Monday, November 10, 2008

Shame on The New Yorker for softballing William Ayers

Now that the election is over Obama's criminal colleague can make money from his notoriety. William Ayers was on a team that made bombs to kill people. And the New Yorker is helping with a softball interview. Ron Radosh at Pajamas Media Shame on The New Yorker and its editor David Remnick for playing a role in the attempt of Bill Ayers and his publisher to resurrect both Ayers’ book and his reputation. Beacon Press has announced that they are releasing an updated version of Ayers’ 2001 book Fugitive Days on November 12th, a publication date purposely held until after the election. As most everyone knows, the original edition had the misfortune of being published on 9/11/2001, a date that led to cancellation of Ayers’ book tour, and to reams of negative publicity. The last thing the American public wanted to hear about was the glamorization of a 1960’s terrorist. But in our celebrity driven culture, the attention to Ayers in the election campaign has made him a hot number, and he has decided to make his views known in a new afterword that appears at the end of the book. And now the current edition of the elite Manhattan weekly has helped Ayers in his new campaign, with a fawning “Talk of the Town” article. That the piece is written by its editor-in-chief David Remnick, a first rate writer and a very smart man, makes it even more inexcusable. Remnick lets Ayers get away with almost every point about his time in The Weather Underground. Attacks on him were all “guilt by association; ” he was made a “cartoon character.” Ayers expresses sympathy with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who also was, Ayers told Remnick, “treated grotesquely and unfairly.” Evidently listening to, watching and reading Wright’s actual sermons is not enough for one to be allowed to render judgment. Most egregious is that Remnick also lets Ayers get away with his excuse that he never meant to imply in the 2001 Times article about him that he wished they had engaged in more violence and bombings. When he told them “I wish I had done more,” Ayers claims, “it doesn’t mean I wish we’d bombed more shit.” He never had been responsible for violence against other people, he said. He was only acting politically to end the war in Vietnam. His only sin was to use juvenile rhetoric, and he says that he only engaged in “extreme radicalism against property.” Ayers and Remnick must think people cannot read for themselves. Ayers actually said: “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” Asked whether he would advocate bombing again, he answered: “I don’t want to discount the possibility.” Or as he writes in his memoir: “I can’t imagine entirely dismissing the possibility.” By repeating Ayers’ false excuses, and without challenging or correcting him, Remnick allows his publication’s readers to conclude that Ayers is, not as his enemies have claimed, an unrepentant advocate of terrorism, but a wise 1960’s activist, who has learned bitter lessons and who is now much wiser. I assume Remnick has not read Ayers two year old interview in Revolution and his speech in Venezuela standing next to Hugo Chavez, two examples which alone would quickly disabuse anyone of Ayers’ having learned anything in the past decades. Most outrageous is letting Ayers get away with his claim that he and his comrades only bombed property and harmed no one. Remnick does not ask him about their planned bombing of Fort Dix in New Jersey. The explosion there would have occurred had the bombmakers not prematurely exploded their homemade device while putting it together on March 6, 1970, killing themselves and destroying the Greenwich Village town house in which they were making the explosives. The bomb was an antipersonnel bomb meant to be placed at a dance for new soldiers and their dates at the fort clubhouse. Had it gone off, thousands would have been murdered. The bomb was an explosive wrapped in nails, meant to maim and cause severe pain as well as death. Had it been set off, historian Jeremy Varon writes, “it is possible that Americans would now speak of the 1970’s ‘as a decade of terrorism.’” The New York Times was correct when it editorially commented that the Weather Underground were “criminals, not idealists.” The basic text that presents the truth about the group is the book by Peter Collier and David Horowitz, Destructive Generation:Second Thoughts About the Sixties. The authors spent thirty hours interviewing all the factions of the Weather Underground, and ten hours alone interviewing Bill Ayers. It is to them that Ayers first uttered the words he used at the end of his own memoir, “Free as a bird-guilty as sin. America is a great country.” Perhaps Mr. Remnick should have read the Collier-Horowitz book before setting forth to speak to Ayers. Clearly, the life and times of Ayers’ terrorist comrades is not anything he has any real familiarity with. It is apparent from reading David Remnick’s words that in fact, he has not even read Fugitive Days. Even a cursory reading of the book reveals clearly that Bill Ayers is lying through his teeth in The New Yorker interview. At the end of this blog, I am posting my own detailed review of Ayers’ book, which appeared soon after 9/11 in the pages of The Weekly Standard. I dissect the book and what Ayers actually writes about his experiences and his view of bombing American targets. What he says disproves virtually all the claims he makes about himself to David Remnick. Or does Remnick really believe, As Ayers writes, that his actions were not terrorist, since they “intimidate, while we aimed only to educate?” Ayers also tells Remnick “I wish I had been wiser.” If this is true, how come he writes in his memoir that when people tell him the United States is a great country, he answers “It makes me want to puke?” I ask readers one thing only. Please circulate and pass on my review. The new Ayers release will get much media attention. And I believe my critique will be effective in countering it. Let’s do what we can to foil Beacon Press’ campaign to sell his autobiography anew, and let them and Bill Ayers know that the American public may have elected Barack Obama President, but they have not changed their mind about the sordid role of Ayers and the Weather Underground in our country’s past.

That's just the warm-up. Go to Radosh's blog to read his full review of Ayers' book.

No comments: