Fruits of Fear Mongering

Fruits of Fear Mongering

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln is celebrating the centennial of its teacher’s college next month by cancelling a Keynote Speech by the Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar in  Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The man is an award-winning scholar and author or editor of sixteen books, someone who has written scores of articles on K-12 education, a critical issue for our nation. No ivory-tower academic, he was Assistant Deputy Mayor for Education in Chicago, founded the Small Schools Workshop, and has served on the boards of educational reform and charity groups.

Why cancel the speech? The scholar in question is named William Ayers. The university claims it is cancelling the speech for “safety reasons,” meaning bomb threats.

Mrs. Palin claims Senator Obama is guilty of consorting with terrorists by associating with the never-convicted Dr. Ayers, who violently protested the Vietnam War when Senator Obama was 8 years old. Obama and Ayers served on an education charity board with plenty of Republican members, and Dr. Ayers hosted a “meet-and-greet” when Mr. Obama first ran for the state legislature.

Senator McCain is a well-known expert on education, having graduated 895 out of 899 in his class at the Naval Academy. Governor Palin has extensive education credentials as well; she changed colleges six times in five years before she finally graduated. Of course, she was an active PTA member for almost two whole years. Maybe Governor Palin should keynote the centennial celebration.

The actual threat level of an Ayers speech is difficult to assess, since it will occur on November 15th, two weeks after  the presidential election. There is certainly a huge political  threat level, from Nebraska’s Governor, U.S. Senator, U.S congressman, state Attorney General, and others.

But the biggest threat, big enough to ignore academic expertise and academic freedom, is economic. The Omaha World-Herald reportedthat UNL donor Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Foundation (total assets: $17,410,758) threatened a pocketbook protest if Ayers spoke. Bye-bye Bill Ayers.

Republican Presidential candidate John McCain and Sarah Palin, his running mate, have whipped their supporters into a foam-mouthed frenzy over Professor Ayers’ misspent youth.  Senator McCain and Governor Palin certainly lit the fuse on those Nebraska bomb threats.

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here.Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

17 Responses to “Fruits of Fear Mongering”

  1. awtm Says:

    Here is an idea, if you want to hear him, pay to go hear him.

    I as alumni, and a supporter of the University do not want my money to fund a visit from an unrepentant terrorist. I also do not think a public funded University should fund such a visit, particulary when only 150 people were allowed to hear Professor ayers speak. If those 150 people really want to hear him speak, they can certainly get in a bus and drive to Chicago. Or perhaps they could pool the money to get ayers to the University…

    I am sure there are important, and wonderful educators that were able to speak, without a history of domestic terrorism.

  2. SpeciousRiches Says:

    It’s too bad the free-exchange of ideas is under attack; though it isn’t new. Ayers wasn’t going to speak about the weather underground. Universities are places were free speech should not just be tolerated, but encouraged. Ideas shouldn’t be censored just because someone has a troubled, criminal, or controversial past. It would be interesting the hear what Mr. Ayers has to say about education reform and discuss the merits of his argument.

    A more instructive debate would look at whether or how his radical activities as a young man have shaped his views on education reform. Does his past undermine the validity of his research? Perhaps, but one will never know if he is stifled by an administration afraid of making waves.


  3. Mike Licht Says:

    awtm: As a parent, you should reconsider.

    Dr. Ayers was scheduled to address a conference of K-12 education students about converting cutting-edge research projects into real-world, hands-on help for real children in real classrooms. He is an acknowledged authority on this subject. He was not scheduled to address the multitudes or discuss politics of the 1960s or of today.

    The UNL students at that conference will go on to teach K-12 students; they will be less prepared to do so thanks to partisan politics. The children of Nebraska will be the losers, not Dr. Ayers.

  4. Mike Licht Says:

    SpeciousRiches: Apparently everyone must now preface each adult action by apologizing for his/her misspent youth.

    Before his next stump speech, I expect to hear Senator McCain relate the details of the drinking, gambling, and adultery of his salad days.

    Now that I think about it, that goes for the incumbent President as well.

  5. SH Says:

    Mr Ayers has never apologized for his past. He continues to push his far left ideals on unsuspecting audiences.
    The “Obama was only 8” thing is getting old.
    Obama was not 8 when Ayers turned himself in
    Obama was not 8 when he launched his career in Ayers home
    Obama was not 8 when Ayers sat with him on various boards
    Obama was not 8 when Ayers was invited to a program Michelle Obama sponsored. Along with Ayers and Obama at this function an Soros “Open Society Institute scholar was also present at the same time slot.

    Good for Nebraska for un-inviting him. Our tax dollars shouldn’t be used to feature unrepentant terrorists.

  6. awtm Says:

    Are you folks seriously comparing bombing several buildings to adultery?

