As others have observed, palling around with terrorists has a long and sordid history in America. Just take the six decades I’ve been alive. Venerated Senators and Representatives made common cause with the Ku Klux Klan and their ilk, whose murders were the ultimate backstop for maintaining American apartheid. That system, you may recall, rested on ruthless white rule over the portion of the United States which allegedly lost the Civil War. It reinstituted slavery in a visible but widely ignored form, and for 90 years it destroyed every civil right of African-Americans, enforcing this with terror, including lynchings and other murders.Please note that war criminal and terrorist Kissinger is also an honorary co-chair of McCain's campaign, although because he is a member of the U.S. elite, that connection is not seen as nefarious by the establishment press and its blogger tail.
Fast forward to Henry Kissinger, the architect of raining terror on Cambodia, a policy that led to tens of thousands of dead civilians and contributed to the ascendance of the previously minuscule Khmer Rouge. Their astounding butchery and terrorism against their own people was not enough to persuade the United States to stop supporting them in their effort to keep control of Cambodia’s U.N. seat after their cross-border aggression was defeated, government overthrown and genocide stopped by Vietnam. Not to mention Kissinger’s role in Indonesia and Chile.
Meteor Blades goes on to mention other atrocious criminals in American government who better deserve the terrorist label than Bill Ayers, a former WU member involved in some symbolic bombings who later became a local liberal-radical activist along more traditional lines, and hence came into contact with Barack Obama. Ayers never thoroughly renounced his WU past. Why?
To answer that question, I reproduce here my comment over at MB's Daily Kos post, as it is relevant to both the question of "terrorism" in general, and on the meaning of attacking Ayers and linking him to liberal presidential candidate Barack Obama, more specifically. I've added a few links to my comment, for the benefit of my readers:
The modern left begins with the fight among the Russsian social democrats as to whether they should support the terrorist tactics of the Narodniks, who were fighting in the latter 19th century to overthrow the czar.MB's story of his experience with Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), its internecine splits, the communal left such as it existed in the 1960s-1970s, and the fights over strategy and tactics, and how this all affected the individuals involved, is worth reading in and of itself. I only wish it had been longer, as its evident MB has a lot of experience to relate.
Although few know it, the faction that would later call themselves the Communists opposed terrorism as a tactic, as it tended to bring strong oppressive reaction while at the same time sending a message to the people at large that they did not have to engage in political struggle, leaving such struggle to a heroic elite. Hence, at a time of greater oppression, the masses of people were disarmed by non-involvement in political struggle.
However, the early left made a distinction between the terror tactics of left -- the actions ostensibly to support an oppressed people, or to oppose imperial power - and the terror tactics of the government or the right, which were meant to silence the left, or to further seal state or right-wing power against the workers, farmers/peasants, and lower middle-classes.
The Weather Underground members had lost faith in a working class, classic-style revolution. They also believed that the bulk of the middle class was bought off by the excess wealth generated by the exploitation of the "third world". Hence, despairing of any other way, they sought terror as a method of "sparking" resistance, which they hoped would begin among the most impoverished sections of U.S. society, e.g., poor black Americans, native Americans, etc. In this, they were supported by agents provocateurs working for the government, as an perusal of the subject of "Cointelpro" or the Church Committee hearings in Congress will demonstrate to anyone so interested.
The attacks against Obama on the Ayers issue represent, in part, a continuing struggle over the meaning of the Southeast Asian colonial wars, in which the United States butchered over a million people, and tortured tens of thousands. As Meteor Blades makes so very clear, the really hardcore terrorists were Kissinger, MacNamara, Johnson, Nixon, and so many more (including Alexander Haig, a McCain supporter).
On one hand, the purported Ayers-Obama link is just plain silly, as there's really nothing to it. But the politics behind it is very real. Ayers and other radical supporters of the antiwar movement were no criminals: they were trying to stop a massive crime being committed. That they sometimes chose self-defeating methods is very regrettable, but the damage they caused was nothing compared to the damage caused by the great evil they opposed.