A petition in support of Bill Ayers

  • el
  • pt
  • by Frank Paynter on October 16, 2024

    You can review and endorse this petition by CLICKING HERE.

    “We write to support our colleague Professor William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who is currently under determined and sustained political attack. Ayers is a nationally known scholar, member of the Faculty Senate at UIC, Vice President-elect of the American Educational Research Association, and sought after as a speaker and visiting scholar by other universities because of his exemplary scholarship, teaching, and service. Throughout the 20 years that he has been a valued faculty member at UIC, he has taught, advised, mentored, and supported hundreds of undergraduate, Masters and Ph.D. students. He has pushed them to take seriously their responsibilities as educators in a democracy – to promote critical inquiry, dialogue, and debate; to encourage questioning and independent thinking; to value the full humanity of every person and to work for access and equity. Helping educators develop the capacity and ethical commitment to these responsibilities is at the core of what we do, and as a teacher he has always embraced debate and multiple perspectives.

    All citizens, but particularly teachers and scholars, are called upon to challenge orthodoxy, dogma, and mindless complacency, to be skeptical of authoritative claims, to interrogate and trouble the given and the taken-for-granted. Without critical dialogue and dissent we would likely be burning witches and enslaving our fellow human beings to this day. The growth of knowledge, insight, and understanding— the possibility of change— depends on that kind of effort, and the inevitable clash of ideas that follows should be celebrated and nourished rather than crushed. Teachers have a heavy responsibility, a moral obligation, to organize classrooms as sites of open discussion, free of coercion or intimidation. By all accounts Professor Ayers meets this standard. His classes are fully enrolled, and students welcome the exchange of views that he encourages.

    The current characterizations of Professor Ayers—“unrepentant terrorist,” “lunatic leftist”—are unrecognizable to those who know or work with him. It’s true that Professor Ayers participated passionately in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, as did hundreds of thousands of Americans. His participation in political activity 40 years ago is history; what is most relevant now is his continued engagement in progressive causes, and his exemplary contribution—including publishing 16 books— to the field of education. The current attacks appear as part of a pattern of “exposés” and assaults designed to intimidate free thinking and stifle critical dialogue. Like crusades against high school and elementary teachers, and faculty at UCLA, Columbia, DePaul, and the University of Colorado, the attacks on and the character assassination of Ayers threaten the university as a space of open inquiry and debate, and threaten schools as places of compassion, imagination, curiosity, and free thought. They serve as warnings that anyone who voices perspectives and advances questions that challenge orthodoxy and political power may become a target, and this, then, casts a chill over free speech and inquiry and the spirit of democracy.

    We, the undersigned, stand on the side of education as an enterprise devoted to human inquiry, enlightenment, and liberation. We oppose the demonization of Professor William Ayers.”

    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    Keith 10.17.08 at 11:20

    I’ve met him twice, and he’s awesome.

    JH 10.17.08 at 3:12

    Yeah, well … this is the kind of factual news that tends to stay online and relatively buried, and is not (or rarely) used to counter the talking point repeated ad nauseum on the real news.

    McD 10.19.08 at 7:28

    The tactic of linking a “strawman” to a “red herring” is a gift for confusing voters and a test for the media to set the record straight.

    “Obama is palling around with terrorists.”

    Strawman: “Bill Ayres is a terrorist” OK. Would that make him a criminal? Well… he’s not a practicing terrorist. He’s actually a professor at the University of Chicago.

    Red Herring: “Obama servered on a board witj Bill Aryes”

    Classic politics of “guilt by association”.

    Can I play?

    John McCain was held and brain washed by communists for 6 years to hate America and eventually they deemed the job finished and released him to work for them here in America (see “The Manchurian Candidate”).

    How will McCain respond when tested to confront America’s enemies?
    Perhaps only the communists who trained him know for sure.

    Ugh… politics by paranoia is a nasty, nasty business. Connect dots of negative emotion and stir with e twist. It leaves the voters shaken if not stirred.

    Let’s put our faith in the inherent goodness of people and the wisdom of crowds. Otherwise, democracy is doomed. It does help to have strong advocates for truth consistently crying foul.

    There are other connections that can also be made… Bill Ayres linked to redemption, for example. Over 40 years a person can change. I’d be wary of someone that didn’t.

    I’m sure John McCain has changed too… unfortunately, he has changed by embracing the politics of Karl Rove: repeat the most damning lies possible because they wear down the opponent, the voter and the media until even the truth seems suspect.

    Leave a Comment

    You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>