The Bill Ayers-Dinesh D’Souza “showdown” on February 3, at the University of Michigan was billed as a debate about “American exceptionalism.” It began with Bill Ayers giving his opening statement, “Every human being is of incalculable worth.” The aging radical boldly displaying his “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt was repeating a line he used at the Association of Teacher Educators conference in 2013, in a 2009 Huffington Post column putting forth his radical colleague Linda Darling-Hammond as Secretary of Education, and ad nauseam in his talks and publications that fill up over 40 pages of a curriculum vitae.
Black Lives did not matter, however, in 1970, when Ayers ordered Weather Underground infiltrator Larry Grathwohl to set a bomb at the Detroit Police Officers Association Building that would have also killed mostly black patrons in the Red Barn Restaurant next door. Ayers as “National Education Secretary” of that terrorist organization never did the dangerous work himself. (Grathwohl described sabotaging the bomb in his memoir Bringing Down America.)
Nor did Bill Ayers care about Black Lives when he and his privileged white comrades urged rioting in inner-city neighborhoods. In fact, in his memoir Fugitive Days, Ayers describes a riot in Cleveland, where he was working as a community organizer, as fun and exciting. Bill Ayers lives in the tony Hyde Park section of Chicago.
Nor did Bill Ayers care about the students who would be taught by the education majors he radicalized as “Distinguished Professor” of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Bill Ayers sees education as “the motor-force of revolution,” as he told the late communist dictator Hugo Chavez at an “education conference” in Venezuela in 2006. Indeed, under Ayers it is, and students are the foot soldiers.
Although Bill Ayers failed (fortunately) as a bomber, his effects on education are incalculable. Ayers has served on dozens of dissertation committees, his nonsensical books are used widely in colleges of education, and he is being presented by PBS and non-profits in their curricula as simply a peace-activist hero of the 1960s. He is spending his retirement as scholar-in-residence and workshop trainer in public universities, a speaker at education conferences, and organizer of protests, while drawing a nice retirement from a public university.
Ayers of course escaped prosecution for his involvement in bombings and attempted bombings. Like many of his generation who tried to subvert our form of government the privileged white radical went on to easily obtain a tenure track position after emerging from hiding and getting his meaningless advanced degrees.
It’s quite different for those of us who have simply tried to teach literature, history, and philosophy in a traditional and disciplined manner.
On Wednesday, Ayers tried to present himself as a champion of education, an opponent of Common Core because of excessive testing. That’s his shtick, but D’Souza admitted he knew little about Common Core. Ayers also wants more money for public schools and free health care, all to—still—be accomplished by eliminating the military.
Ayers claimed not to be a Democrat. Yet, his old pal Arne Duncan was Secretary of Education and Linda Darling-Hammond was put in charge of one of the two national Common Core tests. As I’ve recounted in several places, her aim, and the Obama administration’s aim, is to transform education to make it more in line with Bill Ayers’s view. That’s what the new Common Core standards and assessments aim to do. We don’t know why for example Bill Ayers was invited to speak at a conference in Washington, D.C., in 2009 alongside Arne Duncan and his under secretary and a representative from Achieve, the crony capitalist company behind Common Core.
Ayers and Darling-Hammond have appeared in the same education publications. Both contributed to the Summer 2009 issue of Harvard Educational Review, a special issue dedicated to Barack Obama and the Fight for Public Education. In his essay, Ayers described the euphoria of being in the “enchanted” scene in Chicago’s Grant Park when Obama won the election. “We felt ourselves to be a brand-new shimmering galaxy, a little bit of heaven on earth,” he wrote.
I’ve been writing about Bill Ayers for several years in an attempt to expose his lies and the harm he has done to education. A couple years ago I published Bill Ayers: Teaching Revolution. It’s a short backgrounder. (Ayers repeats himself constantly, and his writing on education is blathering nonsense.) But one should know his enemy and his strategies. Ayers went into education because it was the easiest and most comfortable way he could get others to do his bidding in implementing the revolution. On the evening of February 3, 2016, Bill Ayers was still teaching revolution.