A wink and a nod
Jonah Goldberg wonders at how anyone like William Ayers could be so proud about what he did.
'Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon."
This excerpt from William Ayers' memoir appeared in the New York Times on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 -- a few hours before Al Qaeda terrorists crashed hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Ayers, once a leader in the Weather Underground -- the group that declared "war" on the U.S. government in 1970 -- told the Times, "I don't regret setting bombs" and "I feel we didn't do enough."
Ayers recently reappeared in the news because Politico.com reported Friday that Barack Obama has loose ties to him. ... I don't think Obama supports domestic terrorism, and I'm sure he can offer eloquent explanations for why he shouldn't suffer any guilt by association. ...
What fascinates me, though, is how light the baggage is when one travels from violent radicalism to liberalism. A local Chicago activist told Politico's reporter that Ayers "is one of my heroes in life." Cass Sunstein, a first-rank liberal intellectual, added, "I feel very uncomfortable with their past, but neither of them is thought of as horrible types now -- so far as most of us know, they are legitimate members of the community."
Why is it exactly that Ayers and Dohrn can be seen as "legitimate members of the community"? How is it that they get prestigious university jobs when even the whisper of neocon tendencies is toxic in academia?
I must stop at this point because the formidable Jonah Goldberg has already gone hopelessly off the track. What part of "I don't regret setting bombs" and "I feel we didn't do enough" doesn't he understand? Ayers is under no compulsion to feel shame. It's all he can do to contain his pride.
Now as to why reputable academics should admire the likes of Ayers and Dohrn the answer is equally simple: solidarity. It's a solidarity that exists not only in the present but goes back through history. To wonder why Adolf Hitler is reviled while Josef Stalin is still held in high regard by the Left may be seen by logical minds like Goldberg as a contradiction. It is no such thing. It's just a fact. The Left isn't stupid. It's just on the other side.
Goldberg goes on to marvel at the total absence of remorse for past murder and mayhem.
I don't think such associations should cost people their careers or place in polite society. But shouldn't this baggage cost something?
Why is it only conservative "cranks" who think it's relevant that Obama's campaign headquarters in Houston had a Che Guevara-emblazoned Cuban flag hanging on the wall? Indeed, why is love of Che still radically chic at all?
Che never went out of style at all. And those too obtuse to grasp the point will be sent away with this laughing admonition. "It's time to move on." It is this inability to get into the mind of the Left that is the undoing of most conservatives. They are unable to get past appearances and look into a world where ideas have unlimited power, no matter the human consequences. Many conservatives think dangerous ideologues have bad haircuts and cheap clothes. And just as journalists abroad are often swindled into thinking that outwardly Westernized, smooth-talking jihadis are moderates so rarely do we suspect that the worst enemies of polite society are some its most glamorous, best bred and expensively clothed members. Not because they are physically tough; they are not. But because they are so far above us that we count for nothing in the balances of the grand schemes. It's not the worst members of humanity who are the greatest menaces. It is those who have left it altogether.
People who live on the hard edge of society are often better able to recognize the wolves under sheep's clothing. It's a skill that better-bred conservatives, who believe there are limits to behavior, have long lost. Rick Moran retells a Mike Royko story of the unnecessary confusion over remarks by Chicago's Mayor Daley to an rough audience which understood him perfectly.
Several theories have arisen as to what Mayor Daley really meant a few days ago when he said:
“If they don’t like it, they can kiss my ass.”
On the surface, it appeared that the mayor was merely admonishing those who would dare question the royal favors he has bestowed upon his sons, Prince Curly, Prince Larry, and Prince Moe.
But it can be a mistake to accept the superficial meaning of anything the mayor says.
The mayor can be a subtle man. And as Earl Bush, his press secretary, once put it after the mayor was quoted correctly:
“Don’t print what he said. Print what he meant.”
The day conservatives truly understand the polished euphonies uttered by the immaculately dressed candidates that oil their way across the stage is the day when they comprehend Ayers and Dohrn. Don't listen to what they say. Listen to what they mean.