This afternoon I learned that Bill Ayers has been invited to speak to high school students in the suburb of Naperville Illinois where he will discuss his days in the Weather Underground. (h/t Doug Ross Journal). The school district is defending the decision with the laughable claim that they would never invite anyone to the school that advocated violence. No kidding, this isn't a joke.
"While we firmly believe in exposing students to a wide variety of speakers and opinions, offering them the chance to experience different viewpoints and the opportunity to hone their critical thinking skills (one of the tenets of our mission), please know that we would never invite anyone who advocates violence," District 203 said through a news release issued Friday evening. "Our understanding is that Bill Ayers does not, although this point is being actively debated by several who have contacted us. In addition, administrators from other school districts who have heard his presentation to students, have indicated that Ayers focuses on students being involved in social justice."
Really, this claim is being actively debated? Bombings and dead people weren't enough to convince these educators that violent activism is what Bill Ayers is all about?
I taught my children to be aware of people that hide behind flowery terms such as "critical thinking"' and this is Exhibit A.
Most news outlets that covered the upcoming appearance noted that Ayer's terrorist wife Bernadine Dohrn was also invited in a sort of tag team event. Yet NBC News Chicago failed to note that she was also a member of the Weather Underground and held talks with representatives of the North Vietnamese government in Cuba during the Vietnam war while John McCain sat as a prisoner of war. Neither do they remind anyone that President Obama launched his political career from the living room of their house. So much for critical thinking by certain aspects of the media. Water under the bridge.
Real critical thinkers will see this as a promotional stunt and advocacy stop to promote their books, "Fugitive Days" and "Race Course Against White Supremacy". The Chicago Sun Times notes that the couple may be bumped from the high school but can still be visited later at a book signing in the same Naperville suburb:
The couple is still scheduled to make an appearance and sign books at Anderson's bookshop in downtown Naperville on the evening of April 8. Their books, "Fugitive Days" and "Race Course Against White Supremacy" will also be discussed.
The legacy of the couple has been reduced to a mere mention as a radical by most. This is evidenced by the coverage in the Chicago Tribune that barely mentioned their past. NBC News Chicago simply referred to him as a "one-time anti-war radical" in a caption accompanying their coverage. (see image above)
The school board is slated to make a final decision next week.
Update: Rightfully taking guff for using Wikipedia as a reference. Here is a link to a redacted FBI report that was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request noting that Dohrn and fellow Weather members held a press conference upon their return from Cuba. The press conference was to discuss the planned Days of Rage events that turned into riots.
Update II: Please see my March 30, 2009 update to this article: Ayers Visit to High School Canceled, Book Store Follows Suit
Terry Trippany is the Watcher at Watcher of Weasels. The image accompanying this article is a screen cap of the image and absolving "one-time anti-war radical" caption as it appeared in the coverage by NBC News Chicago. The image was cropped by Trippany to fit into the space permitted.