Patricia Nell Warren

Sarah, Are You Palling Around With Terrorists?

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | October 06, 2008 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, Politics, Politics, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Bill Ayers, New Apostolic Reformation, palling with terrorists, Sarah Palin, Thomas Muthee

Things are heating up with Sarah Palin's accusation that Obama is "palling around with terrorists." McCain's smear campaign for the next 30 days is aimed at recouping his sagging ratings. Speaking at a 10/4 rally in Colorado, La Palin said: "Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." Predictably most of the TV news media have jumped on it. CNN has rerun the Palin quote ad nauseam, without giving Obama a minute of air time to rebut.

The "terrorist" she's talking about is Bill Ayers. And she asserts that the "palling" is taking place right now, but it actually refers to events that happened a decade ago.

Back in the 1960s, Ayers was a founder of the radical 1960s organization Weatherman, that bombed several federal buildings and aimed to overthrow the U.S. government in order to end the Vietnam War. When we ended our involvement in Vietnam, Weatherman faded away. Later Ayers was charged, but never convicted, for anything he allegedly did while working in Weatherman. After years in obscurity, Ayers was able to reinvent himself into a career in education reform, becoming a professor at the University of Illinois. In 1995, he was serving on the board of an education nonprofit that hired Barack Obama as its chairman.

An Establishment Halo

Since Palin doesn't read the print media much, somebody must have handed her the National Review piece published in August, in which NR writer Stanley Kurtz was sniffing around this old Ayers-Obama connection, trying to make it look as sinister as possible. The nonprofit in question was the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Obama came to the CAC's attention as a bright, talented young black man working in community-based education reform efforts aimed at helping black students. So Obama served as CAC chairman for four years. In 2001 CAC closed down, to be replaced by the Chicago Public Education Fund, rolling over its remaining assets to the new nonprofit.

In late September 2008, Kurtz followed up with a Wall Street Journal piece in which he enlarged on his accusations that Obama collaborated with an organization that actively promoted "radicalism" among parents and students.

It's important to note that Kurtz is a senior fellow with the right-wing Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington D.C. The EPPC was launched in 1976 to "clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy issues." So Kurtz is putting a McCarthyish anti-leftist spin on the a time when the U.S. is palling around with (and in deep debt to) a communist power called China. As proof of his rightist religious bias, Kurtz complains that Ayers is "unrepentant" about his views and actions of the past. The media have picked up Kurtz's preachy buzz word -- last night the CNN commentators were describing Ayers as an "unrepentant terrorist."

La Palin clearly doesn't know that -- and Kurtz naturally isn't going to mention that -- the CAC's real positioning was very different. During its several years of life, the nonprofit actually wore a shiny Establishment halo.

The CAC was funded by a $49.2-million grant which Ayers wangled from the dean of conservative Republican philanthropists, Walter Annenberg, as a part of a $500-million national Annenberg Challenge. To put it another way, Ayers had won enough respect with some conservatives that Annenberg was willing to do this. Throughout his life,, Annenberg donated billions of dollars to educational causes, and was a bosom buddy of Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and George Bush Sr. So Annenberg was giving the CAC a mandate to work for some badly needed changes in Chicago's failing public schools.

The CAC also had its charmed circle of local establishment supporters. The nonprofit was headquartered at the University of Illinois/Chicago campus. .Besides Ayers, the CAC board was well-stocked with prominent Chicagoans from corporations and other foundations. Ayers' advisor was Adele Simmons, president of the illustrious MacArthur Foundation. The city of Chicago did lock horns with the CAC on some education policy, but it also gave Bill Ayers its 2007 "Citizen of the Year" award for his CAC work. Another major player was Bill Ayers' father, Thomas Ayers, former CEO of the Commonwealth Edison utility, who headed a group of Chicago businessmen that helped the CAC with ongoing fundraising.

If Ayers was a "terrorist," then all these other CAC associates and supporters were "terrorists" too.

Schools in Drastic Need

Kurtz seems unfamiliar with the horrendous problems facing large urban school districts today, which are often controlled by city politics, school boards and principals who defend their entrenched attitudes and inefficient bureaucracies. The result is poor education, a high dropout rate, festering social problems and violence, outraged teacher unions and little accountability to parents. These problems often require drastic changes that are politically unpopular with many entrenched school boards and principals. Kurtz complains that the CAC challenged the "authority" of some principals. Well, yeah, troubled school districts often have bad principals who are part of the problem.

