Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quit Whining About Ayers

You knew the whining about free speech was coming. That doesn't make it easier to stomach.

There's a difference between accommodating free speech and letting a radical use our university as a platform to launch another batch of brainwashed radicals into the teaching ranks.

It's not just the bombings 40 years ago. He's still attacking America. He doesn't place bombs in buildings anymore. He places "bombs" in the minds and hearts of teachers. They explode in classrooms and splatter our children with anti-American propaganda.

Here are excerpts from Ayers in 2006 cozying up to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela:

President Hugo Chavez, Vice-President Vicente Rangel, Ministers Moncada and Isturiz, invited guests, comrades. I’m honored and humbled to be here with you this morning. I bring greetings and support from your brothers and sisters throughout North America. Welcome to the World Education Forum! Amamos la revolucion Bolivariana!

This is my fourth visit to Venezuela, each time at the invitation of my comrade and friend Luis Bonilla, a brilliant educator and inspiring fighter for justice. Luis has taught me a great deal about the Bolivarian Revolution and about the profound educational reforms underway here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chavez. We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution, and I’ve come to appreciate Luis as a major asset in both the Venezuelan and the international struggle — I look forward to seeing how he and all of you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane.

I walked out of jail and into my first teaching position — and from that day until this I’ve thought of myself as a teacher, but I’ve also understood teaching as a project intimately connected with social justice. As students and teachers begin to see themselves as linked to one another, as tied to history and capable of collective action, the fundamental message of teaching shifts slightly, and becomes broader, more generous: we must change ourselves as we come together to change the world. Teaching invites transformations, it urges revolutions small and large. La educacion es revolucion!

I taught at first in something like a Simoncito — called Head Start — and eventually taught at every level in barrios and prisons and insurgent projects across the United States. I learned then that education is never neutral. It always has a value, a position, a politics. Education either reinforces or challenges the existing social order, and school is always a contested space – what should be taught? In what way? Toward what end? By and for whom? At bottom, it involves a struggle over the essential questions: what does it mean to be a human being living in a human society?

Totalitarianism demands obedience and conformity, hierarchy, command and control. Royalty requires allegiance. Capitalism promotes racism and militarism – turning people into consumers, not citizens. Participatory democracy, by contrast, requires free people coming together voluntarily as equals who are capable of both self-realization and, at the same time, full participation in a shared political and economic life.

Despite being under constant attack from within and from abroad, the Bolivarian revolution has made astonishing strides in a brief period. Venezuelans have shown the world that with full participation, full inclusion, and popular empowerment, the failings of capitalist schooling can be resisted and overcome.

This World Education Forum provides us a unique opportunity to develop and share the lessons and challenges of this profound educational project that is the Bolivarian Revolution.

This holdover hippie is still calling people "comrades." Bolivarianism is the Chavez socialist spin on the ideology of anti-colonial revolutionary Simon Bolivar, whom many South Americans revere as the George Washington of South American independence from Spain.

Who at UNL thought it was good idea to bring this guy to campus to teach teachers how to teach? Maybe bring him in as part of a panel discussion on political activism in education to get his viewpoint heard, but my impression is that this is a seminar for graduate students trying to become better teachers.

We can respect his right to free speech, but we don't have to take him seriously as an "education reformer" and trainer of teachers at our university.

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