I've thought a lot about the visit of Bill Ayers to Pitzer College this Monday evening. And much as I defend his right under the First Amendment to speak -- a right his Maoist-inspired, Weather Underground sought to eliminate -- I'm reminded of how silly the Left on our campus has become. Not long ago I attended the so-called free speech debate at the PSU, only to hear one of the women questioners in the audience say that she felt threatened after PSU invited anti-illegal immigration activist, Marvin Stewart. She said that many students didn't know if they could walk home that night and felt threatened by his talk.
Of course now that we are actually going to have someone who admitted to committing acts of terrorism against the United States, those same voices demanding censorship of Marvin Stewart will zealously defend the right of Ayers to come and speak. Ah, c'est la vie.
OF COURSE, THEIR DECISION TO MOVE to bombing came at a cost. On March 6, 1970, a bomb they were constructing in their Greenwich Village townhouse accidentally exploded, killing Ayers’s girlfriend Diana Oughton and his Weatherman comrades Ted Gold and Terry Robbins. Ayers begins his book with a portrait of how he heard the news, waiting by an isolated phone booth for his weekly report to be phoned in. Shattered, Ayers realized that they were destroying themselves and the time had come to quit.
What Ayers does not mention is that the bomb that killed his friends was an antipersonnel bomb meant for an army dance at Fort Dix in New Jersey. Had it exploded at its chosen target, thousands of soldiers and their dates would have been killed. "Terrorists destroy randomly," he writes, "while our actions bore...the precise stamp of a cut diamond. Terrorists intimidate, while we aimed only to educate." Somehow, the GIs his comrades aimed to kill—or the policemen he might have murdered had a bomb he planted in a Chicago station gone off—do not count. And the GIs’ dates, and the civilians working at the police station, also do not count. Their deaths would simply have been a way of educating people—as Bill Ayers continues to educate them at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
"Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon," he rhapsodizes. "The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them."
CURIOUSLY, YOU WON’T FIND IN AYERS’S PAGES an account of the "War Council" held by the Weather Underground in Flint, Michigan, in December 1969, at which he and Dohrn were key players. It was at the Flint War Council that Dohrn admonished the four hundred delegates to stop being "wimpy" and "scared of fighting," and to "get into armed struggle." Invoking the example of Charles Manson, who had killed Sharon Tate and all her houseguests in the Los Angeles hills, Dohrn declared, "Dig it. First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, they even shoved a fork into a victim’s stomach! Wild!" She closed her speech by holding up three fingers in what she called the "Manson fork salute." Dohrn was followed by one of Ayers’s friends, John Jacobs, who told the crowd, "We’re against everything that’s ‘good and decent’ in honky America. We will loot and burn and destroy." The delegates then discussed how to get weapons, make bombs, and rent "safe houses"—after which they broke into a nearby Catholic Church to engage in group sex.
. . .
In perhaps the most disgusting pages of the book, Ayers describes the brave American soldiers who, coming upon the My Lai massacre in 1968, landed their helicopter and tried to save Vietnamese civilians from other American troops gone mad. This action was finally acknowledged by an official government ceremony in 1998. But Ayers mentions these soldiers only to compare them to Diana Oughton, Ted Gold, and Terry Robbins—who died making a bomb meant to blow up other American soldiers at Fort Dix. "How much longer" will it take to honor "the three who died on Eleventh Street?" he demands. "How much longer for Diana? When will she be remembered?"