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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.



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Monday, October 6, 2008
 
Forgiveness and Public Life

A couple of axioms:

1) People are not perfect and therefore make mistakes. Not just misplace the keys types of mistakes but larger and repeated mistakes that are based in faulty judgment and character flaws.

2) People can change over time.

Argue from any perspective you like, but if you are Christian and deal with sin both in your personal life and in the wider world and the role of Christ in the larger scheme of things then those axioms shouldn't be that controversial.

How do we deal with public figures? Especially those who commit criminal or unethical acts? Certainly we have a judicial system that can mete out criminal and civil punishments, but at what point do we let a certain wayward wise man back into our counsels? Does a DUI 22 years ago or an affair early in life permanently exclude that person from contributing to society?

I think the key here, once again borrowing from Christianity, is contrition and the desire for forgiveness. Not desire in the sense of asking forgiveness for public drunkenness but then planning after the press conference to stop by the store for a fifth of Wild Turkey or admitting to an affair then taking a few weeks off and declare yourself "cured." A man who was a drunk but has rearranged his life and stayed sober for 20 years or had an affair but has been a dedicated and faithful husband for the past few decades has shown, I think, the proper spirit of apology. You may not never trust a convicted embezzler with company funds but you can I think allow them at some point and under some circumstances to rejoin society as a fully functioning citizen.

So what's the deal with William Ayers?

The man and his relationship to Senator Obama has, finally, come up for a closer examination. The idea that he was just someone in the Senator's neighborhood or crossed paths a few times isn't going to hold water. Who knows where this will go or what we will find out about the two men's relationship. There has been additional attention on Mr. Ayers and who he is and what he did.

First Mr. Ayers levied war against the United States, perhaps not in a legal sense but certainly in an operational sense. He used violence and explosives as tools in his attempted campaign to undermine the constitutional order of the United States including planned attacks against its armed forces. He has yet to apoligize or express regret for such actions. The fact that he enjoys a distinguished professorship at a major public university rather than a cold prison cell speaks more to mechanics of the legal system that he tried to destroy than any doubt of his guilt.

Second in his war, he tried to kill members of the armed forces. Many have pointed out that his bombings only destroyed property and that no one was killed, well except when Ayer's compatriots goofed and blew themselves up in Greenwich Village. However that bomb which prematurely detonated in Greenwich was a nail bomb intended for the Fort Dix NCO Club and nail bombs are by their nature anti-personnel devices. It was only by his own incompetence and not by choice that Mr. Ayers is not a muderer.

So why has Mr. Ayers been able to rejoin society? He has never apoligized for his actions or hidden those actions from view. However he now enjoys a high and pretigious position within Chicago politics, a perch that it appears Obama tried to exploit as he was building his political career in the 1990s. Statute of limitations is a legal term which doesn't even apply in all circumstances and certainly doesn't apply in terms of public opprobium. This unrepentant man should be an outcast

Forgiveness and acceptance should follow an appeal for such action and from sincere contrition, but perhaps Ayers should be excused from such an appeal given that Chicago was so eager to award him such public honors for nothing. That doesn't speak well of that city, especially given the chaos the man tried to sow in its streets in 1968. If you lived in Hyde Park 1990s, as Obama did, you had to know the man and his reputation

So what does it say about a man like Obama, to welcome the support of the most evil of men, the failed destroyer of the Republic, and then try and become the leader of that exact same nation?

What kind of man does that?