Last week, civil rights icon and Georgia Democrat John Lewis launched an attack against Republicans.
He stated that when critics pointed out the long web of relationships between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers, it was “sowing the seeds of hatred and division.” Lewis then took a step further, making the incendiary comparison of John McCain to the segregationist governor of Alabama, George Wallace.
During another period, in the not-too-distant past, there was a governor of a state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their Constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.
The bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church by Klansmen was a horrible crime brought about by unreasoning hatred. This is not in dispute. We must wonder, however, what Lewis would have thought about the little girls and boys and mothers and fathers that would have died in another hate-fueled bombing just seven years later in Detroit, had a much larger attack not been foiled.
Several weeks ago, I wrote a post for PJ Media on what might have happened the night of March 6, 1970, if a small group of left-wing radicals had been a bit more competent in their bomb-building. If that cell of the Weather Underground had been a little more lucky — or a little less careless — many of us may have grown up referring to 3/6 the way we now refer to 9/11.
What I did not know at the time that I wrote that article was that this was not the first attempt by the Weathermen to commit mass murder.
A month prior, in February 1970, Barack Obama’s political mentor Bill Ayers plotted multiple attacks against the officers of the Detroit Police Department. He didn’t care that one of the bombs he was planning to use would be placed in such a way that it “could easily kill” the patrons of a nearby restaurant that catered to an African-American clientele.
Such sentimentality was “unrevolutionary.” The 44 sticks of dynamite would be used despite the fears of a military “expert” within the group (FBI informant Larry Grathwohl) that collateral damage from the massive blasts could kill the innocent diners nearby.
Recruited into the Weathermen, who valued his limited military experience, the Cincinnati resident worked with Ayers. Grathwohl found Ayers hard to love; he seemed self-important, a controller of subordinates, the type who loved to give orders. Ayers was a key leader. Grathwohl, a government informant, wrote that Ayers had helped direct a pair of attempted police building bombings in Detroit in February 1970. After doing his assigned job in reconnaissance, Grathwohl disagreed with Mr. Ayers over the placement of one bomb, which could easily kill black patrons who favored an adjacent restaurant, but that Ayers dismissed such sentimentality as unrevolutionary. The informant was glad to be dismissed from the operation by Ayers. Forty-four sticks of dynamite were then formed into two bombs and put into place, before Grathwohl’s information allowed police to dismantle both. Ayers’ memoir — which freely admits to incompleteness — says nothing of this episode, or Detroit, or the month of February 1970.
Just 19 sticks of dynamite killed Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley in Birmingham and injured 22 others. Those four little girls murdered by angry bombers in the 16th Street Baptist Church became a rallying cry for the civil rights movement in 1963.