Defenders of Bill Ayers, the unrepentant Weatherman serial bomber, current University of Illinois-Chicago professor, and sometime friend—or acquaintance or “guy in my neighborhood” or whatever–of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama—are popping up like chanterelles among academics and others who think it’s bad form to accuse anyone on the left of terrorism. The latest to declare his undying Ayers-fection is Thomas “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” Frank in his column today for the Wall Street Journal:

“I do not defend the things Mr. Ayers did in his Weatherman days. Nor will I quibble with those who find Mr. Ayers wanting in contrition. His 2001 memoir is shot through with regret, but it lacks the abject style our culture prefers.”

No kidding! In that 2001 book, “Fugitive Days” (so titled because Ayers and his Weatherwoman wife, Bernardine Dohrn, were fugitives from the law over their involvement in a series of late 1960s and early-1970s bombing incidents, and Ayers took credit for helping bomb the the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol , and New York City’s police headquarters), the bomb-astic onetime Weatherman described the explosive he and his pals set off in a Pentagon restroom as merely “itsy-bitsy,” although it did cause “tens of thousands of dollars” of damage.

Nothing abject about that language

Also in 2001, in a New York Times article headlined “No Regrets for a Love of Explosives” that appeared the very day of the 9/11 massacre, Ayers was quoted as saying, ”I don’t regret setting bombs….I feel we didn’t do enough.’

But hey, big deal, right? Here’s how Frank characterizes the Republicans who dared to bring Ayers’s explosive past, to public attention

“This is their vilest hour.”

Then we have the “Support Bill Ayers” petition, signed so far by 3,247 employed and unemployed left-wing academics. As one might expect, the closest the petition gets to the word “bomb” is this understatement:

“It’s true that Professor Ayers participated passionately in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, as did hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Many of the signatories state their affiliations as the International Socialist Review and the Third World Press, but one of them, Signatory No. 5, is Rashid Khalid, the Columbia professor of Mideast studies who thinks it’s OK for Palestinian terrorists to target members of the Israeli army. And in case you were wondering, yes, Ward Churchill, the one who referred to the victims of 9/11 as “little Eichmanns” is also on the signatory list (No. 814). Last year Churchill was booted out of his job as an ethnic studies professor at the University of Colorado after a panel found he had committed multiple acts of scholarly plagiarism and similar misconduct, so his affiliation on the petition appears as the “Martin Luther King Collegium of Scholars.”

Just for the record, here is how Ayers’s Wikipedia entry describes his career with the Weather Underground in the years just prior to the Pentagon bombing:

“Between the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the June 1969 SDS convention, Ayers became a prominent leader of the group, which arose as a result of a schism in SDS. “During that time his infatuation with street fighting grew and he developed a language of confrontational militancy that became more and more pronounced over the year [1969]“, disaffected former Weatherman member Cathy Wilkerson wrote in 2001. Ayers had previously become a roommate of Terry Robbins, a fellow militant, Wilkerson wrote. Robbins would later be killed while making a bomb.[8]In June 1969, the Weatherman took control of the SDS at its national convention, where Ayers was elected Education Secretary. Later in 1969, Ayers participated in planting a bomb at a statue dedicated to riot police casualties in the 1886 Haymarket Riot confrontation between labor supporters and the police. [The blast broke almost 100 windows and blew pieces of the statue onto the nearby Kennedy Expressways…

“In 1970 he ‘went underground’ with several associates after the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, in which Weatherman member Ted Gold, Ayers’ close friend Terry Robbins, and Ayers’ girlfriend, Diana Oughton, were killed when a nail bomb (an anti-personnel device) they were assembling exploded.”

Now, exactly who is supposed to be vile?