Obama and Ayers

The McCain campaign’s recent line of attack has been to try to tar Obama by associating him with Bill Ayers, who they’ve labeled a ‘domestic terrorist’. Let me tell you about the Obama/Ayers connection, from what I’ve been able to find out.

First of all, a little on Bill Ayers. In the 1960s, he was a student activist who was one of the leaders of the Weathermen group, also known as the Weather Underground, an organization that campaigned against the government’s involvement in the Vietnam War, often by violent means, such as bombs. Since the early 1980s however, Ayers has been well-known for his work in education reform. Currently a Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, his interests include “teaching for social justice, urban educational reform, narrative and interpretive research, children in trouble with the law, and related issues.” He’s worked with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to help shape the city’s school reform system, and was even named Chicago’s Citizen of the Year Award in 1997 for his work in school reform. So he’s hardly an anti-establishment figure right now.

Which leads us to the connection between Ayers and Obama. Ayers hosted a meet-and-greet for his inaugural run for the state senate in 1995, contributed $200 to Barack’s re-election fund to the Illinois State Senate in 2001, and the two served together from 2000-2002 on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago, an anti-poverty, philanthropic foundation. That’s about it. Obama’s denounced the violent actions of the Weather Underground, and since he was 8 years old and living in Indonesia at the time, it’s hard to see how the guilt by association ploy works at all.

What angers, frustrates, but most of all, worries, me is that I don’t think they understand the consequences of what they’re doing. McCain and Palin are equating Barack Obama with a terrorist. Unless you’re inclined to think that Barack is some kind of Manchurian candidate (and if you do, I really can’t help you), such a claim is absurd. Not only this, but it feeds into the fears and prejudices of people who are already uncertain about him, whether because of his race or his name. At McCain and Palin rallies recently, they’ve been asking the question, “Who is the real Barack Obama?” In response, people have been shouting, “Terrorist!” or “Traitor!”, and in one case, even calling for him to be killed.

I came across this video clip this morning. I’ll let the people speak for themselves.

Of course, I’m not saying that all people who are against Barack are only against him because they’re paranoid or ignorant. But you’ve got to wonder if the McCain campaign understands the kind of vitriol they’re inciting with their line of character attacks. And if they do know what they’re doing, what does this say about the kind of administration they’d lead?

I understand attacking an opponent’s policy proposals, for outlining why you disagree on the economy or on foreign policy or on energy, for pointing out where you think the holes are in the other person’s ideas. But trying to incite animosity, or to try to win votes by playing on people’s fears, is deplorable.

UPDATE: Here’s what Barack had to say about the issue today (Oct. 9).

A quick update

Welcome to October! Here’s the latest:

  1. Last weekend, I was supposed to head to Las Vegas to do some campaigning for Obama, but I got taken down by illness on Friday and so ended up not going. A couple of my friends did go and had a blast, so perhaps I’ll be able to fit in a trip before the election. If not, I’ll still be doing a little bit here and there around Pasadena or on the blogosphere.
  2. I’m still working on a piece detailing why I support Obama—it may not be the magnum opus that I envisioned it would be simply because I’m taking 14 units (four classes) this quarter and am already busy with school. But I’ll definitely try to update the various sites that I’m blogging at (in addition to the Nog): Amateur Political Commentary, Evangelical Political Analysis, and Fuller’s Blog for Prospective Students.
  3. The classes I’m taking this quarter are: Church in Mission, Church in American Culture, Communication, and Introduction to Islam. It’s gonna be a busy quarter school-wise, with hundreds of pages to read and analyze each week, various papers and blogs to write and contribute to, speeches to write and prepare. Then again, I’ve been taking a full class load for nine straight quarters … thus far, it’s never not been busy.
  4. Adding to the busyness, this weekend, I’m gonna be leading worship at a staff retreat for my friend’s church. It’s been awhile since I’ve led, but I’ve enjoyed being back in the saddle this last week, with prepping and planning and praying through sets, and I’m looking forward to seeing what God does.
  5. As for my leg, I got the stitches out a couple weeks ago and it’s healing up fine; it’s gotten to the stage of getting dry and itchy, and I’m going to have a sweet scar, but it’s healing up a lot quicker than I would’ve thought. I’m so looking forward to being ready to go for the start of the intramural flag football season (next weekend) and getting back to playing soccer, swimming and going to the gym.
  6. This last week saw the birth of John Denton Lotz, JP and Susan’s fourth kid and first son, so congratulations to them (as well as Hannah, Phoebe and Abigail on the birth of their little bro). I can’t wait to head back to the UK to see them all! (P.S. Happy anniversary to JP and Susan as well!)
  7. My best friends, Tim and Tiff, are coming out to visit in early November (just after the election, and just before my birthday), so I’m starting to get really, really excited. Tim came out to CA last October, but I haven’t seen Tiff since their wedding last June. Let the good times roll …

And now … back to work.