Before the endless and extended celebration of the election of Barack Obama to the presidency continues, perhaps we ought to pause occasionally to figure out whom we've elected. Is it too disturbing a thought to suggest before you celebrate someone's election, you figure out who you've elected? I'm all for celebrating the election of the first black man to the presidency in history, although I do it with one qualification - America had nothing to prove to itself or the world because it had already demonstrated it was not a racist society, and was the greatest source of opportunity for all regardless of race, religion, or anything else.
Information on Sen. Obama continues to come out in drips and drabs because the mainstream media failed to investigate him during the campaign, and the public paid no attention to the investigations of the alternatives to the mainstream media. What's more Sen. Obama and his campaign often stonewalled when information was sought.
We just got a little more insight into the president-elect with the interview on "Good Morning America" of his close friend, associate, and collaborator, William Ayers. This one interview gives powerful insight into the state of the presidency, the state of higher education, and the state of America. As impossible as it may seem the interview revealed Mr. Ayers as even more despicable and disgusting a character than previously discovered and called into even stronger question the judgment and associations of the president elect. At the same time, it raises all kinds of questions as to what is going on in higher education, when a certified radical, nut case, and terrorist such as Mr. Ayers achieves a high and exalted status in the education community and in the Chicago political community. And remember that Mr. Ayers is not some sort of exception along with the infamous Ward Churchill. As David Horowitz demonstrated in his classic book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, there are tens of thousands of professors of the same ilk now teaching in our colleges and universities.
On a national television audience, Mr. Ayers made some of the most bizarre and incredible statements ever heard, revealing him to be a bold-faced liar, an irrational rationalizer of terrorism and murder, and a man so devoid of decency and rationality as to be not only a continuing threat to America but also a threat to the students and educational system which he seems to have so much influence on as a professor, an author and grant recipient dispensing tens of millions of dollars in furtherance of his goals to radicalize students.
Consider what this man said for the world to hear on television, and then ask yourself how he can possibly be a respected citizen in Chicago, a leader in the academic community, the holder of a prestigious appointment as a professor, and as an author and "reformer." Then consider what this all means to the judgment, values, and behavior of the man just elected as our 44th president.
Listen to what Mr. Ayers said, remembering he's admitted that he and his the terrorist organization he led, the Weather Underground, bombed the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol, a New York City Police station and other buildings: "We did cross lines of propriety, of legality, maybe even of common sense but we've never committed terror."
The reporter then asked, "Really, I have a tough time understanding this. How is what you did there, blowing up, detonating a bomb at the Pentagon, the New York Police Headquarters, trying to target the Capitol, how is that not terrorism?"
Brace yourself for the answer: "It's not terrorism, because it doesn't target people. It doesn't target people to either kill or injure. Let's remember that when you call a violent past, that was at a time when thousands of people were being murdered by our government every month, and those of us who fought to end that war were actually on the right side. There were despicable acts going on, but the despicable acts were being carried out by our government. I never hurt or killed anyone. I was involved in the anti-war movement. I was part of the militant faction of opposing the war, and have been quoted again and again as saying I don't regret it. And frankly, and saying, I don't think we did enough."
So this distinguished professor thinks it's perfectly all right to go around blowing up buildings as long as you don't kill or injure anyone or try to do so. In fact, he implied that if you object to some governmental or other activity, you can protest by blowing up buildings ... as long as you don't hurt or kill anyone.
That's absurd, and terrorism has never been defined as including only that which kills or injures someone or intends to do so. According to Mr. Ayers, if you have a dispute with your neighbor, you might blow up his home when it is unoccupied ... and that's not terrorism. Your neighbor would be obliged to think, "They just blew up my home, but I'm not terrorized, as no one was killed."
