Barack Obama’s statement that he “assumed [William Ayers] had been rehabilitated” raises an interesting issue. In some press coverage of this matter, “unrepentant” has virtually become Ayers’ middle name. And while Ayers indeed appears unrepentant, it is important to note that he has never specified just what it is that he is unrepentant about. In other words, he’s never owned up to any of the crimes he committed. It would be one thing for him to say, “I did this, and I’d do it again.” But Ayers doesn’t do that.
Ayers opens his memoir, Fugitive Days, with the statement, “Memory is a motherf–ker. I myself remember almost nothing.” Well, there’s a reason Ayers says he remembers almost nothing, and that is because he committed serious crimes and people quite likely died as a result of his actions. Andy could speak to this more authoritatively, but there are still statute of limitations issues involved. After escaping prosecution, Ayers famously said of himself, “Guilty as hell, free as a bird — it’s a great country.” But he’s not going to press his luck. So he says he doesn’t remember. His wife, Bernardine Dohrn, has memory problems, too.
If you haven’t watched it, I would recommend you look at the Oscar-nominated 2004 documentary Weather Underground, available (cut into nine parts) on YouTube. In it, another of Ayers’ fellow Weathermen, Brian Flanagan, says:
I’m not going to tell you, “Oh, I walked in here this day and put a bomb here, or I made this here, or I blew up this car, or I held up this bank.” I mean, there were armed robberies, terrorism, all kinds of things that went down that were illegal. So I’ll tell you that we did them, but I’m not going to tell you which ones I did or who did what, because you just can’t do that…
To repent, you have to confess your wrongdoing. To be unrepentant, you have to acknowledge your actions and still maintain that you did the right thing. But to avoid prosecution, you have to duck the question altogether. That’s what Ayers is doing. In a sense, he’s still on the lam. Which might make Obama’s situation even worse.