Bill Ayers is getting ready to retire.
Bill Ayers, for those who don’t remember is a professor of education at the University of Illinois Chicago. He specializes in school reform, and the curriculum and instruction of social justice.
Of course, back in the 60s/70s, Ayers was also a national leader of the Weather Underground ( a group he co-founded). While ending the war in Vietnam may have been a fairly noble cause, they meet just about any definition of a terrorist organization, and may have prolonged the war by tempering anti-war responses from the middle class.
I have read a few interview with Ayers. He seems ambiguously apologetic about some of his actions (using the term “symbolic acts of extreme vandalism” to mean bombings and arsons), while steadfastly maintaining that he was right about opposing involvement in Vietnam (I can’t fault his opinion). However all these years later, he seems unable to admit that his actions were wrong.
Back in the 1970s, Ayers wrote a piece which he dedicated to Sirhan Sirhan … you might remember he was the man who assassinated Robert Kennedy in 1968. You would think that Ayers was a stone cold reactionary Republican, but apparently he approved of those who used cold blooded murder to make a point. I don’t know enough to know if that is his stand today, but at one point, it must have been.
With Ayers retirement, the question or granting emeritus status came up. Shockingly, he was denied this honor unanimously by the UIC Board. One memer of the Board made a very short and simple statement before the vote:
I intend to vote against conferring the honorific title of our university to a man whose body of work includes a book dedicated in part to the man who murdered my father, Robert F. Kennedy. There is nothing more antithetical to the hopes for a university that is lively and yet civil, or to the hopes of our founding fathers for their great experiment of a self-governing people, than to permanently seal off debate with one’s opponents by killing them.
Chris Kennedy, the board member, is the president of the Merchandise Mart, which until ten years ago was owned by the Kennedy family. He was also the 8th of Robert F. Kennedy’s eleven children.
Unless you are really willing to part with the mistakes of the past, you can be sure it will come back and bite you one day … whether you are a self-proclaimed patriot standing fast against change or a self-proclaimed communist wishing to change almost everything.