SHAMEFUL: NBC News Invites Domestic Terrorist Bill Ayers On To Plug His Book...
>> i was really interested to read about barack obama's friends from chicago. turns out one of his earliest supporters is a man who according to the "new york times" was a domestic terrorist. this is not a man who sees america as you and i see america. we see america as a force for good in this world. our opponents, if someone sees america as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country --
>> that was then vice presidential candidate sarah palin accusing barack obama of palling around with bill ayers. the antiwar group the weather underground retired professor from the university of chicago, public enemy, confessions of an american dissident. welcome. good to have you on the show. what are the key confessions in the book?
>> the key confessions for the last three or four years, the first number was fugitive-based about the american war in viet yam and the founding of the weather underground. it picks up in 1975 when the war is over and it's about the decades in which i was an early childhood educator and trying to live my life true to the values and purposes that ignited my passions and racial justice and global justice or peace. economic and social justice. that's what the book is about.
>> it's a memoire.
>> it's a memoire. not a history.
>> what theme emerged?
>> a couple of themes would be interesting to you. even though times change and the world moved on, i not only tried to stay true to my values, but a lot of the book is about raising a family and being a teacher. there is nor abomore about education. i have written a dozen books about education and this is quite different.
>> the first thing i did not expect when i sat down on the set was i love that philadelphia empire story. kids have to go to bed at the same time every day.
>> we didn't raise our kids that way, but our kids are raising our grandkids that way and they are serious about bedtime. when we take the girls overnight, we get them to bed at 7:30.
>> you say chris matthews is the most fun and entertaining interviewer. we can do two hours on that, but we are not. we don't have enough time to do all the facts, but the memoire has a lot of rich stuff. something you write about is a question of any regret you have for past actions. page one before that, i am just reading here. i am sorry i engaged in extreme tactics to a pose the war and destroyed war materials and government property. but you say you won't say that. why won't you say you are sorry you engage in extreme tactic.
>> everyone has regrets and what i don't regret and what people want me to say things i'm sorry about is destroying property and war material. the reason is because the war in vietnam was a horrendous crime against humanity. 6,000 people a week were being murdered. in that context, i'm a middle child of five, one of my brothers joins a party and tried to build a peace wing. one desserted the army and these were things that people did. i don't make much of a claim for it, but it was in opposition to a genocidal war.
>> i will ask you an extreme hypothetical. if you could have been fascinated with the secretary of defense, would you? are.
>> absolutely not. we made a decision while we were willing to engage in extreme tactics, we would not harm human life. three of our people died in the beginning and that's an unbearable grief that goes on and on. we never hurt or harmed anyone. we destroyed property. one of the things i think the vietnam war with our activity is so much alive today, we have not come to terms with the truth about vietnam. i do argue that it would be great and i see mika, i think you would be a great organizer. as we come upon the 50th anniversary, it would be great to assemble everyone from bob kerry to angela davis to jane fonda. have us all say what we did and regret. if we did it and everyone took responsibility for what we did, i would say i'm sorry.
>> what regrets do you have?
>> the big regrets are the regrets in the heat of the political battles and becoming self righteous and certain we knew everything. if i learned everything, when i feel self righteous, i know i'm wrong. even if i'm on the right side. self righteousness is dead low.
>> you spent a decade on the run and the feds dropped the charges in 1980. 2008 happened. the election campaign. you become public enemy number one again. were you prepared for the firestorm that followed?
>> not really, but in some ways i was as good as any because i have been through this thing before. you are right. 2008 not only did i emerge as a notorious character, but the weather underground was reborn. more frightening and terrifying than it was in life. i think that was part of the political nonsense going on. not only trying to demonize a few characters like jeremiah wright, but it was really an attempt to create the guilt by association. that is a deadly stream in politics. because barack obama knew a wide range of people, he should be held accountable for their politics? absolutely not. that was a dishonest narrative. i think this is important. during the campaign when barack obama was early in the campaign, who would martin luther king support some he wouldn't support any of us. we would be in the streets building a movement. for those of us who don't wander around the halls of congress, we have work to do none the less. the power of the streets and the community and the classroom and the workplace, that's where we ought to mobilize.
>> public enemy, confessions of an american dissident.
>> thank you very much.