Join 3,514 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Obama Didn't Need a Weatherman
November 5, 2008 10:54 AM   Subscribe

“I think my relationship with Obama was probably like that of thousands of others in Chicago and, like millions and millions of others, I wished I knew him better.” William Ayers speaks.
posted by Knappster (78 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Who cares what this guy has to say?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:13 AM on November 5, 2008


Obama won; do I have to convert to Islam and marry a dude now?
posted by Mister_A at 11:16 AM on November 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


Yeah, getting both sides of the story is for suckers. I preferred the caricature. Less thinking that way.
posted by electroboy at 11:17 AM on November 5, 2008 [8 favorites]


I care what he has to say. Unlike McCain, he was right on Vietnam. I've waited until the whole election to say this. Ayers was right. There.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:17 AM on November 5, 2008 [28 favorites]


I care about what he's got to say.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:19 AM on November 5, 2008


What a great picture.
posted by yhbc at 11:23 AM on November 5, 2008


Ayers should be played by Charlie Kaufman in the movie.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:26 AM on November 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


yeah, whatever.
posted by matteo at 11:28 AM on November 5, 2008


“I wish I had been wiser,” Ayers said. “I wish I had been more effective, I wish I’d been more unifying, I wish I’d been more principled.”

Well, as despicable as Ayers was back in the 60s and 70s, I'm glad that he's still around. I have a certain amount of respect for people who have recanted their former, more radical positions, and have arrived at larger truths.

Maybe some modern-day radicals can learn from his story.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:28 AM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I wished I knew him better"

I'm so glad you didn't.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:28 AM on November 5, 2008 [21 favorites]


Obama won; do I have to convert to Islam and marry a dude now?

Yes, unless you are a white christian woman, then you must be inseminated by "ethnic" seed, gestate the baby until near term and then be forced to have an abortion. They'll need the foetuses for all the the gay islamic marriages, don't ask me what they do with them. Oh, and apparently Rahm Emanuel has worked out an exemption for Jews, but you have to serve in the Israeli Army for 3 years to qualify.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:30 AM on November 5, 2008 [8 favorites]


Obama won; do I have to convert to Islam and marry a dude now?

Certainly not the latter. Don't get me wrong, I worked for Obama and I'm very happy he won, but his official position on gay marriage was "against" and you can look that up and he is a huge reason why California now has bigotry enshrined in its constitution.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:33 AM on November 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


This makes me happy. Months and months of hyperbole and dire warnings and what's-her-face Palin going on about terrorists. And in the end, the veil is pulled back, and the guy turns out to be... exactly what everyone from Obama on down always said he was.

It's like a victory for reality. Welcome back, reality.
posted by bicyclefish at 11:34 AM on November 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


I seriously think Rashid Khalidi has a slander case against McCain. The stuff he said was untrue and reprehensible.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:35 AM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


They'll need the foetuses for all the the gay islamic marriages, don't ask me what they do with them.

Actually they will harvest their stem cells to use in industrial-scale tissue culture production of genetic hallucinogens to be introduced into school lunches, which will be mandatory for all children under age 21.
posted by exogenous at 11:38 AM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like the Ayers of today, if that's how he behaves now. Reminds me of a more politically snarky version of my Father-in-Law.

It sounds like The New Yorker is trying to rehabilitate the image that we have of Ayers. By his own admission Ayers of a long time ago was an angry man with alot of angst against the government of the time. I'm quite sure, however, that many people wish that the statute of limitations hadn't run out on the property damage/bombings he did. But, only because they're angry.

