pimp with a bad wig who ended up in federal prison for taking bribes. Now that the Daleys run things, forget about it.

It’s obvious that Mr. Kurtz and the National Review didn’t have the special Chicago Democratic machine library card:

The mayor’s smiling face on one side. And your voting record on the other.

jskass@tribune.com
————————————————————————————-
Michael Barone column

Obama Needs to Explain His Ties to William Ayers
By Michael Barone

It doesn’t help the Obama campaign that William Ayers is back in the news. Ayers, you’ll recall, was the Weather Underground terrorist in the late 1960s and ’70s whose radical group set bombs at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol. During the April 16 Democratic debate, Barack Obama explained his past association with Ayers by saying he was just a guy “in my neighborhood,” meaning the University of Chicago enclave known as Hyde Park. But is that end of it? This is, after all, Chicago we’re talking about; where political patronage and nepotism are the only ways one moves up the power ladder.

Decades after his radical youth, Ayers was one of the original grantees of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school reform organization in the 1990s, and was co-chairman of the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, one the two operational arms of the CAC. Obama, then not yet a state senator, became chairman of the CAC in 1995. Later in that year, the first organizing meeting for Obama’s state Senate campaign was held in Ayers’s apartment.

You might wonder what Obama was doing working with a character like this. And you might wonder how an unrepentant terrorist got a huge grant and cooperation from the Chicago public school system. You might wonder–if you don’t know Chicago. For this is a city with a civic culture in which politicians, in the words of a story often told by former congressman, federal judge, and Clinton White House counsel Abner Mikva, “don’t want nobody nobody sent.”

That’s how William Ayers got where he was. When he came out of hiding after the federal government was unable to prosecute him (because of government misconduct), he got a degree in education from Columbia and then moved to Chicago and got a job on the education faculty of the University of Illinois-Chicago Circle. How did he get that job? Well, it can’t have hurt that his father, Thomas Ayers, was chairman of Commonwealth Edison (now Exelon) and a charter member of the Chicago establishment. As Mayor Richard M. Daley said recently, in arguing that the Ayers association should not be held against Obama, “His father was a great friend of my father.”

In none of our other major cities is genealogy so important. The voters of Chicago and Illinois respect family ties in a way that voters in no other state or city do. Mayor Daley is, of course, the son of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley. The two Daleys have been mayors, and effective and competent mayors, of Chicago for 40 of the last 53 years. The attorney general of Illinois is the daughter of the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. The governor of Illinois is the son-in-law of the Democratic ward committeeman in Chicago’s 33rd Ward. The congressman from the 2nd Congressional District is Jesse Jackson Jr. Jackson’s predecessor-but-one in the district was Morgan Murphy Jr., whose father was chairman of (get this) Commonwealth Edison.

But my favorite example of the importance of family ties is 3rd District Rep. Dan Lipinski, who was first elected in 2004 to replace his father, Bill Lipinski, who was first elected in 1982. Bill Lipinski won the Democratic nomination in the March 2004 primary. But on Aug. 13, he announced he would not seek re-election and would resign the Democratic nomination. The deadline for replacing him was Aug.26, and a meeting was set on Aug. 17 for the 19th Ward and township Democratic committeemen to choose a new candidate. Lipinski announced his support for his son, who was then a professor of political science at the University of Tennessee and had not lived in Chicago for many years. Among the committeemen making the decision were: 11th Ward committeeman and County Commissioner John Daley, son of the late mayor and brother of the current mayor; 13th Ward committeeman Michael Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois House and father of Attorney General Lisa Madigan; 14th Ward committeeman Edward Burke, who succeeded his father as a council member in his 20s and was longtime chairman of the Finance Committee, and whose wife is a justice of the Illinois Supreme Court; 19th Ward committeeman Tom Hynes, former Cook County Assessor and father of Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes; and 23rd Ward committeeman Bill Lipinski. An electorate more averse to an argument against nepotism cannot be imagined. Lipinski advanced his son’s name and said, “I’m optimistic, but one never knows in politics until the votes are counted.” It did not take long to count them: Dan Lipinski was nominated without opposition. To the charge that the nomination was rigged, one participant dryly noted that anyone could have run.

