"The Harvard CRIMSON" says the Alumni Bulletin editorially" "has been a pretty well-behaved publication, as undergraduate journals go". All small favors, of course, are gratefully received and such praise is particularly welcomed from as fastidious a critic as the Bulletin.
But the Bulletin is not in a praising mood. As an "elder brother", born by some monstrosity of nature twenty-five years after the stripling it sets out to chastise, (but we have forgotten, the child is of course, father of the man), it chides the CRIMSON for its "firecracker brand of undergraduate journalism".
But whether it be an elder or a younger brother the Bulletin is serious in its criticism and as such deserves a respectful hearing. The CRIMSON, so runs its argument, is in a position of public office. And "public office is a public trust". With this conception of its own position the CRIMSON is in hearty accord. It agrees with the Bulletin that undergraduate editors "have their day and cease to be" and must hand on their trust untarnished and, if possible, brighter than ever. Difference of opinion develops not as to the end but as to the means.
With the conception that its rightful position is that of a mere gazette of University news the CRIMSON has little sympathy. It believes that it fulfills a more vital function--the function of presenting truthfully and in an interesting manner all the news of the University, and of expressing and guiding the opinion of the undergraduate body. There is a great difference between a newspaper and a gazette--possibly the difference between perpetual youth and premature age. And the CRIMSON, preferring the former, refuses to be a mere bulletin.
The CRIMSON is willing to stand convicted of the crime of attempting to present interesting news in an interesting manner. It is willing to stand convicted of the crime of attempting to escape that deadly dryness that dogs the footsteps of every academic publication. If these are crimes it will suffer for them. But if, on the other hand, they are worth-while efforts, it stands to win. Safer and saner is that paper that "along the cool sequestered vale of life" pursues "the noiseless tenor of its way;" it risks nothing; it will lose nothing; it will win nothing--not even readers. But even at that there is something glorious about it.
Specifically the Bulletin condemns the CRIMSON for its accounts of the activities of the Ku Klux Klan and for printing a communication from an alleged alumnus. It assumes that the former were proved "to be without substantial foundation in fact". No assumption could be more unwarranted. The CRIMSON proved to all, except those who were determined not to believe, that there was a comparatively large number of Klansmen within the walls of the University and that they acted as a body. It believed and it believes still that this is "substantial foundation" for a campaign against the Klan at Harvard. It agrees with the New York Times that "the University authorities well might search their hearts carefully to find out how it happens that even one of the young men whom they were supposed to be teaching reason and truth should have been led astray by such vicious and absurd arguments as the Ku Klux Klan has been presenting to them."
The CRIMSON is perfectly frank to admit that it is an error to print any communication without authenticating the signature. Aside from that, it cannot agree with the Bulletin's second criticism. To print a communication does not mean that the CRIMSON sympathizes with the point of view it expresses. It does not mean this in general, and it did not mean this in the particular case. In fact the exact opposite was true.
But that the Alumni Bulletin has misunderstood and misrepresented the CRIMSON's point of view is perfectly natural. For the Bulletin represents an entirely different attitude toward university affairs. It is content to serve largely as a mere chronicle of events--an aim which is very estimable in itself but totally different from that which the CRIMSON believes to be the true end of university journalism.