[sixties-l] Professor Weatherman (fwd)

From: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
Date: Tue Oct 30 2001 - 01:21:30 EST

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    Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2001 12:46:45 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Professor Weatherman

    Professor Weatherman

    Wall Street Journal

    Every day the ways in which September 11 changed the culture become
    clearer, among them a deepening hostility to the glamorization of crime and
    terrorists. The horrors of that day may have put the final end to what is
    left of the romance of radical chic, which is finally being seen for what
    it is: both callous and absurd.

    None of that would come as news to New York attorney Sean F. O'Shea,
    already startled, months back, when he learned that former Weather
    Underground leader Bernadine Dohrn enjoyed the position of faculty member
    at his alma mater, Northwestern University Law School. Ms. Dohrn was the
    most prominent leader of the Weathermen, a group whose favored form of
    political expression was the planting of bombs in government buildings. Her
    activities during the 1970s catapulted her to an even more prominent
    position -- the F.B.I.'s 10 Most Wanted list. For the next several years
    she lived underground with William Ayers, a fellow leading light of the
    Weathermen, whom she later married.

    In the days since September 11, Mr. O'Shea has become even more concerned
    about what he sees as the contempt for the law shown by Northwestern, which
    has on its faculty someone who could not pass a character and fitness test
    and who could not be admitted to the bar. The university's representatives
    point out that membership in the bar isn't a requirement for the law
    faculty. Dean David Van Zandt issued a statement on academic freedom,
    saying that the law school's ability to understand and relate to
    controversial views was one of its strengths and that Ms. Dohrn, director
    of a family law center, channeled "her energy and her passion into making a
    difference in our legal system."

    Mr. O'Shea wants Northwestern to consider what it means to confer a
    platform of legitimacy on an unrepentant lawbreaker who -- notwithstanding
    her later general condemnations of violence -- never took responsibility
    for her own crimes. Ms. Dohrn (and Mr. Ayers) escaped prosecution when the
    court threw out evidence on grounds that it was illegally obtained. She
    served seven months for criminal contempt for her refusal to testify about
    the 1981 Brinks robbery in New York in which the Black Liberation Army
    killed two police officers.

    Mr. O'Shea's feelings were in no way ameliorated by his discovery that, at
    the party Ms. Dorhn and Mr. Ayers gave to celebrate Mr. Ayers's recently
    published memoir, guests were given stick-on tattoos of the Weatherman
    symbol. Asked if someone might not accuse him of lacking a sense of humor,
    he responds, "Right. After September 11, I lost my sense of humor about

    And indeed September 11 has much to do with this story. It has everything
    to do, too, with the lightning speed with which the public now detects all
    efforts to rationalize acts of terrorism, and with the detestation those
    efforts provoke. One of the unluckier things to happen to Mr. Ayers was the
    publication, on September 11, of a lengthy New York Times profile of his
    life in the Weather Underground. This came complete with a list of the
    bombings he'd organized -- at New York City Police Headquarters, the
    offices of the National Guard in Washington, D.C., the Pentagon, and more.

    That is, on the very morning of the terror attack on America that killed
    thousands, readers could find Mr. Ayers's announcement that he had no
    regrets about the bombings he had planned and helped execute. They could
    also read that, asked whether he would ever do such a thing again, Mr.
    Ayers answered, "I don't want to discount the possibility." It was not the
    best of times to expound on the worth and importance of the motives guiding
    terrorists, and so it remains today.

    As for Mr. O'Shea, he says he seeks better answers from Northwestern and
    plans to contact the school's trustees for help. In the meantime, the
    school will be returning a donation check he sent earlier this year. It
    will now go, he says, to the fund for victims of the September 11 terrorist

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