About 30 miles from my farm out here in central California, Sirhan Sirhan — the John Muir High School and Pasadena City College alum — pleads for his freedom today in his regularly scheduled five-year parole hearing over at Corcoran state prison. One wonders who, if anyone, will speak on his behalf. Perhaps Bill Ayers, who dedicated his co-authored book Prairie Fire to Sirhan Sirhan and other assorted “political prisoners in the U.S.,” apparently on the premise that the revolutionary Sirhan had assassinated a regressive American establishment figure — Robert F. Kennedy, who had supported sending 50 jets in aid to Israel. Somehow I don’t think the Ayers & Co. dedication page will be presented as evidence for Sirhan’s rehabilitation.
In the last 43 years, Sirhan, a left-wing Palestinian nationalist, has usually been lumped together with other “extremists” (e.g., right-wing) operating in our “climate of extremism and violence.” In fact, Sirhan was a sort of prototype of the Americanized jihadists we now see emerging from our own country’s shadows, to whom we often react with an “I can’t believe he would do that” — something we rarely conceded in the past.