The Chicago problems addressed by Obama and the CAC were not much different from those afflicting other American cities. An example is Los Angeles, where I served as a 1996-99 commissioner of education in the huge Los Angeles Unified School District. There, the solutions sought by student, teacher, parent, ethnic and LGBT groups (like GLSEN and PFLAG) would surely look "radical" to a fundamentalist right-winger like Kurtz. For a time, the L.A. Board tried a program they called LEARN, that attempted to involve students in running schools, improve community participation and bring in private financing through school-related nonprofits, in much the same way that CAC did in Chicago. I participated in LEARN as a rep of one school program.

But ultimately LEARN didn't fix the festering problems. In the late 1990s, the L.A. Board of Education finally didn't want to hear more of what its education commissions were recommending. So it axed most of the commissions, and rendered the one remaining commission impotent. Today the problems in LAUSD are still so overwhelming that there are persistent "radical" efforts by city voters to break the district into several smaller ones where the problems might be more manageable.

As far as I am aware, nobody at CAC was breaking any laws with the changes they aimed to make, or the ideas they were putting forward. Kurtz complains that the CAC was teaching empowerment to students and "leadership" to parents. This is "radical?" Give me a break. Walter Annenberg himself never objected to what CAC was doing. And nobody on the scene -- from Annenberg to the university and the mayor's office -- seemed to have any problem with Ayers' past.

Yet a decade later, Obama's relationship with the CAC -- and with Ayers himself, who gave some support to Obama's campaign for senator -- is being painted as a dark and godless marxist plot.

Now that the "unrepentant terrorist" accusation is ringing through the media, I think Obama should respond in a very forthright manner. Something like: "Hey, this happened 10 years ago, not today. Sure, I associated with Bill Ayers. I was chairman of the nonprofit he was with. I worked with him on education projects in Chicago that were funded by Walter Annenberg. He gave me a little support on my first campaign. None of the prominent conservatives who supported us had any issues with Bill's past. So what's the big woop?"

However Palin's remark at the Colorado rally pushed the knife even deeper. She kinda made it sound like Obama is also palling around with Al Qaeda members today.

A Commitment to Violence

But Sarah Palin may be the wrong person to deliver this sermon. It's fair to ask the question: is Palin herself palling around with terrorists?

Behind the lipstick curtain, Palin is evidently affiliated with a fringy religious movement that aims to take over the United States. Namely the New Apostolic Reformation movement, aka Joel's Army, aka Third Wave, that her Wasilla church has joined up with. The international movement is just as radical and militant as the Weatherman was, if not more so -- their aim is to install a pentecostal-controlled dictatorship in the U.S. NAR leaders insist that they are new apostles, replacing the old ones that Jesus taught. The lead apostle will be President, or hold the reins on the President. Some leaders openly predict that the U.S. will have an apostolic government by 2012. But they're obsessed with the belief that demon powers lurk everywhere, especially in the people who would oppose them politically. So these demons (i.e. opponents) have to be attacked and destroyed.

Palin is being hailed by these people as a new woman prophet, replacing the Biblical Deborah. No wonder she acts so confident.

Some of the more traditionalist Protestant ministries are aghast at what the NAR is up to, and expressing grave concern. Moriel Ministries describes the NAR as a "movement of 'hyper-charismatic' preachers that claim to have a divine mandate to physically impose Christian 'dominion' on non-believers." I note Moriel's use of the phrase "physically impose." It's a low-key way of saying that these people believe God gives them permission to use violence and coercion -- i.e. terrorism -- to get their way.

Sarah Palin also pals around with pastor Thomas Muthee, a big NAR figure who has spoken many times at Palin's church in Wasilla. He publicly blessed her campaign for governor of Alaska, exorcized her for any possible demons, and said that the Devil was working hard to keep Palin from being elected. Footage of these events can be found on YouTube, in case anybody thinks I'm making it up.

The NAR is stirring things in many foreign countries as well as the U.S. So far, however, they haven't incited the open violence in the U.S. that they've done in some places overseas. For example: in Muthee's own country, Kenya, he launched the NAR movement and claims to have established hundreds of churches. He has also campaigned against people (mostly women) that he accused of being witches or possessed by demons. In his own town of Kiambe, Muthee so inflamed the locals against one woman that she fled town to avoid being stoned to death.

Other Kenyan towns have been targeted as well. In May, Fox News (which has been curiously protective of Palin and her religion) ran an ugly story about a religious massacre. Their headline: "Mob burned to death 11 people accused of witchcraft." Fox News went on to describe a small army of 300 young men pouring through several Kenyan villages with a list of names that they'd been given, looking for their victims so they could mutilate and kill them.

