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Embracing defeat

There are times when your enemy scores a major triumph, on your terms, and you don’t know how to react. That’s how I felt today, when I read the Times’ glowing profile of Chesa Boudin, adopted son of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, and winner of the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships. Maybe “glowing” is the wrong word. I’ve seen depleted uranium that gleamed less brightly then this piece.

In brief, Boudin is the son of 60s anti-American (I use that phrase not because I don’t like them, but because they specifically campaigned FOR Vietnamese Communists and AGAINST America) terrorists Katherine Boudin and David Gilbert. Best of the Web highlights this graph, for good reasons:

His parents, members of the 1970’s radical group the Weathermen, have been in prison since he was 14 months old, for roles in a 1981 Brink’s robbery in Rockland County in which two police officers and a guard were killed. They missed his Phi Beta Kappa award, high school graduation, Little League games.

How about that? All they did was murder three people, and they have to go to prison! Oh, what a cruel oppressive society this is!

See the sarcasm I displayed above? Boudin the Younger would say that with 100% sincerity:

“I’m sad that my parents have to suffer what they have to suffer on a daily basis, that millions of other people have to suffer as well.”

I don’t assume he’s referring to the families of the murdered cops, or the families of Vietnam P.O.W.s. Maybe he is. But for some reason I doubt it.

Boudin the Younger was raised by Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers. I’m well acquainted with Dohrn and Ayers; the former is on the payroll of my university, Northwestern. My newspaper reported on her hiring seven years ago. We covered last year’s scandal when The Times, again, published a profile of her and her husband when he published a revisionist autobiography about his days as a revolutionary terrorist. Ayers has remade himself as an expert on education – Dohrn, smartly, has cut herself off from press interviews that touch on her radical history. Have they repented?

A red-star revolutionary pin on his jacket, his Weatherman tattoo (and 17 others) hidden from sight, Mr. Ayers smiled as he watched his adopted son, fresh from his Rhodes interview, in the suit that Ms. Dohrn had helped pick.

This isn’t suprising. The Weathermen took their name from Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and the line “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” They titled a 2000 paper “Look out kid, it’s something you did,” after a line from the same song. That doesn’t exactly reek of soul-searching. The word I’d use is “reveling.” As in “reveling in their criminal records.”

Boudin the Younger shares their pride, if you go by his statements to the Times:

“We have a different name for the war we’re fighting now � now we call it the war on terrorism, then they called it the war on communism,” Mr. Boudin said. “My parents were all dedicated to fighting U.S. imperialism around the world. I’m dedicated to the same thing.”

This isn’t really spelled out, and I’m normally loathe to read someone’s mind through the third-hand medium of a newspaper report, but there are all sorts of implications in that sentence. I’m reminded of the Black Panthers and their assertion that all black men in prison – all of them – were “political prisoners.” This attitude, this philosophy, is Marxist – it is wedded to the idea that the “political power is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another” (as Marx put it in the Communist Manifesto), no wrong can be committed by those who are not in power, and that any struggle against the oppressive United States is righteous. It’s an abhorrent philosophy. But Boudin the Younger is writing a memior:

“It’s about growing up with parents in prison; it’s about growing up in America,” he said. “It’s about two very different worlds, one of extreme privilege and opportunity, and the other of degradation and humiliation.”

This is the kind of a brain that wins a Rhodes scholarship. That’s monumentally depressing. I don’t know how to react this news, but I can rule out anger. I’ll remain hopeful. I’ll hope that Boudin doesn’t make the same mistakes as his parents. I’ll hope that Ayers is right, and Boudin “confirms the natural cycle that your kids are always so much smarter and better than you.”

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