To the Editors of The Crimson:
"The people united will never be defeated," they screamed. The people defeated themselves, though, at the forum where Caspar Weinberger spoke. When Mr. Weinberger walked onto the stage, a tomato joined him followed by loud chants of "one, two, three, four, U.S. out of El Salvador." The flag of the United States of America was suspended, upside down, from the bleachers and posters read "Caspar Weinberger Mass Murderer". For people trying to change American policy because they care about our democratic ideals, the flag and the constant chanting that made free speech an impossibility were hypocritical, especially at Harvard whose motto is "veritas" and whose goal is the quest for knowledge.
The 1960's proved the power of slogans and mass demonstrations of a grass roots movement. This force raised citizen consciousness and involvement and effected a change in our policies. It can be used rationally and efficiently to promote political awareness through Congressional lobbies, marches, forums, and voter registration. While each of these has a strong individual effect, staging a rally inside a forum destroys the power of both. The forum could have provided a chance to challenge Weinberger's murderous policies by putting him center stage with the responsibility of answering our questions. This was an opportunity to embarrass the government by bringing to light the weaknesses in our foreign policy. One Harvard student asked Weinberger how he could justify our aggression toward Nicaragua and Grenada, countries which are trying to alleviate their poverty, while at the same time supporting the government in El Salvador. Unfortunately, Weinberger's justification of our Central American policy based on five hundred thankful medical students was stifled by cat calls and chanting. The media did not focus on Weinberger's vacuous response but instead turned their camera on ketchup stained apparitions of death, and screaming Harvard students.
Obviously Weinberger was not going to change his mind, but we lost the chance to change the minds of others and to gain support for our grass roots movement. Jenny Landau '87 Jonna Gaberman '87