In his memoir about infiltrating the Weather Underground, Bringing Down America: An FBI Informer with the Weathermen, Larry Grathwohl described his frustrations with having to be at two places at once: at his job on the loading dock and at the meetings organized by Weatherman, the domestic terrorist group cofounded by Bill Ayers. It was 1969, and Grathwohl had recently returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam. He was 22 years old and had a wife and baby to support. After the group tried to recruit him (they had been ordered by communist higher ups to recruit from the working class), Grathwohl, with the encouragement of his father-in-law, a retired police officer, decided to infiltrate the group.
It’s hard to be a working class radical—or to even pretend to be one, as Grathwohl learned. Russell Kirk in Decadence and Renewal in Higher Education recalls that “the higher the students’ background of prosperity, the more radical their rebelliousness.” Mark Rudd’s attempts to shut down Brooklyn College were rejected by the students there. But he found success at elite Columbia University.
Like many of the violent troublemakers during the 1960s and 1970s, Bill Ayers was the son of privilege, specifically of the politically powerful and wealthy Thomas Ayers.
After admittedly bombing police stations and government buildings and spending a decade in reasonable comfort on the run from the law, Bill Ayers earned two graduate degrees in education in record time, immediately obtained a teaching position in his hometown of Chicago, and swiftly rose up the tenure ladder to “Distinguished Professor.” He used his time as a professor at the public university to proselytize for the communist revolution, filling up over 40 pages of a curriculum vitae with regurgitated nonsensical agitprop. He earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Bennington College (taking a leave from his teaching on the taxpayers’ dime) and turned his creative dissertation into the book Fugitive Days. Now he is being given a public platform to promote his second memoir Public Enemy, speaking at public colleges as well as public events like the Wisconsin Book Festival. MSNBC gave him a platform last week with a spin worthy of the old Soviet Union, with a lead-in of clips of Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign accusing Barack Obama of “palling around” with terrorists, namely Ayers.
Dressed in his customary pseudo-proletariat chic, Bill Ayers presented himself simply as a retired professor, a concerned grandfather, who had led an “antiwar group.” There is a “collective responsibility” for the excesses of the era, he said in his fake conciliatory voice. “We all should apologize,” he said, naming Henry Kissinger, John Kerry, Bob Kerry, Angela Davis, and Jane Fonda. He had no regrets for destroying government property “in opposition to a genocidal war.” Presenting himself as a victim of “guilt by association,” Ayers distanced himself from Obama—no doubt making Obama very happy. The interview ended with stories about his grandchildren’s bedtime hour.
Ayers was given the floor on national television to lie about his terroristic past. Larry Grathwohl, who passed away in July, testified in 1974 before the United States Senate subcommittee on internal security.
Grathwohl told the committee, “Bill [Ayers] was the person who directed the ‘focle’ that I was part of to place the bomb at the DPOA [the Detroit Police Officers Association] Building. He designed the bomb and told me that he would get the necessary materials, the dynamite, et cetera, and 4 days later Bill broke that focle that I was part of up . . . and we were directed to go to Madison, Wis.” This was in 1970.
A focle was a four-person task force, small in size to evade detection.
Grathwohl talked about the case again at a 2012 conference sponsored by America’s Survival:
“during the meeting with Bill Ayers [in 1970] we were told that our objective would be to place bombs at the Detroit Police Officers Association . . . and at the 13th precinct. Furthermore, Bill instructed us to determine the best time to place these explosive devices that would result in the greatest number of deaths and injuries. . . .”
When Grathwohl pointed out to Ayers that a Red Barn restaurant next door would most likely be destroyed and the customers killed during the explosion, Ayers replied “sometimes innocent people have to die in a revolution.”
At the 1974 Congressional hearing, Grathwohl described another meeting where “Bill [Ayers] started off telling us about the need to raise the level of the struggle and for stronger leadership inside the Weatherman ‘focles’ and inside the Weatherman organization as a whole. And he cited as one of the real problems was that someone like Bernardine Dohrn had to plan, develop and carry out the bombing of the police station in San Francisco. . . .” That bomb killed Sergeant Brian V. McDonnell in 1970.
Larry testified that Ayers had said that the bomb was placed on the window ledge. Ayers described the kind of bomb it was “to the extent of saying what kind of shrapnel was used in it.” That case is still open.
Last week, On MSNBC Ayers said, “we [Weatherman] made a decision while we were willing to engage in extreme tactics, we would not harm human life. . . . We never hurt or harmed anyone. We destroyed property.”
Bill Ayers, the privileged professor, was allowed to lie on television. Larry Grathwohl did what most working class Vietnam vets did: he worked. His story was nearly forgotten, until Cliff Kincaid started inviting him to America’s Survival conferences a few years ago. That was where I met Larry. This spring my writing partner Tina Trent republished Grathwohl’s memoir and the three of us toured Florida in May, speaking about Grathwohl’s book, Bill Ayers, and the terroristic Weatherman. We found a receptive audience at tea party groups, many of them military veterans.
On his MSNBC stage, Ayers “confessed” to past “self-righteousness.” But Ayers is such a product of privilege that he cannot see his own disregard for those not of his elite class of communists. In 1970, he conveyed contempt for the mostly black patrons who would have been killed at the Detroit restaurant by his bomb. During his teaching career, he cheated thousands of “urban school” students of a legitimate education. In his self-righteous first memoir Fugitive Days, he presented “Celeste,” the black family maid, as a cudgel with which to beat up his parents and their generation. He brags about kissing a black girlfriend. He writes about dining at the St. Petersburg in San Francisco, while on the run from the FBI. The owner is described as a “cheery old lady whose family had escaped the Bolsheviks and gone to China, only to flee the Maoists en route to Cuba, and then to run from Fidel, landing right here in the U.S., where, we hoped, if the pattern held, she was merely awaiting another revolution.”
Larry Grathwohl repeated the story, always with amazement and disbelief in his voice, about how the well-off young adults of the Weatherman would discuss what they would do after the “revolution”: order the reeducation of an estimated 100 million Americans and the execution of the estimated 25 million who would resist reeducation.
Bill Ayers has Larry Grathwohl to thank to sabotaging at least one of his bombs in Detroit. Larry Grathwohl prevented the Weathermen from doing more harm than they did.
But as we can see by the way Ayers is feted by the liberal media, it is those from the upper classes still who are given the stage.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.