How Bill Ayers became respectable

If there's one thing that's worse than Bill Ayers, it's his respectability. How did it happen that a guy like that came to be respectable?

The same way bad people always become respectable, of course. Nice respectable people fail to speak up. By "nice" I mean the very people I referred to in this post; the country club people. Nice, respectable upper middle class people who don't want to be embarrassed. Such people are often the product of generations of "refinement." They descend from nice pedigrees, and are raised by parents who themselves were raised by people who believe it is "rude" to disagree. Their children, when they reach adolescence, might at first glance appear to be less civilized (and therefore more "rude") and it might appear that they are, at least to their unsuspecting parents. But the latter need not worry, for their kids' early lessons in never speaking up even when they might think others are wrong will manifest themselves in another form of submission to the Tyranny of The Other. This is sometimes called "being cool," and sometimes being "politically correct," but it's really a variation on a very old theme.

In a nice, civilized society where gentlemen deal only with gentlemen and follow long-established rules, handshake deals, and gentlemen's agreements* it might be OK to avoid speaking up and endeavoring to never disagree.

But when evil people like Bill Ayers (who is himself a member of the "nice" class) come along, the system fails, and evil becomes respectable.


Interestingly, the aristocratic Winifred Wagner (pictured above) was said to have been privately disgusted by Hitler's persecution of the Jews.

Better not to bring something like that up, though. Might cause some unpleasantness at the club....

* I remember in the long distant past when there was a thing called noblesse oblige, which included strange ideas about privileged kids providing military leadership. Why, the elite even had ROTC!

MORE: Mickey Kaus is not afraid to condemn Ayers' respectability:

I still think it's creepy the way Ayers and Dohrn are accepted in Chicago, and Obama's acceptance is part of that creepiness.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

As I keep saying, Ayers' respectability is a bigger problem than his friendship with Obama. The problem with Obama is that he goes along with it, and (as I said after the last debate) perpetuates it:

What annoys me the most about Obama's performance last night is his attempt to continue the mainstreaming of a murderous radical who should never have been mainstreamed in the first place.

Yes, I think Ayers, a murderous, admitted enemy of the United States, was lucky to avoid prison, and should never have been given tenure and respectability. Even now he should be fired, and removed from all semblance of respectability. I know this is not going to happen, and I realize there is no way to hold the people who hired, coddled and promoted Ayers accountable, but I think that if Obama can't at least denounce him as outside the mainstream, he is unfit to be president.

Instead of denouncing him, Obama promotes the meme that Ayers is an "educational reformer" (as he did last night). This is not much different from promoting the meme that Mao was an "agrarian reformer."

I'm not saying this is all the fault of Barack Obama, but I think it's a predictable result of a simple inability of the respectable classes to speak up.

posted by Eric on 10.21.08 at 07:26 PM


I would say it is the fault of Barack Obama, if he can't muster the basic decency to see Ayers and Dorhn are beyond the pale, and the basic courage to say so. The President, whomever it turns out to be, will swear an oath on Inaguration Day to protect the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. He hasn't done so to date, are we to believe that he will after then?

On the other hand, John McCain lived 22 years under a very similar oath.

Steve Skubinna   ·  October 21, 2008 9:52 PM

A big part of why I joined the military, and the Marine Corps specifically, was for me, a young man's search for an American sub-society that still operated under your description of "gentlemanly rules."

While my 5 year military experience wasn't exactly utopian, I can say that before joining I would've have shook Ayers hand out of a desire to be polite, but after leaving the Marines? Never.

Kadnine   ·  October 21, 2008 10:07 PM

As a recent juror on a high profile murder case, I came to understand what "beyond a reasonable doubt" really means. Over the course of the last two years, it has been proven to me "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Obama is dangerously idealistic, cunningly deceitful and morally relativistic. He has spent a lifetime seeking out others who bear the same characteristics rather than challenge his own views and refine them in a way consistent with personal growth and development. Ambition and self-assuredness can be a virtue - until it crosses a line. When one sacrifices honor, consistency and the truth for it, it becomes nothing more than a desire for power and recognition. And Obama is drunk with it.

Oyster   ·  October 22, 2008 7:55 AM

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