Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bill Ayers interview on Fresh Air

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the producers and host of Fresh Air. Lately they have been on fire (link).

Today Terry Gross interviews anti-war activist William Ayers. (link) Partial transcript below.

It was very interesting. Now that Terry has interviewed him I expect that Fox News and right wing talk radio will be using the quotes from the show. I expect that they will always credit the source and I expect them to provide complete context (they love to accuse others of taking stuff out of context when they take stuff out of context.).

I expect that they will attack Terry Gross for even having the interview. I expect their fans to send Terry some violent comments. Why? Because they have been getting the message from their leaders, Sarah Palin and John McCain, that it is okay to say "Kill him" at rallies and to never sit down with someone who is considered a terrorist. I hope Terry and her team capture these comments and not only pass them to the police, but post them.

I want others to see that the RIGHT is the source of the violent threats today, not the left. Law enforcement needs to look at people and groups encouraging domestic terrorism against our leaders, no matter what the source. They will look at the left out of force of habit, but most likely the source of violent comments will be the right. Who loves to brag about their guns? Who made it a point to stock up on guns after Obama was elected?

But why would they attack Terry, one of the most skilled, insightful (and tiniest) interviewers in the country? Because she is now someone who "pals around with terrorists". The right wing have been telling us what to do with terrorists for years --often in graphic detail. There already was one comment that was removed by the NPR moderator for not following their comments guidelines. (I can already hear the commenter, "NPR is using MY tax dollars to silence my free speech on their website!" Oh NOES!)

One comment that my friend NTodd at Pax Americana will find most interesting had to do with the question, "Did we do enough to stop the war?" NTodd is always asking us that question about the current wars.

Ayers kept trying to put his actions at the time in context with the time. He asked about the people who decided that the ends justified the means. What do we say about people like McNamara who led us into war? Of course it is different when you are a country and you decide to kill people. You have been told it is necessary to kill people. What if it is proved that the information was wrong? That it wasn't necessary to kill people? Then what? What if you supported killing people and then you found out that killing people wasn't necessary? Is the fact that the country is doing it make all the difference? What if they willfully lied, just to get you on their side and to get permission to kill?

Here is my transcript of the end of the interview. Again, I encourage you to listen to the whole Fresh Air interview with Bill Ayers from the beginning.

Terry Gross: A lot of people have called you an unrepentant terrorist. I think a lot people want to hear you make a full fledged apology for some of your actions with the Weather Underground, such as bombing the Pentagon. So I want you, now that we have heard a lot of your story, to give us your answer to that.

Well you know my answer is that the kind of culture of apology doesn' t appeal to me. If I had something specific to think about apologizing for I might. But it's kind of a blanket statement that what we did was so extreme and so wrong that I ought to just say it was crazy.

William Ayers: "I respond by thinking that it would be a good thing if everyone from that era stood up and said 'This is what I did'. Some people were official apologists for that murderous policy in Vietnam. Some people participated in it, some people made the decisions. We opposed it and our opposition took an extreme form. It was never terrorism because it never targeted and never in fact resulted in death or injury to anyone. We were issuing a screaming response to murder and to terror. And I think we were right in that. I don't think everything that we did was brilliant. And as I said, some of the examples of kind of extreme violence and property destruction could be challenged as stupid, backwards, misguided and so on, but I don't think they can be conflated with terrorism, nor should they be. And I think that I don't feel any real regret for taking actions against this war. But again I'd be happy to stand up and measure what I did and what was negative and bad with what I did with what other people did.

Looking backward I don't see who did the right thing and who can claim that this is the proper way to end the war. Clearly we are involved in a war now. Clearly I'm not advocating any kind of action that is illegal and I've been involved in the anti-war movement from the beginning. However, I don't know if any of us know how to stop this war in Iraq. We seem to be stalled. We seem unable to take the next step. And I'm hoping that we can continue to build a movement, an independent movement for peace that can put pressure on the new administration to do the right, to do the right thing."

Bill Ayers thank you so much for talking with us.

Thank you Terry.
Terry Gross and William Ayers 11/18/2008 (link)


Blogger (O)CT(O)PUS said...

I was a child of those times and remember all too painfully well the war that killed tens of thousands of my generation, and millions of Vietnamese. And I remember all too painfully well the violence hurled by "hard hats" against any college student who dared buck the establishment.

And I remember the Kent State massacres ... and the night I myself spent in prison because a rogue cop wanted a college student, any college student, to bash and humiliate. It was an angry and ugly time and, NO, not one of us should feel compelled to apologize for protesting the atrocities of a government run amuck.