I'd like to hear more of what he has to say.
posted by Severian at 11:41 AM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


In other post-election news, I'm liking the suggestion of Richard Lugar for President Obama's Secretary of State. It would bring together the two former ranking members of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee; Lugar is highly respected by his constituents and other members of congress, and has been working on the tough issues like nonproliferation since the Soviet breakup in 1991.
posted by acro at 11:42 AM on November 5, 2008


I recently became friends with Ayers on Facebook. Glad I could send him a positive message after all the hate he's received. And I agree with Afroblanco that modern-day radicals can learn a lot from him. It's too easy to be angry, shout slogans, and blow shit up.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 11:48 AM on November 5, 2008


Did anyone else not received their Mandatory Koran? I got my Re-education Assignment and my bank account was cleaned out, so I know I'm in the system.
posted by DU at 11:50 AM on November 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


apparently, having one's bank account cleaned out was part of Bush's system too
posted by matteo at 11:55 AM on November 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


my bank account was cleaned out

Were you making over 250,000? For me, I can still withdraw money, but the available balance is "NA."
posted by roll truck roll at 11:56 AM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have a certain amount of respect for people who have recanted their former, more radical positions

I read this interview last night, and I don't see Ayers recant anywhere. Does he ever say, "I shouldn't have blown stuff up?" The fact that he was right on Vietnam has nothing to do with how reprehensible his past acts were. I don't care what your political beliefs are, if you espouse terrorism, you're a fucking idiot.

Of course, that doesn't mean anyone should have ever believed the lies of the McCain party, but calling this guy slimy is not libel.
posted by napkin at 11:56 AM on November 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


calling this guy slimy is not libel.

No. It is just wrong.
posted by srboisvert at 12:08 PM on November 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't care what your political beliefs are, if you espouse terrorism, you're a fucking idiot.

Obama supports expanding the war in Afghanistan... but, war isn't "terrorism" when it is waged by people with a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force, right?
posted by finite at 12:11 PM on November 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm quite sure, however, that many people wish that the statute of limitations hadn't run out on the property damage/bombings he did.

Yeah, they really should be wishing that the federal government hadn't decided to drop the case in the interests of "national security".
posted by nanojath at 12:12 PM on November 5, 2008


Not to sound cliche, but if William Ayers is a terrorist, then so is the Army.
Property damage? Blowing up statues isn't the same thing as blowing up people.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:14 PM on November 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


What a cool pilgrim.
posted by Flex1970 at 12:16 PM on November 5, 2008


It does sound a bit cliché dunk.
posted by Mister_A at 12:22 PM on November 5, 2008


Oh I would so like for him to be.... Secretary of Education!
posted by R. Mutt at 12:32 PM on November 5, 2008


I don't care what your political beliefs are, if you espouse terrorism, you're a fucking idiot.

Ergo, Mandela is an idiot.

Black and white thinking doesn't work.
posted by milarepa at 12:46 PM on November 5, 2008


Oh I think Obama should stay very far away from this man.
posted by Gungho at 12:50 PM on November 5, 2008


Maybe on the balance my statements were more inflammatory than clear. Regardless of the fact that he was totally irrelevant to Obama, Ayers was a member of the Weathermen, a group that espoused "violent resistance." Honestly, they were historically ineffective, probably because they were just a bunch of dumb college students, but they still believed that it was necessary to hurt people to achieve their goals. I don't think it's healthy for any civil society to tolerate that sort of belief. Personal opinion? Yeah.

So Ayers flees the country. The government later (due supposedly to Watergate?) decides it's not worth it to prosecute him. He comes back and acts the model citizen. If you measure his life since he was 40, I'm sure he comes out positive. And of course atonement is a personal thing. I don't think he should ever be forced to apologize for his beliefs. But I also don't think I should have to change my own characterization of him as a crummy dude just because he now builds schools.

I'm afraid that many people, journalists included, may see an Obama victory as a vindication of Ayers. Rationally, that's stupid, especially if you (correctly) believed he was irrelevant to Obama during the campaign.
posted by napkin at 12:51 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm still waiting for a really eloquent piece looking back at the development of the use of the word "terrorism" in America over the last two decades. William Safire? New Yorker? Atlantic Monthly? Heck, National Review? Someone want to pick this up? I think it would be interesting.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 12:54 PM on November 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'd love to talk to Ayers. When I heard about Obama's flimsy " connection" to him, I was excited. I'm not down with bombing innocent people, that's about the only part of their thing that doesn't fly, but I can fully relate to the passion and message behind the Weather Underground.
posted by Liquidwolf at 12:55 PM on November 5, 2008


I'm afraid that many people, journalists included, may see an Obama victory as a vindication of Ayers. Rationally, that's stupid, especially if you (correctly) believed he was irrelevant to Obama during the campaign.

