John McCain and Sarah Palin's desperate attempt to try and denigrate Barack Obama for his tenuous connection to Bill Ayers has been wildly irresponsible. Not only are some supporters at Republican rallies suggesting that Obama himself is a terrorist and that some one ought to "kill him," but the Mavericks are purposefully exploiting the term "terrorist" for political gain.
Many in the flyover states hear the word and automatically think Osama Bin Laden. Though when we look at terrorism committed by our own countrymen, we're often forced to take a more nuanced meaning of politically motivated violence. A tough pill for many to swallow, but both sides of the political spectrum have made exceptions for men and women considered terrorists.
Two weeks ago our own Tim Elfrink wrote about the call for Bush to pardon Arocena at the end of his term. An action many of McCain's local supporters hope to see.
It would be interesting to see what McCain or Palin's answer would be if asked if they support calls for Arocena's pardon.
While Arocena and Ayers are on the opposite ends of the political spectrum and met different fates, they do have many similarities. Both formed groups active in the '70s that took extreme measures to protest things that today many Americans agree suck (Fidel Castro and the Vietnam War), both used bombs, and both eventually turned themselves in.
A point-by-point comparison of Ayers and Arocena behind the jump.
Ayers' Connection to Obama: Ayers served alongside Obama for three years on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago, an anti-poverty group. Obama was president of the board of directors for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a group Ayers helped to start. Ayers hosted a meet and great for Obama in 1995, at which Obama received the endorsement from an outgoing Illinois state senator.
Arocena’s Connection to McCain: Anti-Castro activist Roberto Martin Perez appeared in a McCain ad and is one of the chief proponents of freeing Eduardo Arocena. Senator Joe Lieberman, a close friend of McCain, advocates the release of Arocena. As we reported two weeks ago, many are hoping that George Bush will pardon Arocena at the end of his term.
Ayers' “Terrorist” credentials: leader of The Weathermen, a radical, often violent anti-Vietnam War group started in ‘69.
Arocena’s “Terrorist” credentials: leader of Omega 7, a radical, often violent anti-Castro group started in ‘74.
Ayers' Crimes: Participated in numerous bombings. A friend and girlfriend died while assembling a bomb, but no others were harmed or killed.
Arocena’s Crimes: Orchestrated 32 bombings and 2 murders.
Ayers' Sentence: No major jail time due to a technicality caused by the FBI’s investigation.
Arocena’s Sentence: Life plus another 20 years.
Ayers' Personal Life:Loving husband and father, currently a professor at University of Illinois Chicago.
Arocena's Personal Life: Loving husband and father, whose wife and children hope for his release.
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Ayers' Regrets: Eventually turned himself in. Maintains he didn’t do enough to stop the Vietnam war, but has since said that he condemns all forms of terrorism and that The Weatherman at the time were arrogant and naive.
Arocena’s Regrets: Eventually turned himself in.