    Oh and if ayers has done so much for the public school system, why have Barack Obama’s children never attended these “wonderful schools”

    just asking

  7. Mike Licht Says:

    awtm Says: Are you folks seriously comparing bombing several buildings to adultery?

    Adultery is grounds for court martial and expulsion from the Navy. But of course, Lt. Commander McCain did apologize to the Vietnamese for being a “black sky pirate” and bombing civilian targets.

    The point: that was then; this is now. Professor Ayers was not invited to speak about the 1960s; he was invited to speak about his work of the last 20 years, working to improve the education of children, especially underprivileged children.

    Ayers and Obama were on the board of the Annenberg Challenge (endowed by Ambassador Walter Annenberg, prominent Republican, with advice from former G.H.W. Bush officials David Kearns and Lamar Alexander) precisely to make all Chicago schools as good as the University of Chicago Lab School, attended by the Obama children. BTW, the Lab School is five minutes from the Obama house, and Obama once taught there.

  8. Mike Licht Says:

    SH: Your point?

    Attorney and author Scott Turow apparently met young Obama at the Ayers house. Is he a terrorist, too? What about the Republican board members of the Annenberg Challenge?

  9. Lawrence E. Rafferty Says:

    You really have stirred up the neocon hornets nest here! I would ask AWTM and SH to provide the class with any solid evidence of the “relationship” that they and McCain are claiming. They need to also provide us evidence of how being on a board funded by the Annenberg foundation, with this underground weatherman turned Education expert, makes Obama the terrorist that the Repubs are claiming. While you are at it, shouldn’t the Annenbergs, a former Bush ambassador, also be considered friends of a terrorist? I am anxious to see your evidence of this imaginary “relationship”. A relationship is not being a volunteer board with someone. Since Bush is responsible for killing over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, and has admitted to torturing prisoners in defiance of domestic and international law, shouldn’t he be called a “Terrorist”? And who has had a “relationship” with Bush???? So let’s have your best shot.

  10. Mike Licht Says:

    Lawrence E. Rafferty: Understanding the term “Guilt by Association” and the pernicious logical fallacy it describes is just too complicated for some folks. I think Stephen Zunes has it just right: The Republicans Embrace the Cootie Effect.

  11. Lawrence E. Rafferty Says:

    The “Cooities” article was very good. Unfortunately, the neocon and neocon wannabees don’t live in a world where facts are important.

  12. Lawrence E. Rafferty Says:

    it would help if I could spell “Cooties” correctly!!

  13. Weer'd Beard Says:

    Ayers and Obama also worked for ACORN, who are currently under investigation for Voter Fraud and RICO violations by the FBI.

    Just a little more to add onto the pile of fun.

    Also its not “Free Exchange of Ideas” when a person is being paid by others to speak.

    Ayers can talk till he’s blue in the face, its his right. Its not my right, or the right of anybody to PAY him to do it.

    Good to see some discussion, actully makes this place worth a read!

  14. Mike Licht Says:

    WB claims: Ayers and Obama also worked for ACORN,

    They may have worked with ACORN in the alliance to reform Chicago schools; they did not work for ACORN. There were about 40 groups in the alliance.

    But what if they did work for ACORN? Is the 40-year-old ACORN on the Terrorist List? If not, stop demonizing them.

    [ACORN is] currently under investigation for Voter Fraud and RICO violations by the FBI
    Wrong. The State of Ohio has a RICO statute, and a private citizen’s group has sued under it. I hope Ohio also has an “anti-chilling” statute so ACORN can counter-sue.

    ACORN reviews voter registration materials and flags problem entries for authorities. Anyone who registers voters or circulates petitions for candidates must turn in all materials, even entries signed by “Mickey Mouse.” While I personally find ACORN’s rhetoric dated and tedious, it does provide valid public services: job training and placement for welfare recipients, etc. you got a problem with that?

  15. Weer'd Beard Says:

    “it does provide valid public services: job training and placement for welfare recipients, etc. you got a problem with that?”

    I wouldn’t if that’s what they do. What they DO is create falce voter registrations, burn their bottom tier employees when they get caught, accept huge checks from “Progressives” and do it all over again.

    All under the cover of helping the underprivleged.

    You bought the ruse, Mike. I’m not suprised.

  16. Mike Licht Says:

    WB: ACORN pays people about $8-$9 bucks an hour to register voters.Want to see how they process the results? Here’s the worst-case scenario —

    They have more stuff, but it is even more rambling and long-winded.

    Here’s the so-called RICOH suit —

    Here’s what ACORN does —

  17. Lawrence E. Rafferty Says:

    For all who are disparaging ACORN and suggesting that they have been systematically trying to subvert our democracy as suggested by McCain, it is a shame that the facts don’t support those wild claims. However, the California Republican party individual who was arrested for voter registration fraud is a real fact that hasn’t gotten much play in the media.

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