Just like electing Obama was the first step in the unification of the proletariat in eternal revolution and the siezure of the means of production, gotcha, check. Really, that's what Palin said and we still elected him, so I guess we are all a bunch of pinkos then.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:56 PM on November 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oldie but a goodie.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x33PgKEgXwM
posted by ZakDaddy at 12:57 PM on November 5, 2008


If I may be slightly more serious than I have been so far, it is worth pointing out that the Weathermen are viewed through a much different lens than Al Qaeda, Hamas, etc., by most Americans. Many people look back on Weather and other 60s/70s radical groups with a sense of forgiveness, acceptance, or even fondness, because they were part of a sea change in American culture, a change that most people will acknowledge has been largely for the better. This is a very complicated part of our national history, and people are willing, to a certain extent, to tolerate a person like Ayers.
posted by Mister_A at 1:25 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not sure how you can equate what I said with what Palin said when I explicitly disavowed her claims (and agree with your point) right in the quote you used, but I'd just like to point out that the Weathermen were literally a communist organization, which makes your comment kind of funny.

So... yeah... I also voted for Obama. Do I have to defend myself that way to justify my attack on Ayers? I'm totally down with this coming glory age of progressivism, or whatever. I identify as a liberal all the time. But when we sit down at the table with all Americans, like Obama wants to, I don't want to sit next to assholes like the ELF, just because they think their politics are allied with mine.
posted by napkin at 1:25 PM on November 5, 2008


I'm curious how many of the Ayers condemners here had selective service cards during the Vietnam war (enlisted, were drafted, demonstrated, occupied a building or fled the country)?
posted by psyche7 at 1:25 PM on November 5, 2008


Obama won; do I have to convert to Islam and marry a dude now?

Yes. Now, what are you sitting around for? Get to killin' those babies! We've got a quota to fill here.
posted by katillathehun at 1:28 PM on November 5, 2008


I don't want to sit next to assholes like the ELF, just because they think their politics are allied with mine

Elvish Linguistic Fellowship? I'm sure you guys can find something to agree on.
posted by Liquidwolf at 1:30 PM on November 5, 2008


If I may be slightly more serious than I have been so far, it is worth pointing out that the Weathermen are viewed through a much different lens than Al Qaeda, Hamas, etc., by most Americans. Many people look back on Weather and other 60s/70s radical groups with a sense of forgiveness, acceptance, or even fondness, because they were part of a sea change in American culture, a change that most people will acknowledge has been largely for the better. This is a very complicated part of our national history, and people are willing, to a certain extent, to tolerate a person like Ayers.

Bullshit. Ask anyone about the Weathermen, SDS (The more radical elements thereof), SLA, Black Panthers, PFJ or the PPFJ or the like and no one will wax nostalgic for the good old days. (well maybe Ayer's will).
posted by Gungho at 1:38 PM on November 5, 2008


but they still believed that it was necessary to hurt people to achieve their goals

I'm not down with bombing innocent people

What? Didn't Ayers and his pals actually avoid killing anyone, even when they were bombing military targets like the Pentagon? And again, why isn't it a problem for more people that Obama is down with bombing innocent people? He wants to expand the war in Afghanistan, exit Iraq at the same snail's pace as Bush does (2011), and to keep "all options on the table" (ie, nuclear war) with Iran.