One reason that Chicago and Illinois voters have acquiesced to the politics of nepotism is that its products–or many of them–are quite competent. Mayor Richie Daley, if I can call him that, has on the whole been an excellent mayor. Edward Burke is a cultured man of high intellect. Michael Madigan seems to be a solidly competent sort, and for all I know his daughter is, too. Dan Rostenkowski was a highly competent chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee for 14 years, until he was laid low by a bit of cheap chiseling; at that point he and his father had been the 32nd Ward committeemen for just about 60 years. (The younger Rostenkowski got his seat in the House in 1958 because his father, Joe Rostenkowski, had supported the late Mayor Daley in the 1955 Democratic primary against fellow Polish-American Benjamin Adamowski.) There are exceptions. Many political observers would put Rod Blagojevich, the son-in-law of 33rd Ward committeeman Dick Mell, on the top of the list of the nation’s dumbest governors. But then, for Chicago, it has always been more important who is mayor than who is governor (not to mention out-of-town jobs like U.S. senator).

Which leads us back to Barack Obama, who is now a U.S. senator and will shortly become the Democratic nominee for an office that even Chicago regards as more important than mayor. And the question presents itself: How did this outsider from Hawaii and Columbia and Harvard become a somebody? His wife, Michelle Robinson Obama, had some connections: Her father was a Democratic precinct committeeman; she baby-sat for Jesse Jackson’s children; and she worked as a staffer for the current Mayor Daley. Obama made connections on the all-black South Side by joining the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church. But was Obama’s critical connection to le tout Chicago William Ayers? That’s the conclusion you are led to by Steve Diamond’s blog. And by the fact that the National Review’s Stanley Kurtz was suddenly denied access to the records of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge by the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois-Chicago Circle. (Kurtz had already been given an index to the records.) Presumably the CAC records would show a closer collaboration between Ayers and Obama than was suggested by Obama’s response at the debate that Ayers was just a guy “in the neighborhood.”

The increasingly sharp McCain campaign had the wit to ask the University of Illinois to open up the CAC records. But it didn’t seem likely the university will open them up; as John Kass puts it in a characteristically pungent column in the Chicago Tribune, “Welcome to Chicago, Mr. Kurtz.” Now the University says the archives are open. But Kurt’s friends wonder if they have been flushed of inconvenient documents in the meantime.

Does it matter if William Ayers was the key somebody who made Barack Obama a somebody? I think it does. Not that Obama shares all of Ayers’s views, which surely he does not. Or that he endorses Ayers’s criminal acts, which, as he has pointed out, were committed while he was a child in Hawaii and Indonesia. But his willingness to associate with an unrepentant terrorist is not the same as Daley’s:

“Bill Ayers, I’ve said this, his father was a great friend of my father. I’ll be very frank. Vietnam divided families, divided people. It was a terrible time of our country. It really separated people. People didn’t know one another. Since then, I’ll be very frank, (Ayers) has been in the forefront on a lot of education issues and helping us in public schools and things like that.

“People keep trying to align himself with Barack Obama. It’s really unfortunate. They’re friends. So what? People do make mistakes in the past. You move on. This is a new century, a new time. He reflects back and he’s been making a strong contribution to our community.”

