Belmont Club

The red pilgrim

Bill Ayers speaks to the New Yorker portraying himself as the soul of sweet reason. Is the rehabilitation of Bill Ayers under way? Is there a Bill Ayers in America’s future? According to Bill, the Rev Jeremiah Wright was far more moderate than Martin Luther King, making Ayers by redefinition, part of the new center.

He said that Martin Luther King Jr. was, in his time, far more radical than Wright: “Wright’s a wimp compared to Martin Luther King—he had a fiercer tone.” Ayers was referring to the speeches King gave late in his life in opposition to the Vietnam War and on the subject of economic equality. “Martin Luther King was not a saint,” Ayers said. “He was an angry pilgrim.” Ayers said that he had commiserated recently with yet another former Hyde Park neighbor (and fellow Little League coach), the Palestinian-American scholar Rashid Khalidi, now at Columbia University, who has also been a punching bag of the right wing in recent weeks.

Pilgrims often aim for the Promised Land. For Khalidi that would be Palestine. For Ayers, maybe it’s Washington.


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