The left-wing education company co-founded by Attorney General Merrick Garland’s son-in-law recommends that teachers read a book in which the first essay is written by Bill Ayers, the former domestic terrorist group leader and Chicago educator who helped lead the Weather Underground.
Panorama Education, co-founded by Xan Tanner, claims it has made its way into thousands of schools in the United States, selling race-focused student and teacher surveys and conducting training on systemic racism and oppression, white supremacy, implicit bias, and intersectionality, all under the rubric of “Social-Emotional Learning.”
Last week, Panorama tweeted: “Check out these 11 books for educators to enhance your own social-emotional learning.”
Among the books is a 2019 collection of essays, Teaching When the World is on Fire, edited by Lisa Delpit, a left-wing education activist. The first essay is by the former Weather Underground leader.
Delpit wrote that the essay is “a masterful ode to teaching when the world is on fire.”
The Ayers essay is addressed to teachers, telling them, “You should know that the system you’ll be joining hates Black and Brown and poor kids … I have facial evidence that the system is organized to miseducate these children, and it includes the shameful lack of resources, enforced racial segregation, the dumbed-down and Eurocentric curriculum accompanied by a stifling top-down pedagogy, and arcane rules and routines that result predictably in social shaming and widespread exclusions.”
The essay focuses largely on race.
“We must face reality and courageously confront history, tell the truth, and then destroy the entire edifice of white supremacy: metaphorically speaking it means burning down the plantation. And when the plantation is at last burned to the ground, people of European descent, or ‘those Americans who believe that they are white,’ will find the easy privileges we’ve taken for granted disappearing, and along with them our willful blindness and faux innocence,” Ayers wrote. “Also gone will be the fragile, precarious perch of superiority. What a relief!”
Ayers adds: “We face an urgent challenge, then, if we are to join humanity in the enormous task of creating a just and caring world, and it begins with rejecting white supremacy — not simply despising bigotry and backwardness, but spurning as well all those despicable structures and traditions. It extends to refusing to embrace optics over justice, ‘multiculturalism’ or ‘diversity’ over an honest reckoning with reality — to becoming race traitors as we learn the loving art of solidarity in practice.”
Ayers was a longtime professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago but is most famous for his leadership of the Communist-inspired Weather Underground, formed in 1969. Ayers is married to Bernardine Dohrn, another Weather Underground leader, who is a former law professor and was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
Diana Oughton, then the girlfriend of Ayers, was killed along with fellow terrorists Ted Gold and Terry Robbins when a bomb exploded in their Greenwich Village townhouse in 1970. The explosives were intended for an Army dance at Fort Dix in South Jersey that night.
The FBI called the Weather Underground a “domestic terrorist group” that claimed responsibility for dozens of bombings. The Weather Underground’s bombing of the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol Building in 1971 caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.
The group also carried out bombings of the Pentagon in 1972 and the State Department in 1975, among many others.
Then-candidate Barack Obama’s connections to Ayers were brought up by Hillary Clinton and John McCain in 2008.
Ayers addressed the controversy after Obama won in a late 2008 piece in the New York Times, saying, “I never killed or injured anyone … The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety, and perhaps even of common sense … We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism … But it was not terrorism.”
Republican senators have raised the question of whether Garland has a conflict of interest due to his familial connection to Panorama. Earlier this month, he released a DOJ-wide memo alleging, “There has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools.”
The Panorama website’s description of the book featuring Ayers says, “This curated collection of essays provides insights, ideas, and advice from educators across the country who are facing the same challenges, and are working to engage with their students through courageous conversations and action.” It includes a link to “tweet this book,” which creates an auto-generated tweet touting it as “Recommended Reading.”