Letters to the Chicago Tribune

I, too, have been to Bill Ayers’ home. He has been to mine. I have known him 13 years. I have read his powerful prose, heard him speak in public and have had many private conversations with him over coffee. Am I somehow a different person because of this? I sincerely hope so. I am one of an incalculable number of Bill Ayers’ friends, associates, mentees and students who seek his company to be challenged, invigorated, sometimes irritated and often inspired.

I do not condone what Bill did 40 years ago. In fact, I find it impossible to defend.

I do celebrate who he is in his many dimensions, today.

This is what I know: When I spend time with Bill, I see our world as a flawed, fascinating and hopeful place that is rife with ironies and potential. Bill’s curiosity about the world and his abiding respect for its people is contagious. He speaks with passion and eloquence about the lives and futures of children in ways that remind us that this is the most important subject of our times. His belief in the capacities of all people is tenacious, and he has a gift for nurturing individuals’ strengths forward. He is unique in his ability to make lasting friends of strangers in a matter of moments.

He can also be aggravating and perplexing. But it was Bill Ayers, more than anyone else, who has taught me to care about the three-dimensionality of all people, and to know that every one of us is a whole lot more complex than the best or the worst thing we’ve ever done.

I know all this, not from what I hear on talk radio or read in the papers. I know this from 13 years of first-hand experience that has remained unfailing over time.

–Mark Larson


Steve Chapman argues guilt by association, but if one happens to agree with that premise, perhaps we should expand and revise the argument. I suggest instead that we judge Barack Obama by arguing affirmation by association, with a far more convincing scenario. Look what Obama has done with a little help from his friends: He has put together a campaign that has been able to steer his candidacy from virtual obscurity 15 months ago to where it is today, along with $40 million in the coffers and thousands of new voters now excited about the political process. These people are surely better friends and acquaintances with him than is William Ayers, and they are talented, smart, disciplined and dedicated to his cause. I suggest we look to their organizational accomplishments when judging Obama’s character, judgment and leadership, rather than what Ayers did when Obama was 8.

–Jeanine Tobin


5 Responses to Letters to the Chicago Tribune

  1. Rob Adcox says:

    Never trust anyone over 30.

  2. Digital Brown Shirt says:

    Wow, denial is a powerful thing.

  3. John Janski says:

    Why UIC continues to Billy Ayers, a domestic terrorist on their payroll is beyond me. The man should be making license plates in the federal pen.

  4. stian brinch says:

    John, I don’t know if they make license plates in federal prison, but Bill should have at least spent some years there for his crimes.

  5. Larry says:

    Bill Ayers should have been booted out of the United States many years ago. I recently saw a picture of Bill Ayers standing on an american flag. Does Bill “THE JERK” Ayers have any idea how many americans died fighting in wars all over this globe so an “IDIOTIC COWARD” like him could have the freedom he enjoys today.
    Bill Ayers how about trying that “standing on the american flag” bit again; in front of me, face to face. Your a coward, and a disgrace.

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