Muthee has no problem taking credit for atrocities like this. In a hair-raising sermon that is posted on YouTube he said, "The more violent you become, the more committed you become." In short, a man who talks like this is the spiritual mentor of a Republican vice presidential candidate who might become President. Here's the sermon:

iPhone users: Click to watch

I continue to be astonished -- and sickened -- that most major news media are refusing to report fully on the New Apostolic Reformation and Palin's association with it. Indeed, Kurtz's EPPC is very pro-Palin, which raises questions about whether they support the NAR too.

As a result, with less than a month to the election, most Americans still think of Sarah Palin as the spunky little hockey mom who winks at the news cameras. They've never heard of the NAR. They have no idea that NAR's kind of "reform" is what Palin may have meant when she said in the debate, "Reform of our government is coming." Palin palling around with terrorists? You tell me. I'll take Obama and Annenberg any day.

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Too many words. You must be one of those intellectual elitists.

Make Palin rhyme with something, like "Osama Obama", or find a detestable person named "Louise" (Palin's middle name).

What's on the other channel? Where's the remote?

Too many words? lol Probably more taxing to read and absorb than reaching for that remote! The few mainstream news outlets that I've read have published Mr. Obama's explanation of his casual and relatively brief CAC association with Bill Ayers. I would doubt that Mr. Obama was even aware of the Weatherman connection. I am also highly dubious that Gov. Palin was not fully aware of how ridiculous was the charge she put forth. For reasons Ms. Warren so rightly points out, if mud of this sort is going to be flung, Gov. Palin had better be wearing her best Scotch-Guarded weather-proof coat. I've seen the Youtube clips mentioned above and they are very alarming in their clear "End of Days" messages. We cannot have someone with this "suicide-bomber-going-to-heaven" mentality anywhere near buttons that release "nucular" holocausts.
On the feet-on-the-ground side, I would recommend watching "Keating Economics: the Making of a Financial Crisis" is a documentary that shows why John McCain's failed philosophy and poor judgment are a recipe for deepening the economic crisis.
I can only hope that all the mud to be flung in the next few weeks will not obscure the importance of staying focused on the actual issues involved toward the healing of our country.

My point is that there seem to be a lot of well-reasoned, cogent arguments out there that people like my mom and dad will never read or watch. They just don't have the patience to sit through what seems like a lecture.

I thought there was value in a backgrounder, to start with, since most people haven't been given the picture by the media at all.

Keith Olbermann finally did the subject on MSNBC tonight, and he went over quite a bit of the same ground, about both Ayers and pastor Muthee, in order to get people familiar with the subject.

If you agree with my basic question, Cindi, perhaps you'll put together the short pithy version that your parents will watch. I intend to do some short pithy versions myself, down the road.

That sermon from Thomas Muthee is one of the most frightening things I have ever heard. Just chilling.

I felt the same way when I listened to it. Obviously a certain number of people who read it feel that Muthee's views are reasonable. This thought is just as chilling.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 6, 2008 11:38 PM

Always appreciative of a lecture that stretches the attention span and increases awareness. Thank you my dear!

Cheers PNW! Here, here! Radical revolutionists disguised by religion is terrifying. I am so grateful that I am a Pagan. I do not equate to people who believe in the talking snake or speak in tongues and then call themselves intelligent. Religion historically was used by people in the past who murdered, burned people at the stake, tortured and coddled the belief that this behavior was OK. I believe Patricia Nell Warrren has done her due diligence effectively and I agree that the media is weak and practically rolled over during 9/11 and gave Bush free reign. Now they want more radicalism incarnate via Palin and her radical terrorist group. I mean, look at what religious people do...they torture and murder and then call them selves Christ like. That's frightening. Palin is a terrorist!

Terrific piece of reporting. Thank you so very much. Astonishing how out of whack is the (so-called) reporting on so many conservative issues. Perhaps the excesses of wing nut radio is what drives the seemingly endless anti-liberal (hell, anti-democratic!) nonsense even within the mainstream press. An article like this is such a tonic, and can only hope that this begins to be picked up by other outlets.

gregory brown | October 8, 2008 10:18 AM

The Dominionists have made inroads in many places without attracting much attention to their real purposes. There are two large churches in toledo, Ohio, where I used to lived. I tried to explain the significance of an appearance of Rousas Rushdoonie, one of the pioneers of this new Theocratic racket, which was widely reported without significant comment in the TOLEDO BLADE. Nobody believed me. Of course, Toledo is such a wierd place generally....

Why is it that every revelation of Sarah Barracuda's biography, family life, religious enthusiasms, faux folksy language, combos of smirk and wink, and reports of women flocking to get her glasses and hair style make me subvocalise the un PC epithet "WHITE TRASH"?