The Magazine

Seminar in Shamelessness

The Ayers-Dohrn road show.

May 25, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 34 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Dohrn's defense of the "old days" is characteristic of the mixture of denial, fabrication, and audacity that marks an Ayers-Dohrn "dialogue." They lecture other white Americans about their responsibility for colonialism, slavery, and Jim Crow, while denying responsibility for Weatherman killings because haplessness kept their hands clean in an oh-so-technical sense.

Dohrn bemoans the "invisible justice system" for white people-- a symptom of society's "structural racism" perpetuated by white people not as enlightened as she--while ignoring the inconvenient fact that her years as a fugitive on the FBI's most-wanted list ended in only a $1,500 fine and three years' probation.

She decries the "Gulag of prisons across the United States," without acknowledging that during her time as a self-proclaimed "revolutionary Communist" she sympathized, colluded with, and met with Cuban and North Vietnamese officials who were enthusiastic users of political prison systems.

Ayers and Dohrn, in short, are shameless pitchmen for an alternative present and past, and their audience of aging fans and new far-left activists laps it up happily, bestowing Black Power salutes and the precious, revolutionary appellations of "brother" and "sister."

When asked what they like about their country by a Baltimore audience member, Ayers and Dohrn reply with predictable narcissism: its radicals and its history of radicalism. A radical, after all, might just talk himself out of a job if he concedes too much progress.

So, in the face of the election of the first African-American president, Ayers and Dohrn wrote a book on the scourge of "white supremacism." Dohrn can only concede that the state of modern women is "different," not necessarily better than it once was. They repackage the revolution to keep their relevance, dismissing American progress and peddling crank solutions to society's problems with all the eagerness of QVC spokespeople: "But wait, there's more!"

Ayers closed the event with a brazenly innocuous call to arms for his fellow radicals: "Go out and be mensches." One was left to wonder whether he meant the kind of mensch who occasionally blows up his countrymen for the good of the cause.

Mary Katharine Ham is a staff writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.