Letter: Undemocratic histories

By The Daily Illini

Over the past week, numerous people have defended Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn with claims that the two came to U of I to lecture about freedom, education and justice for children. Their pasts, supporters say, should not impact the messages Ayers and Dohrn now seek to convey. Yet such claims are mere pretexts for the dissemination of Ayers’ and Dohrn’s dangerous ideology.

Even ignoring the hypocrisy of two people holding us to their interpretations of the law when they historically have shown only contempt for laws, if Ayers and Dohrn were on a mission of justice, how does one reconcile this with the images presented to advertise their stay? How does one explain the bulletin board entitled “Wanted,” which proclaimed their terrorist actions, and the enormous mug shots taken after their arrests, which graced the outside of the cafeteria-like portraits of Stalin in Red Square? If the two came here as esteemed professors, why were they forced to rely on their reputations as Weathermen terrorists?

The simple fact is that Ayers and Dohrn were not invited because of their work with children’s justice. Ayers and Dohrn were invited because of the reputations they built on a campaign of violence – a campaign of violence which they proudly speak of in lectures, books and their film, The Weather Underground, and a campaign of violence which Allen Hall glorified when it proudly advertised the most heinous aspects of their pasts.

It is true that Allen Hall prides itself on creating dialogue. However, when I attempted to discuss my concerns with people like Allen Hall Assistant Program Director Laura Haber, I was called “anti-democratic,” a “stifler of discussion,” and a “censor of history.” It is unfortunate that “dialogue” at Allen has come to mean “monologue,” and consequently, the dorm has held up Ayers and Dohrn as models of democratic activism. Judging by their histories, they are two of the least democratic among us.

James Bellendir

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