While listlessly surfing the web, distracted by the boiling political soup of the day, I came across the following quote that struck me as so true:
“In a real sense all life is interrelated, all humanity is caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, united in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”
The words are those of Martin Luther King, Jr in his most Buddhist mind-meld. I discovered them on the blog of the latest boogie man of the election year, Bill Ayers. Then, I read a little further through the blog entry. It was the June ’08 Commencement Address at the New City High School (not sure where, maybe in Kalamazoo, Michigan? or somewhere else cuz there’s a string of charter schools that go by that name). I read through the paragraphs and realized that I would have wanted to have heard the speech at my commencement 35-40 years ago, or even five years ago, or even now. But then again, I guess I was a radicalized flower-power malcontent. Only I ended running off to Peru where I learned what real blood-drinking revolutionary Maoists do when they want to liberate the masses, and how well-meaning people can be trapped in ugly political situations.
And this is the diablo being castigated by McCain, the Republicans and Fox News. Of course, what they’re talking about has nothing to do with reality; it’s a political passion play. But it’s also clear that Ayers’ political position is far to the left of Obama (into the realm of flackiness since his ideology blinds him to many aspects of American society and the world) and that he thinks that his opposition to the war in Vietnam was the correct stand even though most Americans cannot accept his tactics and strategies. That’s the “unrepentant” part that inflames the right.
Most comments about this issue come from politicians and talking heads who have not made a minimal attempt to understand what really happened between Obama and Ayers back in Chicago. In Slate, Barack, Bill, and Me by David S. Tanenhaus, a history and law professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, lays out the social landscape in Chicago in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I recommend highly the article Chicago Annenberg Challenge in Spotlight by Dakarai I. Aarons in Education Week. Also read Ayer’s own take on the issue: I’M SORRY!!!! i think…. and Episodic Notoriety–Fact and Fantasy. The Wikepedia entry of Ayers has a lot of information and links.