On Ayers and the Occupiers

By James Wigderson
Special Guest Perspective for the MacIver Institute

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote, “There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.” In a moment of synchronicity, former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers visited Milwaukee on Saturday just as the “Occupy Wall Street” protests gained a local shadow, “Occupy Milwaukee.”

So much of the current activism on the political left is nostalgia for the 1960s without remembering what really happened. Ayers and others helped organize the Chicago “Days of Rage,” and later the group engaged in a bombing campaign in an attempt to overthrow society. His wife Bernadine Dohrn (formerly of Whitefish Bay) was a fellow radical that bombed the Capitol. Ayers’ Weather Underground was also responsible for bombing the Pentagon and a New York police station.

Second thoughts may have begun when a few of Ayers’ comrades in the revolution blew themselves up attempting to manufacture a nail bomb. By then Ayers and his comrades had declared war on “Amerika” (it wasn’t until later radicals used three k’s) and went “underground.”

Despite most of the charges getting dropped in 1973 because of the surveillance methods used by the government, Ayers did not turn himself in until December 3, 1980. Soon Ayers was, in his words, “Guilty as hell, free as a bird—America is a great country.”

Ayers and his fellow radicals began their long marches through the institutions that they wanted to overthrow. Back in the upscale Chicago neighborhood so contrary to his radical posing, Ayers eventually found a home, of course, in the education establishment teaching at the University of Illinois at Chicago. It’s in those circles that he became friends with a community organizer, future President Barack Obama.

Obama was elected president promising “hope and change;” a program of a radical departure from the previous administration’s foreign and economic policies; and, a complete remaking of the health care economy in the United States.

After a failed stimulus program, a Wall Street bailout that Obama supported, bailouts for General Motors and Chrysler, a teacher “bailout,” and a reluctant continuing of the War on Terror (including keeping the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay), things have not worked out as well as the political left had hoped. We still have rampant unemployment, the new federal takeover of health care is unpopular and under attack as unconstitutional, and the promised new, “green economy” looks suspiciously like the same old crony capitalism.

A new political force on the right has formed, the Tea Party movement, which is united in its quest for a less expansive, less expensive government. The elections of 2010 were a disaster for Democrats. Democrats reacted with rage at the election results in Wisconsin when they lost both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s mansion. Adding to the injury was the loss by their beloved Senator Russ Feingold to businessman Ron Johnson.

The Icon was defeated by a plastics manufacturer, for crying out loud.

The political left was already looking for an excuse to launch a recall effort against Walker (Yes, there were cries for his recall on the morning of his Inauguration) and they found a cause around which they could rally in the collective bargaining issue. Organized labor has made Wisconsin the last stand, and has even been funding dead-end protesters in the Capitol long after the spotlight has faded and Walker’s reforms are beginning to work.

Now it’s time for another round of labor-supported protests and the “Occupy” movement comes to Wisconsin. They can’t protest against the establishment because the establishment belongs to them now. They can’t protest against President Obama because he’s one of them. They protest against “the war,” almost absent-mindedly forgetting who is running it. (By the way, we just sent troops to central Africa to intervene in another civil war.)

The economy is bad, so the “Occupy” movement protests against “Wall Street” and the “banks” even though Obama receives more money from Wall Street than anyone else and supported TARP.

That leaves the self-indulgent demands. One Wisconsin Now, usually more obsessed with the scatological, had a banner at the march complaining about the high cost of student loans. No word on when they will protest at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay against the retirement and re-hiring of Vice Chancellor Tom Maki, or for that matter other wasteful spending and abuse in the UW System driving up tuition costs.

Never mind that these supposed adults were making a calculated risk when they signed themselves up for such debt with an expected payoff after graduation. They want their debts to be erased by the very banks that Obama supported bailing out when they made risky loans to people in part because of prodding by the government in the first place.

Shakespeare’s rebel Jack Cade in Henry VI would have fit in well with these protesters when he promised, “I charge and command that, of the city’s cost, the pissing-conduit run nothing but claret wine this first year of our reign.”

Unfortunately as the protesters demonstrate against “capitalism” and for forgiven college debt, they’re showing that they need not so much as college loan forgiveness, but refunds for their failed educations. They believe, as Robert Heinlein once wrote, that if they pray hard enough they can make water run uphill. “How hard? Hard enough to run uphill, of course.”

And so they demand to forget how we got to this point, the continued 9% unemployment and more foreign wars. They’ll avoid any mention of their own personal responsibility for their economic situations while scapegoating “Wall Street.”

It’s fitting Bill Ayers brought his hate America shtick to town this weekend. (Note that’s America with a ‘c’ now–he’s a cleaned up academic now) The left in Wisconsin has a lot in common with Ayers and others who practice terrorism.

You need to be vigilant in opposition to them, no matter how often they fail. They can fail again and again and again (Kloppenburg, court challenges, senate recalls), but only need to succeed once to have incredible impact.

The Occupiers are engaging in a difficult gamble. It takes a whitewash of the memory to blame so many other people and institutions when the fault lies in themselves and the president they continue to support. No wonder Bill Ayers was an attraction Saturday night for the education establishment. He’s no longer a terrorist. That’s forgotten, too.

Good thing there were protesters at Ayers’ event to remind the attendees of the unrepentant terrorist’s past transgressions. The protesters of Ayers’ appearance were far more representative of the 99% of Americans than those “occupying” Zeidler Park.