Good news from Bill Ayers: My terrorism was nothing like the terrorism in Boston

The Tsarnaevs wanted to kill people, whereas the Weather Underground mostly wanted to blow up property except for that time they built nail bombs to kill soldiers at a dance at Fort Dix but ended up blowing themselves up instead. Oh, and the time they probably killed a cop in San Francisco and wounded nine others. There’s the big distinction.

Two mild surprises here. One: Ayers doesn’t attempt to defend the Tsarnaevs’ motive, even though it was anti-war of a sort. This is a prime opportunity to lecture about “blowback” by the oppressed people of the Muslim world who object to U.S. imperialism, etc etc etc, even while condemning the tactics, but he doesn’t take it. Maybe the politics of defending the Tsarnaevs, however mildly, are too toxic even for him. Two: Almost 50 years later, he’s still looking for ways to defend the Weathermen’s tactics even though he loses more than he gains by it. You would think he’d regret setting bombs, even “just” to destroy property, if only because it made it easier for hawks at the time to discredit the wider left as radicals and terrorists. Nope.

There is no relationship at all between what Weather Underground members did and the bombings that two brothers allegedly committed on April 15 in Massachusetts, Ayers said in response to a reporter’s question. No one died in the Weather Underground bombings…

In his talk to the crowd, Ayers mentioned that in 1970, he lost three friends in the Weather Underground, including his lover, Diana Oughton. He did not explain in his talk how they died – they were killed when nail bombs they were making in a Greenwich Village townhouse blew up.

Telling the crowd the circumstances of those deaths would have been “inappropriate,” Ayers said afterward. “Everybody here knows,” he said.

Authorities said the bombs were intended to be used at a dance at the Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey.

“No one knows for sure but I think they were. And had they carried it out it would have been a catastrophe,” Ayers said. “But they didn’t and it didn’t happen. But what did happen is, on that same day John McCain murdered civilians. Do we have any responsibility for that? Should there be any reconciliation for that? Should he tell the truth about it?”

Isn’t it in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s interest at this point to tell the feds that his real motive for the bombings was to protest income inequality or something? Given Ayers’s example, what does he have to lose by doing that? He’s not looking for jihadi martyrdom, as best we can tell. If he was, he would have shot it out with Boston PD instead of running over his brother’s face in his haste to escape. He’s got ace death-penalty public defender Judy Clarke on his legal team too, which presumably means he’s going to fight for life in prison. Even if he ends up sentenced to death, he could use the semi-sympathetic “bad tactics, worthy cause” press he’d get in the aftermath, which might lead to a commutation down the line when the public isn’t paying as much attention. And if he gets life, he’d enjoy a certain ideological currency from behind bars, which might be valuable to a man staring at 50+ years in the pen. Parole and a professorship are probably out of the question, but if you’re Tsarnaev, you might as well play the odds. Better to be the poor man’s Bill Ayers than the poor man’s Ramzi Yousef.