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Ron Radosh

Monthly Archives: May 2013

Reading two recent essays, I was struck by how they put forth contesting views of the ideological struggle that lies before us. To put it plainly, the way forward is either that of a new conservative reformism, or the growth of a new American path to socialism.

The first is presented in journals like National Affairs and The New Atlantis, both affiliated with the Ethics and Public Policy Center. In thoughtful and penetrating articles, the writers in these journals address the kind of serious alternatives to liberalism and social-democracy that go beyond attacks on the current policies of the Obama administration. The case for moving our country to socialism is one presented in scores of upcoming conferences, including this one that brings together the supposedly democratic Democratic Socialists of America and the totalitarian Communist Party USA. The case is also made in many left publications, including, of course, The Nation magazine in particular, as well as in many other lesser-known vehicles. 

The first article I read is by historian Robert W. Merry, editor of The National Interest, in which he has written “The Myth of a Moderate Obama.” Merry’s article is not just a case for explicating the nature of Obama’s real agenda, it is a stark juxtaposition of the differences between a socialist or social-democratic future and one that accepts the limits of a growing entitlement state. Merry begins by stating what Obama hopes to achieve before he leaves the White House, and his statement brings to mind the president’s 2008 campaign promise that we were minutes away from attaining “the fundamental transformation” of America:

The greatest myth in American politics today is the view, perpetrated by the Democratic Left and elements of the news media, that Barack Obama is a political moderate. In truth he represents an ideology that is barely within the American mainstream as understood over two and a quarter centuries of political experience. … [His] agenda turns on a number of pivots related mostly to the size and role of government and its level of intrusiveness into the lives of Americans. If Obama has his way through the remainder of his presidency, and he thoroughly intends to, he will leave behind an American polity very different from the one he inherited.

As Merry continues, he writes of the fault line that exists:

[It] has divided those who wish to enhance and aggrandize the power of government and those who fear the abuse of unchecked governmental prerogative. Every citizen with a political consciousness stands on one side or the other of that divide. Those who want more power invested in government are liberals; those who don’t are conservatives. Thus can one determine the fundamental political outlook of his fellow citizens though this one litmus test.

Merry uses the term “liberal”; I think it more accurate to say “social-democratic” or “socialist,” since in reality, most self-proclaimed “liberals” are in fact, even if they do not realize it, already in the socialist camp. They have moved far from the old liberalism to where European leftists were decades earlier.

Merry moves through a brief history of where different administrations lay in this division, from the earliest days of our republic up to the present. As he puts it, one group shared a commitment to lower taxes, small government, and respect for the Constitution; the other favored “governmental aggrandizement,” a vast expansion of the powers of the federal government, and a larger government bureaucracy to enforce the new measures.

FDR may have been both popular and successful, but Merry singles him out for waging an “economic assault on the nation’s wealthy” and of starting the tradition of waging class warfare and encouraging populist upheaval by irresponsible rhetoric. The result, he writes, was “a new America with a much larger and more intrusive government.”

Merry argues that at present, Barack Obama seeks to build upon what FDR and Lyndon Johnson began by creating a “new era of big government,” using a new tax code as his ideological weapon and class-baiting as the tactic for gathering support. Obama Care, Dodd-Frank, and other measures vastly increase government’s reach and power, and his desire for power has bred “contempt for the legislative and judicial branches of government.” Rather than accept reality and acknowledge that our entitlement system is out of control and responsible for our plight, Obama seeks a “class-driven assault” on House Republicans which he hopes will divert the public’s attention away from any serious proposals to put a stop to growing entitlements.

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Barack Obama has given what may turn out to be his most important foreign policy speech. It certainly is, as the editors of The New York Times put it, “the most important statement on counterterrorism policy since the 2001 attacks, a momentous turning point in post-9/11 America.” But what exactly is the president’s point? What is different about this new counterterrorism policy and is it putting us on the right path going forward?

Of course, the Times editors are quite happy with it. They are pleased that it marks an end to “extraordinary acts like indefinite detention without charges and the targeted killing of terrorist suspects.” And, as you might expect, they are pleased that from now on, counterterrorism will be handled “primarily by law enforcement and the intelligence agencies.” Those of us who believe that acts of war should actually be handled differently have reason to be disappointed and worried.

