Just when you had wished you had indeed heard the last of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, it turns out they are publishing a new manifesto described in brief on Amazon.com.
What makes the book blurb – this one apparently not written by their long time, umm, colleague, co-education policy wonk, fellow intellectual and, yes, neighbor Barack Obama – worrisome is that it links what Ayers and Dohrn say is America’s continuing sin, racism and “white supremacy,” with their views on war.
In other words just as Barack Obama moves to the White House, these two destructive figures out of the past are about to advocate an entire new world view for America built around their curious race-centric obsession. Presumably this will be an opportunity to peddle, one more time, their Third Worldist clap trap which mandates that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
This narrow and dangerous thinking is what led Ayers, Dohrn and others in their camp to embrace figures like Castro, Ortega, and Chavez even as they trample all over the civil rights of their citizens in order to maintain their authoritarian hold on power.
(Hmm, was it Bill Ayers, now apparently a foreign policy thinker, who suggested sit downs between President Obama and dictators like Ayers’ friends?)
Nothing has done more damage to the efforts of genuinely progressive forces on the left attempting to change America’s foreign policy in a peaceful and democratic direction than those who advocate the embrace of figures like these as the way forward for the world.
Perhaps the appearance of this manifesto, however, helps put some of the recent comments of Obama running mate Joe Biden in a more comprehensible context. Biden was widely criticized for suggesting that an Obama presidency would be “tested” by a foreign policy crisis soon after taking office. The comment was dismissed by most as yet another Biden “gaffe.” Yet that criticism did not stop Biden’s camp from defending the comments made to a Seattle audience.
In light of the willingness of Obama backers like Ayers and Dohrn to now more openly express their own views on foreign policy, built around their long standing view of America as a racist nation, Biden may have felt a response was called for – a kind of shot across the bow, if you will, of the third worldist/neo-stalinist element in the Obama camp.
No doubt the assumption among Biden confidantes is that the election is over and the battle for the soul of the Presidency is on. It cannot be viewed without concern by mainstream figures in the liberal internationalist wing of the Democratic party that discussion about the connection between Ayers and someone like the Palestinian academic Rhashid Khalidi has now emerged.
It has long been known that Khalidi and Obama were close, but given Obama’s connection to strong supporters of Israel that could be dismissed as an attempt to absorb perspectives from all sides.
But it turns out that while Obama and Khalidi have often had dinner together, Khalidi and Ayers are even closer – Khalidi credits Ayers with providing some help writing a book, for example.
The Woods Fund on whose board Obama and Ayers sat awarded tens of thousands of dollars in grants to a foundation on Arab American issues run by Khalidi’s wife. When Khalidi left his teaching position at the University of Chicago in 2003 to take up the Edward Said Chair at Columbia, Obama spoke at a dinner in his honor. Ayers and Dohrn, some say, were also in the audience. A videotape of the dinner is in the hands of the Los Angeles Times but they have refused calls to release it.
Of course, over the past few years one of the central foreign policy issues where cries of “racism” have been used is to attack US foreign policy towards Israel. While Khalidi seems to stop short of the formulation by some that “Zionism is Racism,” he does argue that Israel’s policies are “systematically racist.”
Just as Ayers and Obama have endorsed ideas based on reparations for American slavery, Khalidi backed the idea of discussing reparations for American slavery alongside of what he called Israel’s “racist” policies as part of the UN’s World Conference on Racism in 2001.
Tragically, no third pole between the traditional Democratic party’s neo-liberal internationalism, on the one hand, and the neo-Stalinists’ “America is a racist nation” viewpoint, on the other, has emerged in this campaign except a rather feeble effort by the Nader ticket.
No evidence, of course, that Biden cares about that, unfortunately.