Friday, March 27, 2009

Bill Ayers.....Not in my Backyard!

Noted domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers, has cultivated an army of minions while teaching at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
One of these good little soldiers, Kermit Eby, was hired at Naperville North High School (IL), and unsurprisingly, has invited his mentor and savior, Ayers, to be a guest speaker.

To put it bluntly, many folks in Naperville aren't too happy about having Ayers teaching in their "own backyard." It has stirred up so much animosity, that the school district issued the following statement:

Message sent - 3/27/2009
Statement regarding proposed Ayers visit to NNHS

We have received numerous emails and phone calls regarding the proposed visit of UIC professor Dr. Bill Ayers to speak with Naperville North High School students next month, with permission from their parents. While we firmly believe in exposing students to a wide variety of speakers and opinions, offering them the chance to experience different viewpoints and the opportunity to hone their critical thinking skills (one of the tenants of our mission), please know that we would never invite anyone who advocates violence. Our understanding is that Bill Ayers does not, although this point is being actively debated by several who have contacted us.

In addition, administrators from other school districts who have heard his presentation to students, have indicated that Ayers focuses on students being involved in social justice. Given the interest this has stirred in the community, and the strong emotion and anger that is being expressed, we are currently reviewing this decision and are also exploring options for changing the venue.

For those who have expressed concern over funding this, it should be noted that Dr. Ayers was never being paid for this visit. Once a decision has been made, we plan to update parents of Naperville North students on this issue via Talk203.

Alan Leis, Superintendent of Schools Naperville School District 203

The tone of this letter suggests that the reaction by the parents and community is palpable and teetering on the edge.
They are indeed worried about young minds being mislead and warped by someone who set bombs in the U.S. with the intent to kill as well as instructed others to "kill your parents."
I wonder if anyone is going to lose their job over this? Naaaaaa...that's practically impossible if you are part of the teacher's union.


  1. I'm a student in Eby's classroom and he has my full support.

    By the way, let me just say that this was the most skewed and unbalanced piece of writing that I've read in a while. Faux News would be proud

  2. I am appalled by the responses others have made concerning Bill Ayers and their subsequent and unfair criticisms of Kermit Eby. These pathetic sneers on his character are unfound as the writer offers to the reader an uncredible source, dating from a student review site which obviously leads the reader to paint an unfair portrait of a man that he or she has not interacted with. Common sense should dictate that the writer of this article should have first and foremost done has research correct. Why then was Kermit Eby, the subject of this article, not contacted? Why was it that the students themselves who will be attending Ayers not even mentioned in the article.

    Like my colleague David stated earlier, Eby provides students a rare teaching atmosphere: where discussion is encouraged and where views do not matter. I too am a young historian in training and this is important for me discern between Bias and fact. Without discussion we students will not be able to fully grasp the inherent problem between knowledge and fallacy. In fact, the debating atmosphere also allows other students to voice opinions that they may not be able to state in other classes, allowing for the flow of opinions and beliefs where one is entitled to accept or even throw his or her own idea into the ring. All this culminates into a better acceptance of each other’s unique beliefs and ultimately paving the road for tolerance of others. If Eby can provide students with the tools for accepting each others’ beliefs and giving courage to argumentative elements in his students, then why is he condemned? Simply he is helping with our educational growth. He’s not thinking of giving us schools skills. No he is thinking the long run and how developing these skills in this environment can help us later in our life.

    There will always be conservative elements in our class, Eby recognizes that, I recognize that, the whole class recognizes that, but we accept that fact. We argue their beliefs, but we are respectful of each other’s opinions. By hearing both sides of an issue, the student is given better alternatives to the information he or she has received. Besides, this a history class. The textbook isn’t always right and even history can never be truly objective. That is why argument is so important in separating fact from common day fallacy.

    I ask readers to think this : how can you even condemn a man you have not met? By reading this article the writer is trying to give bias view while ignoring the positive aspects of Eby and his character. I ask all readers that they take the time and effort into be hypocritical of a man they have yet to meet. I have always followed the adage that if one was to judge someone that they judge him on his true colors, the strength of his character, his moral certitude, his behaviors and actions. How can you, dear reader and writer, blame this teacher of mine when you have never even met him, or contacted him but create false conclusions based on the reporting of Lifeson and his apparent trust with mishandled ifnrmation?

    I hope that in this world that information not be handled so badly ; that a great teacher not be condemned by the falsities that seem to linger in the air.

  3. I am currently a student of Mr. Eby's at NNHS and this whole fiasco is ridiculous and unnecessary- NNHS has been given the unique opportunity to interact with a historic figure. And let me stress the word opportunity; no one is forcing students to go and see him. If you don't want your kid around him, fine- but don't interfere with another student's right to learn in all types of formats and ways.

