Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, and Barack Obama — Connecting the Dots

At one level, the connection between Jeremiah Wright (Barack Obama’s spiritual mentor) and William Ayers (Obama’s political ally) is apparent. After all, Ayers set out to bring “America’s chickens home to roost” decades before Wright applied that phrase to 9/11.

But now Stanley Kurtz has demonstrated a more concrete connection, and one that implicates Obama directly, not just through “association.” Kurtz’s review of documents from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) — the education foundation Obama and Ayers jointly led for a time during the 1990s — has established that “Barack Obama knowingly and persistently funded an educational project that shared the extremist and anti-American philosophy of Jeremiah Wright.”

There are two elements here: (1) the funding by the CAC of projects that shared Wright’s anti-American philosophy and (2) Obama’s knowledge that this was the nature of the projects his outfit was funding.

As to the first element, Kurtz found, among other things, that CAC funded teacher training programs based on the curriculum of the South Shore African Village Collaborative (SSAVC). Kurtz explains that the mission of SSAVC is to provide “a social and cultural ‘inoculation’ process that facilitates healthy, African-centered development among African American youth and protects them against the ravages of a racist, sexist, capitalist, and oppressive society.” In this view, American values “have confused African American people and oriented them toward American definitions of achievement and success and away from traditional African values.” This process has “proven to be dysfuntional and genocidal to the African American community.” The answer, in part, is an adolescent rites of passage movement, designed “to provide African American youth with the cultural information and values they would need to counter the potentially detrimental effects of a Eurocentrically oriented society.”

The connection between this philosophy and that of Rev. Wright is apparent. As Kurtz puts it:

We hear echoes of [the educational philosophy underpinning the SVVAC] in Wright’s distinction between “right brained” Africans and “left brained” Europeans, in Wright’s fears of U.S. government-sponsored genocide against American blacks, and in Wright’s embittered attacks on America’s indelibly white-supremacist history.

It is not surprising, therefore that prominent members of the “Afrocentric,” rites of passage movement spoke at Wright’s church during the late 1980s and 1990s. Obama missed church on these occasions, no doubt.

But Obama was right in the middle of the process through which tens of thousands of dollars were funneled by CAC into SVACC teacher training programs. In 1995, the year Obama assumed control of CAC, he publicly rejected “the unrealistic politics of integrationist assimilation,” thereby embracing the Afrocentirc educational philosophy of the SVACC, Wright, and Ayers. And according to Kurtz, it is clear from the documents that Obama reviewed and commented on proposals to fund the training programs of SVACC, including the African rites of passage based programs. As one would hope, Obama encountered resistance from his own board to attempting to improve the education of African-Americans by orienting them away from “American definitions of achievement and success.” But he managed to keep the money flowing.

We’ve noted in the past that CAC’s own evaluators found that Annenberg-aided schools showed no improvement in achievement scores. The miracle is that scores did not decline.

In what I believe was his only stint running anything (other than the Harvard Law Review), Barack Obama wasted more than $100 million that could have been used to improve the education of disadvantaged students. And he did so in order to advance an extremist, anti-American agenda. The people of Chicago can only wish that Bill Ayers had just been somebody who lived in Obama’s neighborhood and that Jeremiah Wright was just an eccentric uncle.

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