xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Bill Ayers to talk, but is anyone listening?

But at this point, the couple and their Weather Underground past are drowning out the book's topic: Bigotry in education, elections and the criminal justice system.

Advertisement

The couple's publicist, Cathy Compton of Third World Press Inc., expressed frustration that people are protesting the memory of what Ayers and Dohrn did decades ago, and ignoring any message the couple brings to town now.

"People just caught a piece of something" during the election, she said. "And they don't really know what they're talking about now."

Advertisement
Advertisement

Roswell Encina, the library's communications officer, told me in a phone interview that they've had a "mixed bag" of responses to the event.

"Look, this is about freedom of speech," he said. "This is the role of libraries in a democratic society. We're not here to judge; we leave that to our patrons."

Ayers, who has since become an education professor at the University of Illinois and a political lightning rod during the presidential election because of his acquaintanceship with Barack Obama, has expressed regret for his actions as a founding member of the antiwar group. Of course, there are many who may never forgive him.

But the fact of the matter is, this man is a distinguished education scholar, and he's elevating the discourse about race relations in this country. As such, the library is the perfect forum for this conversation.

Both Encina and Compton said they expect a large crowd to attend the talk, judging by both interest in this event and past events on the tour. And for any who can't attend tonight's talk, there's a book signing scheduled tomorrow night.

If you're planning to attend in protest, Encina says that dissenters are welcome, as long as they follow the library's code of conduct. While there will be an increased security presence at the library, Encina says the library is not expecting any real trouble.

The Pratt should be applauded for the courage to host this event, ignoring the protests that have canceled other stops in this book tour. In turn, the library and its patrons deserve nothing less than a civilized, intelligent discussion.

(Associated Press photo)

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement