As violent and destructive antifa and Black Lives Matter riots continue to ravage American cities like Portland and Kenosha, a self-described communist who plotted to blow up the U.S. Capitol in the 1970s suggested that America’s second Civil War has already started.
“Am I the only one, or do you feel eerily that we’re living in Kansas, 1859, and that tensions are boiling over, but only years later will people say, ‘Yes, the Civil War began there and then?'” Ayers posted on Facebook. He posted the same statement on his website, BillAyers.org.
Ayers, who co-founded the Weather Underground in 1969, took part in the bombings of the New York City Police Department headquarters in 1970, the U.S. Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972. Since the FBI used illegal tactics against the Weather Underground and the New Left, the government dropped key charges against the Weather Underground and Bill Ayers.
After his radical career, he settled into academia, where he taught at the University of Illinois. When he retired in 2010, the university denied him emeritus status. The university’s board chair, Christopher G. Kennedy (son of assassinated Senator Robert F. Kennedy), condemned Ayers for dedicating a book “to the man who murdered my father.” Kennedy referred to a 1974 book Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism, which Ayers wrote with other Weather Underground members and which the authors dedicated to manny revolutionaries, including the man who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy. Ayers denied dedicating a book to the assassin and suggested that right-wing bloggers started a rumor to that effect.
As for Ayers’ “eerie” feeling, he was referring to Bleeding Kansas, a lesser-known precursor to the American Civil War.
In the decade leading up to the Civil War, Southern Democrats fought to extend slavery north and west. The Founders had forged a grand bargain to allow the evil institution of slavery while restricting its spread. In 1820, Congress drew a line, saying that any state north of the line would enter the Union as free while states that entered below the line could have slavery. Yet Southerners started defending slavery as a positive good and arguing for “popular sovereignty,” the notion that white landowners in states north of the 1820 line would vote on whether the state would be slave or free. Abraham Lincoln grew to prominence by opposing this notion.