Allen Hall redux

Several more students have chimed in on the debate, and I am seriously beginning to wonder what exactly they are learning at the U of I.

For example, the first letter mentions that comparing the Weathermen to Osama bin Laden, Matthew Hale or the Unibomber is incorrect, since the Weathermen only killed one person. (Not entirely true - three Weathermen were killed when their bomb factory detonoated. If they hadn't been building the bombs, then they wouldn't have died. Ergo, the actions of the Weathermen are at least indirectly responsible.) This might be a decent argument, but the real questions are of degree, and of actions. Stealing is wrong, but stealing $45.67 is much different from stealing $213,546.08. The bombs may have been "bloodless" (in that, aside from the three fatalities, no one else was hurt), but that's a matter of luck (and, to be honest, some planning). But even so, bombs don't distinguish between legitimate symbolic target and old lday who happens to be crossing the street. If a radical anti-abortionist was bombing clinics at 3 a.m., I doubt that, 30 years later, many people would choose to ignore the actions of their youth.

The second letter complains that they (the author) attended several of the lectures and never heard Ayers or Dorhn talk about any of the ideas expressed in the DI editorial. Possible, but even so, the past actions of Ayers/Dohrn should matter. I don't care what good works Matthew Hale does, or what rhetoric he gives about education reform - he would still be a racist. Had Ayers or Dorhn protested via civil disobedience or dodged the draft, I wouldn't care. But, again, planting bombs does pretty much qualify you as a domestic terrorist. Sorry - not sure that society, as a whole, should be so quick to forgive.

I really liked this quote in the last letter:

Bringing "former terrorists" onto University property should not be in question, as it seems one of them holds the title of Distinguished Professor at one of our own University campuses. The ideals of academic integrity should not be hindered by unfair and unfounded prejudices.

Again, I'm not sure that using Ayers own words and pastv actions against him is an unfair or unfounded prejudice. I can understand that he was against Vietnam, and I have no problem with that. A lot of people were against the war. But not many of bombed the Pentagon because of it - most just went to Canada or jail. And yes, Ayers is a Distinguished Professor at U of I Chicago. I'm not going to go into a whole "Are universities liberal or conservative" thread here, but I do wonder WTF U of I Chicago was thinking when they hired him.


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