No wonder that when Code Pink’s leader Medea Benjamin shouted out her protests, she was not removed and the president admonished the audience that “the voice of that woman is worth paying attention to.” Evidently, the angry Ms. Benjamin was too stupid to understand — perhaps because she was not really listening to the president, who was telling us that he was preparing to implement precisely the kind of measures that Code Pink has always proposed. As the Times editors wrote, he was “briefly stopped by a heckler from outlining the very closure [of Guantanamo] plans that she demanded.”

Obama said he was no longer going to keep the country “on a perpetual wartime footing.” In particular, he promised a new policy on the use of unmanned drones against terrorists, a policy that has over the past few years come under attack from both those on the left and the right. Drones have, for example, drawn the ire of both Rand Paul and the editors of The Nation. Others in the conservative community, such as Kenneth Anderson in Commentary magazine, have presented cogent arguments in defense of their use. As Anderson writes, “The strategy has worked far better than anyone expected. It is effective, and has rightfully assumed an indispensable place on the list of strategic elements of U.S. counterterrorism-on-offense.”

Indeed, in the period when Barack Obama increased the use of drones to a much greater level than the sparing use of them by George W. Bush, liberals remained silent and supportive, while only those like the Code Pink left-wing extremists, the Nation editors, and New York Review of Books writer David Cole yelled about it. Cole was quite pleased with the speech:

Until now, the administration has exercised the authority to order lethal drone strikes entirely in secret, without a precise or clear set of rules, and under the veil of such secrecy that it would not even acknowledge the killing of US citizens. The day before the speech, the administration revealed for the first time that it had killed four Americans with drones—only one of whom, Anwar al-Awlaki, was actually targeted. This ends the administration’s unconstitutional practice of killing citizens in secret. During the speech, moreover, President Obama announced that he has issued a Presidential Policy Guidance setting forth the substantive criteria and procedures for employing drone strikes outside active areas of combat. Although those guidelines are themselves classified, the White House issued an unclassified summary, and the rules appear to narrow the previously understood criteria for such strikes in important ways.

The problem, as Jonathan S. Tobin writes, is that the president covers all his bases, and has presented a speech in which he seeks to satisfy both critics and supporters of his old terrorism policy.  He wants an end to an “endless” war, although al-Qeda and our other opponents have not ended their war against our country. How can one side say its war is continuing, and the other simply pretend that it is not going on? It is so reminiscent of the left’s suggestion in the waning days of the Vietnam War that our leaders simply say that we have won and unilaterally withdraw.

We may actually do that now, but does anyone really think that once we leave Afghanistan, the Taliban won’t move to quickly take over that sad country and once again make it a haven for terrorists and their training camps? The president acknowledged that “our nation is still threatened by terrorists.” But he went on to argue that we are safer than we ever have been, and he repeated that al-Qaeda’s leadership has been decimated, so that now “America is at a crossroads.”

Then there is the critical question of ideology. The president said that “state-sponsored networks like Hezbollah” have engaged in acts of terror on behalf of political goals. He did not mention the state in question– Iran — or propose any measures that would effectively deal with the threat posed by the ayatollahs in control of that country, now on the verge of obtaining a nuclear weapon. He seemed to suggest that “radicalized individuals here in the United States” pose a threat, without mentioning who radicalized them and the nature of the belief system that spurred them on. We all know it is radical Islam.

Again, Obama harked back to the themes of his disastrous Cairo speech, referring to “a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West, and that violence against Western targets…is justified in pursuit of a larger cause.” The president assured the Muslim world that ideology is “based on a lie, for the United States is not at war with Islam,” and he emphasized that “the vast majority of Muslims” do not share in the radical belief.

Here, the waffling is amazing. The truth is that radical Islam (a version in fact accepted by large numbers of Muslims in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere) and its adherents are at war with the United States and the West. President Obama is correct that we are not at war with Islam, but the problem is that our leadership does not seem to comprehend that if radical Islamists are at war with us, we cannot deal with their beliefs by simply ignoring that they exist and are dangerous. And although the Islamists may be a minority of Muslims, they are not only a loud and very vocal minority, but in absolute terms they number in the hundreds of thousands. Moreover, their ideology is accurately based on their reading of the Koran, of which they can cite chapter and verse to prove that they are motivated by Islam.