For Daley, family is paramount, and Ayers is admitted into le tout Chicago because his father is one of its pillars. And electoral politics is also paramount: In a city that is roughly 40 percent (and falling) white ethnic and 40 percent black, with an increasing gentrified white population, the current Mayor Daley has maintained very strong support from lakefront liberals, including the Hyde Park/Kenwood leftists like Ayers who were the original movers behind Obama’s 1996 state Senate candidacy. It’s in Daley’s interest to work with these people and against his interest to do anything that seems like disrespecting them. As Bill Daley told me when I asked him some years ago whether his father would have approved of Richie marching in the gay rights parade, “Our father always told us when a group was big enough to control a ward; we should pay attention to them.” Staying mayor is real important to Daley, and Daley staying mayor is real important to le tout Chicago. An unrepentant terrorist? Hey, we know your dad. And you control the 5th Ward.

For Obama, the outsider who gained the trust of the insiders, the position is different. He was willing to use Ayers and ally with him despite his terrorist past and lack of repentance. An unrepentant terrorist, who bragged of bombing the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon, was a fit associate. Ayers evidently helped Obama gain insider status in Chicago civic life and politics–how much, we can’t be sure. But most American politicians would not have chosen to associate with a man with Ayers’s past or of Ayers’s beliefs. It’s something voters might reasonably want to take into account.
Page Printed from: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/08/obamas_ayers_ties_are_relevant.html at August 26, 2008 – 10:43:12 AM PDT
——————————————————————————–
New York Times
September 11, 2001
No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives; In a Memoir of Sorts, a War Protester Talks of Life With the Weathermen
By DINITIA SMITH

”I don’t regret setting bombs,” Bill Ayers said. ”I feel we didn’t do enough.” Mr. Ayers, who spent the 1970’s as a fugitive in the Weather Underground, was sitting in the kitchen of his big turn-of-the-19th-century stone house in the Hyde Park district of Chicago. The long curly locks in his Wanted poster are shorn, though he wears earrings. He still has tattooed on his neck the rainbow-and-lightning Weathermen logo that appeared on letters taking responsibility for bombings. And he still has the ebullient, ingratiating manner, the apparently intense interest in other people, that made him a charismatic figure in the radical student movement.

Now he has written a book, ”Fugitive Days” (Beacon Press, September). Mr. Ayers, who is 56, calls it a memoir, somewhat coyly perhaps, since he also says some of it is fiction. He writes that he participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, the Pentagon in 1972. But Mr. Ayers also seems to want to have it both ways, taking responsibility for daring acts in his youth, then deflecting it.

”Is this, then, the truth?,” he writes. ”Not exactly. Although it feels entirely honest to me.”

But why would someone want to read a memoir parts of which are admittedly not true? Mr. Ayers was asked.

”Obviously, the point is it’s a reflection on memory,” he answered. ”It’s true as I remember it.”

Mr. Ayers is probably safe from prosecution anyway. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department said there was a five-year statute of limitations on Federal crimes except in cases of murder or when a person has been indicted.

Mr. Ayers, who in 1970 was said to have summed up the Weatherman philosophy as: ”Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that’s where it’s really at,” is today distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. And he says he doesn’t actually remember suggesting that rich people be killed or that people kill their parents, but ”it’s been quoted so many times I’m beginning to think I did,” he said. ”It was a joke about the distribution of wealth.”

He went underground in 1970, after his girlfriend, Diana Oughton, and two other people were killed when bombs they were making exploded in a Greenwich Village town house. With him in the Weather Underground was Bernardine Dohrn, who was put on the F.B.I.’s 10 Most Wanted List. J. Edgar Hoover called her ”the most dangerous woman in America” and ”la Pasionara of the Lunatic Left.” Mr. Ayers and Ms. Dohrn later married.

In his book Mr. Ayers describes the Weathermen descending into a ”whirlpool of violence.”

”Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon,” he writes. But then comes a disclaimer: ”Even though I didn’t actually bomb the Pentagon — we bombed it, in the sense that Weathermen organized it and claimed it.” He goes on to provide details about the manufacture of the bomb and how a woman he calls Anna placed the bomb in a restroom. No one was killed or injured, though damage was extensive.

