Ayers states, in his op-ed piece published in the New York Times on Dec. 5, that he refrained from commenting during the campaign because he saw no way to have a rational discussion. I agree. He writes:
Unable to challenge the content of Barack Obama’s campaign, his opponents invented a narrative about a young politician who emerged from nowhere, a man of charm, intelligence and skill, but with an exotic background and a strange name. The refrain was a question: “What do we really know about this man?”And it continues. Witness the article in Conservapedia by Andy Schafly and the accompanying approval of its contents by local blogger, dad29. One must be capable of rational thought to be able to comprehend a rational discussion. On the subject of Obama and Ayers, Schafly and dad29, and generally the right-side of the cheddarsphere are found sorely lacking.
I was 14-years old in 1970; at that time six years older than the future President-Elect Barack Obama (nice sound to it). While I and friends shared thoughts about the war, we were only vaguely aware of larger protests. I remember reports of bombings and knew that an uncle of mine had gotten caught in a sweep in Milwaukee of protestors by the police and had been arrested. Guilt by looks; he had the long hair and beard popular then. But these all happened elsewhere. In much the same way that small northern communities were shielded from the civil rights movement and meeting black people in general, we did not feel the impact of the explosions of anger toward the war. Regarding these assaults on the establishment, Ayers writes further:
I never killed or injured anyone. I did join the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, and later resisted the draft and was arrested in nonviolent demonstrations. I became a full-time antiwar organizer for Students for a Democratic Society. In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village. The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices — the ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious — as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation.I'm very troubled by these acts of rebellion. Innocent people could have been killed by these weapons, as did occur with the Sterling Hall bombing in Madison in 1970. In the United States these sorts of deeds are looked at with disdain and opprobrium. Even Ayers admits, “The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety and perhaps even of common sense.” He is fortunate that no lives were lost due to his actions, otherwise he would not be writing this opinion in a major newspaper, let alone being the unfocused and often delirious attention of many.
Regarding the dishinesty of the right, however, Ayers is right on when he writes:
The dishonesty of the narrative about Mr. Obama during the campaign went a step further with its assumption that if you can place two people in the same room at the same time, or if you can show that they held a conversation, shared a cup of coffee, took the bus downtown together or had any of a thousand other associations, then you have demonstrated that they share ideas, policies, outlook, influences and, especially, responsibility for each other’s behavior. There is a long and sad history of guilt by association in our political culture, and at crucial times we’ve been unable to rise above it.Ayers is exactly correct. What would have happened if Prescott Bush's very tenuous ties to Fritz Theissen, an early financial supporter of Adolf Hitler, had succeeded in being blown totally out of proportion. Would we have had two Presidents Bush? For all their sins, especially those of the younger Bush, that would have been wrong.
Ayers concludes by writing that “President-elect Obama and I sat on a board together; we lived in the same diverse and yet close-knit community; we sometimes passed in the bookstore. We didn’t pal around, and I had nothing to do with his positions. I knew him as well as thousands of others did, and like millions of others, I wish I knew him better.”
Fortunately, the minions of intolerance and despair failed to sidetrack the Obama Express. With good fortune we all will have eight years to get to know President-Elect Barack Obama better.