So again, turning to drones, the president presented the arguments on their behalf, after assuring us he is toning down their use. So if their use is beneficial, and here Obama made arguments similar to those of conservative supporters and opposite to those of liberals like David Cole, why is he then limiting their use? The president made the case for use of drones in a strong fashion, since, as he said, “doing nothing is not an option.” In these paragraphs, it is almost a different Obama speaking than the one cited favorably by the Times editors and David Cole. Here is one of the president’s most tough and strongly stated passages, in which he defends the drone attack that killed Anwar Awlaki:

But when a U.S. citizen goes abroad to wage war against America and is actively plotting to kill U.S. citizens, and when neither the United States, nor our partners are in a position to capture him before he carries out a plot, his citizenship should no more serve as a shield than a sniper shooting down on an innocent crowd should be protected from a SWAT team.

And here is Obama’s defense of drones, and of the military action we have taken to date:

Moreover, America’s actions are legal.  We were attacked on 9/11.  Within a week, Congress overwhelmingly authorized the use of force.  Under domestic law, and international law, the United States is at war with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces.  We are at war with an organization that right now would kill as many Americans as they could if we did not stop them first.  So this is a just war — a war waged proportionally, in last resort, and in self-defense.

The above is true.  In that paragraph, the president seemed to acknowledge that others, motivated by Islamist thought, are fighting us in a real war. If that is the case, then why is he now proclaiming an end to the measures that to date have kept us safe, and promising to limit the very drones that he has argued have worked so well?  Could it be that his left-wing heart is fighting an internal battle with his own comprehension that measures he does not like have to be taken?

Finally, Obama turned to the question of freedom of the press. Here, he made  two contradictory statements. First, he said “we must keep information secret that protects our operations and our people in the field.” Thus law-breakers and leakers must be prosecuted for failing to protect classified information. Then he added that “I’m troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable.” Calling for a media shield law, he stated that “journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.” How will he square the circle? He answered that he has raised “these issues with the Attorney General, who shares my concerns.” As we all know, Eric Holder is the very man who signed off on the DOJ’s and FBI’s investigation of Fox News journalist James Rosen, whom the FBI argued should be a co-conspirator for violating the Espionage Act of 1917!

So the president has given the nation a confused, contradictory, and sometimes powerful speech, one that each side will find things to agree with. He appears to not know which arguments he has presented he really believes in, preferring to lay them out and have us put our trust in his hands. With a president as indecisive as ever, and continuing to lead from behind, our nation is supposed to hope that all will turn out well with Obama in charge. For many of us, that is not sufficient.

“There was music in the cafés at night
And revolution in the air”

- Bob Dylan, “Tangled Up in Blue”

Finally, a movie has arrived that treats the story of the New Left honestly and in a realistic, mature manner. That film is not Robert Redford’s dreadful The Company You Keep, a paean to the Weather Underground, but the movie by the French director Olivier Assayas, Something in the Air. It takes place in various European locales in the summer of 1971, when the hopes of the European revolutionaries were shattered after the failure of 1968 to lead to revolution. Assayas’ film covers an assorted group of European New Leftists and some American tourist counterparts as they attempt to both get on with their lives and, for some, to keep alive their crushed hopes in a period of ideological and political retreat.

Assayas, who made the quintessential and powerful biographical movie Carlos about Carlos the Jackal, the Left’s most well-known ’70s and 80’s terrorist, now turns his attention in particular to the plight of the young graduating high school student Gilles, played by Clement Metayer, and his new girlfriend, Christine, played by Lola Creton. Each takes different paths. Gilles is guilt ridden over his desire to become an artist and study painting instead of serving the revolution, while Christine, plagued with guilt over her bourgeois existence, opts instead to live with an older man in a revolutionary collective and to devote herself to the task of organizing the proletariat in France and Italy. (All she does, we learn, is shop, cook and clean for the male comrades, as well as provide sex.)

The power of Assayas’ movie is that it takes place in real time, instead of flashbacks and narrative based in the present, as aging radicals try to come to terms with their past. We see these young people facing the options in front of them, each deciding which way to turn, as they experience the pulls to go one way and the warning signs that they had better think twice before acting on their impulses.

