Monday, October 13, 2008

Weekly Opinion/Editorial
D I R T Y B I R D S !
by Steve Fair

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh drove a rented truck to the front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The offices and day care center had just opened for the day. The truck was loaded with 5,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate and motor-racing fuel. Federal prosecutors said McVeigh ran away from the truck after he ignited two time fuses, one was a 2 minute fuse and another one a backup of 5 minutes. At 9:02 a.m., a massive explosion destroyed the north half of the building. The explosion was so powerful that McVeigh, who was jogging away from the building was lifted 2 inches off the ground. The explosion killed 168 people, and 450 were injured. Nineteen of the victims were small children in the day care center on the ground floor of the building. McVeigh did not express remorse for the deaths, which he referred to as " collateral damage", but said he might have chosen a different target if he had known the day care center was open. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection at 7:14 a.m. on June 11, 2001. No Oklahoman will ever forget that day in April 1995.

On May 19, 1972, a group known as the Weather Underground Organization bombed the U.S. Pentagon. The WUO was a far left organization that bombed government buildings, staged jailbreaks, and conducted violent protests in the 1970s. Their justification was to “bring the Viet-nam war home” to Americans. The WUO actually declared war on the United States. Nobody was hurt in the attacks by the defunct organization, which the FBI labeled a "domestic terrorist group."

Two of the former Weather Underground members are now married- Bill Ayers, 63 and Bernadine Dohrn, 65. He teaches at the University of Chicago and she is a law professor at Northwestern. Ayers and Dohrn had federal charges filed on them in the bombing, but later dropped due a legal technicality. Along their new path in life, they met a rising political star named Barack Obama, who lived in their neighborhood.

The Ayers-Obama relationship was first publicly revealed back in April at the Democratic presidential debate. “ It is an issue certainly Republicans will be raising should Obama be the Democratic nominee for president,” rival Hillary Clinton said during the debate. While I rarely agree with Hillary, she is right on this issue.

How close are Ayers and Obama? In the mid-1990s, Ayers and Dohrn hosted a meet-and-greet at their house to introduce Obama to their neighbors during his first run for the Illinois Senate. Ayers also served alongside Obama between December 1999 and December 2002 on the board of the not-for-profit Woods Fund of Chicago.

In addition, Ayers and Obama interacted occasionally in their roles with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a not-for-profit group charged with spending tens of millions of dollars it obtained through its affiliation with a school-improvement foundation created by late Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg.

Back in April, after Hillary tried to link Obama to Ayers, Obama said he hardly knew him. But last week Rush Limbaugh compared Ayers to McVeigh on his radio show and the media begin to check out Bill Ayers past. Because the Obama-Ayers relationship made even some moderates a little nervous, Obama issued this statement:

"The gentleman in question, Bill Ayers, is a college professor, teaches education at the University of Illinois," he said. "That's how I met him -- working on a school reform project that was funded by an ambassador and very close friend of Ronald Reagan's" along with "a bunch of conservative businessmen and civic leaders." "Ultimately, I ended up learning about the fact that he had engaged in this reprehensible act forty years ago, but I was eight years old at the time and I assumed that he had been rehabilitated," Obama said.

There are three things wrong with Obama’s statement. First, Ayers is a legend in Chicago and if Obama is just now learning about Ayers’ terrorist past, he is too na├»ve to be President. Second, he is using the same excuse he used when confronted with Rev. Wright’s radical views- “I was never there when they said those things.” That is just not plausible or creditable. And third, you never assume anything if you are using good judgment.

For the record, Ayers has not been “rehabilitated,” and is not remorseful about the bombings. In fact, he says, "I don't regret setting bombs" and "I feel we didn't do enough", and, when asked if he would "do it all again," he says, "I don't want to discount the possibility."

If John McCain had held a fundraiser at Timothy McVeigh’s house, the news media would be right to be all over it. While no one is guilty solely by association, where a candidate’s support comes from reveals their views, opinions and judgment. Remember the idiom, “birds of a feather flock together?” In this case, the birds are dirty ones.

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