    Basically, as a student at North, I think I speak for most of my classmates when I say that everyone needs to butt out, and go find some other issue to get blue in the face over if they have nothing else better to do.

  4. Jim in NapervilleMarch 30, 2009 at 8:46 AM

    I think it is great that you students care enough to comment here, and of course you are entitled to your opinions. And you know what…you are right! The tone of this article is very biased. However, I am a parent in Naperville and am very opposed to Bill Ayers talking in our schools. Let me point out a couple things about what you have said above, about things being skewed or biased:

    1) VK - here is the most telling part about what you wrote.

    Quote: "There will always be conservative elements in our class, Eby recognizes that, I recognize that, the whole class recognizes that, but we accept that fact. We argue their beliefs, but we are respectful of each other’s opinions."

    You refer to the "conservative element" like a plague that is infecting your classroom. You talk about them like outsiders, you say you have to argue “their” beliefs, like it is something you have to tolerate. The "conservative element" is what this great country is built upon, and you are fortunate enough to enjoy the benefits of that, but yet you scoff at it just as Ayers does. You might not want to acknowledge it, but it is that very element that gives you what you enjoy every day. I don't know Mr. Eby and I've never sat in on his class, but from that one comment it is pretty clear that having a "balanced" discussion in his classroom entails tolerating the conservative point of view. Doesn’t sound very balanced to me….

    2) Laura – I appreciate your opinion as well, but how about this:

    “NNHS has been given the unique opportunity to interact with a historic figure”

    “Unique opportunity”? Yes…you know why? Because this guy should be in jail. The only reason he is not, is because of a technicality. If you want to interact with him, it should have been on a phone with a piece of bullet proof glass between you (ie. in jail where he belongs).

    “Historical Figure”? Yes…he is. He made “history” by orchestrated the bombing of government buildings. How is it you just ignore this simple fact? Do you have no sense of right or wrong? If someone came and bombed NNHS, would you be inviting this guy back to speak to the student body several decades later so that the students can get a better perspective on what is “historical”?

    You’ll be offended by this, but this is the truth: It is very easy for you young people to sit back and claim tyranny because people are fighting Bill Ayers, but the simple fact is that you have not lived long enough to appreciate this guy for what he really is. He is a terrorist. A terrorist of the worst kind because he walks among us and is able to pollute people’s minds under the guise of what he says is “the truth”. Take into account these direct quotes from Ayers:

    “Guilty as hell, and free as a bird. It's a great country”
    “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.”
    "Kill all the rich people. ... Bring the revolution home. Kill your parents."

    The above quotes are fact. Look them up. And if you think the people of Naperville (Like myself, like many others who are opposed to this) should have to spend their hard earned tax dollars, for this guy to come spread his lies, pollute the minds of the young people in our community, without putting up a fight, then you are sorely mistaken. Talk to someone who was around when this guy and his wife were bombing government buildings. Talk to someone who can give you a “historical” perspective on what Ayers was really all about. Open your eyes and open your minds….Mr. Eby can only give you one side of the story…

    I feel sorry for you kids because the very things that you hate and think are wrong about this country are the very things that have provided you with the opportunity to live in a well to do, prosperous community like Naperville…Bill Ayers started much the same way (even more privileged probably)…..Mr. Eby teaches you to have an open mind and question things, so don’t be suckered into thinking that Ayers is a “good guy”. If you are, you just don’t get it…

  5. Jim:

    It's great that you are a concerned parent. But I think there is a legitimate response to both your frivolous and substantive concerns.

    1) Your response to VK was en toto a specious argument. VK's point is made in light of the fact that most students at our school are liberal. This is simply a fact of life in our school. The most revealing point about your argument here is that you yourself concede that you have never known Eby or sat through his class, and then move on to make a normative conclusion about the dynamic of his class. To put it simply, your logic is so fallacious that it's painful to read.

    2) Regarding your more substantive point about Bill Ayers:

    You've obviously been drinking too much Republican kool-aid. It is true that Mr. Ayers has a messy and at times simply wrong past.

    But let me tackle specifically the quote you put forth: "I feel we didn't do enough". In regard to his quote, Ayers is quoted as saying "I wish I had done more, but it doesn’t mean I wish we’d bombed more". He is here referring to more political and popularizing action, not terrorist violence.

    Further, Ayers has been quoted as saying, "I condemn all forms of terrorism — individual, group and official".

    In 2008, Ayers wrote, "The Weather Underground [the organization which carried out the bombings] crossed lines of legality, of propriety and perhaps even of common sense".

