What Really Concerns Me About Obama and Ayers

In the comments section of his post, She Doesn’t Speak For Me, BryanL says:

“My opinion on Ayers is that what he did was a long time ago during a pretty crazy time of our country (the Vietnam war). He has his reasons for trying to cause property damage to government buildings (what he said his aim was) in response to what he saw as atrocities the government was committing against Vietnamese people. I think he was wrong but again I understand he was young and it was a cray time in our history.

“The point for me though is that everybody who does not sequester themselves off from the world is going to have people they know and even associate who have done shady things or have skeletons in their past. We’re not expected to do a full background check of the everybody we know and work with as well as finding out whether they have renounced or made atonement for all their wrongs. Ayers was a college professor as was his wife who collaborated with him when Obama met them. At this point when Obama had met him, whether he knew of his past or not this guy seemed like a different guy now and like he was trying to make a positive difference in society and his community. Heck even the mayor of Chicago knows this guy and even gets education advice from him.

“Was Obama supposed to find everything out about everyone he met or had any association with and then wash his hands of the ones who he found had shady pasts? No, of course not or else he wouldn’t have been able to work with anyone. The world is messy and you can’t just easily separate the goats from the sheep. And if we took that same approach in church then we would have to shut ourselves off too or just have a group of the truly holy people who who’ve never done anything wrong (I wouldn’t be allowed in that meeting).”

I can see his point on that. I know my side has fallen victim to the guilt-by-association charge!

But what concerns me is not so much that Obama worked with a terrorist who may not have remorse about his bad actions. I’m more concerned about what the two of them actually worked together on!

Here are some quotes from Stanley Kurtz’s article in the September 23 Wall Street Journal, entitled Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism On Schools:

“Despite having authored two autobiographies, Barack Obama has never written about his most important executive experience. From 1995 to 1999, he led an education foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), and remained on the board until 2001. The group poured more than $100 million into the hands of community organizers and radical education activists.
The CAC was the brainchild of Bill Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground in the 1960s.”

“The CAC’s agenda flowed from Mr. Ayers’s educational philosophy, which called for infusing students and their parents with a radical political commitment, and which downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism.”

“In works like ‘City Kids, City Teachers’ and ‘Teaching the Personal and the Political,’ Mr. Ayers wrote that teachers should be community organizers dedicated to provoking resistance to American racism and oppression. His preferred alternative? ‘I’m a radical, Leftist, small ’c’ communist,’ Mr. Ayers said in an interview in Ron Chepesiuk’s, ‘Sixties Radicals,’ at about the same time Mr. Ayers was forming CAC.

CAC translated Mr. Ayers’s radicalism into practice. Instead of funding schools directly, it required schools to affiliate with “external partners,” which actually got the money. Proposals from groups focused on math/science achievement were turned down. Instead CAC disbursed money through various far-left community organizers, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (or Acorn).

“Mr. Obama once conducted ‘leadership training’ seminars with Acorn, and Acorn members also served as volunteers in Mr. Obama’s early campaigns. External partners like the South Shore African Village Collaborative and the Dual Language Exchange focused more on political consciousness, Afrocentricity and bilingualism than traditional education. CAC’s in-house evaluators comprehensively studied the effects of its grants on the test scores of Chicago public-school students. They found no evidence of educational improvement.”

I’m not sure if there are liberal sites that try to debunk this. In my post, Obama on Sex Education, I talked about a SIECUS report that the Obama campaign endorsed, and it advocated that public schools present homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle–to kindergartners. So I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama worked with Ayers to indoctrinate kids with extreme leftist ideology. I find that offensive! What would a President Obama do?

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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14 Responses to What Really Concerns Me About Obama and Ayers

  1. Russell Miller says:

    So, assume for the sake of argument that I have no argument whatsoever with any of your assertions. You just made the statement that you are concerned about Obama having indoctrinated children with extreme leftist ideology. However, in a nother post, you have claimed that you see no problem with indoctrinating children with religious ideology, and I am assuming that you would have no problem with children being taught right wing ideology in public school (though if you are not, it is enough to know that I find religious indoctrination as offensive as you find “leftist” indoctrination).

