Politics & Policy

Change that Sees No Evil

Obama tries to explain Ayers.

Who is El Sayyid Nosair?

Well, I know him. I spent an awful lot of time around him. I know all about his background. So what if, upon being asked that question, I told you, “Oh, Sayyid — yeah, he’s an engineering student from Egypt who became a mechanic for the New York State courts.”

You might respond, “Wait a second. Wasn’t he the guy who murdered Meir Kahane (founder of the Jewish Defense League) in front of a room full of people at some hotel in Manhattan?”

“Oh, that. Yeah, well — but that was nearly 20 years ago.”

“And didn’t he, like, shoot a 70-year-old man who tried to block him from getting away?”

“I suppose.”

“… And then shoot it out on the street with a cop while about a thousand people buzzed around?”

“Technically speaking, it was a postal police officer, but I take your point.”

“Wasn’t Nosair pals with that big red-headed Egyptian guy whose picture they used to show on TV all the time?”

“Sure, Mahmud Abouhalima. He was a cabdriver from Brooklyn.”

“A cabdriver from Brooklyn? Wait a second. I remember this now. This Mahmud guy was here on some immigration scam, right?”

“Well, ‘scam’ is such a divisive term. He was legally in our country: he had a work permit under the Agricultural Workers Program.”

“Agricultural worker? In Brooklyn?”

“Er, yes, okay, but that just underscores that we have to do something to bring these people out of the shadows — ”

“Hold on. Didn’t Mahmud end up bombing the World Trade Center? Didn’t he work for that blind sheikh who kept telling everyone to kill all the Americans?”

“You mean Omar Abdel Rahman. Well, actually, he was a doctor of Islamic jurisprudence graduated from one of the world’s great universities — became a professor and a renowned expert in Muslim law. I don’t know why you keep dwelling on ancient history that distracts us from the real issues …”

Such inanity is not far from last week’s Philadelphia debate, when ABC’s George Stephanopoulos displayed the audacity of hope that Barack Obama might try to explain his friendly relationship with Bill Ayers, a terrorist.

A terrorist, Stephanopoulos elaborated, who bombed the Pentagon and the United States Capitol, among other targets.

The T-word, though, would not pass Obama’s lips.

Look, he responded, “this is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who’s a professor of English in Chicago.”

Sure he is: A professor of English … who professes that his bombings weren’t really terrorism because he was merely seeking “to educate” — and if, during the, er, lessons, “the bastards” finally got “what was coming to them,” so be it.

The Candidate of Hope seamlessly mixed pathetic understatement with bald lying and, naturally, righteous indignation. Ayers, whom Obama carefully cultivated as a young “community organizer” in sharp-elbowed Chicago politics, was not someone he had “received some official endorsement from.” No, of course not. Ayers and his wife (and fellow terrorist) Bernadine Dohrn merely launched his political career by hosting his coming out fundraiser in 1995 — an imprimatur that credentialed the up-and-coming Obama in the hard Left circle where he remains most comfortable.

Ayers, Obama added with Clintonian flair, is “not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.” Well, Senator, it all depends on what the definition of “regular” is, doesn’t it?

Ayers and Obama most certainly did exchange ideas. Like on the importance of not jailing young criminals. Like on who should get the money they were jointly in charge of doling out when they served together on the board of the Woods Fund, a Leftist charitable foundation: The beneficiaries included Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity Church (a cauldron of bigotry to which Woods awarded $6,000 expressly as homage to church member Barack Obama), and the Arab American Action Network co-founded by Rashid Khalidi, a long-time admirer of Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian “resistance” — or, as Obama might put it, a professor of Arab studies.

Yes, Obama whined to Stephanopoulos, “the notion that … me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense.”

Actually, Senator, it makes perfect sense. Yes, the bombings happened many years ago, but the seething hatred of America that inspired them lingers still. Indeed, it lingered for all to see on September 11, 2001 — when America’s latest terror nightmare became the fitting stage for Ayers’s brazen taunt that he regrets only his failure to carry out more bombings. America, he told the New York Times, still makes him want “to puke.”

Obama didn’t cut him off at that point, and why would he? Anyone who knew Ayers and spent any time around him had to know exactly where Ayers stood. Nothing Ayers told the Times could have surprised Obama. The unrepentant terrorist was simply reflecting the worldview that makes the hard Left the hard Left.

It’s the hard Left Obama comes from. That’s why he’s got the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate.

Here in 2008, the point is not that we should hold Obama accountable for “detestable acts” Ayers committed decades ago.

It’s that the vision which drove Ayers to savagery back then — a revolutionary vision “progressives” have vaporously relabeled “social justice” — is the same vision to which he still clings: the vision of a racist, imperious, exploitative America in need of upheaval. A vision we have every reason to think Obama, the Agent of Change, shares.

In the alternative, you could, I suppose, just tell yourself that Obama — a star at Harvard Law School who has risen like a meteor to a seat in the United States Senate and the verge of his party’s presidential nomination — somehow managed the feat despite being utterly clueless. Perhaps he looks at Ayers and really does see an English teacher, looks at Wright and sees only your average Christian pastor.

The question then becomes, are you comfortable with a president who looks at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and thinks, “Oh yeah, he’s that engineering student who was mayor of Tehran”?

— Andrew C. McCarthy is author of Willful Blindness: Memoir of the Jihad and director of the Center for Law and Counterterrorism at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

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