10 Candles for YAF Barry Goldwater Day and a Visit from Strom Thurmond
( What follows is the second of a two-part feature on the tenth anniversary celebration held last month by YAF. Part One appeared yesterday. )
THURSDAY was Goldwater day. The Young Americans for Freedom took many of their early members from the 1960 Youth-for-Goldwater-for Vice-President movement, and YAF reached its highest membership during Goldwater's presidential campaign. He's still their man, their biggest friend in office and their hope. A sign in the press room announced an evening press conference with Goldwater, that would be followed by his speech to the assembled Yaffers. Everyone was eager to see Barry.
More and more University of Hartford students were coming back to school and discovering the YAF convention going in full-swing on their campus. Many of them hung around the student lounge, talking and eyeing the young conservatives, who eyed them back. Many of them resented the fact that the university had rented out the campus to such a group. "It's like having ROTC set up in your lounge." Some were really angry: "This is an example of the liberal attitude towards education: separate values for the educational process.... It's an example of the latent schizophrenia of the university.... I've seen University of Hartford police escort Panthers off the campus for distributing literature. Now they're inviting these people in." A woman YAF staffer walked resolutely through the lounge, avoiding the long-haired students. "We've been invaded," she said to a companion. "We shall handle that accordingly."
By 3 p. m., twenty or thirty University of Hartford students had come together in the lounge. After all the hours of suspicious glances across some imaginary barrier, a heated argument broke out between a YAF staffer and a U. of H. student, and the invisible shield finally shattered. The argument drew a huddle of supporters behind each of the protagonists, who stood face to face at one end of the lounge. Before this argument reached its pitch (when Dan Joy, editor of the YAF house organ, New Guard, called his emotional opponent a "creep"), other discussions had broken out all over the room. Some of the contestants argued arrogantly and hotly; others tried to persuade the other side of the truth of some particular belief, or to find some bit of common ground between the Left and the Right. Onlookers were confused, or amused, or downright disdainful of the other side; some moved around from group to group, trying to keep up with all the arguments at once.
A pretty, efficient blonde who works with the national staff in Washington was a little unhappy about the radicals' dislike of conservatives and conservatism. "Some of these people are nuts-they don't realize that the conservative movement isn't all establishment people. We're just as anti-establishment as they are." One of the observers, a former Marine Sergeant back from 20 months in Vietnam, finally left the edge of one of the arguments to relax on a couch, obviously pleased. "This is better than the speeches. Those leftists are really getting torn apart."
At 7:30, reporters, photographers, and a video-tape crew were crowded along the walls of a small room for Goldwater's press conference. YAF's very own Barry sat at a table behind a phalanx of microphones. He was tanned and freckled and as dynamic looking as any Goldwater fan could wish. One observer thought that Goldwater was getting to look more and more like the caricatures drawn of him. Goldwater was striking in his directness. He seemed, for a politician, unusually willing to speak his mind, and rarely tried to speak his way around a question; he neither played up to the press nor followed someone else's party line.
A FEW U of H students stood outside below a window and looked up into the brightly lit room, yelling and booing at Goldwater; a staff member pulled a curtain over the window.
One reporter asked Goldwater if he had much trouble with demonstrators.
"I haven't had enough to bother about. I don't care... it's music to my ears."
Do you feel that you can get a fair hearing at colleges in the Northeast?
"I've never had any problem."
Would you be in favor of wage and price controls?
"No, they've never worked, and they'd never work now."
A government task force has recommended removal of restrictions on marijuana. Do you think the government will go along with it?
"Whether or not to legalize marijuana.... I'm not ready to say. I lean that way.... The laws regulating marijuana I don't think are right. Maybe we could, by making it available, kill the problem.
"I think that cigarette smoking is much more dangerous that marijuana smoking."
How do you account for the widespread political militancy on campuses?
"The militants are a very small minority.... Where you've had trouble, you've had poor administration, weak administration. Where you haven't had trouble, you've had strong administration that's backed by strong boards of regents and governors....
"When a young person says, 'I wanta do my thing,' he's saying the exact same thing that conservatives have been doing for centuries.... We don't want to do our thing at the expense of others."
Would you comment on the Princeton plan, that would allow college students to take two weeks off this fall to work for political candidates.
"I support it, if they really work." Should colleges give the same time off to employees for the same reason?
"I think they [employees] can do it while staying on the job. The students have to learn the political facts of life."
What are you thoughts on Women's Liberation?
"Well, I don't know what the dickens they want that they can't already do. I suppose rights for divorced women who don't have access to alimony are important....
"I don't wanta wake up with a pipe-fitter in the morning. I want a woman."
Do you favor the use of armed troops to control campus violence?
"No, only when it's necessary.... The Kent thing was bound to happen sooner or later."
Why do you think students are using such violent means of protest as the destruction of the Bank of America in California?
