Published October 16, 2013
Bill Ayers, who helped lead the Weather Underground as it waged a bloody war against the U.S. government in the 1960s, then went on to a career in academia, recently urged those attending his book promotion to be "good citizens" and "moral people."
Ayers, who retired in 2010 from his post as a professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago, was speaking at the school in support of his latest book, “Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident."
Ayers said his new book is ultimately about “teaching and parenting” and living a life that “doesn’t make a mockery of your values.” He urged his audience to “try to be good citizens, try to be moral people,” according to The College Fix.
His comments were cruelly ironic to John Murtagh, who as a 9-year-old boy saw his family targeted because his father was presiding over the trial of members of the Black Panther Party. Murtagh blames the Weather Underground for setting three gasoline-filled firebombs outside his boyhood home while the family slept.
The bombs managed to only damage the car and destroy a snowman the little boy had built a few days earlier, but Murtagh, now an attorney, said the Weather Underground’s intentions were to kill, whether they succeeded or not.
“Bill Ayers just never quits,” Murtagh, now a successful attorney, told FoxNews.com. “He clearly has skewed the view of morality. There’s nothing wrong with being politically active. To try to change the culture and make society better. It’s another to set out and try to kill people.”
Murtagh adds that Ayers has been living in a state of denial for decades about the actions of the Weather Underground.
“For him to go on for 40 years with a straight face that they were only looking to cause property damage is false. The fact of the matter is they tried to hurt people. They did not like what my father stood for. They didn’t like what he tried to do, so they sought out to kill a 9-year-old boy and his family.”
Ayers first came into the public spotlight when he co-founded the Weather Underground, a self-described communist group that was responsible for numerous bombings, including at the Capitol Building and the Pentagon. The attacks, which also included numerous police stations, were in response to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
He also said he was “amazed” when he saw himself described on television as allegedly having close ties to Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election and felt that he was “cast as some kind of public enemy.”
In an op-ed piece after the election, Ayers denied any close association with Obama but touched upon it again during last week’s event while reading an excerpt from his new book.
“Bernadine and I had hosted the initial fundraiser for Obama and uncharacteristically donated a little money to his campaign,” said Ayers, reading from the passage. “We lived a few blocks apart and sat on a couple nonprofit boards together. So what? Who could have predicted it would blow up like this?”
Larry Grathwohl, the FBI informant who infiltrated the terrorist group and later wrote the 1976 book “Bringing Down America,” said Ayers told him personally that fellow Weather Underground member Bernadine Dohrn, now his wife, set the bomb that killed San Francisco Park Police Sgt. Brian McDonnell in 1970.
“Bill Ayers told me in Buffalo that we weren’t doing enough bombings and strategic sabotages,” Grathwohl told FoxNews.com. “He complained that it was a sad situation when [Dohrn] had to plan and place the bomb at the San Francisco Park Police station.”
Grathwohl said the bomb used in San Francisco and the ones that killed three Weather Underground members when it exploded prematurely were all packed with roofing nails and fence staples and designed to kill as many people as possible.
Ayers retired in 2010 from his post as a professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Prior to his career in academia, he was a fugitive for years for his role with the Weather Underground until surrendering in 1980. Charges against him were dropped because of government misconduct.