Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Weapon of Campaign Destruction

A lot has been made about Barack Obama's alleged "relationship" with former Weatherman Bill Ayers. Sarah Palin and other McCain surrogates have argued that since Obama and Ayers were acquainted and Ayers has a "terrorist" history, that makes Obama a friend/supporter of terrorism.

First of all, what a ridiculous leap in logic. Disregard for a moment that the link between Obama and Ayers is maybe one step above "casual acquaintance" -- they served on a committee together and Ayers hosted a fundraising party for Obama. Even if their relationship was friendlier than that, the idea that Obama in any way supports or stands for what Ayers once did is completely faulty. First of all, Ayers committed these acts of "terrorism" nearly 40 years ago, decades before he even met Obama. Obama himself was a child when the Weathermen were at their height. Secondly, since when do the actions of our friends reflect on us? I have Republican friends, but I don't vote Republican. I have friends who practice different religions, root for different sports teams, and generally believe in things I don't believe in. Their choices don't reflect my personal beliefs just as my choices don't reflect theirs.

I also have a problem with the way Bill Ayers's name has been dragged through the mud by this campaign. Yes, he was involved in some pretty nasty business back in the 60's and 70's. His actions, though, stemmed from a belief that the government was involved in morally bankrupt practices and needed to be stopped. Ayers and his colleagues saw their actions as revolutionary -- just as a bunch of "terrorists" did back in 1776. When the Weathermen bombed buildings, they sent warnings that included evacuation notices, identification of the protest being stated, and gave details that would spare lives. They didn't fly airplanes into buildings. Their protests were violent but focused and stemmed from beliefs that were shared by a large number of people in this country at the time.

In the years since the Weathermen disbanded, Ayers has gone on to be a productive member of society. He is a professor at the University of Chicago, one of the top universities in the nation. He is involved in numerous charities throughout the Chicago area. Do the actions of the man not get to outweigh at some point the mistakes of the boy? Doesn't a lifetime of responsibility get to erase a few years of poor choices? The fact of the matter is that this man who has spent decades educating and giving to others and now has been turned into a weapon of campaign destruction.

The fact of the matter is that the McCain campaign has become convinced that the only way to win this election is to ignore the issues that plague the hearts and minds of America and is attempting to appeal to our fears by painting Obama as dangerous and evil. McCain had that moment where he tried to assure voters that there was nothing to fear where Obama is concerned, but he's done little to stop his supporters from shouting racial epithets or crying out for Obama to be killed. The nastiness that is being fostered by the McCain campaign is shameful and the fact that this seems to be backfiring on him in the polls gives me hope that American elections can become civil someday.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Thank you for putting so much of what has been frustrating me so clearly. Obviously this is not an argument that is meant for thinking people, for those who think redemption is possible or who understand that you can agree with people on some issues (in this case, on the need for education reform in Chicago) and not on others (the efficacy of reforming America with incendiary devices decades previously). This hateful demagoguery and the response it provokes are frankly frightening. I am look forward to the ultimate repudiation of these tactics on election day.