On the evening of May 7 at the Luxe Hotel in Los Angeles, Dr. Mary Grabar, who taught college English for 20 years and has been writing about education for the last 10 years, will discuss the influence of 1960s radical Bill Ayers and his comrades, and offer strategies for fighting it.
Mary Grabar was born in Slovenia but her parents took her and fled the communist regime to Rochester, New York. She went on to teach in colleges and universities in Georgia for 20 years, earning a Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia in 2002.
Today she is a dissident to the reigning political correctness on our college campuses. She came to conservatism after witnessing the deliberate destruction of our literary heritage and our respect for the West and for the United States by radical professors in her graduate seminars. In 2011 she founded the Dissident Prof Education Project, Inc., dedicated to “resisting the re-education of America.”
I recently posed to Ms. Grabar some questions about her book and the upcoming presentation.
Mark Tapson: Tell us about your own experience as a professor surrounded by radical colleagues on campus.
Mary Grabar: That’s the subject of another book I published under the Dissident Prof imprint called Exiled: Stories from Conservative and Moderate Professors Who Have Been Ridiculed, Ostracized, Marginalized, Demonized, and Frozen Out. I was inspired to start Dissident Prof after I came out as a conservative in graduate school (actually the disdain for literature that I saw in graduate school compelled my conversion). I started writing about my experiences, and getting emails from others who were in similar positions—others who had not been able to get tenure track jobs but were schlepping around from campus to campus as I was, and teaching the labor intensive introductory courses for a pittance.
In my field, English, it’s about impossible to keep your political views to yourself because in order to be considered for any tenure-track position you are required to do scholarship that denies any value in the study of literature other than as a tool to root out racism, sexism, able-ism, species-ism, and all the other categories that follow the Marxist line. In the offices, hallways, mailrooms, and parties, you’re expected to take the party line when the topic turns to politics. So if someone is singing the praises of Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren, your silence is taken as admission that you might be a Republican!
I’ve found myself suddenly without classes in an upcoming semester when one of my pieces of writing became known to a department chair or the college president. But it doesn’t seem that Bill Ayers or his Weatherman comrades had any trouble landing tenure-track jobs, does it?
I am fortunate. My last semester of teaching was in the spring of 2013, in the former privately-funded Program in American Citizenship and Democracy at Emory University. I also taught at state universities and a community college. I am now a resident fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization.
MT: What compelled you to write a book about Bill Ayers?
MG: Back in 2009 Ayers and his wife (“partner” as he prefers to call her) Bernardine Dohrn came out with a book called Race Course against White Supremacy and I wrote about it. I vaguely knew about Ayers’ past with the Weather Underground, but then started looking into what are taken to be his scholarly books. I saw that he was doing the same thing to K-12 education through colleges of education that was being done to higher education. I wrote a couple of reports on him for America’s Survival. It was at one of their conferences that I met the late Larry Grathwohl, who infiltrated the Weather Underground as an FBI informant. He confirmed for me what a despicable, cowardly person Ayers is.
I was reading news articles about Ayers’ talks at colleges and high schools and noticed that reporters never questioned his credentials. The line was always that Ayers went overboard in his youth protesting the Vietnam War but had settled down to a respectable career as an education professor. That line continues to this day. I flinched when Megyn Kelly kept referring to him as “professor” when she had him on her show on Fox News last year. And now Bryan Burrough, author of Days of Rage, continues this meme.
I want to show that although Ayers was a failed bomber, he was successful in helping to transform and destroy education. And he did it at taxpayers’ expense. He has trained hundreds of teachers. He worked closely with Obama and [U.S. Secretary of Education] Arne Duncan in Chicago in funding programs aimed at radicalizing students. One of his closest colleagues, Linda Darling-Hammond, was on Obama’s education transition team, and was in charge of developing one of the two Common Core tests. And Bill Ayers has appeared at conferences with Duncan and other officials in organizations that devised Common Core.
Education has always been the gateway for the smart and ambitious to get into the middle class. Ayers aims to destroy that opportunity, especially in the “urban schools,” which is what the University of Illinois at Chicago, where Ayers taught, specializes in.
MT: What are some of the ways in which his influence is felt in American schools?
MG: Bill Ayers likens a traditional school to prison because it requires students adhere to dress codes, schedules, and rules of discipline. But he has had captive audiences and has used his power as a professor to indoctrinate future teachers. His education philosophy is based on anarchism, progressivism, and Marxism. It’s all about radicalizing children in social justice lessons, and making them see themselves as victims of an evil capitalistic system.
It’s a toxic mixture, especially for the most vulnerable children who benefit the most from a traditional education, as studies show. His philosophy then filters down to practices and policies. Obama’s Justice Department order on racial quotas for school punishment parallels Ayers’ calls for eliminating discipline of inner-city students.
The last thing that Ayers and his fellow Marxists want is for inner city boys to become middle class husbands and fathers. What they are producing is more Trayvon Martins, more rioters in the streets of Baltimore. The black community should be outraged that these upper-class white radicals are using their children in this way.
Sadly, Ayers’ books are among the most widely used in education schools. Future teachers study them. He speaks at education conferences, and as I saw in 2013 at one major conference, is revered as a legitimate academic and mentor. But his speeches are nonsensical hashed-over ruminations of stoned-out hippie.
What Bill Ayers would have in the classroom extends the 1960s agenda of smashing monogamy, ending the bourgeois family and its values, destroying the work ethic, patriotism. So what we have is kids indoctrinated with lessons about the police—the 1960s narrative about the “pigs”—fatherless, rootless, joining gangs, and looting in the streets. It’s a Marxist’s dream come true. Those like Bill Ayers don’t have to do the dangerous work of setting bombs any more. They can watch the Crips and the Bloods unite against the police, as we’ve been seeing on the streets of Baltimore. They can watch from the comfort of their homes in nice gentrified neighborhoods, as they collect retirement checks and honoraria for speaking gigs.
MT: What can we do to push back against the influence of Ayers and his fellow radicals in education?
MG: I’m trying to make people aware. I’m trying to do it through Dissident Prof. After an almost two-year process, we won non-profit status from the IRS.
Good, decent Americans are appalled whenever Bill Ayers is invited to a campus to give a talk because of his lack of repentance about his terroristic past. But there are other reasons to oppose such visits as well, such as his use of the educational system to promote the same ideas he held as his group was setting bombs.
And we also have to consider who it is that is inviting him, the groups that have sprung up on campuses, such as Penn State’s Law and Education Alliance, and the Pennsylvania Equity Project. Both of these groups invited Ayers to speak in March. The fact that Ayers would be considered someone worthy of listening to in an academic setting shows how rotten education has become.
I want to raise awareness among citizen groups and political leaders. I want those like Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly to know that Ayers and his comrades are academic frauds. It’s not a matter of censorship. It’s a matter of using our resources wisely so that colleges do not waste money on hosting Ayers or promoting his ideas.