During the 2008 presidential campaign, former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers kept a low profile and attempted to play down any connections between himself and candidate Barack Obama. On election day, however, Ayers began a series of media events aimed at recasting himself as an elder statesman of the "progressive" community and the victim of a right-wing "demonizing" campaign. He is capitalizing on the recent interest in his radical past to promote the current re-release of his 2001 memoir, Fugitive Days.
While the Obama faithful were gathering at Chicago's Grant Park on November 4 for the expected victory announcement and celebration, the New Yorker's editor-in-chief David Remnick was engaging in an extended (and sympathetic) conversation with Ayers a couple blocks away, on the front porch of the home Ayers shares with his wife Bernadine Dohrn, his partner in terror. The pricey Ayers-Dohrn home in the coveted Hyde Park neighborhood is also just a couple blocks from the Obamas' mansion. Remnick, who didn't challenge any of Ayers' self-serving and easily disprovable contentions, rushed the front-porch interview onto the New Yorker's website as a hot online exclusive. He was likely racing against his colleague, Washington Post reporter Peter Slevin, who had beaten him to Ayers' front porch, and published a nearly identical fawning online story the same day.
Historian Ron Radosh, a former '60s radical who was a member of the Young Communist League, does an excellent job of taking Remnick to task for serving up Ayers' weathered propaganda. Radosh's October 2001 review of Fugitive Days still serves as a ringing indictment of Ayers' continuing and unapologetic commitment to the totalitarian ideology that propelled his terrorist deeds as a Weatherman.
On November 14, Ayers scored his biggest media coup so far, an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" in two segments (click here). In a pleasant surprise, his interviewer, Chris Cuomo, didn't let him off Scott-free; Cuomo made him squirm a number of times about his continuing refusal to repudiate his earlier violence and suggested he was being "evasive" about his ties to Obama. (During the campaign, both Obama and Ayers camps repeated the line that Ayers was just a "guy in the neighborhood." In his newly reissued book, Ayers refers to Obama as a "neighbor and family friend."
However, Cuomo allowed Ayers to get away with several egregious lies, the most important being Ayers' claim that he, his wife Bernadine Dohrn, and the Weather Underground Organization (WUO) were not terrorists because they "never hurt or killed anyone." Much of the liberal Establishment media have not only allowed him to repeat this claim unchallenged, but have gone even further, repeating it outside of Ayers' own quotes, as though it is now an accepted fact. Ayers, Dohrn, and the WUO are thus cast as Robin Hoods, not terrorists, because they only targeted government property associated with the Vietnam War (they say), not people.
Here are just a few facts that responsible journalists should keep in mind when interviewing Ayers or writing about him, Dohrn, or the WUO:
• Myth No. 1: "We weren't terrorists ... we never hurt or killed anyone."
We have already exploded this lie, as well as many other lies, myths, and misunderstandings about the WUO in our extensive October 27 article on this subject and our follow-up October 31 article and video posting on Larry Grathwohl's devastating testimony.
However, we will encapsulate and briefly expand upon that issue here. San Francisco Police Sgt. Brian V. McDonnell was murdered by a bomb planted at the police station on February 16, 1970. Officer Robert Fogarty was permanently maimed and Officers Ron Martin, Al Arnaud, Robert O'Sullivan, and Frank Rath were also injured. According to Larry Grathwohl, "Billy Ayers" (as he was known in the WUO) told him he had planned the bombing and Bernadine Dohrn had actually planted the bomb. The bomb, like other WUO explosives, was an anti-personnel bomb, packed with nails, staples and other shrapnel, with the intention of killing and wounding people.
The same month, Grathwohl testifies, Ayers gave instructions for similar bombings in Detroit at the Detroit Police Officers' Association (DPOA) building and the 13th Precinct station. When Grathwohl argued with Ayers that the DPOA blast would also hit an African-American restaurant next door, killing innocent black civilians, Ayers coldly replied: "Innocent people have to die in a revolution." If Grathwohl hadn't foiled the bombings by informing police of the plot, many police and civilians would have been killed and injured.
