A searing and timely account of the juvenile court system, and the courageous individuals who rescue hope from despair.
Ayers even mentions Obama by name in the book. Speaking of the neighbors in his Hyde Park neighborhood, Ayers wrote:
Our neighbors include Muhammad Ali, former mayor Eugene Sawyer, poets Gwendolyn Brooks and Elizabeth Alexander, and writer Barack Obama. Minister Louis Farrakhan lives a block from our home and adds, we think, a unique dimension to the idea of ’safe neighborhood watch’: the Fruit of Islam, his security force, has an eye on things twenty-four-hours a day.
It is important that people understand Ayers' philosophy when it comes to juvenile justice. He opposes locking up juveniles for violent crimes they commit, such as murder, rape and armed robbery. Sen. Obama pushed juvenile crime legislation pushed by Ayers as a state senator. As a supporter of Ayres described his 1997 book:
Drawing on his experience as a father and a teacher, he powerfully contrasted and compared the lives of his children, growing up in privilege, with those he had taught in prison. As he observed, "They are kids after all, and nothing they did can possibly change them into adults." That year, Chicago named Ayers its "Citizen of the Year." In November, Michelle Obama, who was then director of the university's community service center, convened a panel at the law school to discuss Ayers' book and the issues it raised.
Imagine Ayers of all people contrasting children growing up in privilege with those taught in prison. Ayers is the son of Tom Ayers, the former CEO of Commonwealth Edison. His privileged upbringing didn't stop him from planning and carrying out bomb attacks on the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol, a police station and a New York judge's home--as an adult. And for those crimes, Ayers remains unrepentant to this day. "I don't regret setting bombs" and "I feel we didn't do enough" he told a New York Times reporter. He calls himself a Marxist and and an anarchist. He blames racist white people for all that ails our country. He wholeheartedly believes in the right to indulge in recreational drug use. He once summed up his cause this way:
Ayers summed up the Weatherman philosophy as "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents — that's where it's really at."
His wife worked hand-in-hand with him during his terrorist years. After the Charles Manson gang carried out the brutal murders at actress Sharon Tate's home, Dohrn said of the killings: "Dig it! First they killed those pigs and then they put a fork in their bellies. Wild!" And to think that Ayers and his wife are held up today in our public education community in this country as progressive, forward thinking intellectuals. God help us all.