Between 1970 and 1974 the Weathermen took responsibility for 12 bombings, Mr. Ayers writes, and also helped spring Timothy Leary (sentenced on marijuana charges) from jail.

Today, Mr. Ayers and Ms. Dohrn, 59, who is director of the Legal Clinic’s Children and Family Justice Center of Northwestern University, seem like typical baby boomers, caring for aging parents, suffering the empty-nest syndrome. Their son, Malik, 21, is at the University of California, San Diego; Zayd, 24, teaches at Boston University. They have also brought up Chesa Boudin, 21, the son of David Gilbert and Kathy Boudin, who are serving prison terms for a 1981 robbery of a Brinks truck in Rockland County, N.Y., that left four people dead. Last month, Ms. Boudin’s application for parole was rejected.

So, would Mr. Ayers do it all again, he is asked? ”I don’t want to discount the possibility,” he said.

”I don’t think you can understand a single thing we did without understanding the violence of the Vietnam War,” he said, and the fact that ”the enduring scar of racism was fully in flower.” Mr. Ayers pointed to Bob Kerrey, former Democratic Senator from Nebraska, who has admitted leading a raid in 1969 in which Vietnamese women and children were killed. ”He committed an act of terrorism,” Mr. Ayers said. ”I didn’t kill innocent people.”

Mr. Ayers has always been known as a ”rich kid radical.” His father, Thomas, now 86, was chairman and chief executive officer of Commonwealth Edison of Chicago, chairman of Northwestern University and of the Chicago Symphony. When someone mentions his father’s prominence, Mr. Ayers is quick to say that his father did not become wealthy until the son was a teenager. He says that he got some of his interest in social activism from his father. He notes that his father promoted racial equality in Chicago and was acceptable as a mediator to Mayor Richard Daley and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1966 when King marched in Cicero, Ill., to protest housing segregation.

All in all, Mr. Ayers had ”a golden childhood,” he said, though he did have a love affair with explosives. On July 4, he writes, ”my brothers and I loved everything about the wild displays of noise and color, the flares, the surprising candle bombs, but we trembled mostly for the Big Ones, the loud concussions.”

The love affair seems to have continued into adulthood. Even today, he finds ”a certain eloquence to bombs, a poetry and a pattern from a safe distance,” he writes.

He attended Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Ill., then the University of Michigan but dropped out to join Students for a Democratic Society.

In 1967 he met Ms. Dohrn in Ann Arbor, Mich. She had a law degree from the University of Chicago and was a magnetic speaker who often wore thigh-high boots and miniskirts. In 1969, after the Manson family murders in Beverly Hills, Ms. Dohrn told an S.D.S. audience: ”Dig it! Manson killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they shoved a fork into a victim’s stomach.”

In Chicago recently, Ms. Dohrn said of her remarks: ”It was a joke. We were mocking violence in America. Even in my most inflamed moment I never supported a racist mass murderer.”

Ms. Dohrn, Mr. Ayers and others eventually broke with S.D.S. to form the more radical Weathermen, and in 1969 Ms. Dohrn was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer during the Days of Rage protests against the trial of the Chicago Eight — antiwar militants accused of conspiracy to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

In 1970 came the town house explosion in Greenwich Village. Ms. Dohrn failed to appear in court in the Days of Rage case, and she and Mr. Ayers went underground, though there were no charges against Mr. Ayers. Later that spring the couple were indicted along with others in Federal Court for crossing state lines to incite a riot during the Days of Rage, and following that for ”conspiracy to bomb police stations and government buildings.” Those charges were dropped in 1974 because of prosecutorial misconduct, including illegal surveillance.

During his fugitive years, Mr. Ayers said, he lived in 15 states, taking names of dead babies in cemeteries who were born in the same year as he. He describes the typical safe house: there were usually books by Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh, and Che Guevara’s picture in the bedroom; fermented Vietnamese fish sauce in the refrigerator, and live sourdough starter donated by a Native American that was reputed to have passed from hand to hand over a century.

