Saturday, April 19, 2008

John Ridley on the Weather Underground

A little background on the Weather Underground and Bill Ayers in particular by way John Widley's blog on NPR:

Back in the day, Ayers was a radicalized liberal in the worst way. Not merely because he and his comrades turned to indiscriminate violence, but because of the reason they turned. Chiefly, their paternalistic belief that blacks could not secure civil rights without their helping, explosive hand to guide them. "Black people have been fighting almost alone for years," read the first communique of the Weather Underground. "We've known that our job is to lead white kids into armed revolution."

Armed revolution.

Going metaphorically arm-in-arm with Dr. King — as innumerable liberal-minded folks of all persuasions did — was not enough for the Weather Underground. They had to blow stuff up. And they did it without regard for the fact that they were essentially spitting on the memory of a man who was committed to nonviolence. Yes, they were partially radicalized by the killing of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton at the hands of the Chicago police. But many vented their very righteous anger without lighting fuses. But many, also, didn't fancy themselves modern John Browns leading otherwise helpless blacks to freedom.

The Weather Underground claimed to want to avoid human suffering. But you can't express yourself with explosives without somebody getting hurt. And the people who got hurt were three of its members, blown up in an accident so tragic it's actually empty of irony.

But I'm sure at the time the Weather Underground figured they were doing something noble.

And I'm sure Ted Kaczynski figured he was doing the same.

The issue, though, isn't what Ayers thought then; it's what he thinks now.

Read Ayers' memoir, Fugitive Days, which was published — in actual horrific irony — on Sept. 10, 2001. Though I have to admit it's pretty well written, it's filled with more paternalism ("A squad of cops in Cleveland had dragged Black men from a motel and shot them down in cold blood, and now we would, I thought, even the score.") and romanticism of what were ultimately terrorist acts. Ayers was also quoted in 2001 saying that he has no regrets for his past actions, but rather he feels that "we didn't do enough." Take a gander at his Web site and see if you find contrition or self-aggrandizement.

What someone did 40 years ago — within reason — should not damn that person forever. But that's assuming offending individuals pay their debt to society and repent. Ayers has done neither.

I'd never heard of this guy, but I am familiar with a few terrorist groups from that era from books and films. It doesn't sound Ayers himself could bring down Obama, but if figure after figure keeps popping up from his life (Obama's) that have politics somewhere to the right of Che Guevera, it's going to harm Obama greatly. And equating members of terrorist groups with politicians he knows who said strange things won't make things better. I hope he realized when he got in this thing that he is running for President of all 50 states, which means all those "bitter" people that "cling to guns and religion" and not just Seattle, San Francisco, Berkeley, Chicago, New York and Washington.

What I would really fear in an Obama defeat would be a backlash by some blacks and minorities that will see it as proof that a black man can't be elected in America. That would be very depressing, since it would have really been his leftism that was his undoing.

By the way, John Ridley has a nice operation going at his "Visible Man" blog. His theme of an "intersection of politics and pop culture" is alot like what I've got going here. Check him out.
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