FINALLY, SOME COMMON SENSE – AT 7:54 P.M. ET: Remember Bill Ayers, the radical professor, former extremist member of the Weather Underground, and good friend of Barack Hussein Obama Jr., whom Obama claimed he barely knew when running for president?
Well, Professor Ayers has retired from the University of Illinois. But a funny thing happened to him on the way to the usual retirement honors. From the Chicago Tribune:
In a very unusual move, University of Illinois trustees Thursday denied giving emeritus status to controversial retired professor William Ayers.
The vote, at a U. of I. board meeting in Urbana, was unanimous and came after a passionate speech by board chair Christopher Kennedy, who invoked the 1968 assassination of his father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, in saying that he was voting his conscience.
The other trustees, without comment, also voted against the appointment.
Ayers, the Vietnam War-era radical, had been an education faculty member at UIC since 1987. He retired effective Aug. 31 and then sought the emeritus faculty status, a largely honorific title that includes some benefits such as library privileges.
...in an emotional statement, Kennedy discussed his reasons for voting against Ayers' request.
"I am guided by my conscience and one which has been formed by a series of experiences, many of which have been shared with the people of our country and mark each of us in a profound way," Kennedy said.
He said he could not confer the title "to a man whose body of work includes a book dedicated in part to the man who murdered my father."
Kennedy was referring to a 1974 book co-authored by Ayers, "Prairie Fire," which was dedicated to a long list of people including Robert Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan and "all political prisoners in the U.S."
We haven't heard much from Christopher Kennedy. He apparently is one of the Kennedys who has stayed out of trouble and does useful work. We can only applaud the stand he has taken...on behalf of basic decency, and we're pleased that the other trustees unanimously agreed.
Of course, the usual suspects immediately came out of the woodwork:
A UIC professor said Friday she was "shocked" by the trustees' decision not to grant Ayers emeritus status.
"Professor Ayers has a 47-page resume of academic accomplishments," Barbara Ransby, a professor of history and African-American studies, wrote in an e-mail response to the Tribune....
..."It is a real threat to academic freedom, and the foundation of a democratic university, when we begin to make professional and institutional decisions based on personal or political sentiments, however strongly felt they may be," she wrote.
Yeah, right. Out comes the academic freedom flag, used regularly to cover up all kinds of misconduct. I can only imagine what Ms. Ransby's response would be to a similar decision by the trustees regarding a professor who'd made racist comments.
The trustees acted correctly, their decision reflecting well on the values their university should uphold. No one's academic freedom was affected.
September 24, 2010