When comics Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announced their rallies on the national mall scheduled for this Saturday, they may not have expected—or wanted—an endorsement from Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers. But Ayers told the Ford Motor Company-sponsored Green Festival in Washington, D.C. last Saturday that the event will be a needed respite from the “Alice in Wonderland” world of military domination of the planet and wars waged by the U.S. “empire.”
The October 30 Stewart/Colbert rallies, dubbed “Restore Sanity” and “Keep Fear Alive,” are “worth attending,” Ayers said.
Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn, once labeled a “violent maniac” by a former gang member in congressional testimony, turned deadly serious at the Green Fest in declaring that the U.S. was no longer a “hegemonic power” because of its economic decline but that its military strength was still a major problem in the world.
Sounding as anti-American as ever, Dohrn and Ayers complained about U.S. military aid to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Israel, and U.S. backing for “repressive” regimes.
Ayers, who is retiring as an education professor for the University of Illinois, encouraged the audience to focus on “community power,” such as what they can accomplish in “the classroom.” He said, “This is the only power we have access to.”
At the sparsely-attended event, Ayers declared that “education is a human right” and put his faith in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
Offering something for the “Green Americans” in attendance, Dohrn said that Americans have to learn to “live differently.”
Appearing together on stage in a talk show format, the efforts by Ayers and Dohrn to gin up the crowd mostly fell flat, in part because the acoustics in a location in the Washington Convention Center made it difficult for many to hear what was actually being said. Even Ayers complained about an inability to hear the questions.
However, questions from this columnist about their communist terrorist backgrounds were heard clearly and denounced by Dohrn as a “pack of lies.” The questions concerned Dohrn’s praise of the Manson Family murders and a book they wrote that was dedicated in part to Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of anti-Vietnam War candidate Robert F. Kennedy.
Dohrn griped that they have become “pawns” against their old friend and associate, President Obama, and that critics of Obama have been trying to depict them as “insane” and “murderers.”
They didn’t mention it, but Ayers and Dohrn had staged a fundraiser for Obama when he began his political career by running for the Illinois State Senate. Ayers and Obama served on a board and appeared at functions together. During the campaign, however, Obama tried to play down his relationship with the terror couple.
“We did a lot of things wrong,” looking back at the time when she and Ayers were in the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Weather Underground, but were on “the right side of history,” Dohrn claimed.
Dohrn may have had some of her former comrades in her mind when she urged the abolition of prisons, calling them an American “gulag.” She also mentioned that she is currently working with a group known as “Ella’s Daughters” in Chicago on “gender” issues.
In response to a question from a European in the audience, Ayers said “we look with envy” at the protests and demonstrations in such countries as Greece and France, led by the Communists, against budget cuts. Activists in the U.S. should “learn something” from the protests, he said.
The hand-outs that blogger Trevor Loudon and I had distributed at the Green Fest called attention to how Ayers and Dohrn had signed a book dedicated to the assassin of Robert F. Kennedy, the leading anti-Vietnam War candidate in 1968. Some of the hand-outs were confiscated by embarrassed leftists before some members of the audience had a chance to see them.
Dohrn would not specifically comment on her well-publicized praise, when she was a 1960s activist, of the Manson Family murders, in which drug-crazed hippies loyal to psychopath Charles Manson murdered a pregnant movie actress, Sharon Tate, by sticking a fork in her womb.
Dohrn had said, “Dig it! First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into the victim’s stomach! Wild!”
In a taped interview, however, Dohrn acted irritated and said “Back away” when asked about efforts to bring her to justice for her reported involvement in the 1970 bombing murder of San Francisco police Sergeant Brian V. McDonnell. Former FBI informant Larry Grathwohl has testified under oath that Ayers told him that Dohrn planted the bomb killing McDonnell.
Dohrn said it was “stupid” and “preposterous” to suggest that she had anything to do with the murder. Asked if she would testify before a grand jury, she countered that she knew of no grand jury investigating the cold case. There is, however, a law enforcement entity known as the Phoenix Task Force that is taking testimony.
Supporters of justice for victims of Weather Underground terrorism have said that Ayers, Dohrn and some of their other comrades like Mark Rudd should be forced to testify about the case under oath.
Asked about the dedication of their Prairie Fire Manifesto to Sirhan Sirhan, the convicted assassin of Robert F. Kennedy, Ayers said the question was “delusional” before walking away.
However, Kennedy’s son, Christopher Kennedy, chairman of the University of Illinois board of trustees, cited the dedication in voting against bestowing “professor emeritus” status on Ayers. “I intend to vote against conferring the honorific title of our university whose body of work includes a book dedicated in part to the man who murdered my father, Robert F. Kennedy,” he said.
As Ayers left the hall, I attempted to ask him about a Weather Underground bomb factory, where his fingerprints were found, that included anti-personnel weapons, stabbing devices, C-4 plastic explosive, and dozens of Marxist-Leninist books and pamphlets. Ayers would not stop for an interview and refused to sit down for a series of questions and answers that could be recorded.
Reminded that he had recommended in his talk that community activists should talk to strangers and not sit around and smoke dope amongst themselves, Ayers said he was only willing to talk off-camera. A representative of one of the organizing groups, Global Exchange, then tried to escort me away from where the terror couple was scheduled to sign books.
In a separate interview on tape, event organizer Kevin Danaher of Global Exchange refused to say much on the record about why Ayers and Dohrn had been invited. Off camera, he appealed for critics to exercise Christian forgiveness, only to be reminded by Trevor Loudon that the unrepentant terrorists have never asked for forgiveness and in fact have said that they didn’t do enough for the communist cause.
Grathwohl, after seeing the videos, said he was intrigued by the methods they used to avoid the questions. He commented, “Bill especially ignored the question regarding the dedication of Prairie Fire to the assassin of Robert Kennedy, Sirhan Sirhan, by turning his back to you and walking away. This is the same tactic Bill used against me at St. Mary’s college in California. He avoided me and ran out the back door.”
Grathwohl noted that “Bernardine appeared angry at being questioned and when she spoke on stage she denied being a terrorist—which she and Bill were—by their own admissions in the communiqués and writings they produced while underground with the Weathermen. She was much more concerned with the millions of people allegedly killed by the U.S. in Southeast Asia but said nothing about the millions killed by the communists such as Pol Pot in Cambodia after the war ended.”
Communist forces based in North Vietnam conquered South Vietnam in 1975, after the U.S. Congress forced the withdrawal of U.S. military troops, and then took control of neighboring Cambodia. The Black Book of Communism puts the number of dead at the hands of the communists in Vietnam and Cambodia at three million. Hundreds of thousands more fled South Vietnam in leaky boats and 800,000 were sent to communist “re-education” camps.
Grathwohl took issue with the claim that Ayers and Dohrn were “anti-war activists.” He said, “If this were the truth then why did Bernardine and Billy continue their terrorist activities for years after the war ended?”
Trevor Loudon commented that it was clear that Ayers and Dohrn “are as much in the grip of their socialist delusions as they were back in the 1960s. That’s what makes them dangerous. They genuinely believe in what they are doing. These are committed people, ‘true believers’ in a cause they will serve to their graves.”