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The Op-Ed the New York Times Wouldn’t Run

An FBI informant's response to Bill Ayers' rewriting of history got the cold shoulder — but you can read it here. (Also, Ron Radosh asks: What's the Difference Between the Fort Dix Five and Bill Ayers?)

by
Bob Owens

Bio

December 23, 2008 - 12:00 am

On December 5, the New York Times afforded former domestic terrorist Bill Ayers a chance to publish an op-ed, in which he defends himself from various charges made during the 2008 presidential campaign. That Ayers was given such an opportunity by the Times seems extraordinary; Barack Obama’s other mentors, former pastor Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Pfleger, were subjected to as much public scrutiny as Ayers for their extremist politics and multi-decade associations with the president-elect, and yet it seems only Ayers was presented editorial space in the Times to defend himself. Perhaps even more extraordinary, however, is that the Times allowed Ayers to publish obvious lies about his terrorist past and rejected a rebuttal by the former FBI informant who lived through the history Ayers tried to rewrite.

Ayers claimed in his fantasy that:

I never killed or injured anyone. I did join the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, and later resisted the draft and was arrested in nonviolent demonstrations. I became a full-time antiwar organizer for Students for a Democratic Society. In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village. The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices — the ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious — as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation.

The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety, and perhaps even of common sense. Our effectiveness can be — and still is being — debated. We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war.

Peaceful protests had failed to stop the war. So we issued a screaming response. But it was not terrorism; we were not engaged in a campaign to kill and injure people indiscriminately, spreading fear and suffering for political ends.

Ayers’ editorial was poorly written fiction, a fact that perhaps Larry Grathwohl knows better than anyone. Grathwohl was the only informant to successfully penetrate the Underground for the FBI and personally lived through the history Ayers so desperately desires to rewrite.

In hopes of correcting the lies that Ayers put in print, Grathwohl twice submitted an op-ed of his own to the Times to rebut Ayers. The editors rejected Grathwohl’s op-ed, stating in a curt December 12 email:

Dear Mr. Grathwohl,

Because this is a direct response to an op-ed, it should be directed to our letters department.

Please email them at letters@nytimes.com.

Sincerely,

The Op-Ed Staff

Grathwohl’s subsequent submission to the Times was then ignored. The rejected submission is now being run below as a PJ Media exclusive.

Ayers would like to claim he participated in non-violent protests. But he omits the fact he helped organize and participated in the 1969 “Days of Rage,” which left innocents and police officers hospitalized and one man permanently crippled, a maiming his fellow Weathermen mocked with the crude lyrics of “Lay Elrod Lay.” One of the participants in the violence noted that the thugs armed themselves with “steel pipes and slingshots, chains, clubs, mace, and rolls of pennies to add weight to a punch.” The participant quoted was Bill Ayers describing the event he helped create in his own book, Fugitive Days.

The Greenwich Village blast Ayers pathologically claims was the catalyst that led to forming the Weather Underground was actually his group’s third botched attempt at mass murder. Ayers personally ordered mass murder attempts at the Detroit Police Benevolent Association and Detroit Police Precinct 13 in February 1970, using bombs comprised of 44 sticks of dynamite. It was only the Weathermen’s incompetence at constructing fuses that kept these blasts from going off and creating dozens of casualties.

Weeks later the Greenwich Village blast occurred when a terrorist cell of the Weather Underground accidentally detonated anti-personnel bombs they were assembling for an attack against soldiers and their dates at a non-commissioned officers dance at nearby Fort Dix that evening. Had the plot succeeded, the planned attack would likely have been the worst terrorist attack on American soil prior to the Oklahoma City bombing.

Bill Ayers would like to use the fog of time to plead his case that he was just another protester against the Vietnam war, a point that the Times is perhaps willing to let him make considering his longtime association with the president-elect they so nakedly support. No amount of inspired fantasy, however, can omit the simple truth that there is only one significant difference between Bill Ayers and Timothy McVeigh.

Competence.

***

“Response to ‘The Real Bill Ayers’”

By Larry Grathwohl

My name is Larry Grathwohl and I infiltrated the Weather Underground for the FBI. I had no idea when my journey began in August 1969 that I would see and experience the degree of violence and hatred of our democracy that existed in the Weather Underground. Bernardine Dorhn, Bill Ayers, and the other people I would meet had as their sole purpose the destruction of the United States. The fact that I ultimately became the only source of information regarding the activities of the Weather Underground and the fact that Bill Ayers now claims their goal was only to bring about the end of the war in Vietnam requires me to respond.

At least Bill admits the Weather Underground “crossed” the line of legality but mitigates this admission by stating that the effectiveness of the “symbolic acts of extreme vandalism” is still being debated. He further states that the selected targets were “property, never people” and that their only purpose was to end the war in Vietnam. Bill is simply not being truthful and is rewriting history to reflect a completely different role for himself and the Weather Underground from what actually took place. “Bring the war home, kill your parents” was the mantra being chanted when the group decided to go underground in December 1969 and there certainly isn’t anything anti-war in that statement. I’m also curious as to who is debating their status. When I think about the Weather Underground my immediate thought is “terrorism and death.”

Billy goes on about how the Weather Underground came into existence because “peaceful protests had failed” and “after an accidental explosion killed three comrades.” The explosion of the townhouse in Greenwich Village was the result of a bomb factory which was preparing bombs containing roofing nails for use at a Fort Dix enlisted club. The inclusion of roofing nails can have but one purpose and that’s to injure or kill people. Prior to this event Bill’s wife, Bernardine Dorhn, placed a bomb of the same design at the Park Police Station in San Francisco and killed Officer McDonnell. Additionally, I was still inside the Weather Underground when the townhouse blew up and the commitment to sabotage and terrorism had already been established and the purpose was the overthrow of the United States government.

Bill implies that the questioning of his activities is dishonest and that at worst he may have made some mistakes in judgment but his motivations were just. Personally, I can think of nothing that would justify the activities of the Weather Underground and am astonished by Bill Ayers’ attempts to corrupt the historical facts by making himself a misunderstood leader of the anti-war movement. Robert Kennedy, possibly the most notable anti-Vietnam war leader of the late 60s, was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan in 1968. The Weather Underground published Prairie Fire in 1974 and dedicated it to Sirhan Sirhan. Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dorhn, and others signed this dedication but now they would ask us to accept their explanation that all they wanted to accomplish was an end to the war in Vietnam.

I could go on with many other contradictions in the new history Billy is attempting to impose on us. Today we are supposed to believe that Bill is merely an educator with no interests in the political aspects of our society. If this is true then why the picture of him standing on our flag? Why the statement that his only regret is that they (the Weather Underground) hadn’t done enough? What is the meaning of “I now consider myself an anarchist”? I can only conclude that Billy is a confluence of contradictions and revised history meant to confuse us as to what he is really about. Consider “guilty as hell, free as a bird, America is a great country.” Do you think he really means that?

I must conclude by acknowledging that in one respect Bill is probably being absolutely truthful. When he says that “I never killed or injured anyone,” he is most likely being totally honest. Bill, like Charles Manson, never exposed himself to any kind of danger. He always gave orders and then left it to his then-girlfriend, Diane Oughton, and others to implement his plan. If you listen closely you can even hear the similarities in the arguments Manson and Billy use today to justify what they did: the 60s made me do it.

Bob Owens blogs at Bob-Owens.com.
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