OCTOBER 10, 2008
A New York councilman whose home was bombed by Barack Obama’s friend and political mentor chastised the Illinois senator’s close relationship with the violent, Vietnam-era radical who was once a fugitive from U.S. justice.
Obama has worked hard to distance himself William Ayers, the co-founder of the domestic terrorist group Weather Underground, and who could blame the Democratic presidential candidate? For years a fugitive from U.S. justice, Ayers has proudly admitted planting bombs on the Capitol, Pentagon and other government buildings to protest U.S. policy.
Ayers publicly says that he doesn’t regret setting bombs and that in fact his group “didn’t do enough.” Now a professor at a public university in Chicago, Ayers proudly sports a tattoo on his neck featuring the rainbow and lightning weatherman logo that appeared on letters taking responsibility for the bombings.
Ayers has long supported Obama’s political career by donating money to his campaigns and hosting fundraisers at his home. The men hang out in the same political and social circles, live in the same Chicago neighborhood and for years served on the board of a Chicago nonprofit.
Initially Obama said that he didn’t know about Ayers’ radical past but lately the senator has offered a different explanation; that he was only 8 years old when his buddy terrorized America. Yonkers Councilman John Murtagh, whose home was firebombed by Ayers’ group when he was 9, is offended by the rhetoric.
Murtagh’s dad was a New York Supreme Court justice when his home was targeted by the Weather Underground because his father was presiding over the trial of the “Panther 21,” members of the Black Panther Party indicted in a plot to bomb New York landmarks and department stores.
The councilman reminded Obama this week that his friend and longtime supporter tried to kill his family. “I’m not questioning what Barack Obama was doing when he was 8 years old,” said Murtagh, an attorney who also teaches public policy at Fordham University. “I’m questioning his behavior as an adult to choose his friend, mentor and longtime personal and professional colleague.”
Obama’s effort to erase Ayers from his past includes censoring television ads highlighting his decades-long relationship with the terrorist. Besides warning television stations across the nation to pull the incriminating spots—paid for by a conservative nonprofit—Obama asked the Justice Department to intervene. He also tried bullying advertisers to pressure stations that ran the commercial.
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