In a very unusual move, University of Illinois trustees Thursday denied giving emeritus status to controversial retired professor William Ayers.
The vote, at a U. of I. board meeting in Urbana, was unanimous and came after a passionate speech by board chair Christopher Kennedy, who invoked the 1968 assassination of his father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, in saying that he was voting his conscience.
The other trustees, without comment, also voted against the appointment.
Christopher Kennedy’s rationale needs to be heard:
But in an emotional statement, Kennedy discussed his reasons for voting against Ayers’ request.
“I am guided by my conscience and one which has been formed by a series of experiences, many of which have been shared with the people of our country and mark each of us in a profound way,” Kennedy said.
He said he could not confer the title “to a man whose body of work includes a book dedicated in part to the man who murdered my father.”
Kennedy was referring to a 1974 book co-authored by Ayers, “Prairie Fire,” which was dedicated to a long list of people including Robert Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan and “all political prisoners in the U.S.”
One of the advantages of having physical descendants around of those who made history is that they remember stuff the rest of us don’t. People have forgotten just how destructive the 60’s radicals were and in some ways still are, as Ayers’ influence over Barack Obama is a testament to. (Don’t forget this, either.) Neither John nor Robert Kennedy were assassinated by “right wingnuts,” no matter what you think of their ideas at the time.
For an institution which just went through a controversy with an adjunct professor getting the boot for saying that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is against natural law (they did reinstate him, though), this is good news.
Besides, one of the perks of emeritus status is library privileges. What self-respecting 60’s radical would do anything in a library other than burn it down?