The Washington Times - November 17, 2008, 11:09PM

Those expecting Bill Ayers to throw any bombs—literally or figuratively—would have been sorely disappointed by his education-dominated talk at the All Souls Church Monday night.

Mr. Ayers, a surprising locus of controversy for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, said that he had agreed to appear at local coffee house Busboys and Poets almost six months ago, long before the honorific “Unrepentant Terrorist” was permanently affixed to his name on cable newscasts.


“I pictured ten people sitting around a circle,” he said, and that probably would have been the case before his “accidental, upsetting, and unwilling celebrity.”

Speaking before a crowd divided almost equally between young adults sporting iPods and children of the sixties wearing ever-whitening beards, Mr. Ayers was there to promote his new book “City Kids, City Schools: More Reports from the Front Row.”

Even for a city extremely concerned with the travails of the public school system—one currently helmed by Michelle Rhee, an oft-discussed candidate for Education Secretary—turnout was surprising.

Originally scheduled to appear at the 14th St. Busboys and Poets location, proprietors realized that the bar couldn’t possibly accommodate demand. Indeed, one of the organizers said that two-thirds of those in attendance wouldn’t have been able to get in.

Those interested in hearing about Mr. Ayers and his connection to President-elect Obama, however, went home unfulfilled; aside from a few cracks about Hyde Park’s resemblance to Wasilla, AK, Mr. Ayers was largely mum on the election, addressing it briefly after an hour of lecture and Q&A about education.

He was clearly pleased by the election of Mr. Obama, but said that he doesn’t “welcome this kind of celebrity or attention” and shot down the notion that he ignored the media out of fear of hurting the Obama campaign: “I haven’t wanted to give a sound bite to the sound bite culture.”

Mr. Ayers again rejected the idea that he is a violent radical, saying such claims are ludicrous. This would have been sure to cause much chagrin amongst the handful of protesters gathered outside the All Souls Church.

Holding placards with the names of those killed by the Weathermen and their splinter groups, their spokesman Raul Deming told me that he was “really disappointed at the media,” and hoped that Mr. Ayers would “be honest.”


“Don’t tell people you didn’t harm anyone when you did,” he said.


- Sonny Bunch, The Washington Times