Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Days of rage

John McCain may bring up Bill Ayers in Wednesday's "debate." Oh goody. Despite a token mention or two given by him to the alligator pit, admitting that Obama isn't quite the avenging sword of Allah, he still hopes to keep his head above water by demonizing the man's acquaintances. It's a bit like grasping at bricks when you're drowning and many people see it just that way. The country is fed up with the slime, even if they won't quite admit that it's their own side doing it.

Needless to say, or perhaps it's not at all needless, Bill Ayers is not and was not a "terrorist" as that word has been transformed by 21st century events. When he blew up the infamous Haymarket Square statue in Chicago in 1969, the memory of police riots, beatings, arrests and vicious assaults on innocent Chicagoans and attendees of the Democratic convention were still fresh. The meaning of that act was not to terrorize or demoralize Americans, it was to "Bring the war home" because so far the marches and protests of millions of Americans, a majority of whom wanted the war to end, had not only been ignored, but brutally suppressed. Their bombings were designed to not produce casualties, but to call attention to the killing of millions of people in Southeast Asia.

The Haymarket statue commemorated the death of some policemen 1886 when an unidentified anarchists bomb was exploded as the cops were "dispersing" a legally assembled crowd of union supporters with violence. It did not commemorate the other citizens who were killed that day. Eight men who had been speaking at the rally were tried for murder and most were executed although there was no link between them and the bomb. The statue was seen and is seen today as extremely offensive symbol of repression and arrogant injustice by many people, myself included. Nobody was hurt in the 2969 explosion, many were hurt by the Chicago police in 1968.

The weathermen were not attacking America, they were attacking a tradition of brutality, injustice and illegal behavior by a government still persisting in such things after more than 80 years; a government still impervious to democratic reform. It's fundamentally wrong to equate such acts as were seen by many of us as acts of patriotism and bravery although misguided and dangerous, with the acts of foreign fundamentalists looking to kill, to destroy our economy and out influence in the world. There is a word for using a word like terrorist to make a false equivalence between two things, but whyuse it when "lying" tells the story better?

Bill Ayers, an aging college professor was selected as Chicago's citizen of the year in 1996. He has come to know a lot of people in Chicago politics. He's an advocate of educational reform. That Obama has had interests in common, has supported charities in common and has taught at the same major university along with other good men and women hardly constitutes approval of pyrotechnics or should be defined as "palling aorund with terrorists." Such malicious, simple-minded and malignantly dishonest claims as the McCain team has resorted to are sufficient unto themselves as disqualification from not only Presidential character, but from common decency.

I hope he tries it again. I hope the voters turn on him.


(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Great minds think ... alike. Just posted an Ayers piece at the Zone. Actually, I am looking forward to the debate tomorrow night. My only fear is that Obama tries to play it safe. I think he should sever McCain's jugular.

Capt. Fogg said...

I think McCain's (and especially Palin's) over the top attack ads have hurt them already. As much as I would like to see Obama respond, he has to do it very carefully and without showing too much anger - the way he might say "by the way John, your fly's open."

If this is another gloomy day for the economy, and it likely will be, most people want to hear cautious optimism and specific plans, not obviously desperate attempts to tie Obama to a 1960's radical.