Ayers Targets Media

Amanda Carpenter
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Posted: Nov 17, 2008 4:41 PM
Domestic terrorist William Ayers spoke about his “brush with celebrity" and bashed the media's discussion of his relationship with President-elect Barack Obama in speech to Georgetown Law School Students Monday afternoon.

"I can't watch the crap," Ayers said of the media's attention to his friendship with Obama. "And I certainly can't watch anything about myself."

He said most of his opposition was comprised "mostly of  middle-aged men who are ventilating on their computer in their mother's basements who are sweating profusely" and told students, "if you ingest way too much Fox News you are going to be confused by a lot of things."

Ayers called former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's charge Obama "palled around with terrorists" a "lie on every level."

"I am a little bit stunned that the grown-up media didn't put an end to [it] and that was the guilt by association," he said. "It doesn't matter who you talk to."

Ayers denied ever committing any terrorist acts to the law students. "Not only did I never kill or injure another person, but the Weather Underground in its six years did not injure or kill another person." He said he did things that were "certainly illegal, but to call it terrorism stretches the door to mean anything you don't approve of."

He expressed no remorse for his group's illegal actions. "I don't think anyone was brilliant and I don't think anyone was horrible. Each one did what they did."

Ayers freely spoke on a variety of current events, saying it was time to "get rid of the insane metaphor of the war on terror" to close Guantanamo Bay and to "fight for gay rights in California and everywhere else."

At one point he encouraged the audience to clap to celebrate Obama's election, calling his November 4 acceptance speech "an extraordinary event" that was "not only unforgettable, but inevitable." He described the feeling in Grant Park on Election Night as "overwhelming joy and a large dose of relief."

During the question and answer session of the event a student who identified himself as someone pursuing a career in the military asked Ayers "Do you wish harm on me? Do you wish to kill me?" The student, named Luke, told Ayers it was a "disgrace" he was allowed to speak on campus.

"It's not a sad comment on the university to allow me to speak here," Ayers answered. "You cannot move forward as a society unless you engage in a dialogue with people you disagree with...you have to be willing to accept there are a range of opinions across the board." Ayers said it would be a "disaster" for the university to sanction student groups from allowing him on campus.

(The event was hosted by Georgetown Law National Lawyers Guild as a part a “progressive speaker series.”  A National Lawyers Guild organizer introduced Ayers as a person who has “maintained his commitment to social justice in different ways, in different contexts.”)

 Ayers was booked by the organization to discuss his forthcoming book “Race Course Against White Supremacy” authored with his wife Bernadine Dohrn, whom he described as "cute" for visiting with convicted inmates for previous research.

Security was high at the event, with police guarding all exits.  Roughly 80 people attended. Two male students, Austin Tice and John Masslon, stood in the back of the room with their backs turned to Ayers in silent protest of the speech. The men were among several members of the audience who were angered Ayers was speaking on campus.

Ayers opened his discussion by talking about the serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Ayers said he was disturbed by the media hysteria celebrating his court-ordered execution. “There was something about it that was sickening to me, there was something about the glee….what were we being happy about?" This, he said, is part of what inspired him to begin opposing capital punishment.

Ayers called for a more "balanced view of justice."

"Everyone of us is a full human being deserving of our respect and our rights," said the man who helped plan the bombings of several federal buildings.

This is the second major appearance Ayers has granted, breaking his silence since Barack Obama was elected president. In a reissued edition of his tome, “Fugitive Days” Ayers describes the President-elect as a “family friend.” Last Friday, Ayers granted an interview to Good Morning America to discuss his reissued book

Ayers is also scheduled to attend a book signing at a liberal Washington bookstore and bar, Busboys & Poets, Monday evening.