Dormant A.I.L. Awaits Serious Threat To Neutrality as Signal to Take Action
Inactivity Is Result of Absence Of Dramatic War Crises, Cutler Holds
Harvard's chapter of the American Independence League, which issued membership buttons to some 750 undergraduates in a whirlwind campaign last fall, has shaken down into a mid-winter lassitude. But its leaders stress the fact that the A. I. L. is just hibernating, not dead.
The League's inactivity in recent months, Ralph H. Cutler '40, co-chairman of the A. I. L., said last night, is a result of the lack of sharp and dramatic threats to American neutrality. Developed as a sounding board of student opposition to sending American troops abroad, the A. I. L. is ready to sound off again when the opportunity arises, he pointed out.
Formed in October
When the A. I. L. was formed in October with large chapters at Princeton and M. I. T. as well as at Harvard, it was "dedicated to the purpose of consolidating the determination of American youth to keep out of the European war." Promptly League leaders sought to enlist a huge membership which could in times of crisis be converted into an effective pressure group.
But because of its amorphous membership, and the lack of clear cut issues, the A. I. L. refrained the from taking a stand on the bitter Congressional battle over the Neutrality Bill last fall. Similarly, it took no public position on the Finish Loan question though privately League leaders have expressed the opinion that the loan was too small an issue, and too unlikely to draw the United States into war, for the League to take a definite stand.
The only concrete platform to which the A. I. L. has committed itself is the four-point statement of aims drawn up in October. At that time the League went on record as being opposed to the defeatist attitude that "America will get in this war sooner or later anyway." In addition it voted against all profiteering, extension of credits to belligerents, and dangerous propaganda and to concentrate the League's efforts on safeguarding civil liberties and strengthening democracy in America.
But beyond drawing up that first platform, the A. I. L. has not gone. The Harvard chapter has held meetings with Senator David I. Walsh of Massachusetts, and Donald C. McKay, assistant professor of History, as featured speakers. Since the middle of November, the A. I. L. has virtually dropped from sight at Harvard.
Nor has the huge membership materialized: the national organization lists 2,500 members at the outside, waiting patiently for a crisis threatening America's neutrality to parade its as yet untried strength.