By Thomas E. Brewton
How indicative of his character and beliefs is Senator Obama's having launched one of his political campaigns at the home of his friends Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers?
Who are Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers? And why would Senator Obama wish to associate his political beliefs with those of Dohrn and Ayers?
Might his friendship with these Weatherman terrorists of the 1960s and 70s be a clue to the voting record that led National Journal to rate Mr. Obama the most liberal member of the Senate?
The New York Times reported on September 11, 2001, ironically, the day the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were bombed:
"Life With the Weathermen: No Regrets for a Love of Explosives"
By Dinitia Smith
"I don't regret setting bombs," Bill Ayers said. "I feel we didn't do enough." Mr. Ayers, who spent the 1970's as a fugitive in the Weather Underground, was sitting in the kitchen of his big turn-of-the-19th-century stone house in the Hyde Park district of Chicago. The long curly locks in his Wanted poster are shorn, though he wears earrings. He still has tattooed on his neck the rainbow-and-lightning Weathermen logo that appeared on letters taking responsibility for bombings.
"…[Mr. Ayers] writes that he participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, the Pentagon in 1972.
"…Mr. Ayers, who in 1970 was said to have summed up the Weatherman philosophy as: "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that's where it's really at," is today distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago…
"He went underground in 1970, after his girlfriend, Diana Oughton, and two other people were killed when bombs they were making exploded in a Greenwich Village town house. With him in the Weather Underground was Bernardine Dohrn, who was put on the F.B.I.'s 10 Most Wanted List. J. Edgar Hoover called her "the most dangerous woman in America" and "la Pasionara of the Lunatic Left." Mr. Ayers and Ms. Dohrn later married.
"In his book Mr. Ayers describes the Weathermen descending into a "whirlpool of violence."
"Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon," he writes… He goes on to provide details about the manufacture of the bomb and how a woman he calls Anna placed the bomb in a restroom. No one was killed or injured, though damage was extensive.
"Between 1970 and 1974 the Weathermen took responsibility for 12 bombings, Mr. Ayers writes, and also helped spring Timothy Leary (sentenced on marijuana charges) from jail.
"Today, Mr. Ayers and Ms. Dohrn, 59, who is director of the Legal Clinic's Children and Family Justice Center of Northwestern University, seem like typical baby boomers, caring for aging parents, suffering the empty-nest syndrome."
To understand Senator Obama, and Senator Clinton as well, it's necessary to revisit the radicalism, exemplified by Ayers and Dohrn, that formed their philosophical and political orientation in the 1960s and 1970s. That orientation can be traced back to the European revolutions of 1789, 1830, and 1848, and to the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Implementing social justice necessitated rooting out religion and morality from public life. And that is what intellectuals in the United States set about doing at the end of the 1800s. The process gained momentum after World War I, then the Depression in 1932 brought us Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, dedicated to implementing socialist state-planning. But the partial results of the New Deal were not enough to satisfy the radicalized Baby Boomers who became the student activists in the late 1960s.
Radicals were a fairly small part of the Baby Boomer generation, but their influence radiated widely and deeply, because American society was already prepared to accept at least the superficialities of their message. Not everyone passionately believed that American society was a tyrannical conspiracy to oppress the blacks, Third-World peoples, and college students. But American intellectuals had been preaching since the 1880s that our Constitution had to be changed in order to bring about social justice. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Weatherman, SDS's more radical offshoot, just struck a match and lit the fuse already connected to the dynamite.
Student radicals were recycling the anarchism in the United States of the 1890s to 1920s that had preached the virtues of dynamite, killing and wounding hundreds of innocent people across the nation.
In addition to dynamite, anarchists and socialist advocates of social justice historically have favored any behavior, such as sexual promiscuity and indulgence in drugs, that challenged accepted standards of social and political conduct.
After the riots, burnings, lootings, and bombings of that period, the Boomer ethos metamorphasized from terrorist action into self-absorbed sensual gratification. Dropping out and doing drugs became a replacement for dynamite in the war to destroy old ideas of civic virtue.
Today those radicals of the 60s and 70s are passionately ready to follow a new leader who promises to change everything.
The alarming question is what hidden agenda for change does he represent?
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776
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