Last week, The Blaze reported on Bill Ayers’ speech to a group of University of Oregon students, where he declared that America’s “game is over” and predicted that “another world” is coming.
But it turns out, those were not the only significant comments in the speech. Later on, Ayers called the students to “action” – any kind of action — but specifically, Ayers wants the youth to help him “drive NATO out” of Chicago.
It is important for us to remember in this regard that the opposite of moral is not immoral– the opposite of immoral is indifferent. It’s not paying attention. And so Mary Oliver says ‘pay attention,’ and then she says, ‘be astonished.’ And I love that because it’s astonishing, not only the things I was just saying, the kind of unearned suffering, the undeserved pain, that’s astonishing. But also the beauty and the ecstasy and the joy is astonishing. So, be astonished at all of it. And then tell about it, or in my vocabulary, do something.
It is unclear whether Ayers was referring to his radical past when he says, “or in my vocabulary, do something,” but some of Ayers’ most memorable actions, to many, were the series of bombing campaigns he participated in in response to the Vietnam war.
Ayers continued by repeatedly urging the students to “do something” in their own lives:
Do something. You have to do something when the world shows itself. Your partial knowledge, your partial understanding of what’s going on requires you to act– and that action is not prescribed. It’s something you have to invent, you have to figure out with other people, but you have to act. And, your action doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be something. And for those of you who are young… young activists or older activists or whatever– the important thing about acting is that there’s the possibility of changing things. There’s also the possibility of changing yourself. But the way we develop an identity, the way we know who we are, is by acting in the world. It’s by leaving, you know, some kind of abrasion in the world.
The word “abrasion” generally has a negative connotation, used to describe cuts or, according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, “an area damaged by scraping or wearing away.” In urging the students to act and leave an abrasion on the world, is it not possible that — especially coming from a man whose most memorable “actions” in life included bombs — the students could interpret his comments as encouraging something other than peace?
Ayers proceeded to tell students that it’s “not enough” to simply “smoke joints” and have good ideas — they have to “do something.” In particular, Ayers encouraged the students to follow in his footsteps and be someone who “stands against nuclear weapons”:
So it’s not enough to simply have good ideas and then sit on your couch smoking a joint. That’s not enough. You have to do more, you have to do something. And you do something, as I say, in part to define yourself. So I happened to be born in the year that Nagasaki and Hiroshima were destroyed; I was born that year. So I didn’t choose to be born in a world of nuclear war, but I was, and so were you. Each of us has a responsibility to choose, then, who to be in light of that nuclear war.
So I find myself from the time I was 16-years old in demonstrations against nuclear weapons. Am I going to win? I have no idea. You know, I don’t know whether…my calculus isn’t that I’m going to win. My calculus is that I am a person born in the nuclear age who stands against nuclear weapons. I want you to be that person, too.
Finally, Ayers encourages the impressionable youth to join him in Chicago to “drive NATO out of the city.” He warns that the mayor may throw them in jail, but, “would you please come?” he asks:
I want you to come to Chicago in mid-May and join us to help drive NATO out of the city. Would you please come? May 20th. The Iraq veterans are leading it, but we’re going to try to get NATO to leave the city, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel is just determined to put us all in jail. So if you want to hang out longer and have a longer conversation…um, much longer, come to Chicago.