Thursday, February 28, 2008

Still More on Bill Ayers

This guy really does fascinate me, but I hope my small band of readers isn't getting too bored by my posts about him. It amazes me that he ever managed to become a tenured professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago - a "Distinguished Professor," no less.

I just found a review of his memoir, Fugitive Days, which was published on August 22, 2001, on Slate: Radical Chic Resurgent, which is even more cutting than the New York Times' articles I've been quoting. The review begins: "Chatterbox isn't sure he's ever read a memoir quite so self-indulgent and morally clueless as Fugitive Days."

In a Slate article published on Sept. 19, 2001, Timothy Noah writes:
In the wake of Sept. 11, Chatterbox has developed a morbid fascination with Bill Ayers' foiled publicity campaign for Fugitive Days, his memoir of the Weather Underground. As Chatterbox noted before, Fugitive Days tries to pass off armed rebellion against the United States as a sort of lark. In the book, Ayers maintains that he was not a terrorist because terrorists "kill innocent civilians, while we organized and agitated." Chatterbox demurs. Any group that sets off two dozen bombs, including one at the Pentagon and one at the U.S. Capitol, as the Weather Underground did during the early 1970s, ought to be called a terrorist group. (The Weather Underground doesn't appear to have killed anybody, unless you count the accidental deaths by explosives of a few of its members, but the lack of other casualties seems largely to have been a matter of luck.) Remember, too, that Ayers told his followers, "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that's where it's really at." This earns Ayers at least some spiritual kinship to Osama Bin Laden.
He continues about Ayers' marketing problems for the memoir after September 11:
But the post-Sept. 11 environment poses a significant marketing challenge to Fugitive Days. Accordingly, Beacon Press has announced that it will "suspend promotional activity for this book out of respect for all those who died, their families and friends." Ayers has posted on Beacon Press' Web site a statement denouncing "the barbarism unleashed against innocent human beings last Tuesday" and expressing regret that his book should be published "in a radically changed context ... the temptation for some is to collapse time." In truth, though, the main thing this "changed context" does is remind the public that people who set off bombs run a significant risk of killing other people, even if, in spite of their public pronouncements, they don't really want to kill other people.

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