| September 14, 2001
ON THE MORNING
OF THE ATTACKS on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, along with
a million other readers of the New York Times including many who
would never be able to read the paper again, I opened its pages to be confronted
by a color photo showing a middle-aged couple holding hands and affecting
a defiant look at the camera. The article was headlined in an irony that
could not have been more poignant, "No Regrets For A Love Of Explosives."
The couple pictured were Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, former leaders
of the 1960s’ Weather Underground, America’s first terrorist cult. One
of their bombing targets, as it happened, was the Pentagon.
"I don’t regret
setting bombs," Ayers was quoted in the opening line of the Times
profile; "I feel we didn’t do enough." In 1969, Ayers and his wife convened
a "War Council" in Flint Michigan, whose purpose was to launch a military
front inside the United States with the purpose of helping Third World
revolutionaries conquer and destroy it. Taking charge of the podium, dressed
in a high-heeled boots and a leather mini-skirt – her signature uniform
– Dorhn incited the assembled radicals to join the war against "Amerikkka"
and create chaos and destruction in the "belly of the beast." Her voice
rising to a fevered pitch, Dohrn raised three fingers in a "fork salute"
to mass murderer Charles Manson whom she proposed as a symbol to her troops.
Referring to the helpless victims of the Manson Family as the "Tate Eight"
(the most famous was actress Sharon Tate) Dohrn shouted:
Dig It. First
they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them,
they even shoved a fork into a victim’s stomach! Wild!
by this memory, but unable to expunge it from the record and unwilling
to repudiate her terrorist deeds, Dorhn resorts to the lie direct. "It
was a joke," she told the sympathetic Times reporter, Dinitia Smith;
she was actually protesting America’s crimes. "We were mocking violence
in America. Even in my most inflamed moment I never supported a racist
mass murderer." In 1980, I taped interviews with thirty members of the
Weather Underground who were present at the Flint War Council, including
most of its leadership. Not one of them thought Dohrn was anything but
deadly serious. Outrageous nihilism was the Weatherman political style.
As soon as her tribute to Manson was completed, Dohrn was followed to the
Flint platform by another Weather leader who ranted, "We’re against everything
that’s ‘good and decent’ in honky America. We will loot and burn and destroy.
We are the incubation of your mothers’ nightmares."
It has long
been a fashion among media sophisticates to ridicule the late J. Edgar
Hoover and the FBI men who sought to protect Americans from the threats
posed by people like Ayers and Dohrn in their "days of rage." But Hoover’s
description of Bernardine Dohrn as "La Pasionara of the lunatic left" is
far more accurate than anything that can be found in the Times profile.
a critique of this malignant couple and their destructive resume, the Times’
portrait provides a soft-focus promotion for Ayers’ newly published Fugitive
Days, a memoir notable for its dishonesty and its celebration of his
malevolent exploits. Ayers’ text wallows in familiar Marxist incitements
and the homicidal delusions of Sixties radicalism, including a loving reprint
of an editorial from the old socialist magazine Alarm! Written by
Albert Parsons, one of the Haymarket anarchists, whom the Weathermen idolized:
Of all the good stuff, that is the stuff! Stuff several pounds of this
sublime stuff into an inch pipe…plug up both ends, insert a cap with a
fuse attached, place this in the immediate vicinity of a lot of rich loafers
who live by the sweat of other people’s brows, and light the fuse. A most
cheerful and gratifying result will follow. In giving dynamite to the downtrodden
millions of the globe, science has done its best work.
Days, Ayers has written – and the Times promoted – a text that
the bombers of the World Trade Center could have packed in their flight
bags alongside the Koran, as they embarked on their sinister mission.
a motherf*cker," Ayers warns his readers, in the illiterate style that
made him an icon of the New Left. It is as close as he gets to acknowledging
that his account leaves World Trade Center size holes in the story of his
criminal past. Among them is its second half, how Weatherman imploded in
the year other Americans were celebrating the bicentennial of their nation.
It imploded because the devotion of the terrorists to the bibles of the
cause – Lenin, Stalin, Mao – eventually led them into a series of brainwashing
rituals and purges that decimated their ranks. None of this is remembered
in Ayers’ book. Nor is the passage of their closest comrades into the ranks
of the May 19th Communist Movement, which murdered three officers
– including the first black policeman on the Nyack force, during an infamous
robbery of a Brinks armored car in 1981. Caveat emptor. The point
of the omissions is to hide from others (and from Ayers himself) the real-world
consequences of the anti-American ideologies, which took root in the Sixties
and now flourish on college campuses across the country.
