Bill Ayers: A Study in Forgiveness… Or Christian Hypocrisy

Ome of the underlying currents in recent American politics – somestimes a very dark current – has been a candidate’s religious beliefs and values The emphasis has been on cndidates who show a strong commitment to the moral values associated with Christianity, e.g., strong support for right-to-life. But this commitment to Christian values has a dark, hypocritical side to it as well. There has been a tendency among certain “Christian” politicians to ginore some of the most basic tenets of Christianity, especially forgiveness.

The Lord’s Prayer, accepted by all Christians, specifically states, “Forgive  us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The implication is that we cannot expect divine forgiveness for our own sins against God unless we can first forgive those who sinned against us. But, it seems that forgiveness for some self-proclaimed Chtistians like John McCain only goes so far.

Forty years ago this country was involved in a “war” in Southeast Asia that many young people, the ones who were being called upon to put their lives on the line, felt was morally reprehensible. Bill Ayers was one of these young men. So was I.

John McCain, on the other hand, chose to serve in that war and ended up a prisoner of war. Many people, me included, consider him somewhat of a hero for that. I can’t speak for either Bill Ayers or John McCain, but I have always believed that the political decisions made by our government are not otdained by God and, therefore, Americans are free to choose to support or oppose those decisions. We all make these moral choices and, in the long run, have to live with personal consequences of  our decisions. John McCain chose to serve and the consequences for him were years as a prisoner of war. Bill Ayers chose militant opposition and the consequences for him were the death of his girlfriend plus years spent as a fugitive.

Since his return from Southeast Asia, John McCaim has ben a Senator and an advocate for what he believes is best for this country, politically speaking. Bill Ayer, after his time as a fugitive, became an educator, eanred both a Master’s and a Doctor’s degree in Education from Colunbia University, and has committed himself to improving the quality of public education in this country.

No one, including me, is holding McCain’s decision to serve in Vietnam against him. No one is throwing the killing of innocents like the My Lai massacre in his face or the indiscriminate use of napalm that was so widespread in Vietnam. The events of forty years ago are water under the bridge. Forgiven and, as far as personal imvolvement goes, forgotten. Hopefully, as a nation, we have not forgotten the history lessons of Vietnam, although the events in the Middle East the last few years seem to indicate we need a refresher lesson.

John McCain, on the other hand, has not forgiven or forgotten Bill Ayers past, even though Aers has done exemplary things with his life since his return to society from hiding. Yet, McCain has repeatedly affirmed his Christian faith throughout this Presidential campaigbn. A question for you, Senator MCain: where is your forgiveness?

Not only is Senator McCain unforgiving of Bill Ayers, and perhaps anyone else who opposed the war in Vietnam forty years ago, but he condemns anyone who associates with Bill Ayers now, like his opponent in the upcoming election, Senatpr Barack Obama. What Senator McCain seems to have forgotten, or conveniently ignored, is that Senator Obama was only 6 or 7 years old in 1968 and probably gave the moral issue surrounding the Veitnam war much thought. He was more concerned with learning multiplication tables and cursive writing.

As far as Obama’s association with Ayers now, I stronhly suspect that association stems from Aters’ involvement with the reform of the Chicago Public School system. After all, Obama was an Illinois state legislator before becoming the junior Senator from that state. and as a Presidential hopeful, Obama has surrounded himself with experts on all the important issues that he will face if elected. That would certainly include education.

So, Senator McCain, I respectfully recommend you practice the religion you so passionately proclaim. Also, get over the past and focus on the present and the future. What you have done with regards to Bill Ayers smacks of vindictiveness and we’ve had enough of that in American politics.

Finally, for those of you who think that opposition to American policy is unpatriotic and/or that America is the greatest country in the world, one can loves one’s country while realizing it is not perfect. America is far from that. It has a great deal of untapped potential.  Those of us who criticize it are, it can be argued, more truly patriotic than those who say “love it or leave it.” We want America to be the best it can, thereby keeping it the greatest country in the world With the way things have been going, we are in danger of loing that status, if we have not done so already, thanks to the complacent patriotism of many Americans, some of whom, the members of my generation, should know better.

Suggested Reading:

Bill Ayers – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

’60s Radical Ayers Among Subjects of McCain ‘Robo-Calls’

Fact check: Obama and Ayers

BILL AYERS – an article with a McCainesque persective on Ayers

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4 Responses

  1. Hear,hear! I SO agree! Thanks for posting what I’m sure a lot of people…Christian or not…are thinking!

    Blessings…

    (one note though…You should probably try running your posts though a spell-check before committing them to publication. Easier for us to read without all the missing letters, spaces and transposed letters. Sorry…)

  2. Thank you. I really appreciate it when people let me know what they think og what I say.

    I apologize for the sloppy typing. I have proofread the post and fixed a number of errors. If you find any I missed, please feel free to let me know. I will try to be more careful in the future.

  3. Greetings Mr. Botscharow:

    I appreciate reading your column about forgiveness and how it relates to John McCain and Bill Ayers. I agree with much that you wrote including the observation that Mr. McCain has an obligation to forgive Mr. Ayers for things he did in the past. I also agree with your statement in the last paragraph about those who criticize or express concern about the United States may be more patriotic than those, as I like to put it, embradce the thoughtless Love it or leave it” mentality.
    One place where I would disagree with you is your comments about McCain’s involvement in the Vietnam War. I’m 60 years old and a “veteran” of the Vietnam War era, although not a war or military veteran. I believe the Vietnam War has been so completely discredited by all political parties and history that McCain should publically acknowledge that his participation in it was a mistake. That doesn’t mean that his performance while in the military and as a prisoner was not courageous and outstanding. Nor does it mean that his involvement in the war was entirely his fault since he was undoubtedly a young man at that time and, like many others, vulnerable to the propaganda of military advertising, the media, entertainment, mis-information from government, peer pressure, etc. Such an acknowledgement would add much credibility to his campaign. Anyone who has lived and served in govenment for the numerous decades as McCain, has undoubtedly made many mistakes, and it would make McCain more appealing to us if he would acknowledge that. A good place to start would be his pariticpation in that dispicable war which, in spite of your statement that those events are “water under the bridge.” That isn’t true for the Vietnam land poisoned by Agent Orange and for Vietnamese (most who were civilians) and US War veterans who are still suffering from PTSD and other debilitating psychological and physical injuries. I’m afraid that the censorship of the current Iraq War and Occupation means that we will have to relearn those lessons over again much sooner the next time. Thanks again for your comments.

    Leonard Nolt
    http://www.leonardnolt.blogspot.com
    leonardnolt@aol.com

  4. Leonard,

    I am not sure where you think you and I disagree over John NcCain and his involvement in Vietnam. Your comments about a piblic acknowledgement by McCain that Vietnam was a mistake reflect my own feelings about him and all the other veterans of that war. I totally agree that usch an acknowledgement woulddo much for his credi bility. Unfortunately, given his statements a bout Iraq, I don’t think he will make such a statement.

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