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Ralph R. Reiland

Ralph R. Reiland

The B. Kenneth Simon Professor of Free Enterprise at Robert Morris University

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Reflections

Nice Words, Killer Friends

by Ralph R. Reiland
 

In March, Barack Obama's speech in Philadelphia on race was inspiring and knowledgeable.

Attempting to put the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy behind him, Obama said he had "already condemned, in unequivocal terms," Wright's "inexcusable," "divisive," and "racially charged" comments.

Wright's "incendiary language," he said, expressed "views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation." Wright's criticisms of the United States, additionally, were based on "a profoundly distorted view of this country, a view that sees white racism as endemic and elevates what is wrong in America above all that we know is right with America."

The "offending sermons about America" by Wright, asserted Obama, were rooted in the past, in "a reality in which Rev. Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up," a generation that "came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted."

It is this past that lives on in "the bitterness and bias" that make up the black experience in America, Obama explained, quoting William Faulkner: "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even passed."

Despair is the price of keeping this bitterness alive, the price of the endless preaching about past wrongs. The "legacy of defeat," said Obama, "was passed on to future generations, to those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future."

Unfortunately, to keep things from cooling down, to keep the money rolling their way, there's no shortage of hucksters who are willing and able to fan the flames of anger.

"At times, that anger," said Obama, "is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines" -- and to gin up the flow of money from the pews.

"That anger is not always productive," Obama asserted. "Indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition."

Why, then, given this call to reject "a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism," did Obama establish a long-lasting working relationship with unrepentant former terrorist William Ayers?

Obama dismissed inquiries about his relationship with Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground, by saying that he was just "a guy who lives in my neighborhood."

In fact, Obama served from 1995 to 1999 as chairman of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), the brainchild of Ayers, an organization that funneled some $100 million into the hands of community organizers and activists, including ACORN, in order to radicalize Chicago's public schools.

Between 1969 and 1974, the Weather Underground claimed responsibility for some 20 bombings in the United States -- at police stations, banks, jails, courthouses, the Capitol and the Pentagon. Ayers became a fugitive in 1970, reports Andy McCarthy at the National Review, after three of his cohorts were "accidentally killed when the explosive they were building to Ayers' specifications -- Ayers was a bomb designer -- went off during construction."

The explosive, a nail bomb, "had been intended for detonation at a dance that was to be attended by army soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey," reports McCarthy. "Ayers attested that the bomb would have done serious damage, 'tearing through windows and walls and, yes, people too.'"

In 1970, a "pipe bomb in San Francisco attributed to the group," i.e. the Weather Underground, "killed one police officer and severely hurt another," reported the New York Times on October 4, 2008. In addition, in "an armed robbery of a Brinks armored truck in Nanuet, New York, that involved Weather Underground members including Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, two police officers and a Brinks guard were killed."

Ayers, describing the Weather Underground as "an American Red Army," motivated by "hope," succinctly summed up the organization's mission: "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments."

"I don't regret setting bombs," Ayers told The New York Times in September 2001. "I feel we didn't do enough."

Ayers, in charge of shaping CAC's education philosophy, describes himself as "a radical, Leftist, small 'c' communist." Rather than focusing on anything as mundane as math or reading, the job of teachers, said Ayers, is to "teach against oppression."

Ayers "downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism," writes Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

"Ayers wrote that teachers should be community organizers dedicated to provoking resistance to American racism and oppression," reports Kurtz. "He believes teacher education programs should serve as 'sites of resistance' to an oppressive system."

The question: Why do Obama's deeds contradict his words? Is anyone in the mainstream media curious?

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Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

Ralph R. Reiland

Phone: 412-884-4541

E-mail: rrreiland@aol.com