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Harry S. Truman had a famous sign on his desk: “The buck stops here.” Barack Obama seems to have one that says: “I only learned about it when you did, from the television news.” This is, of course, almost exactly what Jay Carney said in his second embarrassing press conference: “We have no knowledge of phone snooping …beyond the press reports that we’ve read.” Or, as Dana Milbank writes, Obama “responded as though he were just some bloke on a bar stool, getting his information from the evening news.” If you believe this, I’ve got a nice White House in the District of Columbia to sell you.

In fact, as USA Today reports in its lead story, the IRS “gave liberals a pass.” The newspaper’s investigation concluded the following:

As applications from conservative groups sat in limbo, groups with obviously liberal names were approved in as little as nine months. With names including words like “Progress” or “Progressive,” these groups applied for the same tax status and were engaged in the same kinds of activities as the conservative groups.

The groups that easily got non-profit tax status were the exact liberal-activist counterparts of the conservative Tea Party outfits. The paper mentions specifically a few of them: “Bus for Progress,” “Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment,”  and “Progress Florida.” All were groups that worked for goals such as increasing the minimum wage, support for “progressive” politicians, and expansion of Medicaid. The USA Today report continues:

Like the Tea Party groups, the liberal groups sought recognition as social welfare groups under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, based on activities like “citizen participation” or “voter education and registration.”

In a conference call with reporters last week, the IRS official responsible for granting tax-exempt status said that it was a mistake to subject Tea Party groups to additional scrutiny based solely on the organization’s name. But she said ideology played no part in the process.

It was simply an accident, of course. It was “not a partisan selection,” IRS official Lois Lerner told reporters. Before you laugh and ask “does she really believe her own words?” consider the following.  One must remember that many liberals and leftists see their actions as non-partisan. After all, they are only serving the public interest by stopping conservatives from organizing and expressing their views.

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In my last column at PJM, I wrote that Jonathan Karl of ABC News held Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokesperson, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responsible for dissembling about Benghazi.

Now, in the Washington Post, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin — once the D.C. bureau chief of PJ Media — casts grave doubt about Victoria Nuland’s involvement in a cover-up, and puts Nuland’s e-mail in a very different context than that put forth by Jonathan Karl of ABC News. Rubin writes: 

A summary of e-mail exchanges involving her has circulated to news outlets, and it places [Nuland], falsely, in the thick of the controversy about the talking points that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice eventually used on the Sunday shows.

As Rubin explains, most of the people working at the State Department believed what took place at Benghazi was a terrorist attack, but that they could not publicly state that since they were awaiting confirmation from the CIA, which ran the second compound at the Benghazi consulate. 

When Nuland received another e-mail with talking points from CIA chief David Petraeus, it included points State was not allowed to make which made it seem that the agency was trying to implicate the State Department as the government agency that was ignoring warnings, rather than the CIA. Rubin is arguing that the CIA was engaged in a PR exercise meant to make it look good and was trying to cast blame for the Benghazi tragedy on the State Department. As Rubin writes:

This, by the way, gets to the heart of the matter involving Benghazi. It was primarily a CIA operation, as others have reported. If there really were warnings, why had the CIA’s station chief not been alerted? Why was its men in peril? It is not atypical for the CIA to point fingers at other agencies, but it was particularly jarring when their own personnel were victimized.

When Nuland wrote that concerns in her “building” were not being addressed, she meant only that “her department was being singled out inaccurately and unfairly by the CIA.” Rubin also stresses that all of these e-mail exchanges involved communications staff, and did not include policy-makers or high-level administration appointments at State: Rubin writes:

It is not the communications people who bear any responsibility for the scrubbing that went on over the weekend. In my own reporting, I have previously noted that Nuland studiously refused to confirm the “video made them do it” story line or the spontaneous demonstration cover story coming out of the White House. The difference between what she was saying (it’s under investigation, we don’t know, ask the White House) was noticeably different from what we heard coming from the White House, which perpetuated the video narrative again and again. 