    How do you like them apples? I recommend next time you read up on what you are talking about before you make a fool of yourself. Ayers to me represented a chance to meet a real-life Republican talking point, who has had his reputation destroyed by people like you who have good intentions but lack brainpower.

  6. How about this: I'm a junior at Naperville North, but not a student of Kermit Eby's.

    What you might not be aware of is that this isn't the first time some of these students have met Mr. Ayers. There was recently a field trip to Chicago where several students got the chance to talk to him about similar topics as what he is going to be talking about now. I didn't get the chance to go, but from what I heard from my fellow moderate (and conservative) leaning classmates, the speech wasn't as shocking or devastating as portrayed by the doomsayers. Rather, he was classified as boring at some times, engaging at others, and altogether just another school speaker.

    Mr. Ayers has been working as a professor for several years now. And let's be honest: do you really think he has not been asked questions about WU, questions about Obama, and questions about his school plan before? Just like a politician who is asked the exact same questions over and over by the media, Mr. Ayers has developed a response to pretty much any question someone asks of him. There won't be anyone inciting people to kill their parents or bomb government buildings.

  7. Ryan, please calm down. There's no need to make personal attacks. Jim was polite to us, there's no need to be rude to him.

    I'm enjoying the fact that the link to this story has popped up all over my Facebook newsfeed as several students are responding. It encourages me that we're not all apathetic =].

  8. Forget Bill Ayers, I wish I could meet the writer of this blog. God, what an idiot...

  9. It seems to me that Naperville is further enclosing itself in its infamous bubble of isolation.

    This is ridiculous.

  10. I was on the field trip to Chicago where myself and students from two other schools had the opportunity to listen to Bill Ayers. Going into the presentation, I had no previous knowledge of Mr. Ayers, therefore I could not make any sort of biased opinion before I met him. Upon listening to the Professor, noted what he was saying and I did not hear anything about bombing buildings. Mr. Ayer's main focus was resisting social injustices such as racism and sexism. I think the parents of Naperville North Students should take a step back and think about the propaganda that has been spread on the subject. This is an opportunity for young adults to hear a different side of the story so that their own opinions may be deduced.

  11. When did I ever comment on the conservative element as a plague? Am I that critical of opposing elements that I call them a disease : a plague that infests and physically harms people?

    I am amazed that you have taken my words and twisted them. I absolutely respect the opposing viewpoints in our class. Infact I support opposition in our class as it provides for grounds of sound debate and response.

  12. I am quite shocked at how many students are "saddened" by the loss of Bill Ayers as a speaker. It's as if he has some sort of rock star status, when he is actually a dried up ol' terrorist, who used violence and terror as a way to supposedly spark "social justice."

    There are many other liberal thinkers that can provoke an honest debate who would not bring this along (terrorist)baggage, and I would hope the school administration would promote that type of healthy debate versus the current one we had with Ayers.

  13. The news that District 203 has cancelled its plans to invite Bill Ayers came as a bit of a shock to me.
    First of all, saying that Bill Ayers is a terrorist is questionable. In 2005, the UN defined terrorism as "intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act." Bill Ayers DID try to get the government out of Vietnam, and he “did claim several extreme acts, they were acts of extreme radicalism against property,” and he claims that they “killed no one and hurt no one”(New Yorker). Though Bill Ayers WAS involved in bombing of a statue dedicated to police casualties during the Haymarket riot, again, according to him these bombings were mostly symbolic.
    I find these acts repulsive, yet that does not give me enough of a reason for not allowing teens to hear his opinion. Many people here seem to have an ill-conceived notion the people listening to Ayers at NNHS have “young minds” that would be easily indoctrinated to radical teachings. These “children” are overwhelmingly 17 and 18 years old, which means that they are almost adults. These so-called children have the necessary critical thinking skills to know what weight to put to his speech. It is the goal of education to teach people to be critical thinkers and be able to discern what is “right” and “wrong”. I am therefore led to say that these people are doing the teens a disservice by not allowing him to speak, keeping the teens in a box for too long only results in their being unprepared for the real world, and therefore MORE easily used by radical groups. People have to realize that to be truly intelligent, to have an opinion, they must be introduced to all ideas, not just those that are politically correct and convenient.
    Also, I am betting that most of the people posting here have never heard Bill Ayers speak, and therefore have a preconceived notion that he will be “indoctrinating” during his presentation. I had the same thought, until I actually had the chance to meet him and hear him talk. His views were not nearly as crazy and violent as I believed them to be – he came out more as a moderate than a radical liberal. Nothing he said would be inappropriate for teens, and I still do not know how to make bombs, so he is not as radical now as he used to be. Furthermore, as many have pointed out already, he is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago – obviously, if there was any reason for him not to speak, he would never have been hired in the first place. Also, in 1997 Chicago awarded him its Citizen of the Year award, which would not have been given to a former militant without a reason.

