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I can't believe sitting here in the belly of the beast is Bill Ayers distinguished professor.
One time leader the Weather Underground public -- -- -- book confessions of an American dissident.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Look -- -- and maybe but not -- I think I'm -- repentant and some senses but I'm 68 years old and the narrative that I have no regrets is not true I mean you can't be eighteen and have no regrets about 68.
On the other hand I don't regret being on the right side of the war in Vietnam issue.
And taking extreme actions it seemed to me was called little viewpoint on this book and when you first started speaking up against the war in Vietnam it wasn't -- that it was very popular.
The war itself was very popular that time -- one of the first people.
Even just jump on board -- the -- war became unpopular no I was arrested in 1965 in a draft board and over the next three years arrested a dozen times in direct nonviolent actions.
What's interesting to me about being labeled a terrorist and like all of -- I mean.
We're complicated people everyone is and -- works in progress.
And I've been a professor for thirty years and early childhood educator a parent a teacher and so it kind of say well.
Forty years ago he did this and different that's who you are and I reject and actually as you point out the details are you never killed anybody you actually would went to great lengths to make sure -- -- not not -- -- defending what you did I understand what he did it go.
But if you get cold things that are just not true well murderer a you know that you kill people not to let it -- None of that ever happened I mean it is true there were three deaths my girlfriend and two best friends.
Died in 1970 and they were making a bomb and had they executed what they were talking about thinking about it would have been horrible.
And it might have been terrorism but we are supporting what they were doing -- I wasn't even part of it I mean I was -- we were a splintered organization I was somewhere else.
But the problem is that we walked up to it but then we walked away from it very deliberately in 1970 we wrote about it.
I wrote about it create -- -- fugitive days my first -- our -- but but after that you're right there were no injuries there were no deaths -- here -- the situation.
We committed acts of extreme vandalism we destroyed government property that's all true we broke the law that's true we perhaps crossed lines of common sense.
But we did not kill people who did not terrorize people and every week that the war in Vietnam wound down.
6000 people were murdered so compare what we did to what the standard policy of the United States was -- and you're -- then as you change your politics and I can't even a little in fact the things that ignited my passion.
And my politics in my activism when I was nineteen years old.
And the very things they were -- today.
Racial justice global justice economic and social justice -- don't -- question hypothetically in the book can you asked in this part we talk about what you're talking about now.
Win is an act of sabotage and active look.
Question I have and I guy I'm not a tactician and I'm not defending as you say you're not defending loud I don't defend what the Weather Underground did I understand it.
And I understand in that context in the context includes.
Veterans like secretary of state John Kerry coming back the United States as a young officer and saying in front of the US senate in the mid 1960s.
We commit war crimes in Vietnam every day not as matter of choice but as a matter policy.
That's a war of terror what do you make of John Kerry who famously said -- he -- the man be the last man to die for a mistake.
Now one has asked in terms of his position on Syria -- US -- to be the first.
Man or woman.
Even -- military to die on -- yeah I mean I think it's it's a sad transformation in many ways and I think he outgrew his.
Youthful idealism and I'm sorry I never did but the other thing the serious thing it's an interesting example because here we have a situation.
Where the United States its default position is -- in them bomb send in the guided missiles and the great.
Kind of -- accident of that serious situation.
Was it somebody came up with an alternative the alternative was let's put the chemical weapons under an international body.
What a great idea why -- you and I think that the Gaby are those of us who care about peace we should have been thinking in those.
-- we have no jobs gonna show a couple of weeks ago he -- talking about how you -- we didn't double take and -- -- an economic time but -- -- -- -- -- love the guy and he pointed out you know who we'd go.
Actually was appointed to talk about this -- -- your book so much but but given your history and background and your take on things we're the ones who deposed.
A democratically elected.
-- -- incident in Iraq in ninety in Iran rather in 1953 input in.
Eventually the -- except where the once you've done this time after time and other countries in -- the people's already we didn't -- -- in Libya without which probably been gosh he wouldn't have happened if there's any governmental control that cavalier.
Or -- nationalist patriotism.
Allows us to see similar -- in very different ways if we overthrow somebody it must be good because our hearts are big if someone else does it it's bad if we commit assassinations -- drone strikes.
It must be good.
These are bad things we should oppose them.
It died in a Bill Ayers his book is public enemy confessions of an American dissident where would you say you're now -- the political spectrum.
I am not a Democrat oh god I'm sure people presume you are good well -- conservative there for you must be a little don't know I'm not a liberal I don't know how to Democrat -- he'll.
I've as a teacher I've spent my whole adult life opposing labels.
If I had the label myself I Tamer radical in the sense that I want to go to the root of things not just understand this war but the continuous state of war.
If I if you want to break it down on the First Amendment like you I'm a fundamentalist and prisons -- an abolitionist and the -- the pacifist -- we can go on abolitionist interment prisoners attitude should be no -- absolutely what would you do with a bad guys I love that you asked that because I say -- college campuses all the time abolish the prisons and immediately the questions but what about John -- case here this mass murder and I -- we tell your book you mentioned -- -- yes I was -- -- -- execution but and I say okay that's oneself.
