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I asked, well, what’s going to happen to those people that we can’t re-educate, that are die-hard capitalists. And the reply was that they’d have to be eliminated. And when I pursued this further, they estimated that they would have to eliminate 25 million people in these re-education centers. And when I say eliminate, I mean kill. 25 million people.

I want you to imagine sitting in a room with 25 people, most of which have graduate degrees from Columbia and other well known educational centers, and hear them figuring out the logistics for the elimination of 25 million people.

And they were dead serious.

Larry Grathwohl, former member of the Weather Underground turned FBI informant

When I was a child in the 1960s, I remember fondly my trips with my mother or grandmother to the post office.  Not only were they beautifully appointed in marble and brass with tall ceilings — rather like cathedrals of post — but they had the FBI wanted photos with brief descriptions of the criminals and crimes.  Things like, ‘He is likely to be armed and dangerous. Do not approach under any circumstances but contact the FBI immediately.’ 

Bill Ayers-Dohrn-weather_wantedI was also very much alive and functioning when the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS — recently resurrected with a younger crew), which later became the Weathermen, then the Weather Underground, were on that list.  Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn were household words in our family.  None of the family elders — parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles — could figure them out.  ‘What’s wrong with these kids?  I would love to have gone to college.’  ‘They need a good kick — you know where.’  ‘More money than sense.’  They also felt sorry for the parents.  Maybe in some cases that was true, but the more I read about the families of this bunch of ‘campus radicals’ — as they were collectively referred to — I associated their parents’ wealth with a murky left-wing environment.  I later adopted my family’s theory of conservative parents with criminally rebellious children, but as of last year reverted to my original opinion.  Well, let’s not spend too much time on that.  We’ve got other ground to cover.

Why am I about to relate the following story?  Because it is about a Professor of Education — yep, Bill Ayers — who teaches at the University of Illinois in Chicago. 

Above is a photo I’ve seen many times before.  Bill Ayers is on the far left and Bernardine Dohrn, now his wife, is pictured on the far right. Joseph Cannon of Cannonfire has an outstanding post encompassing the past up to the present, including their friendship with neighbour Obama, who was a child at the time the Weathermen were in their heyday. Here’s some of the stuff Ayers and Dohrn got up to:

Ayers has recently claimed that the intent of their bombs was only to cause property damage. Though I believe that was probably initially true, the Weather Underground escalated. By 1970, their aim, on some occasions, was no longer merely property damage.Ayers group firebombed the home of a Judge (Murtaugh) while he and his family – including his young boy – were sleeping. Murtaugh was a New York State Supreme Court justice, presiding over a trial of Black Panther Party members. The family managed to escape unharmed.

Ayers’ group also was planning to bomb a non-commissioned officer’s dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey, using large pipe bombs with roofing nails for shrapnel, but one of the bombs went off while it was being constructed (killing Diana Oughten, Ayers girlfriend at the time).

The Weather Underground also carried out a February 16, 1970 bombing of a police station in which one officer (Brian McDonnell) was killed and another partially blinded (apparently, a total of nine people were wounded). Heavy metal staples were used for sharpnel in construction of the bomb. This is the case the NY Times is referring to in stating “a 1970 pipe bomb in San Francisco attributed to the group killed one police officer and severely hurt another.” Dohrn was believed, but not proven, to have participated in this bombing.

At the time, this was pretty amazing stuff.  The audacity of it all was incredible, intriguing and scary. (The Manson and Zodiac stories were running concurrently in California at the time, but they were really twisted — too much for me, although they seemed to intrigue everyone else.)  I couldn’t believe my cousins weren’t interested in this, since it far surpassed what was going on elsewhere.  Who cared about sport or this week’s No. 1 single when you could follow the SDS, then the Weathermen, then the Weather Underground?  Why were they reinventing themselves all the time?  And, most importantly, what were they really like? What did they want? It was like stories about the Wild West or G-men, except you could watch it on the news — history in the making, right now!  It defied belief. 

Larry GrathwohlOne person who can answer many of those questions is a chap named Larry Grathwohl, pictured at left (probably in the early 1980s), who was an undercover FBI informant infiltrating the Weather Underground.  There were other FBI informers, but none as good as Larry — the daddy of ’em all.  No one has ever disputed what he’s said.  He’s been widely quoted and also testified before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in 1974.  By then, I was bored with the whole thing, having discovered the opposite sex!  But my disinterest then doesn’t lessen the impact of what Larry has to say now.  At this point, we’ll turn to an interview he gave to Pajamas Media in October 2008, excerpts of which follow (emphasis mine):

When Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn led the domestic terrorist group Weather Underground in 1969, a chance meeting led Army veteran Larry Grathwohl into joining the group. Grathwohl served as a courier, running messages between the group’s leadership (called the ‘Weather Bureau’) and individual cells that were to carry out attacks…

In an interview from the 1982 documentary No Place To Hide that recently surfaced, Grathwohl discussed what the Weathermen intended to do after overthrowing the U.S. government, including what they would do with those Americans who refused to embrace communism [see quote at the top of this post and click on link immediately above for the YouTube interview] …

Twenty-six years later, I caught up with Larry Grathwohl, and asked him about the Weathermen, their leaders then and now, and what he thinks about the relationship between Bill Ayers and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Pajamas Media: … A lot of people have now had the opportunity to listen to you, and contemplate the horrors these people planned. Can you recall who these people are by name, and who the ringleaders of this plan were?

Larry Grathwohl: Conversations regarding this occurred in Cincinnati, Detroit, Flint, and Buffalo. Participants included Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Mark Rudd, Linda Evans, Jeff Jones, and many others.

