Why Support a Domestic Terrorist? Ayers Friend Goes 'On the Record'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," October 22, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Senator Obama continues to be slammed for his association with Bill Ayers. But not everyone has bad things to say about the "Weather Underground" co-founder. About 3,000 educators have signed a petition supporting the radical Ayers. Why? Let's ask.

Joining us live is Dr. Alan Singer, Professor from Hofstra who singed the petition supporting Ayers. Welcome, sir.

DR. ALAN SINGER, PROFESSOR, HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY: Welcome, Greta. Thank you for having me.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do you know Bill Ayers?

SINGER: Bill Ayers is a very prominent educational professor in the United States. I have worked with him for about 20 years at the American Educational research association where he is one of the leading spokespeople for educational reform.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know Senator Obama?

SINGER: No, I have never met Senator Obama. I am not involved in his campaign in any way.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of Bill Ayers, when was the last time you saw him?

SINGER: The last time I saw Bill Ayers was over two years ago. I was in e-mail contact with him during the summer. He actually helped me get a book published-"New York in Slavery; Time to Teach the Truth" by Suny Press.

But when this whole issue broke out, I tried to reach him through his university, but he is on leave. And the university could not connect me.

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VAN SUSTEREN: So you have not spoken to him lately?

SINGER: No, I could not get through to him.

VAN SUSTEREN: How did you get connected? Whose idea was it to put this list together of 3,000?

SINGER: I am not sure. Many of the prominent educational professors from the American Educational Resources Association have signed it. I guess the reason is that Bill Ayers is a very responsible and well-known educator in the United States.

In Chicago he was voted citizen of the year in 1997 for his work in promoting reform in urban and minority communities, which are issues that are very important to me.

VAN SUSTEREN: You say that he is a responsible citizen of the year. A lot of people cringe to hear you say that, because as recently as 2001, he said, "I do not regret setting bombs. I feel we did not do enough."

So it is hard for me to think--if he had said at that time, "I was so young and it was so wrong and I am so sorry." But he is not saying that. So it is hard for me to think of him as citizen of the year.

SINGER: Greta, two different ideas are collapsed in that quote, and they are collapsed incorrectly. He did say he didn't regret setting the bombs. I disagreed with him and the Weather Underground 40 years ago. I was an antiwar activist. I did not participate. I thought they were wrong. I disagree with that now.

But when he says we did not do enough, many activists who opposed the war felt we did not do enough to stop the war. It went on for over 10 years. And American foreign policy today has engaged us in two wars that have been responsible for the death of over 4,000 American soldiers and over 100,000 Iraqis. So a lot of us feel that we haven't done enough.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you saying you agree with this. "I feel we did not do enough." You agree with that?

SINGER: We did not do enough to change American foreign policy.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where do you get to the rest of that quote, because I don't have that in the quote? Is that what you are reading into it, because that's not what I have? Maybe I have an incomplete one.


VAN SUSTEREN: And I have gone after CNN for getting it wrong. So tell me, do you have more of a quote? Did I copy that wrong?

SINGER: The quote was from "The New York Times." Bill Ayers had published a book. He was promoting the book.

Again, he said some things I don't agree with, but the thrust of his idea was that activists were unsuccessful in ending the war and changing American foreign policy.

VAN SUSTEREN: You agree that is not what it said.

SINGER: That is not what it says in "The Times," but that's not what he said as far as I can tell.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, Chicago is a big city. There are a lot of people doing a lot of really great things. He is citizen of the year, in spite of --

SINGER: By Mayor Daley. The son of Mayor Daley attacked.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is a unique standard in Chicago right now, apparently.

SINGER: I can't speak to that. I live in New York.

VAN SUSTEREN: Has Bill Ayers ever spoken to you about Senator Obama?

SINGER: No. Our relationship is not on that level. What we spoke about was educational reform and improving minority schools. And, also, again, he did help me publish that book.

VAN SUSTEREN: I take it you condemn his words and his activity about setting bombs--

SINGER: I never supported violence that way. I did not support it 40 years ago, and I do not support it now. But I do support someone who has championed educational reform for the last 20 years.

VAN SUSTEREN: But doesn't it bother you that he has never said "I am sorry, it was wrong," and instead says just the opposite? That does not bother you?

SINGER: You would have to speak to him about that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Got it. Thank you Dr. Singer.

SINGER: Thank you very much.

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