Monthly Archives: July 2010

The Weatherman and The Catholic

By Jim Bennett
Daily Review Atlas

Historically, the lecture halls of academia have been seedbeds of free thought and expression. The intellectual rigors of classroom discussion and the spirit of open inquiry on university campuses have served young scholars well.

But I’ve been reading about two professors recently and as I compare their stories, I can’t help but conclude that an ill wind is blowing.

William Ayers and Kenneth Howell have a lot in common. They both hold doctorate degrees, they’re popular with their students, and they work for the University of Illinois.

During the Vietnam Era, William Ayers helped found a communist revolutionary terrorist group called The Weather Underground Organization (WUO). Ayers and his pals were opposed to war, what with all the violence and bombs, so they took the obvious, logical step of declaring war and setting off bombs in a bid to violently overthrow the government.

It was June 9, 1970, when a WUO bomb planted in a men’s room rocked New York City police headquarters. On March 1, 1971, the Weathermen blew up a U.S. Capitol building bathroom. The following year, on May 19, they set off an explosive device in a ladies lavatory in the Pentagon. On Jan. 21, 1975, they bombed a washroom in the U.S. State Department.

The lesson here? When William Ayers steps out of the little boys’ room and warns, “Don’t go in there,” you really, most definitely, should NOT go in there.

While Ayers’ continued to prosecute his ongoing War on Plumbing, he collaborated
with other Weathermen to write their Marxist-Leninist manifesto, “Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism” in 1974. It was dedicated “To all who continue to fight” and “To All Political Prisoners in the U.S.” Named among the “fighters” and “political prisoners” in that dedication was Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin who murdered Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.

But that’s all in the past. Surely a venerable institution like the University of Illinois
would not retain him on their faculty unless he had categorically renounced all his incendiary rhetoric and the violent terrorism perpetrated by the group that he co-founded and led, right?

Wrong. In Ayers’ interview with Dinitia Smith, published in the New York Times on, oddly enough, Sept. 11, 2001, he is quoted as saying, “I don’t regret setting bombs.” In January of 2004, speaking to the Television Critics’ Association Press Tour in Hollywood about the Weather Underground bombings, Ayers said, “Did we do something that was horrendous, awful? I don’t think so.” A true master of the Non-pology, Ayers’ public statements of “regret” for his crimes ring with all the sincerity of Eddie Haskell complimenting Mrs. Cleaver’s housecoat. In a New York Times op-ed piece published Dec. 5, 2008, Professor Ayers actually characterizes the Weather Underground’s attacks as “severe vandalism.”

Now come on, son.

Where I come from, “severe vandalism” means a car has been keyed rather than egged, or a Ding-Dong-Ditch assault has escalated to include a flaming bag of you-know-what left on the porch. But when Ayers’ group bombed NYPD Headquarters, they used 15 sticks of dynamite, injured eight people and took out much of the building’s second floor. Calling that “severe vandalism” is like calling Chernobyl “an unscheduled interruption of utility service.”

William Ayers currently holds the titles of Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Monmouth College, my alma mater, gushes like a schoolgirl at any opportunity to provide this man with a platform.

Dr. Kenneth Howell, on the other hand, just got sacked at the end of the Spring semester. A Religious Studies professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2001, Howell’s course on the tenets of Catholicism included lectures explaining the church’s teachings on sexuality. In preparation for an upcoming exam, Howell, a Catholic himself, sent an e-mail to his students on May 4, clarifying some points from classroom discussion about natural moral law as it relates to homosexuality.

An unidentified friend of an anonymous student in the class cried, “hate speech” to the department chair and Howell was terminated. A distinguished 10-year academic career was snuffed over someone’s hurt feelings. Howell has been fired for teaching the subject matter of the course he had been hired to teach.

Meanwhile, though, the U of I can’t get enough of William Ayers.

Oh, there’s an ill wind at work for sure. And you don’t need a Weatherman to know which way it’s blowing.

Jim Bennett is the Pastor of Rozetta Baptist Church in rural Henderson County.

