Inside Higher Ed has an article today about William Ayers and his support among higher educators. The article is left-slanted, as you can tell from the first couple paragraphs:
William Ayers has been trashed by conservative pundits and labeled “an unrepentant domestic terrorist” by Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, but the University of Illinois at Chicago professor has garnered the support of a growing number of peers who admire his scholarship and see the attacks on him as an affront to academic freedom.
Ayers, who helped found a Vietnam-era protest group that was blamed for bombing government buildings, has been a faculty member at Illinois-Chicago since 1987. In a statement signed by faculty members across the country, professors have spoken out against “the demonization” of Ayers, whose alleged ties to the Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama have made headlines.
This is rhetorical fog, designed to obscure. Words like "labeled" and "blamed" implies it's just those ill-tempered righties doing so. But it was that right-wing nuthouse, the New York Times, that published the go-to article on Ayers, coincidentally on September 11, 2001, "No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives; In a Memoir of Sorts, a War Protester Talks of Life With the Weathermen", opening with:
Speaking of Ayers' "alleged ties" to Obama is equally obfuscatory. The basic facts about the "ties" are not in dispute, no matter how much the Obama campaign lies about them, deflects them, tries to cover them up, or tries to silence the people who talk about them.
The argument—one that the Obama campaign desperately wants not to have—is how much the history of those "ties" reflects on Obama's judgment, character, and ideological roots.
But that's not the thrust of the Inside Higher Ed article. Because the Ayers story also reflects on the judgment, character, and ideology of his current employer, the University of Illinois at Chicago. And Northwestern, the employer of his equally odious wife, Bernardine Dohrn. And, by extension, the entire higher education establishment, which probably does not want to be perceived as a kind of an employer of last resort for ex-terrorists who find that their job skills and life experiences are unappreciated by the private sector. In full Governor LaPetomaine mode, the cry goes out: "We have to protect our phony baloney jobs here, gentlemen!"
Hence, the article's main point is to publicize the efforts of those educators who are protesting the "demonization" of Ayers. (Translation into normal English: "demonization" means "fact-finding and publicizing".) The article points its readers to http://www.supportbillayers.org/ which (as I type) has 3247 "signatures" on a petition that, "to support our colleague Professor William Ayers"
Naturally, I looked for signatories from my own employer, the University of New Hampshire. Ah, there's one:
|2748||Aleister Crowley||University of New Hampshire - Durham|
You may have heard of him. If not, Pun Salad will spare you the trouble of looking him up. He's not a UNH faculty member. Nor is he otherwise employed at UNH. And he's not a current student. In fact, he's been dead for slightly over sixty years. Pictured at right, he was a famous British wacko (as Wikipedia puts it) "best known for his occult writings."
I wonder if the other signatures on the website were equally well verified? Perhaps ACORN has been given the job of getting people to sign up?
UPDATE: the sharp-eyed Doug Lambert of GraniteGrok notes another data point in favor of the ACORN hypothesis:
|1167||Ramesh Ponnuru||National Review|
To quote Rene Descartes: I don't think so. (And then he disappeared.)
And (now that I look more carefully), there's also:
|1181||Jack Meoff||University of West Kentucky|
… I've seen his name on a lot of petitions.