Eduwonkette wrote to alert me to this exchange between Bill Ayers, Obama’s (in)famous neighbor and ally in the 80s-90s wars over education policy in Chicago, and Sol Stern, education expert at the Manhattan Institute. Stern recently penned an interesting essay in the Institute’s City Journal on Ayers’ authoritarian approach to education issues.
Note in Ayers’ response he hides behind the concept “social justice” – a meaningless word because the minute you challenge advocates of this approach they sound like Mom and Apple Pie liberals. Historians would remind us, though, of the way in which the authoritarian left used “popular fronts” in the 30’s in a very similar way. So did the FSLN as I found in my dissertation research. And, of course, Ayers ignores his statements about the “revolutionary” nature of education when speaking in front of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in late 2006.
Eduwonkette weighs in, too. But I think she gets it wrong when she buys into the notion that “social justice” does not have a very particular meaning to the Ayers type. From that conclusion all else follows. But if you buy into the notion that it is just another word for “fairness” or “equity” it is impossible to understand the method (and madness) of the authoritarian left.
While Stern is rightly alert to the damage that Ayers’ worldview is doing in the world of education policy, I am reminded when I refresh my memory of the role of Ayers, Dohrn & Co. in the early 70s of the damage they did to the relationship of the left to labor and other segments of American society. While in countries like Poland, the non-authoritarian left allied with new labor activists for democratic change, no such alliance happened here, which, in my view, was far more the fault of the authoritarian left than of the U.S. labor movement.
The unanswered question of the day, of course, is what damage will the Ayers’ worldview do to the Obama campaign?