The Corner

Bill Ayers Jr.

Up on the homepage today I have a review of Gringo: A Coming of Age in Latin America, young writer Chesa Boudin’s new memoir and South American travelogue. Why should you care about this particular book? Well, for one thing Boudin is the son four Weather Underground members — sort of. After Boudin’s parents were sent to jail for particpating in a 1981 robbery with a militant black panther offshoot that resulted in three deaths, Boudin was raised by his parents’ good friends and fellow Weather Underground members Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. (Boudin’s mother was paroled in 2003, while his father remains unrepentant and is still in jail. And for what it’s worth, Chesa Boudin’s grandfather was Castro’s lawyer in the U.S. and he’s also the great nephew of Soviet spy and beloved left-wing journalist I. F. Stone.)

Anyway, the book, while terrible, provides a fascinating window into the Ayers controversy in last year’s election. In the piece, I put it this way:

Now, you might recall, there was a good deal of controversy about President Obama’s long association with Ayers. While pretty much everyone condemns Ayers’s terrorist actions as a member of the Weather Underground, there is some disagreement as to how repentant Ayers himself is, and as to whether he was reformed by the time Obama was working closely with him.

For what it’s worth, if Gringo is anything to go by, Ayers managed to raise a boy who is thoroughly anti-American and prone to bizarre justifications for the use of violence (or at least, for the use of violence in the service of left-wing causes). These justifications start with his parents — “certainly violence is illegitimate when it targets civilians or intends to cause generalized or widespread fear, but my parents never did either of those” — and permeate his entire worldview.

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