Ayers speaks: "They made me into a cartoon character"

Former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, a favorite bogeyman on the right this year, breaks his silence about Barack Obama and the election.

By Alex Koppelman
Published November 5, 2008 1:03PM (UTC)
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On Election Day, former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers broke his silence. Ayers, who became the face of many of the right's attacks against Barack Obama, spoke to the Washington Post's Peter Slevin and the New Yorker's David Remnick Tuesday.

“I think my relationship with Obama was probably like that of thousands of others in Chicago and, like millions and millions of others, I wished I knew him better,” Ayers said, according to Remnick. “It’s all guilt by association. They made me into a cartoon character -- they threw me up onstage just to pummel me."


The famously unrepentant Ayers also turns out to be, well, sort of repentant. Remnick reports:

Ayers said that he had never meant to imply, in an interview with the Times, published coincidentally on 9/11, that he somehow wished he and the Weathermen had committed further acts of violence in the old days. Instead, he said, “I wish I had done more, but it doesn’t mean I wish we’d bombed more shit.” Ayers said that he had never been responsible for violence against other people and was acting to end a war in Vietnam in which “thousands of people were being killed every week.”

“While we did claim several extreme acts, they were acts of extreme radicalism against property,” he said. “We killed no one and hurt no one. Three of our people killed themselves.” ...

“I wish I had been wiser,” Ayers said. “I wish I had been more effective, I wish I’d been more unifying, I wish I’d been more principled.”

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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