    It is not that Ayers is any more qualified as a speaker - it is that Ayers was canceled because parents whose children would not even see Ayers created a fuss that did not allow others to see him - those parents tried to restrict the education that the students get.

  14. From a post on another website:

    I hope the kids in Naperville were paying attention to what happened here. When they get to a college campus somewhere in America, then they can wonder why it is that conservatives who never bombed anything, or advocated violence in any way, are also denied a platform to speak, based merely on the fact that college professors and administrators and some students don't like what they have to say. Now, this is where you folks on the Left post messages telling me that no one who 1) questions the hysteria surrounding manmade climate change, 2)seeks to increase the national defense, 3)believes that Reagan was not a horrible president, 4) advocates cracking down on illegal immigration, 5) believes that radical Islam is real and an existential threat to the U.S. and the free world, or 6) has ever admitted to listening to Rush Limbaugh's show, has ever been harassed off a stage or denied the opportunity to speak at college campuses in this country. So go ahead: Tell me that.

  15. Jim in NapervilleMarch 31, 2009 at 7:05 AM


    I absolutely impressed with the maturity and thoughtfulness of some of these responses, and yet not at all surprised by the immaturity of others.

    Since I seem to have sparked some nerve here, take some advice from your friend Harry...having a good debate, does not have to turn into personal attacks. Harry, your thoughts were tactful and correct. And you know what, I appreciate your insight. But still you have someone like Ryan who has taken this opportunity to personally attack me. Ryan – you won’t like to hear this, but this is right out of the liberal play book. In general, that is how most liberals argue - by getting angry and trying to discredit the other side with slander so that whatever point they make is not taken seriously. I’m not suggesting you did it on purpose (this is an emotionally charged topic), but when you grow up in a certain environment, you become a product of that environment. Give me a minute to explain myself here, before you get further heated.

    First of all - when it comes to my comments about VK, I wasn’t trying to make an argument, I was simply making an observation. The observation was that the “conservative element” or point of view doesn’t really get much airtime, or have a voice in your discussions. Seems pretty insightful, since Ryan further made the point for me by saying “most students at our school are liberal. This is simply a fact of life in our school.” Have you ever wondered why that is? It’s because that is what you are taught to think. Public schools are liberal…and thereby by default, most students come out being liberal….end of story.

    As far as me “drinking too much Republican kool-aid “, let me give you some perspective here: I grew up in the public school environment just like you and was the same way. I still consider myself to be fairly antiestablishment. The first time I was old enough to vote, I voted for a democrat - Bill Clinton. But you know what happened? I graduated from college, had to get a job, started paying taxes and began realizing what working hard gets you in the “real world”. Listen…there are always going to be differing views on everything…and thank god for that. If everyone thought exactly like me, the world would be a pretty boring place. We should be able to agree to disagree on stuff without getting angry with each other, but when the field is skewed one way that doesn’t really seem fair. I think that is part of what this Bill Ayers fight was really all about.

    Secondly, I openly admitted I don’t know Mr. Eby, nor did I in any way try to discredit him. After all, he is a very accomplished teacher who has won numerous awards. I only know what I have read of others comments about him, and right or wrong, from what I read he sounds pretty leftist. The only reason I brought him up is because his name keeps coming up as the teacher who seems to empower the students and give them a forum for voicing their ideas. That is all. I’ve read some of the other posts by parents, which were much harsher. Did I call him names, did I call for his resignation, did I say anything bad about him? No….

    Lastly, on Ayers….do I think he is going to show up and spew hatred? Probably not. Can we debate quotes from here until tomorrow to support our respective views? You bet. Could there have been a better choice of a role model to speak to the students of NNHS about this time period? Man, I hope so! (or at least a balanced opinion).

    The simple facts are these: he was a domestic terrorist…that is not debatable. He was a radical…that is not debatable. Many sources (including his own writing) seem to suggest he is not remorseful…is this debatable? I guess maybe so.

    You wanted “a chance to meet a real-life Republican talking point, who has had his reputation destroyed by people like ‘me’ who have good intentions but lack brainpower”? Listen, I didn’t destroy Bill Ayers, he did it himself. You go and try to change the world with violence by bombing buildings and see where it gets you. People like me are not the cause of his poor reputation…his actions are.

    I gather from the tone of some of the student comments (on a lot of different websites), that there is a certain hatred (too strong a word?) for Republicans/Conservatives. Can someone explain to me why that is?