Unrepentant Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers has rejoined the national political conversation with a column at the Huffington Post critiquing President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet picks in education and other fields as too conservative. He argues for "democratic education," complaining that the current U.S. system is "authoritarian." (Sound familiar?)
"I would have picked Noam Chomsky for state, Naomi Klein for defense, Bernardine Dohrn for Attorney General, Bill Fletcher for commerce, James Thindwa for labor, Barbara Ransby for human services, Paul Krugman for treasury, and Amy Goodman for press secretary. So what do I know?" Mr. Ayers wrote.
"Surely school leaders in fascist Germany or communist Albania or medieval Saudi Arabia all agreed, for example, that students should behave well, stay away from drugs and crime, do their homework, study hard, and master the subject matters, so those things don't differentiate a democratic education from any other," Mr. Ayers wrote, going on to describe the goals of "democratic education" as including "a belief that the fullest development of all is the necessary condition for the full development of each," encouraging students "to ask fundamental questions" and giving students "the capacity to name the world."
"How do our schools here and now measure up to the democratic ideal? Much of what we call schooling forecloses or shuts down or walls off meaningful choice-making. Much of it is based on obedience and conformity, the hallmarks of every authoritarian regime. Much of it banishes the unpopular, squirms in the presence of the unorthodox, hides the unpleasant."
Commenting on the Post's hiring of Mr. Ayers, conservative blogger Ace of Spades called Mrs. Huffington a name unprintable in a family newspaper and then looked on the half-full part of the glass. "On the good side: We will have Bill Ayers to kick around anymore."
Another Middle East war, more faux news
Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, who proved Dan Rather had used faked memos to accuse President Bush of ducking National Guard service, has questions about a report of a Palestinian photojournalist seeing his brother die in a Gaza hospital.
The footage in question, used by CNN and Britain's Channel 4, centers on freelance videographer Ashraf Mashharawi and his 12-year-old brother, Mahmoud's last moments after being wounded in an Israeli attack. Two doctors are in the hospital room, one attempting CPR on Mahmoud in a manner that led Mr. Johnson to say "the footage in the hospital room was very likely staged for propaganda effect."
A doctor wrote to Mr. Johnson, and the blogger said he had other emergency medical technicians confirm, that "the chest compressions that were being performed at the beginning of this video were absolutely, positively fake. The large man in the white coat was NOT performing CPR on that child. He was just sort of tapping on the child´s sternum a little bit with his fingers. You can´t make blood flow like that.
"Furthermore, there´s no point in doing chest compressions if you´re not also ventilating the patient somehow," and though the letter writer acknowledged that this can't be seen, he pointed to other details that suggested it wasn't happening.
Mr. Johnson was unclear on whether (1) the boy already was dead and the "final seconds" footage was re-enacted for dramatic exploitation of a real tragedy, or (2) the boy wasn't killed and the whole story was fake. He did note that a doctor faking CPR on a dead body has no reason to be gentle; if he were faking on a live boy pretending to be dead, he would have to be careful because the procedure can break ribs in some cases.
Either way, Mr. Johnson said, "Ghoulish. Obscene. The kind of thing terrorists do."
On several other occasions, Arab enemies of Israel and the United States have faked or gussied-up videos and photos to fool CNN and other mainstream media outlets into showing carnage and rubble that would help delegitimize the Western nations' war efforts.
CNN initially yanked the video but put it back up on its Web site and ran a report defending the video's authenticity. Paul Martin, co-owner of World News and Features, the syndicating service that provided the video, called the charges "absolute nonsense."
Mr. Mashharawi is "a man of enormous integrity and would never get involved with any sort of manipulation of images, let alone when the person dying is his own brother."
Raafat Hamdouna, administrative director at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, said Friday that "Mahmoud Khalil Mashharawi, a 12-year-old, was brought to the hospital, and he was breathing, but he was hit in the head and all over his body by shrapnel. He died later in the hospital. He was treated by the Norwegian team."
• E-mail Victor Morton.