Friday, November 14, 2008

You had to have been there

William Ayers was interviewed by Chris Cuomo on Good Morning America this morning. Based on Chris' line of questioning and Ayers' responses, it became clear that there is a disconnect of about 30 years. Somewhere between 1970 and 2000, young people became apathetic. I commented often over those years about how college students were not politically active in anything the way we were in the 60's. I am truly thankful and impressed at how this current generation, "Generation-O" has taken the world by a storm and helped to elect our new President.

In the 60's we were in an undeclared war in Viet Nam. We were demonstrating against that war, fighting for voting rights across the South, and rising up against the failure of the cities in the North. Getting arrested was a badge of honor when your cell-mates where national leaders, and other students who took on the same cause. The closest I came to getting arrested was in Madison, New Jersey when I demonstrated against the local barber who refused to cut the hair of an African college student. I couldn't get arrested, but I was caught up in the emotion and the rhetoric of that time, shouting, "By any means necessary."

Most of us settled down into mainstream quiet lives and nobody considers us terrorists for all the involvement we had. I never owned a gun, won't have one in the house, but there are people I associated with in the 60's who probably caused my name to be put on a list with others who might by Palin standards be called "terrorists."

The guilt by association in light of all the social activism of 30-40 years ago makes no sense at all. Ayers described his association with Barack Obama in much the same way that Obama explained it himself. I have personally hosted gatherings in my house for political candidates who knew me only by way of a card that I returned in the mail saying I would volunteer. Nobody investigated my background. I have served on boards with people with whom I had no other connection than that board. I could probably meet most of them on the street and neither of us would even remember the other. The few that I even know the names are people who have been in the news since that time. Just being in the same place together is no indication of having the same philosopy, or even of sharing thoughts about anything other than the event at hand.

I'm glad that the majority of voters rejected the notion that Obama was "pallin' around with terrorists." I just hope we don't have to continue this conversation now that Ayers has rereleased his memoir.

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