He also writes about the Weathermen’s sexual experimentation as they tried to ”smash monogamy.” The Weathermen were ”an army of lovers,” he says, and describes having had different sexual partners, including his best male friend.

”Fugitive Days” does have moments of self-mockery, for instance when Mr. Ayers describes watching ”Underground,” Emile De Antonio’s 1976 documentary about the Weathermen. He was ”embarrassed by the arrogance, the solipsism, the absolute certainty that we and we alone knew the way,” he writes. ”The rigidity and the narcissism.”

In the mid-1970’s the Weathermen began quarreling. One faction, including Ms. Boudin, wanted to join the Black Liberation Army. Others, including Ms. Dohrn and Mr. Ayers, favored surrendering. Ms. Boudin and Ms. Dohrn had had an intense friendship but broke apart. Mr. Ayers and Ms. Dohrn were purged from the group.

Ms. Dohrn and Mr. Ayers had a son, Zayd, in 1977. After the birth of Malik, in 1980, they decided to surface. Ms. Dohrn pleaded guilty to the original Days of Rage charge, received three years probation and was fined $1,500. The Federal charges against Mr. Ayers and Ms. Dohrn had already been dropped.

Mr. Ayers and Ms. Dohrn tried to persuade Ms. Boudin to surrender because she was pregnant. But she refused, and went on to participate in the Brink’s robbery. When she was arrested, Ms. Dohrn and Mr. Ayers volunteered to care for Chesa, then 14 months old, and became his legal guardians.

A few months later Ms. Dohrn was called to testify about the robbery. Ms. Dohrn had not seen Ms. Boudin for a year, she said, and knew nothing of it. Ms. Dohrn was asked to give a handwriting sample, and refused, she said, because the F.B.I. already had one in its possession. ”I felt grand juries were illegal and coercive,” she said. For refusing to testify, she was jailed for seven months, and she and Mr. Ayers married during a furlough.

Once again, Chesa was without a mother. ”It was one of the hardest things I did,” said Ms. Dohrn of going to jail.

In the interview, Mr. Ayers called Chesa ”a very damaged kid.” ”He had real serious emotional problems,” he said. But after extensive therapy, ”became a brilliant and wonderful human being.” .

After the couple surfaced, Ms. Dohrn tried to practice law, taking the bar exam in New York. But she was turned down by the Bar Association’s character committee because of her political activities.

Ms. Dohrn said she was aware of the contradictions between her radical past and the comforts of her present existence. ”This is where we raised our kids and are taking care of our aging parents,” she said. ”We could live much more simply, and well we might.”

And as for settling into marriage after efforts to smash monogamy, Ms. Dohrn said, ”You’re always trying to balance your understanding of who you are and what you need, and your longing and imaginings of freedom.”

”Happily for me, Billy keeps me laughing, he keeps me growing,” she said.

Mr. Ayers said he had some of the same conflicts about marriage. ”We have to learn how to be committed,” he said, ”and hold out the possibility of endless reinventions.”

As Mr. Ayers mellows into middle age, he finds himself thinking about truth and reconciliation, he said. He would like to see a Truth and Reconciliation Commission about Vietnam, he said, like South Africa’s. He can imagine Mr. Kerrey and Ms. Boudin taking part.

And if there were another Vietnam, he is asked, would he participate again in the Weathermen bombings?

By way of an answer, Mr. Ayers quoted from ”The Cure at Troy,” Seamus Heaney’s retelling of Sophocles’ ”Philoctetes:” ” ‘Human beings suffer,/ They torture one another./ They get hurt and get hard.’ ”

He continued to recite:

History says, Don’t hope

On this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up

And hope and history rhyme.

Thinking back on his life , Mr. Ayers said, ”I was a child of privilege and I woke up to a world on fire. And hope and history rhymed.”
—————————————————————————–

Advertisements

About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
This entry was posted in Current Affairs & History and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s