On March 6, 1970, a townhouse in New York City's Greenwich Village exploded, killing three WUO terrorists who were making bombs they intended to place at a dance hall at the Ft. Dix U.S. Army base. They were anti-personnel bombs and fire bombs; if they had gone off as intended they could have killed hundreds of soldiers and their dates. The WUO terrorists accidentally killed by their own bombs were Ted Gold, Terry Robbins, and Diana Oughton. Oughton was Billy Ayers' girlfriend and Robbins was his best friend. By this time, the WUO had adopted revolutionary theory for sexual relations as well. Ayers led a "smash monogamy" campaign in which he argued that couples must split up and all revolutionaries must engage in group sex in order "to build a collective" and end bourgeoisie sexual hang-ups. Although Ayers and Oughton had split up, they were still considered a couple by many in the WUO. It is very unlikely that Ayers was not directly involved in planning the Fort Dix bombings. Two survivors of the blast, Cathy Wilkerson and Kathy Boudin, would continue on with the WUO and would remain close to Ayers and Dohrn.
On October 20, 1981 members of the WUO — now going under the name May 19 Communist Organization — and the Black Liberation Army (BLA, a spin-off of the Black Panther Party) robbed a Brinks armored truck in Nanuet, New York, murdering guard Peter Paige and nearly killing guard Joe Trombino. The getaway van, driven by Kathy Boudin, was stopped by police in Nyack, N.Y. Boudin, feigning innocence and fear, convinced the police officers to lower their weapons. That was part of the plan; caught off guard, the police came under immediate automatic weapons fire from the terrorists in the back of the van. Officer Waverly Brown, who was hit with several rounds, collapsed on the ground. One of the terrorists walked up to his prostrate body and executed him at point-blank range with several shots from a 9mm handgun. Officer Edward O'Grady, who was hit several times with M16 rounds, died later in a hospital operating room. Officer Artie Keenan was wounded in the gunfight.
The year before the Brinks robbery/shootout, Ayers and Dohrn, like other WUO terrorists, had surfaced and turned themselves in. Ayers got off without any charges. (He would later infamously gloat: "Guilty as hell, free as a bird — America is a great country.") Dohrn, who was charged with aggravated battery and jumping bail, was fined $1,500 and given three years of probation. In 1982 she was subpoenaed by a grand jury in New York concerning the Brinks robbery/murders. She refused to testify, spending seven months in jail, waiting for the grand jury to adjourn. Why did the grand jury subpoena her? This is a very important point, since it goes directly to evidence indicating that Ayers and Dohrn were still connected to the WUO and their terrorist activities even after coming back above ground. The Brinks/Nyack investigation showed that the female WUO/BLA/M-19 terrorists had used fake IDs for the operation that were traced back to identification stolen from customers of a high-priced boutique for baby children's apparel on Manhattan's Upper West Side called Broadway Baby. And, it turned out, the manager for the store when the identification was stolen was none other than Bernadine Dohrn.
Moreover, when Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert were arrested and sent to prison for their roles in the murderous rampage, they left their infant son Chesa to be raised by Ayers and Dohrn. (It would seem a natural fit, not only from the revolutionary ties of the parents, but from the way they were raising the children as well. Ayers and Dohrn had two young sons of their own: Zayd (named for Black Panther/BLA terrorist Zayd Shakur, who was killed in a shootout with police) and Malik (named for Malcolm X, aka Malik El-Shabazz).
• Myth #2: "The Weather Underground bombed the Capitol, the Pentagon and the New York City Police Department in protest of the Vietnam War." — ABC News.
This is another Big Lie that the media regularly let Ayers, Dohrn and WUO get away with, allowing them to cast themselves as noble protesters who (maybe) got a little carried away in their zeal. Thus, Ayers is usually described as "anti-Vietnam war activist William Ayers," not "Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers." The truth is that although opposition to the Vietnam War was a central issue exploited by the SDS and WUO, it was but one of many issues they exploited to attack America, or Amerikkka, as they preferred to call their native country, which they had rejected in favor of the world communist revolution. This is most obviously proven by the fact that after the United States completely pulled out of Vietnam in 1975 (which is what Ayers and comrades said they most earnestly desired) they continued to carry out their terrorist campaign for several more years.