Pajamas Media: Was this merely an academic matter to them, or were they serious about killing 25 million Americans that would not bend to their political will?

Larry Grathwohl: I suppose you could consider this a purely academic discussion in that the Weathermen never had the opportunity to implement their political ends. However, I can assure you that this was not the case. There was an absolute belief that they, along with the international revolutionary movement, would cause the collapse of the United States and that they would be in charge … This may sound absurd in today’s context, but the Weatherman believed they would succeed…

When I suggested that this might be a difficult proposition they looked at me like I had three heads. They would be in charge! They would be in control! Who would oppose them? …

Pajamas Media: Were any of those Weathermen involved in concocting this plan particularly excited or enthusiastic about the death camps, or was it merely a means to an end?

Larry Grathwohl: Of course they were enthusiastic as it was representative of the success of ‘the revolution’

Pajamas Media: Bill Ayers came out of hiding around 1980, became an college professor, and has served on numerous boards and foundations. Do you think he’s changed in his radicalism?

Larry Grathwohl: Has Billy changed? I hardly think so … his ego just wants him to be in charge. Note that Billy never does anything that involves risk. He has no problem allowing his women to do the evil task, Diane Oughton and even Bernardine, but never him. As for what he might do, hasn’t he said he doesn’t rule out the possibility of future bombings? [Ayers said he didn’t ‘want to discount the possibility’ in this New York Times article from  September 11, 2001. — Ed.]

Pajamas Media: Would you let your children attend a college or university class taught by Ayers or his wife, Bernadine Dohrn? What would you tell parents who have hadBill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn johnbatchelorshow their children exposed to Ayers’ academic programs, like the Small Schools Workshop?

Larry Grathwohl: As for Billy’s ideas on education, isn’t it apparent? Reading, writing, and arithmetic aren’t important! Radicalism is what’s important. Fits right in with the Billy Ayers view of creating mindless soldiers to follow his commands — where best to lay the foundations of a revolution than with the young?

Pajamas Media: Do you think there is there any way that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama could not have known that Bill Ayers was a domestic terrorist? Is there any reason that the American people should accept Barack Obama’s newest excuse about his relationship with Bill Ayers, where Obama claimed that he thought Ayers was “reformed”?

Larry Grathwohl: If we are to believe Mr. Obama, he just didn’t know Billy was as radical as he apparently is. Really? Just like he didn’t know the Rev. Wright was as radical as he is? Obama is a politician and he wants me to believe that he never discussed politics with the Rev Wright or Billy Ayers?

So, what are the education and Obama connections?  Back to Joseph Cannon at Cannonfire:

many members of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge Board of Directors were prominent Chicagoans, including members of the business community. But it’s important to distinguish between the CAC Board of Directors, and the actual ground operations of the CAC (especially as directed by the CAC operations arm, the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, cochaired by Bill Ayers and Annie Hallett).

As one might expect, Bill Ayers is not without an ideological agenda in education (e.g. advocating what he terms a ‘social justice’ approach to teaching; the creation of ‘local school councils’ and ‘small schools’, etc.).

To summarize, I think it’s misleading to call the CAC a ‘radical education foundation’. But I do think that the influence of Ayers and others in the Chicago School Research Collaborative led to funds being used for projects that might be viewed askance by many people. So it is a mischaracterization – but it’s not entirely without a kernel of truth.

I’ve been on the political Left my entire life. I never thought that I’d ever be writing a letter that – in some sense – defends aspects of a Republican attack ad. But I’ve been digging into this controversy for months, trying to ascertain where the truth lies.

Bill Ayers believes that teachers’ knowledge of a subject is less important than their ability to get students to question Western civilization’s values and beliefs. Ayers makes trips to Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and, on his fourth trip, spoke at the World Education Forum there, the theme of which was ‘Bolivarian Education and the Overcome of the Capitalist School’ [sic]. He may know Mr Chavez and his family personally. (More here.) Back in the US, Ayers includes on his syllabus a book called Pedagogy of the Oppressed (more tomorrow) by Brazilian Paulo Freire.  Freire advocates uprisings among the ‘oppressed’.  Ayers also includes many of his own writings in his classes. Currently, Ayers is vice president of the curriculum studies division in the 25,000-member American Educational Research Association. Professor Mary Grabar of the University of Georgia has investigated Ayers’s influence on American education and says in ‘Bill Ayers and the Threat to Education’:

Ayers and wife Bernardine Dohrn hid from the law for the better part of the 1970s, until 1979 when charges for terroristic activities were dropped, as a result of President Carter’s justice department’s pursuit of the FBI and accusation of illegal wiretapping. The couple is still being investigated for the 1970 police station bombing that killed Police Sergeant Brian V. McDonnell. 

Today, Ayers and Dohrn sit on the board of Movement for a Democratic Society, which has been guiding a resurgent ‘SDS’ of student activists who intimidate conservative speakers on campuses.

Ayers laid low until after the election. But now he and Dohrn enjoy invitations on the speaking circuit, many for their latest book, Race Course Against White Supremacy, whose premise is that as long as the U.S. remains capitalistic it will remain racist …

The trajectory of inmate to teacher to bomb thrower to fugitive to graduate student at Columbia Teachers College, and then to ‘distinguished professor’ at a public university that educates future teachers might seem to be a strange one. But Ayers’s influence is felt far and wide. That should make all parents think about the education of their children’s teachers.

Does Bill Ayers sound like the sort of person you would like influencing the education of your children on your tax dollar?

Tune in tomorrow for Bill Ayers’s magnum opus, Prairie Fire — don’t miss it!

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