Bill Ayers to lecture at Catholic college on 'pursuit of social justice'
Berkeley, Jan 22, 2009
St. Mary's College in Moraga, California has invited the sixties
radical Bill Ayers to speak in a lecture series titled "Against the
Grain." The college says Ayers will "discuss his life and work and
their inevitable intersection in the pursuit of social justice."
Ayers, presently an education professor at the University of Illinois
at Chicago, co-founded the Weather Underground in 1969. Originally
called the Weathermen, the Weather Underground was a left-wing
terrorist group that planted bombs in public buildings, including the
U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, and a New York City police station, the
California Catholic Daily reports.
President Obama's connections to Ayers were a topic of controversy
during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Saint Mary's College has about 4,500 students and is run by the
Christian Brothers. The college's announcement says its lecture
series forces students to "step out of their comfort zones"
and "explore new intellectual territory."
The college's announcement of Ayers' Jan. 28 lecture says he is
"noted for his work in education reform and also for his
controversial history as a founder of the Weather Underground."
A group called the "Simple Justice… Not Social Justice Coalition" has
announced that it will sponsor educational activities on the day of
Ayers' lecture to speak out against his presence.
"We intend to peacefully counter Ayers' hateful ideology, which is
not compatible with America's most noble traditions," the coalition
said in a statement, adding that a rally and vigil will be held
before and during Ayers' speech outside of the college's Soda Center,
the event's venue.
According to the California Catholic Daily, the coalition called the
Weather Underground a "domestic terrorist organization" and charged
Ayers with being "personally involved in a campaign of violence" and bombings.
"On March 6, 1970 Ayers' then-girlfriend, Diana Oughton, was killed
along with two accomplices when the bomb which they were building
prematurely detonated," the coalition charged. "That bomb was going
to be used to kill American soldiers at Ft. Dix, New Jersey. Ayers
remains completely unapologetic about his violent past and was quoted
as saying he wished he had 'done more.'"
Ayers' lecture reportedly will be on the topic "Trudging Toward Freedom."
Ex-activist's detention absurd
Jan 23, 2009
Re: Canada bars '60s radical, Jan. 20
We are deeply disappointed in our country. Dr. William Ayers
internationally respected professor of education, advocate for
thousands of marginalized youth in Chicago's schools, progressive
educational researcher and theorist was scheduled to give a public
lecture on teacher activism Sunday at the University of Toronto.
The lecture was cancelled because Dr. Ayers was denied entry into
Canada. He has a conviction from an anti-war demonstration dating
back to 1969. This, apparently, was enough to deem him a security threat.
Dr. Ayers was even denied an opportunity to speak to his lawyer, who
was waiting for him at the gate, and who might have been able to
offer an alternative solution.
As researchers, educators and advocates at one of North America's top
public universities, we are appalled that a fellow researcher,
educator and advocate from another top public university was
prevented from performing one of the core duties of university life:
freely exchanging ideas in a public forum. This attack on
intellectual exchange and academic freedom is disheartening. The
attack on democratic principles is heartbreaking.
Monday was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the U.S. and, a day
later, Barack Obama was inaugurated as the country's first
African-American president. Canada would do well to revisit the
messages of those two highly distinguished scholars.
We demand that the Canadian government put in place a procedure to
allow Dr. William Ayers to fulfil the intellectual responsibility we
have given him.
Dominique Riviere, on behalf of the 21 staff and faculty, Centre for
Urban Schooling, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education,
University of Toronto
In the 1950s it was communists. In the 1960s, student radicals. Since
then we've had a panoply of villainous forces. Lately it's Islamic
terrorists. The common thread is that the situation was never as
black and white as the power brokers of the day wanted us to believe.
William Ayers was on the run for 10 years but never convicted of more
than a misdemeanor. Yet, despite being a respected university
professor, he is apparently still a threat to our government.
Why have successive governments feared intellectuals? Probably
because back in the 1960s, students learned to question authority.
There are many in power today who still prefer not to have their
Backers of the War on Terror are probably the prime suspects. As
Ayers, Arar and Khadr have demonstrated, the bogeymen we are told to
fear often turn out to be the real victims.
Gary Dale, West Hill
Canadian border authorities regularly embarrass themselves and our
country by refusing entry to benign books, inspired images and
politically provocative people. The banning of Bill Ayers is just the
latest in a series of boneheaded decisions that bring derision abroad
and discomfiture at home.
Whether such decisions are made out of ignorance, in service to a
repressive political agenda, or both, the pattern is too
well-established to be considered anomalous. Clear direction from the
top is required to end these arbitrary, capricious and mendacious acts.
Howard A. Doughty, King City
Are they brain-dead, or just trying to outrage taxpayers? They cannot
keep thugs, felons and those previously deported out. They cannot get
those ordered deported out. But they can deny entry to a reformed
radical a respected guest to the country. Perhaps Professor Ayers
would take on the needed task of radical reform at immigration.
Robert Swan, Toronto
Former radical leader Ayers in Ann Arbor tonight
BY DAWSON BELL • FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER •
January 26, 2009
Bill Ayers, leader of a 1960s radical organization, is riding a
second wave of notoriety since being called Barack Obama's "terrorist
pal" last year by then-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Ayers
of Chicago returns to Michigan tonight for a reading and discussion
of his life and work.
Ayers, a 1968 graduate of the University of Michigan who lived in Ann
Arbor until he became a fugitive in 1970, will be joined by his wife,
Bernardine Dohrn. A fellow former radical, Dohrn coauthored several
books with Ayers.
Ayers told the Free Press on Friday that he visits Ann Arbor often;
his brother-in-law is a professor at U-M. Ayers, who formed the
Weather Underground with Dohrn and others after splitting from the
mostly nonviolent anti-Vietnam War movement, recalled that his first
arrest came in Ann Arbor at a draft board sit-in.
Ayers and the Weather Underground were later linked to dozens of bombings.
After the couple spent nearly 10 years as fugitives, only Dohrn was
prosecuted and sentenced to probation.
Ayers, now a professor of education at the University of
Illinois-Chicago, declined to discuss his involvement in specific
acts or to accept the label of terrorist.
Ayers said he had never even heard the accusation, widely reported
during last fall's presidential campaign, that an FBI informant
testified before Congress that Ayers gave detailed instructions on
bombing two Detroit police facilities in 1970.
The Bill Ayers terrorist narrative was a Republican "attempt to turn
me into a monster, which I am certainly not," he said.