Barack Obama does not want to talk about Columbia. Not even to his good friends at the New York Times, who've so reliably helped him bleach away his past — a past neck-deep in the hard Left radicalism he has gussied up but never abandoned.
Why? I suspect it is because Columbia would shred his thin post-partisan camouflage.
You might think the Times would be more curious. After all, the Democrats' presidential nominee has already lied to the Gray Lady about the origins of his relationship with Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. Back in May, in a cheery profile of Obama's early Chicago days, the Times claimed (emphasis is mine):
Mr. Obama also fit in at Hyde Park's fringes, among university faculty members like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, unrepentant members of the radical Weather Underground that bombed the United States Capitol and the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam War. Mr. Obama was introduced to the couple in 1995 at a meet-and-greet they held for him at their home, aides said.
Now look, anyone who gave five seconds of thought to that passage smelled a rat. Ayers and Dohrn are passionate radical activists who lived as fugitives for a decade. There's no way they held a political coming-out party for someone who was unknown to them. Obviously, they already knew him well enough by then to feel very comfortable. They might have been sympathetic to a relative stranger, but sponsoring such a gathering in one's living room is a strong endorsement.
And now, even the Times now knows it's been had. In this past weekend's transparent whitewashing of the Obama/Ayers tie, the paper claimed that the pair first met earlier in 1995, "at a lunchtime meeting about school reform in a Chicago skyscraper[.]" That storyline is preposterous too, but it is also a marked revision of the paper's prior account (which, naturally, reporter Scott Shane fails to mention).
Why the change? The tacit concession was forced by Stanley Kurtz and Steve Diamond — whom the Times chooses not to acknowledge but who hover over Shane's sunny narrative like a dark cloud.
Despite all manner of stonewalling by Obama, Ayers and their allies, these commentators have doggedly pursued information about the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. That's the $150+ million "education reform" piggy bank substantially controlled in the nineties by Ayers and Obama, who doled out tens of millions of dollars to Leftist radicals — radicals who, like their patrons, understood that control over our institutions, and especially our schools, was a surer and less risky way to spread their revolution than blowing up buildings and mass-murdering American soldiers. As Diamond observes, in a 2006 speech in Venezuela, with Leftist strongman Hugo Chavez looking on, Ayers exhorted: "Teaching invites transformations, it urges revolutions small and large. La educacion es revolucion!"
Be clear on that much: Whether clothed as a terrorist or an academic, Ayers has made abundantly clear in his public statements, both before and after he established a working relationship and mutual admiration society with Obama, that he remains a revolutionary fueled by hatred of the United States. And while Obama now ludicrously pleads ignorance about Ayers's terrorism — the terrorism that made the unabashed Ayers an icon of the Left — understand that this rabid anti-Americanism is the common denominator running through Obama's orbit of influences.
Yes, Ayers is blunter than Obama. As he so delicately told the Times, America makes him "want to puke." The smoother Obama is content to say our society needs fundamental "change." But what they're talking about is not materially different.
Such sentiments should make Obama unelectable. So, when it comes to his own radical moorings, Obama is engaged in classic liar behavior. He changes his story as the facts change — and the burden is always on you to dig up the facts, not on him to come clean. Yesterday, asked to comment on the Ayers relationship, David Axelrod, Obama's top political adviser, hilariously chirped, "There's no evidence that they're close." Translation: Get back to us when you can prove more damaging information — until then, we don't need to further refine our perjury.
And then Axelrod gave us still more lies: "There's no evidence that Obama in any way subscribed to any of Ayers' views."
Oh yeah? Well, Mr. Axelrod, how do you explain Obama's breathless endorsement of Ayers's 1997 Leftist polemic on the criminal-justice system, A Kind and Just Parent? As Stanley Kurtz has recounted, Ayers's book is a radical indictment of American society: We, not the criminals, are responsible for the violent crime that plagues our cities; even the most vicious juvenile offenders should not be tried as adults; prisons should eventually be replaced by home detention; American justice is comparable to South Africa under Apartheid. Obama's reaction? He described the book as "a searing and timely account" — a take even the Times concedes was a "rave review."
Obama and Ayers shared all kinds of views. That is why they worked so well together at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), funding the likes of Mike Klonsky, a fellow SDS and Maoist associate of Ayers who, as Steve Diamond relates, used to host a "social justice" blog on Obama's campaign website. With Obama heading the board of directors that approved expenditures and Ayers, the mastermind running its operational arm, hundreds of thousands of CAC dollars poured into the "Small Schools Workshop" — a project begun by Ayers and run by Klonsky to spur the revolution from the ground up.
Precisely because they shared the same views, Obama and Ayers also worked comfortably together on the board of the Woods Fund. There, they doled out thousands of dollars to Jeremiah Wright's Trinity Church to promote its Marxist "black liberation theology." Moreover, they underwrote the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) founded by Rashid Khalidi, a top apologist for Yasser Arafat. As National Review's David Pryce-Jones notes, Khalidi once directed WAFA, the terrorist PLO's news agency. Then, like Ayers, he repackaged himself as an academic who rails at American policy. The AAAN, which supports driver's licenses and public welfare benefits for illegal aliens, holds that the establishment of Israel was an illegitimate "catastrophe."