I voted for him, but it was more out of fear than hope. My main hope for him is that he was lying throughout the campaign and that he isn't really a war monger. Only time will tell.
posted by finite at 1:55 PM on November 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


What if McCain had won?
posted by Restless Day at 1:59 PM on November 5, 2008


Obviously, it was fear of McCain that caused me to completely compromise my ideals and vote for Obama. This was the first time I've voted for a pro-war candidate, so I'm not feeling exceedingly proud of my country or myself today.
posted by finite at 2:02 PM on November 5, 2008


@finite, the bomb in greenwich village that took several of the weathermen's lives was packed with nails; it was allegedly intended for the officer's club at Fort Dix. Bombing your own country's armed forces during a time of war is pretty clearly treason at best. Ayers was probably not involved in this, but to say that the weathermen only attacked property and not people seems to be mostly because the most radical of them managed to kill themselves before their activities has escalated to that point.
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:05 PM on November 5, 2008


What? Didn't Ayers and his pals actually avoid killing anyone, even when they were bombing military targets like the Pentagon?
They intended to cause damage without regard to lives, innocent or not. They changed that philosophy after the Greenwich Village mishap which killed a couple of their own.

And again, why isn't it a problem for more people that Obama is down with bombing innocent people?

It is a problem , but how does a president get elected today without at least saying he'll keep up the aggressive defense? I'm against it too, but how would he get to office otherwise. And he ain't gonna bomb Iran, he obviously knows that's insane. Iran isn't going to provoke anyone to do that. It's just election talk .
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:16 PM on November 5, 2008


I do think we need to make a distinction between approval or disapproval (the latter near-universal) of the Weathermen's terror campaign and a) the ability for Ayers to be rehabilitated by his successive public service and b) the perceived necessity of linking Obama to Ayers. These are all different things.
posted by dhartung at 2:22 PM on November 5, 2008


Ayers was a member of the Weathermen, a group that espoused "violent resistance." Honestly, they were historically ineffective, probably because they were just a bunch of dumb college students, but they still believed that it was necessary to hurt people to achieve their goals. I don't think it's healthy for any civil society to tolerate that sort of belief. Personal opinion? Yeah.

Queen Elizibeth will be delighted to hear that America repudiates George Washington and violent resistance and is prepared to return it's rightful and proper place in civil society as a collection of colonies.
posted by srboisvert at 2:35 PM on November 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


It's too easy to be angry, shout slogans, and blow shit up.

Baloney. If so, why don't more people do it?

Bill Ayers is a great guy. I hope he does get a major political appointment one day. That would be hilarious.

why isn't it a problem for more people that Obama is down with bombing innocent people?

The same reason that John McCain's ticket was actually named "Country First" -- most Americans would readily admit that they believe the life of an American is worth more than the life of an Iraqi, Afghani, or Pakistani.

I know John McCain would. His campaign/career/life has been predicated on American exceptionalism.

That's fucked up, and guys like Bill Ayers know it. I hope Obama does.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:40 PM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


My, what a considered response, Gungho. I notice that you do manage to parse things a bit though anyway with your "more radical elements" figleaf. Well done. I was wrong, the weathermen occupy exactly the same space in the the American imagination as Al Qaeda.
posted by Mister_A at 2:45 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


no one will wax nostalgic for the good old days. (well maybe Ayer's will).

Did you read the article at all?

"...while it still is reflective of his radical and activist politics today, he was guilty of “rhetoric that’s juvenile and inflated—it is what it is.”

“I wish I had been wiser,” Ayers said. “I wish I had been more effective, I wish I’d been more unifying, I wish I’d been more principled.”"
posted by inigo2 at 2:53 PM on November 5, 2008


Only idiots label vandals as terrorists. If you intentionally & successfully avoid killing people, then you're only guilty of destruction of property, possibly reckless endangerment, and possibly a hate crime.

