So, Speaking of Timberlake…

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10/14/2008 5:10 PM |

As an aside in this Wonkette post about Alex Pareene’s excellent hey-wait-a-minute post on ACORN, ‘ette editor Ken Layne notes: “i can’t be the only one reading this bill ayers stuff and thinking, "GODDAMN, those were crazy times, wish I’d blown up the Pentagon!”, which has reminded me we need to talk about why exactly it’s bad that Barack Obama knows this person Justin Timberlake Bill Ayers, other than the obvious reason of it was poor judgement for a man who would one day be suspected of being a secret Muslim to be ever in the same room as a former militant who could be described as a “terrorist” (never killed anyone) thus opening himself up to charges, via the transitive property I guess, that he, Obama, did 9/11.

“Could be described as a terrorist,” but, again, this is the Weather Underground we’re talking about — basically just the angrier, targeted-violent post-68 offshoot of SDS. If Obama didn’t have a funny-sounding name, the discussion we’d be having right now is: in an election which threatens to redraw the electoral map for the first time since Nixon’s Southern Strategy and its heir the Rove coalition, the G.O.P. is trying one last time to run on the 60s culture wars — against a candidate born in 1961, even.

So let’s pretend we’re not all racists, and talk instead about how these 60s culture-wars arguments don’t really hold up. Not when the Weathermen/Weather Underground did more damage to themselves than to anyone else, while fighting for vital causes; not when Bill Ayers is a well-respected educator and juvenile-justice advocate, following in the path of many former student radicals, who’ve spent decades changing the system from within in academia — as much as the legacy of 60s radical activism is still decried by the right and fetishized with sometimes unpleasant unrepentance by the left, we’ve sort of settled things, right? Like, this aspect of our past has been integrated into our present, hasn’t it?

(Along those lines, Obama’s own Congressman, his one-time opponent and current ally, is Bobby Rush, the former prominent Black Panther. I mean, if a much closer associate’s being a former member of the BPC — who like Ayers turned away from violence after harsh experience — isn’t a big deal for the reactionary right, why is Ayers?)