The arrest of seven men, two of them Harvard students, while they were demonstrating for the release of Edith Berkman yesterday, brings up anew the question of "class-war" tactics. The action of Mrs. Tillinghast, of the Immigration Bureau, has been sufficiently antagonizing. By refusing to see the persons involved in yesterday's demonstration, she enabled them to appear as martyrs in their cause. She has, moreover, persistently maintained an unconciliatory attitude and to some extent denied to Miss Berkman the privilege which she has herself exercised of presenting her case to the press. The police probably added to the error by arresting the wrong persons.
The CRIMSON does not now pass on the merits of the Berkman case itself. It does feel that the students harmed their own cause by allowing the affair to take such a turn as to give the newspapers an opportunity to brand their action as a "Hunger March" staged by "radicals." The American public, much to its own disgrace, refuses to have any sympathy with a movement tagged "radical," regardless of the justice involved. Practical action to aid political prisoners should be planned with a full recognition of this condition, and such action should avoid antagonizing the public until every alternative has been tried. Miss Berkman's plight will henceforth become identified, in the minds of the majority, with impetuous and hot-headed demonstrations, and will suffer accordingly.
The mistake of the students, and of ular, was in falling to exhaust lawful and peaceful means of influencing the officials to release Miss Berkman. Except for a meeting of the Harvard Liberal Club, and some publicity, the efforts to arouse public opinion were incomplete and inefficient. If their cause is a just one those interested could, with sufficient diligence, have won most of the student body to their point of view. With such backing the group might have accomplished a great deal by enlisting the aid of influential people. Their present action exposes them to the accusation of being publicity seekers, and may prevent conservative people from aiding them.