In Illinois, the two largest taxpayer-funded universities have now boasted bona fide American terrorists on their faculties.
The University of Illinois at Chicago, a dismal and endless slab of concrete that is easily one of the ugliest campuses in America, was the well-known professional home of unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers from 1987 until his retirement in 2010.
The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, the semi-prestigious flagship school of the state’s college system, has employed James Kilgore, an adjunct instructor of global studies and urban planning, a felon and a former member of the infamous Symbionese Liberation Army.
The Symbionese Liberation Army was the notorious terrorist organization that kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. The group also attempted two bank robberies. Kilgore participated in a 1975 bank robbery during which bank customer Myrna Opsahl was murdered.
Much later, after a nearly three-decade life on the lam spent largely in South Africa under the alias John Pape, Kilgore served six years in prison in the U.S. for second-degree murder. While on the run, he got Ph.D. and wrote articles, novels and a textbook. (The story of Kilgore’s 27 fugitive years, as told by The Guardian, is fascinating.)
After serving his time, Kilgore reunited with with his wife, Teresa Barnes, who had found a job as a history professor at the University of Illinois. He also quickly found things to protest vigorously about in the local community, including a proposed $20 million jail.
Kilgore noted that he hinted at his terrorist past when he was hired by saying, “I hope that you’ve Googled me,” according to Inside Higher Ed.
After the local press printed an expose about Kilgore’s radical, murderous youth, University of Illinois officials initially defended him, telling the Chicago Sun-Times he “is a good example of someone who has been rehabilitated” and “is well-respected among students.”
The backlash proved too much, however, and Kilgore, only an adjunct, was recently told he would not be given any courses to teach going forward.
Inside Higher Ed notes that a bunch of tenured University of Illinois professors are now sad and angry. They blame “political pressure” and “sensationalist media coverage.” The say the plight of the bank robber and second-degree murder felon is a threat to academic freedom. They have created a group, Friends of James Kilgore, that will promote the terrorist’s rehiring.
Meanwhile, the story of terrorist University of Illinois at Chicago professor Bill Ayers is far more widely known.
Ayers, the son of a former CEO of Commonwealth Edison, was a cofounder and leader of the Weather Underground, a communist revolutionary group.
He was involved in Chicago’s “Days of Rage” riot in 1969, which cost taxpayers in Chicago and the state of Illinois about $183,000. That’s a little over $1.13 million in today’s dollars.
The Weather Underground also conducted a series of bombings and attempted bombings of banks and the United States Capitol, the Pentagon and other government buildings. In 1970, three spectacularly incompetent colleagues of Ayers’ died in a Greenwich Village townhouse explosion trying to make a nail bomb. The bomb was allegedly going to be used at a dance for noncommissioned officers and their dates on an army base in Fort Dix, N.J.
From 1970 to 1973, Ayers’s wife, Northwestern University law professor and fellow Weather Undergrounder Bernardine Dohrn, was a permanent fixture on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list. In 1969, she threatened attacks on college graduation ceremonies across the country “where the big people will come as speakers.” Also in 1969, Dohrn expressed support for Charles Manson and his followers because “they killed those pigs.”
Ayers fled prosecution after an accidental Greenwich Village townhouse explosion.
After his days as a federal fugitive ended (because charges were dropped due to illegal FBI snooping), Ayers earned a Ph.D. He eventually became a faculty member in the College of Education at UIC.
In a 2001 book, he admitted that he participated in bombings of the New York City Police Department headquarters, the U.S. Capitol Building and the Pentagon in the early 1970s. (RELATED: Inside TheDC’s dinner with former Weather Underground terrorists)
In 2010, the year he retired, Ayers was famously and unanimously denied emeritus status after a passionate speech by the University of Illinois system’s board chair Christopher G. Kennedy, who is the son of assassinated U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy.
Christopher Kennedy urged the board to vote against Ayers because Ayers had dedicated his 1974 book “Prairie Fire” to a list of people including Sirhan Sirhan, Robert Kennedy’s assassin.
Ayers was also famous as a “family friend” to a youngish politician named Barack Obama. Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn still live in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, where Obama formerly resided.