In 1969, hippies and the Vietnam War were abstractions to me, glimpses from photos in an occasional Life Magazine. I had not heard about the Weathermen.
I was twelve years old. In the following year my main source of normalcy and inspiration—my school day--would be turned upside down. I would go to a high school where riots and the threats of riots were commonplace.
Anti-American forces were at work to bring down America.
While I was worrying about junior high school, Larry Grathwohl, who had just come back to Cincinnati from Vietnam, was infiltrating the domestic terrorist group Weatherman, the only one to have done so. Larry saved potentially hundreds of lives when he alerted the FBI to a bomb placed near a Detroit police station and a restaurant.
Bill Ayers, Education Secretary of Weatherman, told him that in the revolution, lives would have to be sacrificed.
This week I have been traveling with Larry and Tina Trent, who have helped republish Larry’s memoir Bringing Down America, about his days with the domestic terrorists. Tina tells the story as we speak to various groups in Florida this week about how she happened to read Larry’s book in high school in the late 1970s. It was the one truthful one amidst a growing collection already devoted to hagiographies of the 1960s radicals in the library.
My interest in Bill Ayers began a few years ago when I learned about his career as a “Distinguished Professor of Education.” In reality he was working to destroy everything that was good about our education system. Ayers, after escaping punishment in 1980, used his position at the University of Illinois at Chicago, to spread his revolutionary ideas throughout the educational system--in the classes he taught, the books and articles he wrote, the conferences he attended, the dissertation committees he sat on, and the political connections he fostered with Barack Obama and Arne Duncan on the Annenberg Challenge.
One of the things that has encouraged me as we’ve talked to these groups is the awareness of Obama and Duncan’s education plan called Common Core. This is a complete federal power grab with an agenda in line with the educational aims of Bill Ayers. The last refuge of conservatives for education, homeschooling and private schools, will effectively be eliminated under Common Core.