The Corner

Idea for Ambassador to Venezuela

I don’t know why today’s NYTimes made me think of this, but here’s a post from October 11 last year — three weeks before the election when all the media Left, and our Obamaphiles of the Right, were pooh-poohing the Ayers connection.

What kind of education reform did Ayers & Obama have in mind?   [Andy McCarthy]

You can draw plenty of rational inferences from Stanley [Kurtz]’s rich work.  But for a clear statement of Ayers’s frightening vision, I submit that his November 2006 speech at the World Education Forum should be required reading.  

As Cornerites know, I’ve been arguing that our emphasis on Ayers’s prior terrorism, while highly relevant, is not the essential point.  The real issue is Ayers’s revolutionary leftism (at around the time Ayers and Obama began working on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, by the way, Ayers described himself as ”a radical, Leftist, small ‘c’ communist”). 

Obama is clearly lying when he claims ignorance about Ayers’s terrorism, but even if you wanted to pretend otherwise, it is impossible that he was in the dark about Ayers’s revolutionary leftism:  Ayers has never made a secret of it and can’t seem to help himself from mentioning it about every 30 seconds.  Obama not only knew about Ayers’s views in this regard; he obviously subscribed to them:  was a member of the Chicago New Party begun by the Democratic Socialists of America; he worked closely with Ayers on “education reform” for years, he approved of Ayers’s similarly fringe-Left views of the criminal justice system’s treatment of juvenile crime, and, we are learning; and he was tightly aligned with ACORN, which he and Ayers funded and whose practices fit comfortably with the Ayers view of “participatory democracy”).

In any event, here are excerpts of Ayers’s 2006 speech before Hugo Chavez and other assembled “comrades”:

President Hugo Chavez, … invited guests, comrades.  I’m honored and humbled to be here with you this morning.  I bring greetings and support from your brothers and sisters throughout Northamerica [sic]!   Welcome to the World Education Forum.  Amamos la revolucion Bolivariana! …

[M]y comrade and friend Luis Bonilla, a brilliant educator and inspiring fighter for justice … has taught me a great deal about the Bolivarian Revolution [i.e., Chavez’s movement] and about the profound educational reforms underway here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chavez.  We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution, and I’ve come to appreciate Luis as a major asset in both the Venezuelan and the international struggle—I look forward to seeing how he and all of you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane….  [For more information on the Venezuelan socialist Luis Bonilla-Montoya, see here.]

I began teaching when I was 20 yeas old in a small freedom school affiliated with the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.  The year was 1965, and I’d been arrested in a demonstration.  Jailed for ten days, I met several activists who were finding ways to link teaching and education with deep and fundamental social change.  They were following Dewey and DuBois, King and Helen Keller who wrote:  “We can’t have education without revolution.  We have tried peace education for 1,900 years and it has failed.  Let us try revolution and see what it will do now.”

I walked out of jail and into my first teaching position—and from that day until this I’ve thought of myself as a teacher, but I’ve also understood teaching as a project intimately connected with social justice.  After all, the fundamental message of the teacher is this:  you can change your life—whoever you are, wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done, another world is possible.  As students and teachers begin to see themselves as linked to one another, as tied to history and capable of collective action, the fundamental message of teaching shifts slightly, and becomes broader, more generous:  we must change ourselves as we come together to change the world.  Teaching invites transformations, it urges revolutions small and large.  La educacion es revolucion!

… [I’ve] learned that education is never neutral.  It always has a value, a position, a politics.  Education either reinforces or challenges the existing social order, and school is always a contested space—what should be taught?  In what way?  Toward what end?  By and for whom?  At bottom, it involves a struggle over the essential questions:  what does it mean to be a human being living in a human society?

Totalitarianism demands obedience and conformity, hierarchy, command and control.  Royalty requires allegiance.  Capitalism promotes racism and materialism—turning people into consumers, not citizens.  Participatory democracy, by contrast, requires free people coming together, voluntarily as equals who are capable of both self-realization and, at the same time, full participation in a shared political and economic life.

… Venezuelans have shown the world that with full participation, full inclusion, and popular empowerment, the failing of capitalist schooling can be resisted and overcome.  Venezuela is a beacon to the world in its accomplishment of eliminating illiteracy in record time, and engaging virtually the entire population in the ongoing project of education.

… [W]e, too, must build a project of radical imagination and fundamental change.  Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education—a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation.

Viva Mission Sucre!

Viva Presidente Chavez!

Viva La Revolucion Bolivariana!

Hasta La Victroria Siempre!

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