    What’s the difference? Why are you OK with one and not the other? Is it just because you agree with one?


  2. Bamboo_bends says:

    We’re now into the political silly season now – the last 30 days before election. If they can’t make it on looks, policies, their record in the past, or even a vision of a hopeful future for America, they turn to the oldest trick in the book, promote fears based on half truths, lies and illogical associations.

    Whether its the Bible, or politics,
    text without context is pretext.

    I admire Obama for his extreme grace and perseverance in the face of what Hillary gave him. Now he gets the same sort of attacks and worse from McCain/Palin.

    Would it be such a bad thing for a gifted black man to be President? Imagine the hope and role model that presents for young black men?
    Yes it can be done!

    Obama is nothing if not a man in full control of his emotions and intellect. Its been a long time since we’ve had such a human being run for President. God bless the man!


  3. James Pate says:

    Hi Russell,

    If you’re talking about Intelligent Design, that’s presenting students with a variety of perspectives. It’s the evolutionist side that indoctrinates when it wants to deny other voices.

    But you raise a good question, and I’m not sure entirely what my stance is. When I grew up in a small town, our school handbook said that one purpose of schools was to promote democracy and capitalism. On the other hand, the textbooks were really liberal. A major part of me would like for students to get a broad range of perspectives. At the same time, one function of public schools is to teach us about our country’s heritage–patriotism, perhaps acknowledging that our founders believed in God. And so I’d have problems teaching students about why Communism or Nazism are okay, as if all views are equal.

    And so there’s a dilemma: do we go with public schools as solely as educational institutions, or do we say that they have other functions–to instill patriotism (for the right) or (for the left) to teach kids to make the world a better place.

    Hi Bamboo,

    I never said it would be wrong for a gifted black man to be President. My problem with Obama is not his race.


  4. Russell Miller says:

    “And so there’s a dilemma: do we go with public schools as solely as educational institutions, or do we say that they have other functions–to instill patriotism (for the right) or (for the left) to teach kids to make the world a better place.”

    This “dilemma” is *exactly* why I do not believe that schools should teach anything other than that which is testable, repeatable, or concrete.

    Teach kids how to read, write, do math. Teach them about their world, about physical principles, history etc.

    But when you start getting into the other stuff that is not science, you open the door to a dilemma like this. Namely, *whose point of view gets taught*?

    You by your own admission really don’t have a good answer to this. Neither do I. So the best thing to do is make it not an issue, and *don’t teach it*.

    This is why I’m against design in schools. It’s not science, it’s not fact, it’s not testable, and it has no place being taught to children under the guise of education.


  5. nebcanuck says:

    I’ll chime in with the thought that while I agree that certain teachings are preferable to others, the education system should abstain from entering religious, sexual, and, generally, ethical fields, particularly during early childhood education. (I say generally ethical, because there are certain principles that should be taught such as cooperation with other children.)

    There are a couple reasons. The first is simply that the government and public education are designed to serve all citizens from all groups. I wouldn’t expect a government to stop giving tax breaks to a homosexual man. Nor would I expect a school to teach that homosexuality is wrong. But neither should it be teaching that it is right. What it should be enforcing is that the kids should treat other kids with respect, which would mean not teasing/kicking/bullying kids who are different for any reason.

    Another reason is that, for these fields in particular, one-on-one or familial teaching is far more beneficial. The education system can’t be expected to present every opinion from every possible angle in order that kids should be able to rationally defend their perspective. But a parent can teach a kid, in a way that hopefully leads to a fuller understanding of why that belief is held to be right by the parents, rather than just an expression that it is right, period. Of course, some parents will abuse this, but that’s inevitable. The point is that school should not be forced to teach any of these ideologies in the early years because it is simply less effective at doing so.

    As the kids become adolescents, and classes like World Religion and Philosophy become available through high school, hopefully they will be able to open up to other ideas and debate them, although always respectfully, since that’s what the schools will have enforced.

    As for the political implications, I’m afraid that it’s a little bit limited to make me fear Obama’s hand on the schools just yet. And I’m not convinced that either presidential candidate will really have the sway to alter curriculum anyways, so it’s really a moot point.