The real motive force of the WUO, fully exposed in their writings and speeches, is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. This is plainly obvious in one of their most infamous manifestos, Prairie Fire, published in May, 1974, as the Vietnam War was coming to an end. Written and signed by WUO leaders Ayers and Dohrn, along with Jeff Jones and Celia Sojourn, it declares, among other things (emphasis added):
We are a guerrilla organization. We are communist women and men, underground in the United States for more than four years. We are deeply affected by the historic events of our time in the struggle against U.S. imperialism....
We need a revolutionary communist party in order to lead the struggle, give coherence and direction to the fight, seize power and build the new society....
The only path to the final defeat of imperialism and the building of socialism is revolutionary war....
Revolutionary war will be complicated and protracted. It includes mass struggle and clandestine struggle, peaceful and violent, political and economic, cultural and military, where all forms are developed in harmony with the armed struggle....
Our final goal is the destruction of imperialism, the seizure of power, and the creation of socialism.
Clearly, Ayers & Dohrn are not "anti-war" per se, because, as evidenced above, they openly call for "revolutionary war." They fully identify with the communist regimes in North Vietnam, Cuba, China, and the Soviet Bloc, and have adopted the communist line that fighting against the United States is fighting "imperialism," "racism," "colonialism," "oppression," "exploitation," etc. The entire Prairie Fire manifesto has been scanned and placed online, along with excellent explanatory notes.
It was apparent long before publication of Prairie Fire, however, that the Weathermen were not "anti-war." After all, they called their three-day gathering in Flint, Michigan in December 1969 the "War Council." It was presided over by Ayers, Dohrn, Tom Hayden, Mark Rudd, and John Jacobs. Bernadine Dohrn demonstrated the kind of "idealism" motivating the revolutionaries when she praised the recent grisly murder spree of Charles Mason and his cult gang: "Dig it! First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into a victim's stomach! Wild!" Dohrn then held up three fingers in a Manson "fork salute."
A few months later, on May 21, 1970, Bernadine Dohrn was the voice of the WUO when they issued their "Declaration of War" against the United States. She recorded the taped message for radio, which began: "Hello, this is Bernadine Dohrn. I'm going to read a Declaration of a State of War. This is the first communication from the Weatherman Underground."
In Destructive Generation, a thoughtful and dramatic examination of the 60s' radicalism of which they were central players, former New Left activists David Horowitz and Peter Collier explain why they left comrades like Ayers, Dohrn, and Hayden behind:
In part, our leaving was motivated by what we no longer wanted to be. Hatred of America, which for us had coincided with the War in Vietnam, ended with America's defeat in Vietnam. For many of our old friends it did not. For them, this hatred had become a sort of addiction. They could not do without the rush of seeing themselves as a moral vanguard leading the way to the utopia that America was presumed to block. No matter that in Vietnam (and everywhere else) this utopia had turned out to be an oppressive nightmare, a terror state.
Ayers and Dohrn are still addicted to that hatred. That is palpably evident in their writing, speeches, and interviews, as well as in the terrorists and terror-state dictators they still consider "comrades": Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, the Sandinistas, etc.
Along these lines, it is worth noting that Ayers still associates with one of the most notorious and influential hate-America groups from his SDS-Weatherman days. On November 7, Ayers published an apologia under his own byline for In These Times, entitled "What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been." To the casual reader it may be apparent that the publication is politically way left of center, but few would realize from the content alone how really far left it is. In These Times (ITT) is a longtime subversive magazine founded and published by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a radical Marxist-Leninist organization with strong ties to the Soviet KGB and Cuban DGI. With few exceptions, the ITT/IPS cadres have always favored communist regimes, terrorist groups, revolutionary movements and radicals of every stripe — as long as they spew sufficient venom against the United States. This is the toxic company in which Ayers is most comfortable and the political stripe with which he should be identified.
For more information about Ayers, Obama, and the Weather Underground, see the following articles from The New American:
See also the 420 pages of documents on the Weather Underground released by the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).