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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lessons in democracy

There is just way too much irony in the decision by Boston College officials to cancel a lecture "The State of Democracy in America," because the talk is to be delivered by University of Chicago professor Bill Ayers.

Ayers, if you were asleep last fall, "palled around" with Barack Obama -- at least in the worldview of GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. The one-time Weather Underground member hosted a coffee for the then Illinois state senate candidate in 1995.

The encounter in the Hyde Park living room came decades after Ayers' involvement with the radical New Left group. In fact, Obama was a child when Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn committed what many, myself included, consider despicable acts.

Today, Ayers works in an environment that is supposed to stand for the free and open expression of ideas -- a college campus. Which brings us back to Boston College -- and the inability of the right wing attack machine to let go of its own hatreds.

A talk radio show allegedly linked Ayers to local radicals Kathrine Ann Power and Susan Saxe and the murder of a Boston police officer during an Allston robbery in 1970. I leave it to Dan Kennedy to work through and debunk the mythology of that alleged "connection."

I prefer to look at BC's decision to cave into a verbal terrorist assault by right wing yakker Michael Graham and the college's incredibly open and honest response to the action.
A spokesman for Boston College issued a brief statement yesterday, referring to the cancellation as an "internal matter at a private university."
A.J. Liebling once famously said "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” That apparently also applies to university officials who opt to uphold only comfortable speech.

Bravo to the students who have opted to move Ayers speech off campus. They will have an opportunity to listen to him, challenge how his words today match his deeds from yesterday and have the type of learning experience they are supposed to get at a supposedly first-rate college.

And let me give Ayers the last word:
"It's kind of a shameful thing to the administration because one can certainly understand why in Saudi Arabia or Serbia or China why speakers would be canceled for a variety of reasons," he said. "But in the US, in a democracy, that doesn't make sense."

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Blogger Quriltai said...

Between this cancellation and the sudden setting up of the "Catholicization" of the university, it seems that Basketball College is taking a sharp turn rightward these days.

March 29, 2009 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to be joking that BC is suddenly taking any turn rightward. Have you ever been to BC? Apparently you haven't done your research on Mr. Ayers. Here's a lesson in democracy for ya. A private institution does not have to allow anyone to speak especially if that person is an unrepentant, self-admitted domestic terrorist who wishes he "only did more" during his Days of Rage. It's ironic that Lefties see no problem is disrupting and shutting down lectures given by conservative speakers but get their panties all up in a bunch and moan about "free speech" when things don't go their way.

March 29, 2009 10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ack in the early eighties, in an interview with David Horowitz and Peter Collier, Bill Ayers remembered his reaction upon learning that he would not be prosecuted by the government for his bombing spree as a member of the Weather Underground. “Guilty as hell, free as a bird—America is a great country,” he exulted.

March 29, 2009 10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...the sudden setting up of the "Catholicization" of the university..."

what?!?! a private, jesuit catholic university has a religious element to it? why that is simply shocking and outrageous!

are you that clueless?

March 30, 2009 8:29 AM  

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