So, please read Rubin’s post in its entirety. We can all agree, I think, on her ending. Rubin writes that Petraeus and Hillary Clinton have to be brought back to testify before Rep. Darrell Issa’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It was the secretary of State herself who called on her top deputy Cheryl Mills to cover for her. I also think that Victoria Nuland should voluntarily appear to clarify her role, and to be given a chance to answer those like Jonathan Karl who made her the centerpiece of their stories. 

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Brave mainstream media journalists are finally doing what they always should be doing: report the story and let readers and viewers decide the truth for themselves. Today, ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl released their top story – the headline says it all: “Exclusive: Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12 Revisions, Scrubbed of Terror Reference.”

Karl obtained from his sources 12 different versions of the talking points, which he writes “show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows.” 

Reviewing White House e-mails, Karl reports that “the edits were made with extensive input from the States Department” and, most importantly, that there were discussions “that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well as CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.” 

Karl reveals clearly how White House press chief Jay Carney lied to the media at his press conference. Karl writes:

That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about the talking points in November.

“Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened,” Carney told reporters at the White House press briefing on November 28, 2012.  “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”

Next, Karl presents the most shocking e-mail released so far: one from State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, who lets others in her shop know why the truth must be kept under wraps. Karl writes:

Summaries of White House and State Department emails – some of which were first published by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard — show that the State Department had extensive input into the editing of the talking points.

State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland raised specific objections to this paragraph drafted by the CIA in its earlier versions of the talking points:

“The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”

In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?  Concerned …”

The paragraph was entirely deleted. (my emphasis)

Later, Nuland also told others not to name any terrorist groups, as the CIA reports had done, because “we don’t want to prejudice the investigation.” How, one wonders, is letting all the facts be presented prejudicial in any way to finding out what happened? When changes were made that did not satisfy her, Nuland referred to the latest version as not satisfying “my building’s leadership.”

Who ordered Nuland to excise these in order to protect the State Department’s reputation? How high did it go? Was it Hillary’s top aide, or the secretary of State herself? What individual in “leadership” gave Nuland her arguments? 

It is also brave of Karl to acknowledge the contribution to honest journalism of Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard. This is the first time to my recollection that a major TV network has praised the conservative journal and directly cited its top reporter. 

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We are in the midst of an unfolding and growing scandal, which even the New York Times has been forced to admit in an online report which raises serious doubts about the administration’s spin after the embassy attack. Indeed, they emphasized in their headline the demotion of Gregory Hicks for daring to tell the truth — that from the get-go, everyone in the Benghazi compound described the event as an attack, and never mentioned a protest or a video. Mr. Hicks testified that State Department officials disciplined him for not sticking to the phony narrative told by Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton.

The Times story, then, is a major breakthrough from the MSM’s regular pattern of ignoring the contradictions and treating the event as a non-issue.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is certainly correct when he states that the scandal is “every bit as damaging as Watergate.” And we know what happened as a result of that cover-up: the impeachment and resignation of the presidency by Richard M. Nixon.

What the future portends depends a great deal on how the regular media treats it.

We must remember that the entire nation does not watch Bret Baier’s nightly panel on Fox, which has given Benghazi the most complete coverage and whose panelists regularly discuss developments as they occur. Fox, as expected, led with the hearings and their importance.

Wednesday, the three major MSM networks led their nightly news reports with the kidnapping of the three women who were freed after ten years, putting the Benghazi hearings as their second story.

CBS News offered a solid report from Sharyl Attkisson, who has not shied away from news stories which do not paint the Obama administration in a good light. As the Washington Post recently noted, she has been “a persistent voice of media skepticism about Benghazi.” She again made true on that assessment: Attkisson reported on both the issue of the attribution of the attack to the video, and on the other main issue of why military reinforcements were not sent when requested. The network then shifted to another reporter whose story reflected more of the administration’s position.

NBC’s and ABC’s reports were shorter and less informative. But even they could not help but let viewers, who previously may have not thought there was any story remaining, understand that even months after the attack explanations have not been forthcoming. And further, that a cover-up may have taken place at State, and perhaps higher in the administration.

We already have seen — in the screeds offered by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings — what will undoubtedly be the Democratic talking points: that the entire hearings amount to an attempt by Republicans to “politicize” a tragedy. Of course, the politicization came from the administration which sought to neutralize and threaten potential whistle-blowers, and who wanted unanimity behind “the video was to blame” narrative.

