The only difference between the terrorists of today and those of yesteryear is their motives.
America's home-grown terrorists from days of yore have it pretty good these days as they bask in public adulation on the college-campus lecture circuit. But they have one problem — modern terrorists keep making them look bad.
That's what happened to retired University of Illinois education professor William Ayers during a recent appearance at Kent State University.
Asked to compare the bombings at the Boston Marathon to the bombings and other acts of violence he and his cohorts committed, Ayers took offense. He said no one was killed in the bombings he carried out at the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon and, therefore, there was no equivalence.
He even got self-righteous about it.
"I get asked about violence when what I did was some destruction of property to issue a scream and cry against an illegal war in which 6,000 people a week are being killed. Six thousand a week being killed and I destroyed some property. Show me the equivalence. You should ask John McCain that question," he said, referring to the senator and former military combat pilot whom the North Vietnamese took prisoner and held for years.
Ayers also announced that he's "against violence." That, of course, is not what he used to say. In the book "Prairie Fire," which he co-authored with his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, they called for "revolutionary war," which they defined as the "violent overthrow" of the government. That's the same book in which Ayers praised Sirhan Sirhan for shooting and killing 1968 Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy.
It was that reference to Kennedy's assassination that prompted the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, chaired by Kennedy's son Christopher, to deny Ayers status as a professor emeritus.
Ayers and his ilk remain popular in some circles today because they represent a nostalgic past to aging hippies on university faculties and a scent of rebellion attractive to young people who don't know who Ayers and Co. really are.
But events have a way of putting their behavior in the proper context. It was just after Ayers published his memoirs in September 2001, one in which he gloried in his criminal past and his years as a fugitive, that terrorists killed roughly 4,000 people in New York City, Washington, D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania. Suddenly, Ayers wasn't so cute anymore.
But time has passed, and he's hot stuff again. Then the Boston bombers reminded the public that terrorist bombers kill and dismember their victims. Ayers is no different than them — never was and never will be.