But there are more equally fundamental defects with Mr. Ayers' reasoning and his facts. First, when you start blowing things up in this illegal fashion, you can never be sure that no one will be killed or injured. In fact, three of Mr. Ayers' group were killed when the bomb they were preparing exploded. Second, people were in fact injured and killed by the bombing attacks of Mr. Ayers and his group. Furthermore, there is clear evidence that Mr. Ayers intended to kill people. An FBI informant, Larry Grathwohl, has said that Mr. Ayers told him to put nails and staples in bombs to inflict casualties. In addition, when Mr. Grathwohl told him there was a restaurant next door to one of the bombing targets, Ayers said, "Sometimes innocent people have to die in a revolution." Mr. Ayers planned to bomb a social dance for young recruits and their dates at Fort Dix, N.J. How could that kind of bombing be designed not to injure and kill?
What makes it all worse is that he was on "Good Morning America" to promote his book on non-violent protest and he compares what we're going through now to the Vietnam War. So he is obviously sanctioning blowing up buildings now to protest the ongoing wars ... as long as we don't kill or injury anyone. And I'd guess he's teaching this kind of stuff in his classes, and in his books, which have become influential in the educational community. As suggested, a major grant program he worked on with his friend and associate, Barack Obama, involved turning school kids into radicals, not improving their reading, writing, and the like and their test scores. And our Mr. Obama thinks Mr. Ayers has been rehabilitated. That is another great example of defective judgment beyond belief.
Mr. Ayers also said the Republicans improperly tried to demonize him. No, the Republicans didn't have to try to demonize him. He demonized himself by his own words, by his record as a terrorist, by his long and continued record as a premier America-hater, and by his continued sanctioning of violence in pursuit of his aims.
Now if all that's not bad enough, there's more. Mr. Ayers has been defended as a good citizen by the mayor of Chicago, and seems to be treated generally in Chicago as a great citizen and a great educator. You have to wonder how a great university could hire Mr. Ayers and keep him on the faculty. But as I say it keeps getting worse for Mr. Ayers, for our institutions of higher learning, and for our president-elect.
Mr. Ayers is just one example of what has been commonplace at American Universities - advocates of anti-Americanism, violence, terrorism and worse. David Horowitz's book, referenced above, is a great book on Mr. Ayers and professors like him. The book came out in 2006, long before the Obama-Ayers relationship became an issue in the 2008 presidential campaign.
Mr. Ayers is a symbol of what American higher education has become and is in the process of becoming. Mr. Horowitz writes,
"To summarize the academic career of Professor Ayers: An ex-commander of the terrorist Weather Underground was hired, out of all possible candidates, for a faculty position in the Department of Education at the University of Illinois. This required a vote of the entire department. Ayers was then promoted to Associate Professor, a tenured position, and then again to full Professor, each requiring a vote of the entire department. Finally, he was made 'Distinguished Professor and Senior University Scholar,' an appointment reflecting the endorsement of the University's central administration, and an honor not widely shared. This occurred at a time when, as he made clear to the New York Times, Professor Ayers was unrepentant about his former terrorist activities and wished he had planted more bombs. Not surprisingly Professor Ayers's 'scholarship' reflects these sentiments." Mr. Horowitz wonders whether there is an affirmative action program for political radicals at work here.
ABC, on its Web site, in reporting on its "Good Morning America" interview with Mr. Ayers, lightly brushes over the Obama/Ayers collaborations, association and friendship. However, as this column and many other sources have documented, the two were close collaborators and associates in Mr. Ayers radical educational work for many years, calling into question more dramatically the judgment and values of our new president elect. It's too late for that to have an influence on the election, but it is useful information in evaluating and monitoring the new president elect, his values, his programs, and his administration.
One of the most shocking aspects of the whole Ayers/Obama/higher education scandal is how the hate-America and racist types have achieved so much power and influence. The Horowitz book is loaded with professors who hate America, who are racists, and who express those ideas not only in their speeches and publications but in their classrooms as well, where they seem more interested in indoctrination than teaching.
