Saturday, October 9, 2010
Robert F. Kennedy's killer, a fanatic named Sirhan Sirhan, still resides at Pleasant Valley State Prison in California. Permanently, one hopes, in lieu of the death penalty he received but that was never carried out. (The state of California would rule capital punishment unconstitutional.)
William Ayers, the once prominent terrorist who now leads a second and quieter life as a professor at the University of Illinois, dedicated a book to this same Sirhan Sirhan in 1974. A cofounder of the Weather Underground, the professor would go on to have it both ways -- describing himself a kind of freedom fighter while denying that he was ever into violence. It's debatable which claim is the more dubious.
But the professor's rise in academe has been undeniable. He found his niche at the university in education, of course, one of the more nebulous academic specialties. After a long and well-paid career, he was due for routine promotion to professor emeritus on his retirement.
But as luck (or maybe justice) would have it, Christopher Kennedy turned up on the university's board of trustees. And noticed that it was about to honor the professor who'd dedicated a book to his father's assassin. And blew the whistle. The whole board backed him up by turning down Bill Ayers' designation as professor emeritus, a title that hasn't been taken this seriously in years.
Full story here.