Khalidi, who regards Israel as a "racist" "apartheid" state, supports Palestinian terror strikes against Israeli military targets. It's little surprise that he should be such a favorite of Ayers, the terrorist for whom "racism" and "apartheid" trip off the tongue as easily as "pass the salt."
And it's no surprise that the like-minded Obama would be a fan. Khalidi, after all, has mastered the Arafat art of posing as a moderate before credulous Westerners while (as Martin Kramer documents) scalding America's "Zionist lobby" when addressing Arabic audiences. The Obama who decries "bitter" Americans "cling[ing] to guns or religion" when he's in San Francisco but morphs into a God-fearing Second Amendment enthusiast when he's in Pennsylvania — like the Obama who pummels NAFTA before labor union supporters but has advisers quietly assure the Canadians not to worry about such campaign cant — surely appreciates the craft.
Obama and Ayers not only demonstrated their shared view of Khalidi by funding him. They also gave glowing testimonials at a farewell dinner when Khalidi left the University of Chicago for Columbia's greener pastures. That would be the same Columbia from which Obama graduated in 1983.
Khalidi was leaving to become director of Columbia's Middle East Institute, assuming a professorship endowed in honor of another Arafat devotee, the late Edward Said. A hero of the Left who consulted with terrorist leaders (including Hezbollah's Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah) and was once photographed hurling rocks at Israelis from the Lebanese border, Said was exposed by researcher Justus Reid Weiner as a fraud who had created a fictional account of his childhood, the rock on which he built his Palestinian grievance mythology.
We know precious little about Obama's Columbia years, but the Los Angeles Times has reported that he studied under Said. In and of itself, that is meaningless: Said was a hotshot prof and hundreds of students took his comparative-lit courses. But Obama plainly maintained some sort of tie with Said — a photo making the Internet rounds shows Obama conversing with the great man himself at a 1998 Arab American community dinner in Chicago, where the Obamas and Saids were seated together.
Said had a wide circle of radical acquaintances. That circle clearly included Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. When they came out of hiding in the early 1980s (while Obama was attending Columbia), Ayers took education courses at Bank Street College, adjacent to Columbia in Morningside Heights — before earning his doctorate at Columbia's Teachers College in 1987.
Said was so enamored of Ayers that he commended the unrepentant terrorist's 2001 memoir, Fugitive Days — the book in which the haughty Ayers brags about his Weatherman past — with this glowing dust-jacket blurb:
What makes Fugitive Days unique is its unsparing detail and its marvelous human coherence and integrity. Bill Ayers's America and his family background, his education, his political awakening, his anger and involvement, his anguished re-emergence from the shadows: all these are rendered in their truth without a trace of nostalgia or "second thinking." For anyone who cares about the sorry mess we are in, this book is essential, indeed necessary, reading.
Sorry mess, indeed. For his part, Ayers is at least equally enthralled by Said, of whom, even in death, Ayers says "[t]here is no one better positioned … to offer advice on the conduct of intellectual life[,]" than the man who was "over the last thirty-five years, the most passionate, eloquent, and clear-eyed advocate for the rights of the Palestinian people."
After they left Columbia, both Obama and Ayers went to Chicago: Obama to become a "community organizer" (the director of the Developing Communities Project, an offshoot of the Gamaliel Foundation dedicated to Saul Alinsky's principles for radicalizing society); Ayers, two years later, to teach at the University of Illinois. Diamond details how they both became embroiled in a major education controversy that resulted in 1988 reform legislation.
Ayers's father, Tom Ayers, a prominent Chicago businessman, was also deeply involved in the reform effort. Interestingly, in 1988, while Obama and Ayers toiled on the same education agenda, Bernadine Dohrn worked as an intern at the prestigious Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin — even though she could not be admitted to the bar due to her contempt conviction for refusing to cooperate in a terrorist investigation. How could that happen? It turns out that Sidley was the longtime outside counsel for Tom Ayers's company, Commonwealth Edison. That is, Ayers' father had pull at the firm and successfully pressed for the hiring of his daughter-in-law.
The next summer, though he had gone off to Harvard Law School (another impressive accomplishment he prefers not to discuss), Obama returned to the Windy City to work as an intern at Sidley. Dohrn was gone by then to teach at Northwestern. A coincidence? Maybe (Diamond doesn't think so), but that's an awful lot of coincidences — and a long trail of common people, places and experiences — for people who purportedly didn't know each other yet managed to end up as partners in significant financial and political ventures.
In short, Bill Ayers and Barack Obama moved in the same circles, were driven by the same cause, and admired the same radicals all the way from Morningside Heights to Hyde Park. They ended up publicly admiring each other, promoting each other's work, sitting on the same boards, and funding the same Leftist agitators.
You could conclude, as I do, that it all goes back to a formative time in his life that Obama refuses to discuss. Or you could buy the fairy tale that Bill Ayers first encountered an unknown, inexperienced, third-year associate from a small Chicago law-firm over coffee in 1995 and suddenly decided Barack Obama was the perfect fit to oversee the $150 million pot of gold Ayers hoped would underwrite his revolution.