Boston Bomber’s Future Prospects
by Sean Johnson
Amidst the terribly tragic events of the last week, countless smaller news items were understandably forgotten, but at least one now bears remembering.
Earlier this month Kathy Boudin, former domestic terrorist who spent almost twenty years in prison on second-degree murder charges, was named to a position of scholar-in-residence at NYU Law School. Already a Columbia University professor since 2008, she spent the years between 1984 and 2003 behind bars for her involvement in the killing of two police officers and a security guard during an armored car robbery that she and her accomplices described as anti-imperialist activism.
Boudin and her accomplices were also members of Weather Underground, a domestic terrorism group created to protest U.S. governmental policies including involvement in Vietnam. The group bombed banks and government buildings including the Capitol building and the Pentagon. Three of Weather Underground’s members famously died in a Greenwhich Village townhouse when an explosive device intended for an Army officer’s dance detonated prematurely. The explosive was a nail bomb similar to that used this week in Boston, intended to maim as much as to kill.
Weather Underground co-founders, Bill Ayers and wife Bernardine Dohrn (at one time featured on the FBI’s most-wanted list), have also had success in landing prestigious university jobs at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University school of Law respectively. While Boudin and Dohrn are teaching as law experts, Ayers held the title of Distinguished Professor at UofIatC’s College of Education, and was elected as Vice President of Curriculum Studies by the American Education Research Association. It should be disconcerting that violent radical activists are now educating our college-age children and future lawyers, but it should be downright frightening that they are overseeing the education of even our youngest children and of future teachers.
A piece from the Daily Beast points out that one-time violent radicals receiving prominent posts in higher education is an all-too-common trend:
After years on the run, having been indicted for her involvement in the Brinks robbery and murder in Nyack, Weather Underground member Susan Rosenberg was caught in 1985 moving “740 pounds of dynamite and weapons, including a submachine gun,” according to The New York Times, from her car into a storage locker. After 16 years in prison, her sentence was commuted by President Bill Clinton and, not long after, the self-identified “human rights activist” took a position teaching at John Jay College. After her contract wasn’t renewed, she found a perch at Hamilton College, though furious opposition by some faculty members forced the administration to withdraw the offer. But no hard feelings from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Interdisciplinary Studies Program, which in 2011 invited students to “a celebration of Susan Rosenberg” upon the release of her memoir.
Former Weather Underground member Eleanor Raskin, who fled after being indicted for bomb making in the 1970s, is an associate professor at Albany Law School. In 1981, Raskin and her husband were arrested in connection with an explosives cache uncovered two years earlier by New Jersey police (her husband was placed on probation; the charges against Raskin were dropped). After years in hiding, Mark Rudd, a Weather leader who also fled indictment and went “underground,” turned himself in in 1977 and was sentenced to two years’ probation. He later taught at Central New Mexico Community College.
They might have been violent charlatans, but they were violent charlatans in search of a better society. They might resist providing a full and proper accounting of their crimes, but most will concede that their tactics might have been misguided and offer qualified repentance, but insist that their instincts were correct.
What is vital to notice about all this is the similarity between the crimes of the “activists” who are now involved in the education of American children, and that of the Boston Marathon bombers–the greatest difference being, perhaps, the size of the respective manhunts. So, if the bombing suspect now in police custody can simply attribute his crimes to some leftist, liberating social agenda, he can count on a few prestigious teaching jobs when his sentence is up.
Sean Johnson is a teacher and graduate of New Saint Andrews College.