Copyright 2010 Daily Review Atlas. Some rights reserved

How Jimmy Got His Groove Back

By Jim Bennett
Daily Review Atlas
Posted Jul 21, 2010 @ 07:24 PM
Not unlike the titular protagonist in Terry McMillan’s “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” I recently hit the reset button on my life by traveling to the Caribbean and falling in love. Unlike Stella, however, my heart was lost to the people, the churches and the beauty of Grenada, West Indies.

You remember Grenada, right? Back in 1983, the U.S. invaded “The Island of Spice” after a violent Communist coup jeopardized the safety of 800 American medical students studying there. The U.S. Marines and Army landed and subdued surprisingly robust ground resistance and antiaircraft fire by Cuban forces. It ended up being the only successful “rollback” in the Cold War until the glorious Revolutions of Eastern Europe would begin in 1989. For the first time, a Marxist regime was deposed to make way for a constitutional Capitalist Democracy. And it was the first major military operation for U.S. forces since Vietnam. Not bad for two days work.

Memories of news reports from that time prepared me for the combat ahead as I and the other eight members of the Rozetta Baptist Church Short-Term Mission Team made our way to this tiny isle just 90 miles from the coast of Venezuela. (I was so close that Hugo Chavez started to complain about the aroma of sulfur again.)

The combat to which I refer, of course, is making it through airport security.

I guess I have nothing to complain about because most of the abuse was heaped on only one member of our team, the shy and unassuming Rachael Allaman. While the rest of us breezed right on through the checkpoint, this courageous 17-year-old farm girl took several hits for the team at the Moline airport. Rachael was the only one who had to drink some of her shampoo to prove to the TSA that it wasn’t actually nitroglycerin. It was Rachael who was forced to lie down on the carry-on conveyor belt so they could x-ray her head. And Rachael alone had to wait in a holding cell while the E.O.D. technicians defused her flip-flops.

Clearly the Department of Homeland Security had suspended its prohibition of Rachael profiling.

The poor child’s suffering was not in vain, however. In Grenada we found a veritable paradise of needs we could help to meet. The evangelical churches there are thriving, but understaffed and underfunded. Thanks to the generosity of our church and others believers, the team came equipped with the materials and curriculum needed to carry out a five-day Vacation Bible School complete with games, skits, lessons, music, crafts and prizes. More than 70 children registered on the first day, and each one of them was a gift from God. By Friday, enrollment had reached 93, and over the course of that week, 21 of those kids had expressed their desire to repent and trust in Jesus Christ.

Ever spend an entire week with a lump in your throat?

Along with the Vacation Bible School, I had the privilege of preaching at a Sunday morning service and then for five consecutive nights at a revival/evangelical event hosted by another church. All the members of the team took their turns testifying about how they had come to know the Lord Jesus as their personal savior.

But since the title of this article is “How Jimmy Got his Groove Back,” I should probably get to that. The place to start, naturally, is to explain how I lost my groove in the first place. The details are complicated, so let’s just say that the last year or so has had me second-guessing myself personally, professionally and even spiritually. Though my faith has not wavered, I confess that I have allowed some disappointments and disillusionment to get a toehold and, as a result, I ended up sustaining something of a confidence deficit.

In Grenada, however, I giggled with children who are joyous despite their poverty. I was able to savor the rich sweetness of fellowship with my fellow believers there who, though they have very little, were extravagantly hospitable and warm. And I had opportunities to serve them, and to do so while laboring alongside some of the finest people I’ve ever known. Frankly, it was just what the doctor ordered.

In short, if you’re a born again believer in Jesus and you think you may have misplaced your own groove, I commend to you, as step No. 1 in the recovery process, this simple suggestion:

Get over yourself. Ditch the self-pity and second-guessing and just start serving your King and His children.

It’s like Zoloft for the soul. Good for what ails ye.

Copyright 2010 Daily Review Atlas. Some rights reserved

Why I DID Celebrate July 4th

By Jim Bennett
Daily Review Atlas

My Independence Day was almost ruined by an editorial entitled “Why I Don’t Celebrate July 4,” by Matthew Rothschild. He’s the editor of “The Progressive,” a journal for those who classify Noam Chomsky as a moderate.