The Times report bluntly stated the shocking revelation this way:

All three witnesses — Mr. Hicks, Mr. Nordstrom and Mark I. Thompson … insisted that the inflammatory anti-Islamic YouTube video that the White House initially blamed for the attack was something they never considered a factor in the assault on the compound.  … It has become clear that American officials on the ground and in Washington immediately believed the attackers were terrorists, not demonstrators who turned violent, as Mrs. Rice alleged in a series of Sunday talk show interviews. … “I was stunned,” Mr. Hicks said when asked what he thought when he heard Ms. Rice’s explanation. “My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed.”

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On May 4, 1970, an event took place at Kent State University in Ohio that shook our nation apart. If you were around in that era, you remember it well.

As an antiwar demonstration of thousands of students took place on the campus’ main lawn, as in the background a wooden ROTC building that an activist had torched burned to the ground, shots suddenly rang out. As the Wikipedia entry accurately states, it “involved the shooting of unarmed college students by the Ohio National Guard … The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.

Some of the students who were shot had been protesting against the Cambodian Campaign, which President Richard Nixon announced in a television address on April 30. Other students who were shot had been walking nearby or observing the protest from a distance.

There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of four million students, and the event further affected the public opinion—at an already socially contentious time—over the role of the United States in the Vietnam War.”

Nationally, this past anniversary- marked each year by an official commemoration at Kent State University-went relatively unnoticed. Two years ago- the 40th anniversary-was widely covered. Yet, it is etched in our national memory. You can still hear Neil Young’s song, “Ohio,” on the radio, as  recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, with its refrain “Four dead in Ohio,” and “Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming” repeated throughout the song.

There are, as is usually the case with an incident of this kind, different assessments of why the National Guard shot real bullets at peacefully demonstrating students. Even an official commission established by the Nixon administration to investigate the question concluded that “Even if the guardsmen faced danger, it was not a danger that called for lethal force. The 61 shots by 28 guardsmen certainly cannot be justified. Apparently, no order to fire was given, and there was inadequate fire control discipline on Blanket Hill. The Kent State tragedy must mark the last time that, as a matter of course, loaded rifles are issued to guardsmen confronting student demonstrators.”

The most clear-sighted and objective assessment of the incident is that written by two Kent State professors in 1998, although the debate continues. Each year, including a few days ago, an annual event is held at the University. This year, the two main speakers at the University’s official commemorations were PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill, and the leftist hero of our day, Oliver Stone.

But according to the Akron Beacon-Journal, at the rally held on the outdoor campus site where the shootings took place, the “keynote speaker at Saturday’s annual May 4 commemoration” was none other than Bill Ayers, the founder of The Weather Underground, a defender then and now of 60’s terrorism, and a man legitimized by his role in Chicago mainstream politics and as a friend of President Barack Obama.

Speaking to 350 students at the rally, Ayers argued that there was no relation between the bombings his group carried out in the 60’s and 70’s and that of the Tsarnaev brothers in Cambridge, Mass. on April 15th. Ignoring that in fact police officers were killed in still unsolved bombings attributed to Ayers’ group, he argued that unlike the recent attack in Massachusetts, no one died as a result of the Weather Underground’s bombings. Moreover, as everyone knows, had the bombs his group was assembling actually been used at their target, Fort Dix, hundreds of recruits and their dates at an army dance would have been all dead. It was not their intent to blow themselves up while making the lethal weapon that only led to the death of a few of the group’s leadership. It was in fact the mark of arrogance that led Ayers to tell the assembled Kent State students that “he lost three friends in the Weather Underground, including his lover, Diana Oughton.” As the reporter noted, Ayers “did not explain how they died.” To tell them why they died, he said, would have been “inappropriate.”

Acknowledging that had they succeeded it would “have been a catastrophe,” Ayers then turned the argument around, claiming that on that same day, “John McCain murdered civilians,” and he and others committed war crimes every day they fought in Vietnam, in an “illegal war in which 6,000 people a week [were] being killed.” For good measure, Ayers added that “The United States is the most violent country that has ever been created.”

Ayers continued to argue that his group only succeeded in creating “property damage,” while the United States was regularly committing war crimes. Calling himself an “activist” who does not believe “in the myth of the ’60s,” Ayers depicted himself as a “town crier” who tells the people that “all is not well.”

