“No Regrets for a Love of Explosives,” ran the New York Times’ breezy headline in its “Arts” Section nearly seven years ago. The newspaper was carrying a profile of Weatherman Underground leader William Ayers, whose “memoir,” Fugitive Days, was hot off the press.
Unfortunately for Ayers, the Times’ story came at a bad moment for supporters of domestic bombings: It appeared the very day Osama bin Laden’s lieutenants were hurling “suicide” planes at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, murdering some 3,000 people.
It’s unclear whether Ayers secretly sympathized with those explosions, but he certainly enjoyed the ones he and his fellow revolutionaries had set off to protest American “imperialism” and the war in Vietnam. “I don’t regret setting bombs,” Ayers merrily told the Times. “I feel we didn’t do enough.”
The Times’ 9/11 piece has become instantly relevant to this year’s presidential campaign, as Barack Obama’s relationship with Ayers is now being openly discussed by the mainstream media and publicly criticized by both Hillary Clinton and John McCain. It even may have been a factor in his loss to Hillary in the Pennsylvania primary last week.
The Times gives us an interesting portrait of the Unrepentant Bomber, who spent much of his time in the 1970s as a fugitive. When the Times interviewed him, Ayers was “sitting in the kitchen of his big turn-of-the-19th Century stone house to the Hyde Park district of Chicago.
“The long curly locks in his Wanted poster are shorn, though he wears earrings. He still has tattooed on his neck the rainbow-and-lightning Weathermen logo that appeared on letters taking responsibility for bombings.” Ayers so loved his Weatherman years that he put out another edition of his book in 2003, with an “afterword” suggesting he may be willing to bomb again, depending on the circumstances.
By all accounts, he was a ferocious, violent, revolutionary Marxist in his halcyon days as a Weatherman leader. He and his Weatherman bombers were enamored of Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Mao Tse-tung — indeed, all the murderous heroes on the Left. Referring to the Weatherman members in August 1969, he said (according to the FBI): “We’re revolutionary Communists.”
He got off on the group’s multiple explosions, too, and discusses them rather lovingly in his memoir.
Ideal Bombing Weather
“Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon,” he writes (although he concedes it was really a group effort). “The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them.” (p. 256 in the 2003 edition.)
Those who later formed the Weatherman organization produced a paper at the Students for a Democratic Society Convention in Chicago in June of 1969. With a nod to Bob Dylan, the sponsors titled their epistle: “You Don’t Need A Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Is Blowing.”
The paper recognized “U.S. imperialism” as the enemy of Third World Communist revolutionary movements and embraced the idea of aggressive and prolonged guerrilla tactics inside the United States to establish a Red regime. Among the paper’s sponsors:
Obama’s neighbor, friend and supporter, William Ayers.
Rep. Richard Ichord (D.-Mo.), who chaired the House Committee on Internal Security, put portions of the publication in the Congressional Record on Aug.13, 1969. Among the more illuminating quotes:
“The goal is the…achievement of a classless world: world communism.”
“The centralized organization of revolutionaries must be a political organization, as well as military, what is generally called a Marxist-Leninist party.”
There are endless demands for creating revolutionary groups, including “clandestine organizations” and a mass movement “akin to the Red Guard of China.”
But Ayers is not the only proud Weatherman hovering around Obama. Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn, was a more flamboyant leader of the group, using miniskirts, multiple sex partners, violent rhetoric and explosive deeds to push her followers toward violent ends.
Using a bullhorn, she became a key leader in the infamous October 1969 “Days of Rage” in Chicago, in which hundreds of Weatherman members rampaged through the city, swinging clubs, pummeling innocent bystanders, smashing cars, tossing bricks through store windows and vandalizing homes. While engaged in destructive mayhem, they yelled their favorite chant: “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh.”
Dohrn herself led dozens of helmeted women — several armed with clubs and draped in Vietcong flags — in an unsuccessful attempt to take over an Army induction center. At least 75 policemen were injured over a three-day period. She was arrested and then let go.
In late May 1970, the New York Times bureau in Washington received a three-page transcript of a tape recording issued by Dohrn to Weatherman loyalists.
At the time, the Weatherman group had gone underground because Dohrn and so many of her pals, including Ayers, were hiding from the police for having planned, inspired or committed violent acts across the country, including bombings of various military and police installations.
Here is a portion of what she termed a “Declaration of a State of War,” the first communication from the Weatherman Underground to its adherents:
“All over the world, people fighting Amerikan imperialism look to Amerika’s youth to use our strategic position behind enemy lines to join forces in the destruction of the empire….
“Tens of thousands have learned that protest and marches don’t do it. Revolutionary violence is the only way.”
Her declaration also said: “Now we are adapting the classic guerrilla strategy of the Vietcong and the urban guerrilla strategy of the Tupamaros to our own situation here in the most technically advanced country in the world.”
FBI’s ‘Most Wanted’
On July 23, 1970, a federal grand jury in Detroit indicted 13 members of the Weatherman group, including Dohrn, accusing them of conspiring, in the words of a U.S. Senate committee report, “to build a nationwide revolutionary network to bomb and kill.” Nearly three months later she was added to the FBI’s most wanted fugitives.
She was on the lam, but still waging war on “Amerika.” On Nov. 30, 1970, she sent another billet-doux to her country via the Associated Press.
“In retaliation for the commando raid and bombing of North Vietnam, attacks will be carried out on pigs [police], military and governmental buildings and agents without warning. …
The U.S. aggressors will be punished here and in Vietnam. All power to the people.”
The grisly murders of actress Sharon Tate and her four companions evoked from Bernardine this inspirational message (which she told the New York Times was a “joke”):
“Dig it; first they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into a victim’s stomach. Wild!” (The humor, one guesses, was in the delivery.)
Both Ayers and Dohrn surrendered to authorities in Chicago in 1980, allegedly avoiding jail because of illegal wiretapping. They have revealed no regrets about the “Good Old Days,” indeed, quite the opposite.
So Obama’s relationship is not irrelevant. How close it’s been is somewhat obscure.
Ayers and Dohrn are known to have hosted meetings at their house to introduce Obama to their neighbors during his first run for the Illinois Senate. Ayers contributed money to an Obama campaign. He served with Obama on the not-for-profit Woods Fund of Chicago from December 1999 through December 2002, with the board meeting four times a year and members seeing each other at occasional dinners the group hosted.
Obama says he knows Ayers “as a guy who lives in my neighborhood” and is “a professor of English in Chicago…” But he’s “not somebody who I exchange ideas from [sic] on a regular basis.” But does he on an irregular basis?
It certainly would be nice to know more, especially since in the 2003 edition of his book, Ayers strongly suggests he’s willing, under the right circumstances, one guesses, to bomb again.
“I still think we showed remarkable restraint and that we probably didn’t do enough,” he writes of the past. “We might have been smarter; we might have been more focused. Next time I plan to be.” (p. 298 ) [emphasis added.]
What does Ayers mean? Neither Ayers nor Dohrn is talking with the media about this or their relationship with Obama right now. “Reached.. .on her cell phone,” said a recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times, “Dohrn declined comment [on the Obama relationship]. Ayers, who was traveling, did not return messages.”