And the reason I put it that way is just like on the question of peace if you and I and others people who care about the future of humanity can come up with a hundred alternatives to incarceration.
Of course we -- prisons but we don't need 2.5 million of our fellow citizens locked up -- I tell you got the non upended the drug people you have to people who really -- nonviolent -- exactly and overwhelmingly people in -- -- nonviolent offenders and so if you imagine drug treatment ideas if you mention restorative justice if you -- mental health fully -- then we begin to diminish the idea -- -- people is the right answer you both Barack Obama I voted for two Democrats in my life neither one with any -- George McGovern of course and Barack Obama twice for Barcelona of course.
And I voted for him not because I had any illusions that he would save us in fact.
I'm you might be interested to know that I'm moderately disinterested electoral politics because I was surprised in my view.
What changes history social movements from below to view looking at the last hundred years -- couple hundred years.
Lyndon Johnson passed the most far reaching civil rights legislation since reconstruction not part of the black freedom movement FDR not part of the labor movement Lincoln.
Never a member of -- -- malicious party what they were responding to was fire from below.
So I think we spend too much time gazing at the -- of power we have no access to when we should be building social where we go to get the country we want if -- neither left -- right you're liberal or conservative and yet there's nobody on the political spectrum electorally.
Who represents what would -- my point about Johnson.
Johnson Roosevelt and Lincoln.
Is it wasn't electoral question it was a question of building social movement.
I have absolute access to the neighborhood the street the community the workplace and the classroom I don't have access to the White House and I don't wanna spend my time begging the white has to do the right thing when I can mobilize people and I must mobilize people.
To demand the things that we need.
Interestingly when Obama ran for president 2008.
And he was asked in the early days of the primary who would king's support and his response was I thought brilliant he said king wouldn't support any of us he'd be in the street building movement for justice -- it was not be supporting me exactly where you know exactly we think he's a GOP and guide the way the Republicans -- -- -- it's not true and so what we ought to do.
Is pay attention to that the power that we actually have in our own hands because of a match in the world we want to live in and then move towards that.
You had a very strong weather I guess is -- layers public enemy's -- his new book confessions of an American dissident.
You had a very -- -- reaction when Barack Obama and being asked about you.
-- she was a guy in the neighborhood.
I didn't take it as an insult I was a guy in the -- as it was I mean we've both lived in Hyde Park this during the debate where your name first we've you're coming out party so this -- well I was aware that it was it was the you know grew at a boiling in the in the fever swamps of the right wing blogs.
But when it burst into the national media was when George Stephanopoulos asked Obama first of a Jeremiah Wright.
And then about me and you had a group -- students and perhaps that my advisor to -- right -- you know they didn't know anything about your background that you were the Bill Ayers -- well they didn't know there was he the deal players I mean.
My students and I were having a seminar someone turned on the debate at the very end.
Stephanopoulos asked what about this guy Bill Ayers and Obama responded by students fell to the floor covering their faces they couldn't believe it was student turned to me and said that car has the same name as you and the -- -- another student said that's because -- -- is that guy and then we.
Went -- their bit it was a surreal moment for your -- and then the things that came your way the brick bats -- came your way.
Who have some of the people in this billing system -- -- things about you some of the lessons that I've sat next it on television.
We prepared for the -- did you -- surprised.
By what happened after that.
I was a bit surprised I'll tell you I lived a long life ended and so I don't I don't look too.
The media or anyone else for affirmation or for or for -- praise.
I I try to be a little more balance than that on the other hand being a small story in -- US presidential election is a kind of as we heard a super stardom that you never could imagine so two different in my case super notoriety.
And my kids particularly my grown my three grown boys my wife Bernadine -- my brother all advise me it's just not enter into it and so I didn't I remained quiet all during the 2008 campaign.
Which was genetically very difficult for me but I did it and I was glad it did.
America -- yes that Bill Ayers.
Through -- at the moment when you became identified at least the substances the Bill -- part of even -- small part of a presidential campaign -- -- -- graduate even again the weather a second time to rest for they did they could let go Jeremiah writer you they could that's true.
But the interesting thing was that -- -- -- you're you're you're it's not true that Fox News crafted the narrative Hillary Clinton crafted the narrative and people don't remember that -- but the narrative to beat Obama was this and she dated and Stephanopoulos turned -- water in that debate.
Did narrative was.
Here's a charismatic beautiful brilliant guy but we don't know much about him he's a mystery man let's look at his friends Jeremiah Wright Rashid Khalili the -- the Palestinian scholar Bill Ayers the former terrorist.
And so they created kind of a monster out of each of these you -- we're really friends with a weren't.
-- we way you know -- -- my -- neighborhood here and we served -- a cup held copy from you give a few -- campaign -- and -- characteristic and in -- a very typical Hyde -- relationship but we also served on the boards of Scotland not for profits we never actually shared a military shake with two -- a happy that we did know each other and and like millions of other people I really wish him doing much better now and he never exaggerated and the emirates -- you know any time you had I know that I don't know I don't avoiding any of the book a little less slammed the book but.
You at grant park yes are not as easy.
