We, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Education Alumni Board, write to champion our colleague Prof. William Ayers.
Mr. Ayers is a Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a nationally known scholar and Vice President-elect of the American Educational Research Association. Throughout his 20 years at UIC, Mr. Ayers has taught, advised, mentored and supported hundreds of undergraduate, masters and Ph.D. students. Helping educators develop the capacity and ethical commitment to promote critical inquiry, dialogue, and debate; to encourage questioning and independent thinking; and to value the full humanity of every person and to work for access and equity are Prof. Ayers's essential commitments.
We reject the recent and ongoing derogations of his character, and stand beside Prof. Ayers, an advocate for education devoted to human enlightenment and liberation. That goal is also ours.Patrick O'Reilly
The UIC College of Education Alumni Board, Chicago
O'Reilly, a pre-kindergarten teacher in the Chicago public schools, is not alone in his adulation of Dr. Ayers. Over 3,200 educators and academics have endorsed this petition of support.
Ayers stands out as an admirable character in this year's carnival. He's never been coy about his passions, never engaged in with-a-wink reformulations of his core beliefs. He didn't achieve his professional eminence (Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at UIC, V.P.-elect of the American Educational Research Association, Founder and Co-Chair of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge's Collaborative, 1995-2002) by soft-pedaling his hard-left, authoritarian agenda.
It's true that some politicians see Ayers' embrace as electoral poison. Long-standing professional relationships? No, he's just some guy in the neighborhood. Raising questions about the depth and breadth of that relationship: slime.
Bill Ayers: obscure ivory tower denizen with slightly daft ideas victimized by sliming, and beloved, accomplished, mainstream-accredited powerhouse leading the Good Fight against Patriarchy and Hegemony.
There is cognitive dissonance lurking nearby. Not with the unrepentant Dr. Ayers or Paddy O'Reilly's fellow fanboys and fangirls flocking to the Ayers-Ward Churchill-Hugo Chavez banner. They're rail-straight. Nor is this a cross for the ambitious and calculating Barack Obama to bear: ends, not means, are what matter.
In a little-visited graveyard in the Italian countryside, the shade of Antonio Gramsci is chuckling. With the Tanning Bed Media, or at it? Perhaps Columbia's Professor Rashid Khalidi has insight into this question.
- - - - - - - - - -
UPDATE, 24 Oct 2008 -- Valued commenter Chris challenges the premise of this post and offers extensive critiques in the Comments, culminating in #103.
UPDATE 2, 12:25 pm on 26 Oct 2008 -- Steve Diamond of the Santa Clara School of Law and the 'Global Labor and Politics' blog is one of the foremost researchers on the nature and extent of the connections between Sen. Obama and William Ayers. He contributes to the Comments, starting with #110.
UPDATE 3, 28 Oct 2008 -- Comment thread re-opened. New comments (past #123) limited to 300 words.