Rothschild sees the Fourth as a “mindless patriotic bubble bath we’re all supposed to soak in all weekend long.” It’s too provincial and unsophisticated for him.
Well, that shows what he knows. Like most Americans, I marked the occasion with an air of reverent dignity, enjoying the understated traditions that make it so special:

5 a.m.: Dressed in my Uncle-Sam-on-stilts costume, I joined the other 137 members of the Uncle-Sam-on-Stilts Club on the courthouse lawn for our annual re-enactment of the entire Revolutionary War from start to finish. (It was my turn to portray John Paul Jones; you have no idea how hard it was to capture the HMS Serapis while balanced on two eight-foot-tall wooden beams, all while rocking the bass line to “The Lemon Song.”)

5:10 a.m.: Breakfast of gluten-free jonnycakes in town square.

5:30 a.m.: Returned home to awaken the children with musket fire and assemble them in the driveway for another rousing reading of The Federalist Papers.

10:30 a.m.: Church service. In lieu of my usual sermon, I simply stood in the pulpit, waved a Gadsden flag, and sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” through a bullhorn.

Noon: Picnic in the churchyard, featuring the time-honored rock-paper-scissors
tournament in honor of General Rochambeau. As is our custom, the winner received the title of “noose-bearer” for George III’s hanging-in-effigy and got first crack at the Cornwallis piñata.

It seemed like the perfect end to a perfect morning: After the Baron Von Steuben look-alike contest, I headed for the parsonage to rest up for even classier events that evening. Unfortunately, that’s when I happened across Rothschild’s essay and my red American blood was brought to a rolling boil.

“My heart does not beat faster at the strains of the Star Spangled Banner,” Rothschild writes, “much less at the sight of F-16s flying overhead to kick off the show.”

Now, it’s really not the perceived tackiness of our celebratory conventions that bothers him, nor is it the phenomenon of patriotism itself. Truth be told, Rothschild might just as well have stood in a schoolyard, chanting, “Conservatives go to Jupiter to get more stupider! Liberals go to college to get more knowledge!”

I’d venture that his rant is more a response to some new research than it is to patriotism itself. At the very least, it’s a validation of it: A new USA Today/Gallup survey reveals that 48 percent of conservatives describe themselves as “extremely patriotic.” Only 19 percent of liberals would make such a gauche claim.

He writes that patriotism (meaning, of course, “conservatism”) is “the father of nationalism,” and “nationalism is but the egg that hatches fascism.” An intellectually honest survey of the historical landscape reveals the true pattern, however:
Liberalism is collectivism’s pappy, and fascism is the rotten egg laid by the vulture of collectivism. Marxists, Maoists, and Stalinists all start with the favorite pastimes of “progressives”:

1. Foment class conflict through inflammatory rhetoric.

2. Bully entrepreneurs with confiscatory taxation and legislative coercion.

3. “Redistribute” co-opted wealth to grow bloated government programs, establishing an epidemic of addiction to the udder of entitlement.

4. Disarm the populace.

Placing fascism at the conservative end of the political spectrum is ridiculous. Fascism requires the biggest of governments because it must exert extraordinary control over the populace. Regulatory intrusion into the lives of citizens is now, and always has been, the delight of liberals. A true conservative is devoted to the shrinking of government in order to advance the freedoms of each individual.

On the night of the Fourth, my family and I sat by the ball field in Cameron and watched in delighted awe as the world’s only atomic fireworks display punched scorching holes through the mesosphere. I realized then that I should give Rothschild some grace. After all, I had enjoyed advantages he lacked. He was raised by liberal activist parents in the affluence of Highland Park, while my folks brought me up in the family business in Monmouth. When he was studying Marx at Harvard, I was learning arithmetic from Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Bobby Dunlap, hero of Iwo Jima. And Rothschild’s first real job was working for Ralph Nader, while mine was working for Marine Corps Commandant Al Gray.
With an underprivileged background like that, should it really surprise us that Matthew Rothschild lives in the greatest nation in the world but sees nothing to celebrate?

Jim Bennett is the pastor of Rozetta Baptist Church in rural Henderson County.

To read Rothschild’s column visit:

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