Ayers is not merely an author favored by the New York Times, but
a Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
His Lady Macbeth is not merely a lawyer, but a member of the American Bar
Association’s governing elite, as well as the director of Northwestern
University’s Children and Family Justice Center. These facts reflect a
reality about the culture of facile defamation of America and ready appeasement
of her mortal enemies, that confronts us as we struggle to deal with the
has correctly defined the repulsive deed that has left 10,000 dead as an
"act of war." This, it must be said, is a very belated recognition of our
reality, which was postponed for almost a decade by an Administration infused
with the attitudes of self-flagellation and moral equivalence perfectly
expressed on the day of the attack by John Lahr, a writer for the Microsoft
Internet journal Slate. On the day of the attack that crushed
to death and burned alive 10,000 innocent civilians at their workplace,
John Lahr advised America to "Rush to Thought, Not to Judgment."
I fear the
hysteria in the American character, which splits so easily into good and
bad, which rushes to judgment rather than to thought. The terrorists have
taken aim at the American government and American capitalism and brought
them both – symbolically at least – down. America, from the point of view
of the terrorists, has been humiliated and brutalized as they feel they
have felt humiliated and brutalized by America.
This is the we-feel-your-terrorist-pain,
appeasement perspective perfectly tuned. The hysteria in the American
character! A character that permitted fanatical America-haters to bomb
the World Trade Center not once but twice without so much as instituting
serious security at its airports, lest the American Civil Liberties Union
and other members of the appeasement coalition take their government to
court to ensure that terrorists, too, have civil liberties. Hysterically
"anti-Islamic" America, which during the Clinton years forbade its intelligence
operatives from using "human rights violators" as intelligence assets to
prevent such terrorist attacks. Who in these Middle Eastern thugdoms with
any access to authority or power let alone terrorist networks is not a
human rights violator? Liberal self-hatred masquerading as a concern
for human rights was the primary reason why it was so easy for a complicated
and lethal attack to be planned and carried out without coming to the attention
of American intelligence agencies. It was more important for the Clinton
Administration to be sensitive to the utopian concerns of the progressive
elites and the one-world kleptocrats who make up the UN than to protect
the American people.
brutalizer! Osama bin Laden our terrorist enemy and mass murderer is not
exactly one of your huddled masses. He is a Saudi prince! Sheik Abdel Rahman,
architect of the first World Trade Center bombing is a sheik! Brutalization
is not their problem. They are brutes! Like other radical zealots they
are driven by a religious fanaticism confident that God is on their side
and those who do not share their faith – in our case, Christians and Jews
– are infidels, worthy of destruction. In Palestinian schools in democratic
Israel, Palestinian school children are taught by their Palestinian teachers
to chant "Destroy the heathen Jews." Register it. Not those who have injured
them, but those who are not Muslims. Religious fanaticism will express
itself in political – and eventually military – fanaticism whatever you
do. Ask not, Americans, what your country has done to deserve its pain.
Ask what has been done to inflict pain on your country and what you can
do about it.
In May 1998,
three years before the World Trade Center bombing, Osama bin Laden was
interviewed by ABC News reporter John Miller. He explained his war this
Mr. Bin Laden, you have issued a fatwa [death sentence] calling on all
Muslims to kill Americans where they can, when they can. Is that directed
at all Americans, just American military, just Americans in Saudi Arabia?
Laden: Allah ordered us … to purify Muslim land of all non-believers,…
We are surprised this question is coming from Americans…. American history
does not distinguish between civilians and military, and not even women
and children. They are the ones who used the bombs against Nagasaki…. America
does not have a religion that will prevent it from destroying all people….
We believe that the biggest thieves in the world and the terrorists are
the Americans… We are sure of Allah’s victory and our victory against the
Americans and the Jews as promised by the prophet peace be upon him….We
predict a black day for America and the end of the United States as United
Is this clear
enough? This holy war is not about American acts. It is about who
we are. It is not a war that can be negotiated. It is them or us.
This is the
hour for America to take care of itself; to take steps to defend itself.
America must be hard where it has been soft, calculating where it has been
sensitive, strong where it has been weak. Osama bin Laden is impressed
with American weakness, the very kind of weakness urged again on America
in this crisis, by appeasers like John Lahr. Rush to thought, not judgment:
bin Laden: We have seen in the last decade the decline of the American
government and the weakness of the American soldier who is ready to wage
Cold Wars and unprepared to fight long wars. This was proven in Beirut
when Marines fled after two explosions. It also proves they can run in
less than 24 hours, and this was also repeated in Somalia. We are ready
for all occasions. We rely on Allah.