"Mainly because they're allowed to.... I have my own idea of what's behind this. I think these things are planned, organized and trained under people who could well have had their training under Communism or under the Che Guevara-type groups in Cuba."
Do you believe there's a conspiracy against policemen?
"I have to think there is. It's a pattern."
Do you have evidence as to who is involved?
"No.... You have people in this country who are working to destroy freedom.... In this country there are people working from the inside as well as from the outside. Those on the inside are often more successful."
What can we do about fighting the conspiracy against the police you mentioned before?
"I wish I could tell you all I know about it. But it's being done, and the dramatic parts of it will come out next year."
Do you feel that there's a coalition of groups in this conspiracy against the police?
"The Black Panthers are the most conspicuous in Chicago, in New York, and in California; those are about the only ones...."
THERE were police cars outside the auditorium where Goldwater was to speak to the convention; several bomb threats had been phoned in. Inside, Father Daniel Lyons, a Jesuit, gave a preliminary address on the theme of "Conservative Directions." After an opening joke about waterproof Ted Kennedy watches, he got down to liberalism. "It's an essential doctrine of the Left that human evil is due to social and economic ills...."
"The ultra-liberals are cynics, malcontents.... Responsibility ill suits them. They're much better at shutting down the university than at running it."
When Goldwater was escorted in from the rear of he auditorium, his presence carried the packed house to its feet and set off a chant of "WE WANT BARRY." Each time the applause died down, shouts of "Goldwater in '72" "Goldwater in '76," and "Nice to have you back, Barry," brought a fresh round.
Ohio Congressman Donald "Buzz" Lukens spoke briefly, warming up the audience for Goldwater with revival meeting sincerity and pep-rally enthusiasm. "When a super-lib gives you the peace sign, don't blow you high: give it back. For years that sign stood for victory." The athletic looking young politician held up two fingers-"Just give it back and say, 'With a little bit of freedom, brother.'" Talking about demonstrators outside, Lukens told the Yaffers, "The reason they come tonight is that we're getting stronger. We're more than a nuisance, we're a legitimate threat to the bases of power."
Lukens was brief, and then it was time to introduce Barry. Bob Moffat, a member of the National YAF board and Arizona chairman, a man with a brief, tight-lipped smile that never quite conceals the suspicious glances he shoots around him, delivered the introduction for the former presidential candidate with complete earnestness: "... He was only defeated by the vulgar, vile, and, yes, effeminate weapons of slander and semantical distortion.
"He is the epitome of courage;
"He is the Henry Clay of our time;
Goldwater stood up to the wild welcome modestly; he read his speech well, talking about big government and "the problems of middle management," or the power exercised by the bureaucratic machinery through which legislation must pass as it is executed. "What is the greatest single threat to our freedom?... The impossibility of governments to restrain the growth of bureaucratic government. Every single government that has fallen has fallen because of the welfare state that follows bureaucratic government."
The Young Americans for Freedom made an award to Goldwater after his speech, naming him "Man of the Decade" (along with William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagon, who didn't attend the convention) and giving him a book of letters from well-wishers and a portrait of himself. The portrait, painted from a photograph taken just after he had returned from a fishing trip, shows the familiar face topped by a skipper's cap and looking unusually rugged under several day's growth of beard.
A BORTION and population control were the issues that brought on some of the strongest disagreements among the conservatives during a Friday panel discussion. In an earlier speech, Dr. Charles Rice had hit the abortion question hard, and received a standing ovation from his audience for the attack. This government has appointed a commission on population control headed by John D. Rockefeller III. This commission is promoting, for anywhere in the country, abortion on demand....
"My point is this:... In Japan there has been a regime of easy abortion.... 50 million people have been killed. If you don't believe that a child in the womb is a human being, at least give him the benefit of the doubt....
"If you kill an innocent human being when the life of another human is not at stake, you take that child's life.... The basic principle behind this movement is exactly the same principle underlying the Nazi extermination of the Jews.... I can't conceive of anyone voting for anybody anywhere who supports legislation that would authorize the killing of innocent children."
Dr. William Oliver Martin, a University of Rhode Island philosophy professor, supported the anti-abortion stand during the Friday discussion; Frank Meyer, a scholarly conservative theorist and a senior editor of the National Review, politely contradicted him. Meyer spoke of a woman's right to her own body and to its use, and argued that the question was not one of the sanctity of human life as it might be for Buddhists, but one of the sanctity of the human soul. "I do not regard abortion as murder at an early stage. If it is not murder, thenit is tyranny to restrict it. If it is murder, then it should not be allowed-but no one has sent an abortionist to the electric chair for murder."
A minority of the audience applauded this point. A Yaffer in the back of the hall objected: "I believe that abortion at any time is the taking of innocent human life."
Meyer countered, "Do you believe in capital punishment for abortionists and consenting mothers?"