Here is some of the thinking found at leading colleges and universities:
* Professor M. Shahid Alam of Northeastern University compares the 9/11 terrorists with America's Founding Fathers. He believes the terrorists who killed more than 3,000 Americans were willing to die "so that their people might live, free and in dignity." He also says al Qaeda's jihad is a defensive effort against Western aggressors.
* Professor Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones), Rutgers University, Stony Brook, includes such lines as these in his poems: "Rape the white girls. Rape their fathers. Cut the mothers' throats." "We [blacks] must eliminate the white man before we can draw a free breath on this planet." When Professor Baraka was asked by a white woman how she could help the blacks, he replied, "You can help by dying. You are a cancer. You can help the world's people with your death." Professor Baraka is also a leading anti-Semite. But don't assume these types are exceptions shunned and confined to one small academic perch. For example, Mr. Horowitz writes, "In April 2005, the Middle East Studies Program at Columbia University advertised a gala celebration of Professor Baraka's 70th birthday and encouraged students to attend." You would expect enthusiasm for hate-America and anti-Semitic types at Columbia University, which led all universities with placements on Horowitz's 101 list of most dangerous academics. Columbia has eight of them.
* One of those from Columbia is Professor Eric Foner, professor of history at Columbia. He is a former president of the American Historical Association, and his widely used texts have been described as attempts to "rehabilitate American Communism" and put America down. So these hate-America professors not only influence their students, but their textbooks have influence all across the U.S.
* Professor Nicholas De Genova of Columbia is one in a long line of hate-America types. He is fond of saying such things as, "The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military." He called for "a million Mogadishus," referring to the 1993 U.S. debacle in Somalia that cost 18 American lives.
* Professor Angela Davis of the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the leader of a movement to free all criminals who are minorities because she claims they are political prisoners of the racist United States. She was an active member of the Communist Party until 1991.
Mr. Horowitz's book makes it clear that he doesn't object to "the expression of unpopular views inside or outside the classroom." But he does object to professors in four problem areas:
1. "Promotion far beyond academic achievement;
2. teaching subjects outside one's professional qualification and expertise for the purpose of political propaganda;
3. making racist and ethnically disparaging remarks in public without eliciting reaction by university administrations, as long as those remarks are directed at unprotected groups, e.g., Armenians, whites, Christians and Jews; and
4. the overt introduction of political agendas into the classroom and the abandonment of any pretense of academic discipline or scholarly inquiry."
This kind of racism and anti-Americanism, which has such a powerful stronghold at our colleges and universities, has a corrosive impact on all of America. And it is growing and becoming more dangerous. That's why it is so unfortunate that our new president elect has lent credibility to these racist hate-America types by his close association and collaboration with the likes of William Ayers, Rev. Jeremiah "God Damn America" Wright, Fr. Michael Pfleger, and others.
Perhaps what is so disheartening about all this is what Fox News Network's Glenn Beck pointed out - Americans don't seem to care, and seem willing to accept all this as though it doesn't make any difference.
Perhaps the view Mr. Beck was criticizing is best exemplified by Alan Colmes of Hannity & Colmes on Fox, who dismisses all this racism and anti-Americanism as immaterial as America knew all about it and still elected Sen. Obama. There are two answers to that. First, I'm not sure they knew about it in sufficient numbers, as it was so studiously ignored and censored out by the mainstream media. Second, if they did know about it and ignored it, they are wrong. America's survival is endangered by those who tolerate racism and anti-Americanism. We can hardly standup to our enemies, if we don't standup for ourselves and believe in America, as we should.
The great unstated lesson of the presidential election of 2008 is that you have to find out about the candidate before the vote, and not after the election is over. The second great lesson is that it is difficult to do when you have a mainstream media that is defrauding the American people instead of informing them.
Herb Denenberg is a former Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner, and professor at the Wharton School. He is a longtime Philadelphia journalist and consumer advocate. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of the Sciences. His column appears daily in The Bulletin. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.