It makes me wonder if anything was learned at all. Yet, here we are again ... another war, another outlaw president ... as if it were not done before.

7:35 PM  
Blogger NWJR said...

You're showing a dearth of intellectual honesty here. Ayers is a terrorist.

The definition of terrorism (from the American Hertiage dictionary) is: "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."

Sounds like Ayers to me. He says "It was never terrorism because it never targeted and never in fact resulted in death or injury to anyone", but he's wrong--again, see the definition.

Or you can ask John Murtagh what he thinks:


BRIAN KILMEADE: Yonkers city councilman John Murtagh was just nine years old when the blast went off inside his house. John this is a personal story for you.

JOHN MURTAGH: Clearly it is. I was nine years old at the time. My father was the judge presiding over what was called the Panther 21 trial, members of Panther party who were charged with attempting to bomb landmarks in New York. On a February night in 1970, while my parents, my brother, sister and I were asleep in our house, the Weather Underground launched the attack on our family and set off at least three, possibly four bombs, one of them under the gas tank of the family car.

DOOCY: Car bomb.

MURTAGH: Looking to kill us.

DOOCY: So when I read one of the things you wrote earlier in the spring, the headline was that Bill Ayers tried to kill my family.

MURTAGH: Well, Bill Ayers, the founder of the Weather Underground, Kathy Wilkerson, who is a former member of the Weather Underground, still lives here in New York, she wrote a memoir two years ago in which she acknowledged that it was the New York cell of the Weather Underground that launched the attack on my family. Three weeks later, at Bill Ayers direction, they were assembling bombs at Greenwich Village in order to attack the officers’ club at Fort Dix, New Jersey and they blew themselves up.

DOOCY: Right, they blew the nail.

MURTAGH: Exactly.


Planting a bomb underneath someone's car to make a political point? That's terrorism, my friend. Ayers can say "our opposition never took an extreme form", but come on...even you aren't buying that.

5:17 AM  
Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

The day after the shootings at Kent State, the universe on campuses nationwide was shattered. We, members of the VVAW, anticipated trouble.

At my school (UNM), the National Guard was called out to quell disturbances.

They debarked from their deuce-and-a-halfs on Central Avenue, arraed themselves in combat order, fixed bayonets and started down the mall towards the Student Union Building, where several hundred, maybe even a thousand, students had gathered to express outrage at the murders in Ohio.

The vets in the crowd, myself among them, tried to position ourselves between the Guard--advancing in gas-masks, and unsheathed, fixed bayonets--and the students.

As they got closer, there was lots less space to retreat. Then there was a flurry of clashes. I guardsman stabbed a guy standing next to me and behind a little, in the thigh, cutting his femoral artery. His blood spurted EVERYFUCKINGwhere. Another vet and I got to the guy, pulled him aside, and got a tourniquet around his leg, and got him onto our linked arms and started for the first aid station. As we were passing by, the good burghers of Albuquerque, many of whom had come to the university to watch us hippies get our asses whipped, spat on us and called out filth.

Iirc, around 20 of my fellow students were wounded that day by the Guard, before they were withdrawn...

My estimation of my fellow citizens, as a whole, never quite recovered from that experience.

That night, the ROTC building caught fire...Not saying there was any connection or that I was in ANY way involved...

But I can sympathize with Ayers' actions...

As it happened, I became acquainted with him later, when we were both in the professor bidness. We exchanged war stories.

12:45 PM  
Blogger kelley b. said...

When the government is installed illegally, breaks national and international law, and subverts the Constitution, to be a terrorist in its eyes may in fact be the highest form of Patriotism.

You who call Ayers a terrorist, go read the Declaration of Independence.

If his actions against the War Machine of his youth seem like terrorism to you, why, it's no worse than most Americans would do against King George if he tried to subvert the Constitution for a third term today.

5:52 PM  
Blogger llewelly said...

Amy has Terry beat. She interviewed two former members of the Weather Underground, on the 14th.

The claim that Ayers wasn't a terrorist is ridiculous. He had bombs, but he didn't have planes to drop them from. So he's a terrorist. Don't like it? Try suing 90% of reporters.

Furthermore - it may not be true the Weather Underground didn't injure anybody. Several Weather Underground members were injured in a mysterious explosion.

If Ayers didn't want to be a terrorist, he should have joined the military, and helped the American military and LBJ murder 3 millions in southeast Asia. Then he wouldn't have been a terrorist.

8:29 AM  

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