"I'd consider it."
A few listeners brought up over-population. "In New York City," one explained, "people are literally going crazy from the effects of overcrowding." As badge-wearing conservatives, they could argue for legal abortion, sex education, and voluntary population control from the libertarian position, an ideology of the Right that, in its insistence of complete personal freedom, has contributed to the sentiments against big government and federal intervention in a free economy.
One of the panelists, Dr. George C. Roche, had summed up this position in another context during an earlier speech. "It may be that coercive political power can best serve the individual by stepping aside and letting the sun shine through." Ayn Rand's objectives grew out of the libertarian point of view; though nobody at the convention went openly to that extreme, the ultimate result of libertarianism is, logically, anarchism.
AT A cafeteria luncheon, Washington's voice of Southern Conservatism, Strom Thurmond, delivered a speech on campus and urban riots. Some University of Hartford students sat quietly and inconspicuously in the audience; there were not as many of them actively following the events of the convention as there had been the day before. It seemed strange that Thurmond could come to Hartford and deliver the kind of speech that reaches the Northeast only on news reports; it seemed geographically out of place, as though the deep-South words and the New England air ought not to mix.
Before going into his explanations for "The Urban Riot: Who Makes Them, and Why," he urged the Young Americans to "pay close attention to the work of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee so that you can keep abreast of subversive activity in the United States." Then Thurmond launched into his description of the origins of urban rioting. "Violence is started by criminals, deviants, and subversives," who work to involve others in riots. "The job of the riot maker... is to alienate his target group. In Marxist jargon, this is called 'developing class consciousness.'"
"Povety in itself does not create unhappiness. Christianity teaches us that poverty, freely accepted, can be a cause of virtue.... The difference is in the individual's attitude toward his circumstances." There is a belief "that poverty creates crime. The truth is that crime creates poverty."
To combat rioters, the classic rule is to use as much force as is necessary to control the perpetration of civil disorder."
"We don't shoot to kill. We shoot to prevent killing."
Some of the YAF delegates seemed bored with the speech. Some seemed uneasy. One shook his head slowly as Thurmond spoke.
He analyzed violence on campuses next. One contributing cause, he noted, is the fact that colleges are composed of "a large group of people removed from family roots and restraints," in the "presence of left wing professors who condition the students toward rioting."
To the Kent State students, "apparently it was inconceivable... that there is an ultimate authority with which they are not allowed the privilege of dialogue." The blame goes to those who willfully break down respect for authority.
The mention of Vanderbilt University Chancellor Dr. Alexander Heard, head of Nixon's advisory council on campus unrest, brought booing from the audience. "The President should have advisers, in my opinion, who know how to destroy the Marxist interpretation instead of participating in it.... If there is further unrest on campus this fall, the President's Commission on campus unrest will be responsible for contributing to the climate of unrest."
"We are told that the primary cause of campus unrest is the Vietnam War and the Cambodian incursion. I have been a critic of the Vietnam War ever since I found that we're not trying to win it. But I've never felt the need to incite a riot.... Let's give our soldiers as much power as we've got, let's win the war and bring the boys home." The audience immediately rose applauding, and shouts of YAAAAA-HOOOOO rose over the ovation.
Those University of Hartford students who sat through Thurmond's speech were probably a little awed by the transformation of their cafeteria. When they heard a dixiecrat proclaim that "Next to John C. Calhoun, Agnew's the best Vice-President the country's ever had" in their eastern college eating-place, it must have been discomforting. When a crowd of student-conservatives greeted the announcement with a standing ovation and drawled YAAAHOOOS, it was unquestionably sobering.
On Saturday afternoon, when Bill Buckley had finished his splendidly worded and congratulatory speech, and when the assembled Young Americans for Freedom had picked up their papers and started off towards the buses for home, the quiet band that had been hired for the picnic began to play again. They played careful, almost exact imitations of some of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's songs. It seemed to be an inappropriate band for a conservatives' picnic, but perhaps they didn't listen closely to the lyrics, nobody seemed to mind. A few people remained, standing close to the band, enjoying the music. One of them was Ken Grubbs, a very young looking, modishly dressed man who intelligence comes across clearly in the hesitation in his choice of words and in the reserve of his speech. He used to be the editor of YAF's New Guard; now he works for Human Affairs. The band was playing "Wooden Ships," a gently bitter song about the time after a nuclear holocaust, and about the way things are now.
"... Go take a sister, then by the hand.
Lead her away from this foreign land.
Far away, where we might laugh again.
We are leaving, you don't need us."
Ken seemed to be appreciating the song. He paused a moment, when asked what he thought about it, and answered slowly. "Well, I'm astounded-'Wooden Ships.' I like the song. I wonder if it fits." He paused again. "I don't like to politicize a song-but I think it makes sense for some people here too."