Ayers quite simply never was a terrorist. He was merely a politically inspired vandal that worked a good plea bargain with the federal government because they cared more about him shutting up than about the property damage he'd caused. I'm not even sure you could even nab him under hate crimes laws today.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:54 PM on November 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Talkin bout Hey Now
posted by Restless Day at 2:57 PM on November 5, 2008


If you intentionally & successfully avoid killing people, then you're only guilty of destruction of property, possibly reckless endangerment, and possibly a hate crime.

Except, they didn't. They unintentionally avoided it. The Greenwich village bomb was intended to be set off during an officer's dance at Fort Dix, they just fucked it up. Incompetence doesn't make them innocent. That makes them terrorists.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:07 PM on November 5, 2008


Well, as despicable as Ayers was back in the 60s and 70s, I'm glad that he's still around. I have a certain amount of respect for people who have recanted their former, more radical positions, and have arrived at larger truths.

I see no sign that he's recanted any former, more radical positions. He's realized that the strategy that the Weathermen adopted was a lousy, ineffective strategy, but is his position any less radical? Not according to him:

He mocked one of his earlier books, co-written with Dohrn, saying that, while it still is reflective of his radical and activist politics today, he was guilty of “rhetoric that’s juvenile and inflated—it is what it is.”

If we're going to hang people on the basis of their intellectual juvenalia though, there are quite a few of us -- myself included -- who'd deserve our place on the gallows.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:07 PM on November 5, 2008


I see no sign that he's recanted any former, more radical positions. He's realized that the strategy that the Weathermen adopted was a lousy, ineffective strategy, but is his position any less radical? Not according to him:

So whats the problem? Good for him for staying radical.
posted by Liquidwolf at 3:13 PM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


"The fact that he was right on Vietnam has nothing to do with how reprehensible his past acts were. I don't care what your political beliefs are, if you espouse terrorism, you're a fucking idiot."

Your terrorism is my direct action, and I'll match my political smarts against yours any day of the week, Sparky.

"Bullshit. Ask anyone about the Weathermen, SDS (The more radical elements thereof), SLA, Black Panthers, PFJ or the PPFJ or the like and no one will wax nostalgic for the good old days. (well maybe Ayer's will)."

Hey, guess what? The Black Panthers are not the SLA, and the Weathermen were not the SDS. Your attempt to paint them all with the same brush shows how little you know about your American history.
posted by klangklangston at 3:25 PM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Every time I see someone wringing their hands about oh, how evil the Weathermen were--I think of A Plea for Captain John Brown.
posted by nasreddin at 3:32 PM on November 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


In other post-election news, I'm liking the suggestion of Richard Lugar for President Obama's Secretary of State.

Lugar's not interested.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:48 PM on November 5, 2008


Gungho: Ask anyone about the Weathermen, SDS (The more radical elements thereof), SLA, Black Panthers, PFJ or the PPFJ or the like and no one will wax nostalgic for the good old days.

Who are this anyone and no one you speak for?
posted by JackFlash at 3:54 PM on November 5, 2008


Wow. That Thoreau link was something else.

Voting's all well and good, but more people need to start talking direct action.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:30 PM on November 5, 2008


I think John McCain would have done a lot better if he'd adopted "No Regrets For A Love Of Explosives" as his campaign slogan.
posted by stammer at 4:56 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


McCain would have done a lot better if he'd adopted Rascal Scooters' "Now I can see the world!" as his theme.

Hell, he probably would have done better if he had adopted, "No, I'm not a zombie" as his theme.
posted by klangklangston at 5:24 PM on November 5, 2008



Every time I see someone wringing their hands about oh, how evil the Weathermen were


I don't think anyone thinks they were particularly evil, just misguided, incompetent douchebags that killed themselves before they had the chance to kill anyone else. That said, I do appreciate the bombing of the Haymarket statue.
posted by electroboy at 5:52 PM on November 5, 2008


> Many people look back on Weather and other 60s/70s radical groups with a sense of
> forgiveness, acceptance, or even fondness, because they were part of a sea change in
> American culture, a change that most people will acknowledge has been largely for the
> better.