  6. James Pate says:

    I like what Nebcanuck said: schools focus on academics, and eventually get into hearing various sides of issues. What I would include in that, though, is some class that teaches the creation/evolution controversy. As I’ve said before, schools can’t just teach evolution and act like no one will be offended. It’s unrealistic!

    As far as the President and curriculum goes, I’m not sure what role the federal government has in that area. I remember that Koop was promoting comdom sex ed, and Bush promotes the abstinence-only brand. So there is some federal intervention in that.


  7. nebcanuck says:

    I agree about the evolution bit. Origin theory isn’t science, anyways. We can talk about what we see nowadays and have classroom science focus on what we know, and it won’t detract one bit from the abilities of the students.

    As for the Bush and sex-ed thing, I’m not sure if he has any real say over that. I don’t know how much power the Congress has over school curriculum — it’s my guess that that’s determined by state — but where Bush has power is in his opinion. The reason there’s controversy over his statements is simply because people listen to him, but because he can actually enact any sort of change, as far as I know.


  8. Russell Miller says:

    “As I’ve said before, schools can’t just teach evolution and act like no one will be offended. It’s unrealistic!”

    No, it’s not. It’s good policy. There are certain times when someone’s going to be offended, and you have to say “go ahead, be offended, but it’s not going to change, so grow up.”

    I’d say that at least *should* apply to pretty much anyone whom is offended by evolution.

    I am convinced that evolution is the best theory we have so far, and people who teach their kids intelligent design are doing their children a major disservice. But it’s their choice to harm their children in that way. Just don’t make me pay for it.

    Sorry I changed the subject from your original post, but you did bring up the whole “indoctrination” issue.


  9. James Pate says:

    I think it was Congress that appropriated money for the abstinence-only program (which Bush signed), and the money could only be used for that, which upset those who wanted the condom-variety too. So I doubt that the feds wrote the curriculum, but I think they had some say-so in terms of broad guidelines.


  10. James Pate says:

    Oh no, Russell, we can go into this territory, since it is relevant to my main post: leftist indoctrination.

    The problem is that there are challenges to evolution throughout the country because of people’s religious beliefs. In some areas, it’s probably not even taught because there’s fear of offense. You have to meet people where they are, whether you agree with them or not.

    One question I have for you: You say that you support science that is observable and repeatable. I was hesitant to bring this up because we may still be observing examples of evolution in progress (I have vague recollections of reading about this). But do you think that any theory of origins is repeatable and observable?


  11. Russell Miller says:

    “But do you think that any theory of origins is repeatable and observable?”

    You forgot testable, but I think evolution is all three.

    See, the difference between evolution and design is this: you can disprove evolution. You can also prove it. They may or may not be gaps in the theory, but you can identify the gaps, figure out what needs to be found to close the gaps, and look for it. If you find it, that’s one less gap, and if you don’t, that’s something that needs to be found and a potential flaw in the theory if it isn’t.

    As you pointed out, there are examples of evolution going on *right now*… for example, a new species of, I think, finch, was just discovered on an island somewhere – evolved from another species that was stranded there a hundred or so years ago. And fossils are found that provide more evidence that the theory is probably correct.

    It’s eminently testable, and that is why I think so low of people who insist that design is on par with evolution as a theory of origins. Because design, as much sense as it might make *intuitively*, is a very poor scientific theory. In fact, it’s not a scientific theory at all. It’s a belief system.

    One thing that really annoys me is that I hear design proponents (creationists) saying things like “but evolution is a belief system too”. Maybe, but that’s not what they’re saying – they’re saying that evolution is just something some grey-bearded scientist came up with one day and all the other scientists said “hey, that sounds cool, let’s make it a theory”, and here we stand. It’s a profound (and cheerful) ignorance of the scientific method.

    Have you ever heard of the “wedge document”?

    Anyway, I’m making the point that as a theory of origins, evolution is a good one because it’s supported by the evidence. The fossil evidence of prior evolution, and the evidence of evolution going on right in front of our eyes.

    And you know what the really stupid thing in my view is? Evolution and design are *not* incompatible. Maybe something out there wants evolution to happen. Maybe something designed evolution. Maybe something is causing evolution right now. But that’s pure speculation, and I challenge you or anyone else to find one piece of evidence that this is the case.

    You can’t. I’m sure of it.

    And that’s the difference between design and evolution.


  12. James Pate says:

    I just learned about the wedge document. I’ve visited the Discovery Institute’s site. It has some pretty credentialed scientists!

    There are some advocates of Intelligent Design who are more open to evolution. I once watched William Dempski on C-Span, and he said that ID doesn’t rule it out. He just thinks there had to be a divine force that made things come together. He doesn’t think it could come about through chance.

    I think these sorts of questions should be discussed in schools. One challenge may be that a teacher would manipulate the presentation according to what he believes. This may not be horrible, educationally speaking, because students are still learning something about evolution, even if it’s by someone who disagrees with it.

    But I would prefer for there to be more neutrality–let both sides debate. If the ID side says there is complexity that necessitates a designer, let the evolutionist show that that complexity can come through natural means. If the evolutionist side mentions transitional fossils, let the ID representative explain that (or, in your view, explain that AWAY).


  13. nebcanuck says:

    I think it’s worth noting, re. the evolution debate, that when some Christians such as myself state that evolution is a belief system, it most certainly does not mean that some greybeard came along and made it up and people agreed to go with it. I don’t think that’s how the theory of evolution came about, nor do I think that’s how religion came about, and I think either suggestion is equally ignorant of the other’s perspective.

    What I mean when I assert that evolution is a belief system is this. Science permits us to observe physical facts as they stand today. This observation permits us to predict the future and understand the past to a limited extent. But no one would argue that science is able to 100% accurately predict the future, and neither is it able to fully understand the past.

    That being said, the theory of evolution, as it stands, is not an observation you can make today. What can and does exist is natural selection, a founding principle of evolution. We can freely observe the impact of natural selection, as in the case of the new finch, but that is the limit of our abilities, scientifically.

    The theory of evolution goes beyond that. It does not simply note that natural selection exists. It doesn’t even simply note that certain kinds of bones exist that suggest natural selection was an ongoing process centuries and millennia ago. It takes these facts and uses them as the founding principles of a theory for how life on earth could have developed. And then they state that this is a valid assumption.

    Now, this isn’t a purely irrational assumption. The theory of evolution makes good use of natural selection. Creationism assumes that a divine being created the universe with a will and thus brought about life, along with natural forces which cause creatures to undergo natural selection. Darwinism assumes that chance alone dictates the course of things and chance is how life has ended up the way it is. But both are faith systems founded on an overarching principle — one being a divine being, one being natural selection.


  14. nebcanuck says:

    Nebcanuck, I have a question for you. I’m not labelling you a creationist, but do you think there’s a way for a creationist worldview to take into account natural selection and the fossils of transitional animals?

    First, I’m definitely a creationist, so feel free to label me as such :). What I would prefer is that you never label me as ignorant or unintelligent because of that perspective. As far as I can tell, it makes rational sense, and I’ve spent a long time testing the waters and justifying it. I dislike the stereotype that goes along with creationism as being “stupid”.

    Re. Natural selection and fossils, I don’t see why creationism can’t take these into account. The idea that creatures adapt isn’t evolution in and of itself. Transitional fossils are a bit stickier, but even they are pretty weak evidence at least in their current state. If someone could give me fossils that were genuinely step-by-step examples that led all the way from mice to men, I would find it hard to account for in a creationist manner. But to have a bee that looks a bit more like a butterfly isn’t evidence that it became one, it just plays into the theory.

    Again, I assert that evolution is taking certain basic ideas and turning them into a whole theory on how the world came about — a faith. If I said water is necessary for survival, you’d agree. But if I said that water thus is the only component of the universe that mattered, you would think me crazy. That’s what evolution is doing. It takes a common idea — that creatures adapt to survive, or that mutations give a higher chance of survival — and turn it into a far more wide-ranging idea than it is.


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