When Ayers finished, the concluding speaker was Tom Hayden, the founder of Students for a Democratic Society and principal author of its first manifesto, “The Port Huron Statement.” A former Democratic assemblyman in California, Hayden has recently emerged as an unreconstructed leftist, moving away from his years of pretense of being a liberal mainstream Democrat.

Clearly, Kent State should be remembered, and its lessons learned. The official university commemoration, however, has become something else. Rather than an occasion for remembrance and thought, it has become a vehicle for the current far left to use the event as an excuse to try and once again build an anti-American leftist political movement. The university brings Oliver Stone to help in that effort, and others, if not the university,  invited Bill Ayers and Tom Hayden to be this year’s rally keynotes.

Ayers, who still believes in the Weather Underground’s program to “bring the war home” and who advocates revolution in the United States, is not the kind of spokesman any university should be bringing to its campus to help students comprehend the tragedy of Kent State. Instead of promoting reason and understanding, the administrators of Kent State University invited a trio of leftists, who side with those unnamed and never apprehended activists who burned the ROTC building to the ground.

Who, I wonder, will they bring on May 4, 2014? I shudder at the thought.






Yesterday, the AP reported that the FBI put Joanne Chesimard — a.k.a. Assata Shakur — on its Most Wanted Terrorists list, and announced a reward of $2 million for anyone whose information leads to her capture. After being found guilty, along with two other members of the violent Black Liberation Army, of murdering a New Jersey state trooper forty years ago to the day, Chesimard fled to Cuba. The revolutionary regime of Fidel Castro granted her asylum, and honored her not as a murderer and thug but as a fellow revolutionary freedom fighter.

“She continues to flaunt her freedom in the face of this horrific crime,” State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes said at a news conference yesterday. Fuentes called the case “an open wound” for troopers in New Jersey and around the nation. The shooting of trooper Werner Foerster during a routine traffic stop, in which Shakur and her comrades quickly started firing at the police, led to Foerster’s death and the injury of his partner.

The BLA was responsible in the ’70s and ’80s for the deaths of over 12 police officers.

They considered such actions as revolutionary acts against occupiers of the ghetto, and not as illegal, but as a response to  acts of war instigated on the black community by the imperialist U.S. government. Hence, when they shot police they were acting as soldiers opposed to the U.S. that was making war against them.

While in Cuba, Chesimard has often been brought by Cuban authorities to meet with gullible revolutionary tourists, who still travel there as political pilgrims seeking to see what life in paradise is like. And in our country, black radicals still treat her as a hero.

A few years back, the rapper known as “Common” released a song praising her action. The rapper’s version of events differs significantly from that portrayed in the Newark Division of the FBI’s official press release.

While “Common” says Chesimard was lying in a puddle of blood gasping for breath, “shot twice wit her hands up/police questioned but shot before she answered,” the FBI report reveals the truth, which accords with the philosophy of the group and the proud boasts of other BLA prisoners about how they regularly sought to kill police. The report tells us the following:

On May 2, 1973, Chesimard and two accomplices were stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike by Troopers James Harper and Werner Foerster for a motor vehicle violation. All three subjects possessed fictitious identification, and, unbeknownst to the troopers, all three were armed with semi-automatic handguns. From the front passenger seat, Chesimard fired the first shot, wounding Trooper James Harper in the shoulder. As Harper moved for cover, Chesimard exited the car and continued to fire at both troopers until she was wounded by Harper’s return fire.

The rear seat passenger, James Coston, also fired at the troopers and was mortally wounded by Trooper Harper. Trooper Werner Foerster was engaged in a hand-to-hand combat with the vehicle’s driver, Clark Squire. Foerster was severely wounded in his right arm and abdomen and then executed with his own service weapon on the roadside. Chesimard’s jammed handgun was found at Foerster’s side.

Special Agent Aaron T. Ford, head of the FBI Newark Division, is certainly correct when he states that “Joanne Chesimard is a domestic terrorist who murdered a law enforcement officer execution-style.”

It is no surprise that the Left, or sections of it, still defend Chesimard/Shakur. It is another thing, however, to read the New York Times story that appears on the top news page of the paper’s website.

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