Plus, of course, they were white and middle class or better, which puts them in an entirely different hey-cut-'em-some-slack-will-ya category from (for instance) those scary Black Panthers the Chicago police shot.
posted by jfuller at 7:56 PM on November 5, 2008


No wildcrdj, Ayers wasn't connected with those bombs. We don't even have any credible picture about where those bombs were really headed. It seems they were building bombs but hadn't agreed on targets. Sure they might have hurt people. Who knows? It didn't even get close to happening.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:19 PM on November 5, 2008


John McCain says his all-time favorite is "Viva Zapata!", a little-remembered, highly romanticized 1952 Marlon Brando biopic. The hero of the movie is Emiliano Zapata, the leader of a (briefly) successful peasant revolt in Mexico in the early 1900s. McCain loves the idea of a budget-class, guerrilla-style war against the corrupt establishment
(emphasis mine)

Well, well, well.
McCain/Ayers '12!
posted by atrazine at 12:38 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, guess what? The Black Panthers are not the SLA, and the Weathermen were not the SDS. Your attempt to paint them all with the same brush shows how little you know about your American history.
posted by klangklangston at 6:25 PM on November 5


I never said they were. I'm pretty sure their social schedules were so busy they probably never had time to have tea together. As far as painting I prefer a roller to a brush when it comes to the wide variety of violent radicals.
posted by Gungho at 4:14 AM on November 6, 2008


It really baffles me how everyone's hating on this poor guy - who merely destroyed some government property, in support of general ideas that most people would actually agree with.

Compare with Henry Kissinger, Bush Senior, Bush Junior, Clinton even - these people have deliberately caused the deaths of many innocents and yet still wander around unchecked.

Consider that the "American military industrial complex" has been responsible for literally millions of deaths (two million in Vietnam alone) and has received inconceivably vast financial rewards whereas this guy's group blew up a bit of property and in fact lost their own lives in some cases.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:32 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


As far as painting I prefer a roller to a brush when it comes to the wide variety of violent radicals.

All the violent radicals in the US put together haven't killed as many Americans as a single week in Iraq does. If you care about America, the real enemy are the evil men who enrich themselves by keeping the country in continual war for the last 60 years.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:34 AM on November 6, 2008


Ah yes the evil men who...the past 60 years? Are you freaking serious. Please move to France if you are so unhappy here.
posted by Gungho at 8:42 AM on November 6, 2008


"As far as painting I prefer a roller to a brush when it comes to the wide variety of violent radicals."

Which is why your opinions should be dismissed as ignorant blather from someone named after a third-rate Michael Keaton movie.
posted by klangklangston at 9:04 AM on November 6, 2008


And no, after Tuesday, folks who oppose the murder by right-wing thugs are the majority—you move. Perhaps to Columbia or Nicaragua. I hear they're still sympathetic.
posted by klangklangston at 9:06 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Perhaps to Columbia or Nicaragua. I hear they're still sympathetic.

Nicaragua? You mean this Nicaragua?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:23 AM on November 7, 2008


Wow, Ortega's back again? Last I had heard was the 2005 elections to the 2007 troubles (stripped the President of his powers in a weird back and forth over corruption allegations). Good (kinda) that they brought Ortega back—he was kinda inept as a Sandinista leader.

I don't even know where else besides Columbia still has a crazy right-wing military government—all the crazies are leftist now!
posted by klangklangston at 9:32 AM on November 7, 2008


And now, William Ayers writes.
posted by Knappster at 1:51 PM on November 8, 2008


and he speaks:
"Let's remember that what you call a violent past that was at a time when thousands of people were being murdered by our government every month, and those of us who fought to end the war were actually on the right side," he said.

So by his example If I beat you until you only bleed a little that is so much better than beating you to death because you know only bad people actually kill. Hell he can't even admit his own violent past.
posted by Gungho at 12:24 PM on November 14, 2008


« Older Michael Crichton, dead at age 66....  |  no fat clips!!! features a cor... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments