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Local News / Politics

Saturday, 7 February, 2009 11:07 AM

Bill Ayers & U of M: Palling Around In Ann Arbor


Bill Ayers addresses some shiny, happy Ann Arborites at U of M's Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library.

by Mike Wrathell


ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Former U of M student Bill Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn, formerly #1 on the FBI's Most Wanted, were in Ann Arbor on Monday, guests of U of M and Shaman Drum Bookstore. When introduced by a U of M librarian and the bookstore owner, Bill and Bernadine got a disturbingly warm round of applause for a pair of "washed-up terrorists," to paraphrase Senator John McCain. The applause was not as loud as the bombs they set off all over our nation, but still, it was loud enough to disturb me deeply. One hand clapping would have disturbed me, too, though, in the interest of full disclosure.....

Ayers said he would not defend the bombings The Weather Underground did back in the 1960's to protest the Vietnam War and other pet issues, but said one of the group's shortcomings was "we didn't doubt." Nothing like a bunch of self-righteous rich college kids with bombs, huh? Ms. Dohrn added, "We were never terrorists." But can you believe a terrorist when they say they are not a terrorist? The majority of the crowd of 200 or so people at U of M's massive graduate library seemed to buy their bosh hook, line, and sinker. Bill did not mention his old flame Diana Oughton, who, along with two other Weather Underground members, died while making a nail bomb in New York City in 1970.

A few days ago, The Detroit Free Press asked Ayers about The Weather Underground plot to blow up the 13th Precinct in Detroit. He denied any knowledge of it. I was planning on asking him about it, and was going to wear my late father's "15th Precinct" ball cap. My dad's nickname was "Ratman" when he was a Detroit police officer, and, later, a sergeant. Instead, I wore the CIA ball cap I got at Ground Zero. I was a big hit.

That question bearing no fruit, I thought of one that he hadn't been asked, as far as I know. I wrote it on an index card that was placed on each chair as I walked in the room, early enough to get an aisle seat. "Why did you trample on the American flag on the August 2001 cover of "Chicago" magazine, an act that could be interpreted as hating America itself, and will you apologize for this act?"

Luckily, during the Q & A after their spiels mercifully ended, the master librarian of U of M, who seemed so very pleased with himself for hosting such illustrious washed-up domestic terrorists, read them my question. Ayers and Dohrn had stood together at the podium for the preceding questions and answered them with tag-team spiel, but for this one Bernadine made Bill take it on the chin alone. We later found out why. He approached the podium tentatively, like a boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

First, he sidestepped all responsibility by saying it was his publicist's idea, then he attacked me for a "false narrative" for questioning his love of country, yet he did not seize the moment to assure the gathering of his love of America. As one who has described himself as a "street communist," and one who wants to demilitarize America and be mere equals with nations like Iran and North Korea who supply terrorists, it did not surprise me at all, and had he said he loved America, I suspect it would have rung false, even, perhaps, to an Ann Arborite. Perhaps.

Bernadine then got up and mentioned all the "faux patriots" who brandished American flags after 9/11, a month after her little street communist husband's dastardly magazine covershot. I suppose trampling on the American flag is the mark of a true patriot in their little red book? By the way, Ayers said the photo only appeared online. He also said it was pre-9/11, as another paltry, sheepish excuse.

Ms. Dohrn did do one thing cool, though. She said she walked out of the room before brave little Billy posed for the "Chicago" magazine photographer. "It was just stupid," she explained a bit later. The crowd laughed with her, and I smiled, having drawn them out, finally, after over an hour of washed and faded rhetoric. They must have mentioned MLK a half trillion times, even though he was for non-violent protest. Her statement goes along well with her obsequious husband's statement: "There are a lot of educated fools in the world." Yeah, Bill, we know. Look in the mirror, bucco!

Yes, Bill, you are a fool if you think trampling on the American flag is the sign of a true patriot and putting a flag on the antennae of your car like I did after 9/11 is the act of a faux patriot. America is the home of the brave, yet you can't apologize for anything at all. Yeah, Vietnam was highly protestable. Okay. Even General Douglas MacArthur thought America should avoid wars on the Asian continent. But bombing domestic targets is not the sort of dissent our Founding Fathers allowed in the Constitution. And you trampled on the flag in 2001!

Ms. Dohrn said it is a "strange world and culture that we live in." Yes, but those bombs of yours, you made yourself. It was not our culture that made them. Take some responsibility. She is actually a lawyer now, like me, sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Scary. Maybe that is why she felt a need to distance herself from obsequious Bill who does whatever his publicist tells him to do, apparently. What a "leader." For being one of the "leaders" of The Weather Underground, he sure can be a real sheep, my apologies to sheep. At least Bernadine knew it was a baaaahhhhhhddd idea and walked away from it.

The next question was a soft beachball about how their marriage has lasted all these years. Maybe U of M President Mary Sue Coleman asked that one. Bernadine said that Bill was such a fun guy to be around. "Like when I stand on the flag?" he queried. "No, that was just stupid," Bernandine responded back. The crowd laughed. It was the first time I ever saw Bernadine in a positive light. Ann Arbor was part of America for that one moment......just kidding......*s*

I had succeeded in driving a public wedge between two washed-up domestic terrorists who were drawn together romantically by an early-detonated nail bomb, a bomb that may have killed more than just three bad actors had it gone Bill Ayers' way. Bill Ayers said that Bernadine had been with the wrong man for 37 years. I am not sure what that means. Maybe she was involved with one of the two men who died with Diana Oughton from the nails being rocketed into their vital organs in that Greenwich Village apartment. Maybe she was with both of them. I saw the documentary "The Weather Underground" and they were into group sex, sort of a communist belief in the abandonment of self and property rights. One of Bill's reported maxims is "Kill your parents!" Educated fools, indeed!

U of M should be ashamed of itself for hosting such misguided, though educated foolish washed-up terrorists at the grad library. U of M is lucky The Weather Underground didn't blow up the grad library in the 60's for the ROTC branch it has on campus, in fact.

I used to study at the grad library all the time. I remember floor 4A was cool, my secret study crypt. I learned about Dadaism and German Expressionism there and would not be the artist that I am but for its musty solitude.

Now U of M is in shambles, hosting terrorists, keeping a president with an honorary degree from Notre Dame who seems hell-bent on running our football program into the ground while mindlessly cheerleading for diversity with a bullhorn in the Diag as she rakes in half a million a year!

I had to do something. I diverted my homecoming from a vacation to confront Bill Ayers. I was tempted to throw a large dollop of Faygo red pop in his face, but I am glad I took the peaceful route and called him out on his trampling of the American flag stunt. He threw red pop on his own face by having to come clean about his own behavior for one fleeting moment in his life. I hope the issue dogs him for the rest of his life and other members of the media continue to ask him to apologize. He will not even admit to personal participation in bombings in the 60's and 70's, but this is one act that he got caught red, white, and blue-footed doing, and he needs to be pressed about it until he cracks, and then some. Okay? Please? Pretty please with brown sugar on it? Or do you get a tingling sensation when you're near a pal of our President?

Reprinted by



Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn, sign copies of their books for an adoring crowd of granola lovers.



Bill Ayers smiles, happy at having "educated" many young minds to see him as the king of educated fools.



Watch Part One -- Watch Part Two -- Watch Part Three









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