Back when the controversy over unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers exploded (no pun intended) in the middle of the 2008 Democratic primary, Senator Barack Obama used an unfortunate analogy to defend his association with the bomb-thrower:
The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn't make much sense, George. The fact is, is that I'm also friendly with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in the United States Senate, who during his campaign once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions. Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn's statements? Because I certainly don't agree with those either.
Umm, as about a million commentators said at the time, this is hardly moral equivalency. Ayers tried to blow stuff up and then refused to apologize for it. Coburn is making a public policy proposal. (One I'm not crazy about, by the way.)
But that hasn't deterred Eduwonkette, the anonymous blogger and proud member of the American Educational Research Association. I wondered if she might want the governing council of that group to strip Ayers's membership, before he takes office as one of its vice presidents. (See my post about that here.) Her response:
Mike believes that Ayers' presence reflects badly on the whole association, but guilt by association is a shaky principle. I don't judge Mike Petrilli, whose colleagues at the Hoover Institution include upstanding guys like Ed Meese and Donald Rumsfeld, based on his association with them, nor do I believe that AERA is tainted by having Ayers among its leadership. Mike might argue that Meese and Rumsfeld have records of accomplishment that justify their affiliation with Hoover. The same is true regarding Ayers and AERA.
The loony left's "war criminals" charge against Rumsfeld aside, this is hardly moral equivalency, either. If Hoover puts a former terrorist on its board, I promise you, I won't stand by idly and cheer.