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Living in the (Right-Wing) Media Glare

Martha Biondi

Abstract


Bill Ayers, Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident (Boston: Beacon Press, 2013), 240 pages, $24.95, hardcover.
In this beautifully written memoir, Bill Ayers recounts his bizarre and unsettling experience as a "public enemy" during the 2008 presidential election. An unlikely grouping of right-wing web sites, Fox News, liberal foundations, George Stephanopolous, and even university faculty and presidents did their part to portray the then-Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago as a veritable mad man, someone profoundly immoral whom any self-respecting public figure or institution should immediately disavow. This suggests the salience of two phenomena: first, the perennial appeal of demonizing the U.S. left (especially—but not only—its militant wing), and the ready availability of a variety of tropes to do so.… Second, the incidents reveal a dark region of U.S. political culture striving to influence the mainstream. Many Americans were unsettled at the prospect of a black president, and they have displayed their fears, hatreds, and anxieties in various ways ever since.

Keywords


Education; History

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14452/MR-066-04-2014-08_6

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