On the day of
the World Trade Center bombing, I appeared on a Fox TV program in San Diego
and did my best to steer the discussion towards the steps America must
take to defend herself, to carry the war to the enemy camp. But the host
would have none of it. While thousands of Americans writhed in agony in
the twisted steel of the Trade Center, she wanted to discuss the danger
of American "hysteria," the "threat" that American prejudice might pose
to Muslims in our midst. It did not even occur to her that if Americans
were prejudiced in a way that made this issue pressing, these terrorists
would never have been trained as pilots by American companies, housed in
American homes, or ignored by American security agents at the airports
where they hijacked the airliners in order to convert them into bombs.
and Bernardine Dohrn are a far more typical academic couple, and their
NY Times interlocutor a far more familiar arbiter of information
to the American public than is comforting to consider. We have already
been treated to TV images of college students shifting the blame to American
shoulders while the embers of the Trade Center are still warm. Many of
us have children in secondary schools who, in this hour of mourning, have
been lectured by their teachers on America’s sins and chickens coming home
to roost. The political friends of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn have
been busily at work for the last two decades seeding our educational culture
with anti-American poisons that could one day destroy us.
A visit to
a well-traveled website "for the progressive community" – www.commondreams.org
– reveals how profoundly America has been rejected and how passionately
its bloodthirsty enemies have been embraced by significant sections of
our population, even as we enter a life and death struggle with an enemy
that wants to exterminate us:
"Not only have
we caused these events with our monstrous foreign policies but also with
our complete disregard of our environment causing mortal damage to the
Earth (Earth is a living being) and other species that co-exist with us."
– Susan Yost, Cumberland VA
"My heart went
out to all the people there as I sat watching, waiting … and then sadness
filled me, sadness that the foreign policy of this country has come back
to haunt us; sadness that our government has been so arrogant that a lesson
like this occurred;…It is US policies of terror in other countries that
have brought this down on us." Matthew A Peckham, Eugene OR
entities not only run this country but have decimated many other small
countries in ways we cannot even fathom….This is a wake up call, America.
It is time to change our ways." –Rich Cianflone, Colorado
"We are reaping
what we have sown. We will now have the dreaded opportunity to live in
the same fear that our financial policies and military assistance have
inflicted on others." – Harold Parkey, Fort Worth, Texas
years Washington has successfully conducted mass murders…." – William Mandel,
Oakland, California (Mandel is a lifelong Communist and taxpayer funded
Public Radio commentator.)
"The United States
conducts itself as a terrorist organization throughout the world." – Lance
Del Goebel, Manhattan, Illinois
America, the Great
policy has come home to roost today … we are reaping what we have sown."—Glynn
comments are merely cribbed from bin Laden’s friend, Saddam Hussein, whose
response to the Trade Center attacks was as follows: "Notwithstanding the
conflicting human feelings about what happened in America yesterday, America
is reaping the thorns sown by its rulers in the world. Those thorns have
not only bloodied the feet and the hearts of many, but also the eyes of
people shedding tears on their dead whose souls have been reaped by America."
Saddam then invoked a litany of misdeeds that could have come from a primer
written by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn or any number of familiar anti-American
extremists: "There is no place that does not have a symbolic monument that
shows America’s criminal acts against these victims, whether in Japan that
was the first to be seared by the nuclear destruction weapons boasted by
America, or Vietnam, Iraq … or the criminal acts the US is now perpetrating
by supporting the criminal racist Zionism against our heroic Palestinian
This is the
banal excuse of common criminals – the devil made me do it. "I don’t think
you can understand a single thing we did," explains the pampered Weatherman
bomber Bill Ayers "without understanding the violence of the Vietnam War."
Ayers ten years ago, in a kindergarten classroom in uptown Manhattan where
he was employed to shape the minds of inner city children. Dressed in bib
overalls with golden curls rolling below his ears, Ayers reviewed his activities
as a terrorist for my tape recorder. When he was done, he broke into a
broad, Jack Horner grin and summed up his experience: "Guilty as hell.
Free as a bird. America is a great country."
In my experience,
what drives most radicals are passions of resentment, envy and inner rage.
Bill Ayers is a scion of wealth. His father was head of Detroit’s giant
utility Commonwealth Edison, in line for a cabinet position in the Nixon
Administration before his son ruined it by going on a rampage that to this
day he cannot explain to any reasonable person’s satisfaction (which is
why he has to conceal so much). It could be said of Bill Ayers that he
was consumed by angers so terrible they led him to destroy his father’s
career. But in the 10 hours I interviewed him I saw none of it. What I
saw was a shallowness beyond conception. All the Weather leaders I interviewed
shared a similar vacuity. They were living inside a utopian fantasy, a
separate reality, and had no idea of what they had done. Nor any way to
measure it. Appreciating the nation to which they were born, recognizing
the great gifts of freedom and opportunity their parents and communities
had given them, distinguishing between right and wrong – it was all above
their mental and moral ceiling.
In the days
ahead, this is one of the dangers we face.