2008 election wherever you went back to grand partner in 2012 but it was pouring rain.
And at that point they had -- the rally at McCormick place it was but -- didn't have any personal contact -- with them but I don't know but we did go to grant park to celebrate and it was us that -- was an overwhelming experience what.
What's interesting to major wife Bernadine Dorn.
Was actually a more famous so called terrorists -- you're much more anti inflammatory as much more in fact ardent and I would say -- her beliefs but maybe some of republic statements for a little more AG.
In terms and and terms of you talk about in the book what what she did by not what what who's willing to do which is go to jail for months because she would talk her -- That's -- she is a very determined and willful person she also was a leader of the student movement.
She was a young lawyer when she was elected the leader of students for democratic society and she was passionate.
She was charismatic she brought people to their feet and and brought them to their best selves and I often wonder during the -- madness about me being the public enemy why they didn't choose her she's better looking she started.
And she's more terrific in every way but.
-- and that it wouldn't wish that on her and we got through it.
You what talk about your family -- great deal in this book can you talk about how you came to be -- an educator with a fascinating story about -- And the woman who ran a child daycare center -- I'm sorry BJ that's -- -- -- -- you.
Both as mr.
Tony -- which are namely you -- -- underground that's her and then she beat you again as a -- that's right.
And -- you know if there is a hero in this book it might well PP chase he's -- -- without formal education started little home -- -- -- character in this but yes it is and and the reason is because this book is about the thirty years since the end of the Vietnam War and in those thirty years parenting and teaching.
And activism around saving public education.
It was my life around this time.
That you -- working in this daycare center.
You became a guardian for the child of somebody else Kathy Boudin that's and she was.
Part of that Brinks robbery in 1981 concern and that's -- the Weather Underground thing gets its its reputation as being violent -- who which was after kind of weather immigrant underground kind of -- right.
Whether whether -- disappeared in 1975.
Played in 1981.
Members who were once with the Weather Underground and who were once with a black Panthers robbed a Brinks truck and and there were two guards and a police officer killed.
Other people were killed and Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert had a young son fourteen months old.
And -- and -- without much agony.
But to each other and said -- -- for fortune.
And we took this child.
And that changed our lives dramatically any erratic play what became a camping and it -- -- dean went to jail for twenty years to life David for 75 to life.
David is still in maximum security new York state prison.
And Kathy got out after 22 years in prison and has made an amazing life for herself got a doctorate at Columbia University.
Runs a clinic a social work -- for.
For families of -- -- people.
-- surprised given the care with which you've approached protesting.
Not killing anybody -- going into government property going into war monuments.
Or more war material I should say.
That this happens.
Among the people that you associated with this part of when we were shocked we did not approve -- -- mentioned that -- went to prison for several -- Federal lockup.
For refusing to talk to -- the grand jury was investigating this case and even -- -- had nothing to do with it did not supported.
She felt on principle that you cannot go into a star chamber.
Well organized by the US government and give information about PP just don't know why why he would do it in her position was.
If I have free speech I have the right to remain silent they disagreed in the locker.
There's a point in her life where Charlton Heston you mentioned this in the book her to have her fired that's true -- job that's true.
Heston was a -- influential -- of Northwestern University -- per game.
Rent a law clinic in the law school called the children family justice center.
She just retired in August so.
She's no longer affiliated -- get fired -- didn't get fired but -- should be pleased just you -- in which fascinated me when you sit in the book more and -- book by the way is public enemy peel layers -- More adrenaline pumped through your veins as a teacher than any other time and given.
You show her work as a very activists -- need -- consider yourself a terrorist.
I was surprised adjusted well the reason is that I actually think and I thought my whole life I started teaching 9065.
That teaching is the most intellectually demanding.
And and interest thing profession -- -- can take I worked for seven years in a preschool in an early childhood center with this woman BJ and I think that.
The thrills the amazement the shocks the the witnessed a growth was more powerful there than Clinton probably anyplace I've ever worked Bernadine -- -- -- -- spend her time after she was released from.
And -- -- energy organizing defeat the American empire.
You have you have to respect is that something that you can with which you can -- and you know if you have -- your own goals still well -- -- about enacting absolutely I mean I think that she and I have been our whole lives peace activists and and we do think that that the the fact the United States -- spends a trillion dollars a year.
With hundreds and hundreds of military bases overseas does not make us safer nation and makes -- a weaker.
And more vulnerable -- -- yes we would like to see the US closes spaces we would like it to see to see it become a nation among nations.
Last year you may remember there were big protests at the NATO G-8 meeting in Chicago bringing was one of the leaders of that protest some very important what can you do now is someone who still care so deeply about these issues.
And to to make -- there affectionate well look we can do is what all citizens can do we can stand up we can speak the truth to power we can open our eyes to the reality that we see around us.
We can be astonished look -- the beauty and love that that we find everywhere and also at the cruelty in the unnecessary pain.
And we can then act and after we act as important lesson we have to doubt we have to rethink and then start over open your eyes pay attention.
Act doubt and keep going forever -- -- public enemy confessions -- an American dissident pillars thanks so much for being here thank you don't appreciate it.
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