Thursday, December 11, 2008

evading responsibility while peddling books

This is a double follow-up.

I wrote yesterday about use of the term perfect storm by people who wish to avoid taking responsibility for harmful acts. (I'm surprised we haven't heard it from O.J. Simpson himself, though it appears abundantly in articles about his recent conviction.)

A year ago I wrote about two women, one of whom -- Weatherperson, Cathy Wilkerson -- survived the blast that blew up her father's Greenwich Village townhouse. Unlike others in the news she admits past mistakes. In a memoir published last year she repents her involvement with terrorism as an instrument of politics.

These come to mind on reading in today's Washington Post an opinion piece on ex-Weatherman, Bill Ayers. Ayers doesn't use the perfect storm defense but evades responsibility for past acts all the same: The Unreal Bill Ayers
Three Decades After the Weather Underground's End, He's Still Justifying Its Means, by Charles Lane, Thursday, December 11, 2008; Page A25.

{The aftermath of the March 6, 1970, explosion in which three Weatherman militants died. (By Jacob Harris -- Associated Press)}

Lane points out that Ayers is seeking out interviews these days so that he can promote his new books and, as you can tell from the title of the piece, accuses Ayers of evading responsibility for a violent past. Telling us that Ayers now claims he was no terrorist, he writes that the definition of the term Ayers uses is ironically the one used by the U.S. government: "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents." "We did not do that," Ayers told Lane.

Here's how Lane concludes the piece:
To some, the U.S. Capitol, a Weather Underground target, might qualify as "non-combatant." But Ayers said it was fair game: The U.S. invasion of Laos and Cambodia made it "a symbol of empire."

Ayers has been singing this tune for years. In a 1976 tract, he called for "revolutionary violence," as long as it was "humane." By then the war was over, and his goal was "to build communist organization toward the stage where armed struggle becomes a mass phenomenon led by a Marxist-Leninist party: a revolutionary stage."

Hardly the worst crimes of that turbulent era, the Weather Underground's deeds were nevertheless immoral. They put innocents at risk and sowed fear. Ultimately, they achieved nothing except to undermine the peaceful antiwar movement. Bill Ayers should cut the sophistry and admit it.

{Image source: an anti-Obama site}

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