Letters to the Chicago Tribune

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We’re all terrorists

Steve Chapman’s column about Barack Obama’s friendship with Bernardine Dohrn and William Ayers (“About Obama’s terrorist acquaintance,” Commentary, April 20) was far, far too simplistic. All of us who were adult Americans in the ’70s were complicit in one form or terror or another.

Yes, police officers were tragically lost in a foolish attempt to attack the U.S. government, but all such casualties were part and parcel of a foolish war instigated by a Democratic president and continued by a Republican.

The Weather Underground is guilty of terror, as is each Vietnam vet who killed or ordered the killings of civilians. I sat on my 2-S deferment and let it all happen; I’m guilty.


We’re all ex-terrorists, no matter which side we enabled then or are on now. That’s what wars of aggression do to the instigating nations.

Obedience and loyalty are never excuses for sins against mankind. Finger-pointing won’t hide that.

–Chris Deignan

Cary

Past transgressions

Steve Chapman apparently doesn’t believe in redemption by others for past misconduct. Nor does he demonstrate the need to cease and apologize for his own complicity in misconduct.

His column on Barack Obama’s relationship with former Weather Underground leaders William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn appears to be part of a concerted media and Republican campaign to paint Obama as unpatriotic. Ayers and Dohrn are convenient vehicles to further this agenda.

As one who opposed the Vietnam War in the 1960s, I understand the frustration of those who worked to end an immoral war that needlessly killed more than a million Vietnamese and 58,000 Americans. Ayers and Dohrn make no apologies for their particular efforts, which included condoning if not participating in violent conduct.

But Chapman fixates on the lack of apology as the main reason to impugn Obama’s character through his relationship with Ayers and Dohrn.

They long ago fulfilled their legal responsibility for their radical activities. They could have thrown away the rest of their lives as many in their movement did. Instead they redeemed themselves by becoming productive citizens, working to make this a better country and world.

Thankfully at least one presidential contender has the wisdom and courage to work with anyone, regardless of past transgressions, who now treads the path of peace and progress.

Instead of obsessing over refusals to apologize for 40-year-old behavior, Chapman and the rest of the Tribune editorial board should examine their continued enabling of the Bush administration’s needless and self-destructive war in Iraq, which is bankrupting America, morally and financially.

Our future leaders need to solicit the support of every thoughtful and productive member of society if we are going to end this catastrophic war and begin solving the avalanche of problems confronting America.

–Walt Zlotow

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