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When the Madison Convention of the A.S.U. refused to take any stand on the Russian invasion of Finland, public opinion condemned the Union as tied to the Soviet coat tails. Indeed, both by word and by implication, the peace resolution adopted by the Convention evidenced sympathy for the Soviet. Hence the Harvard chapter's action Tuesday night, when it approved the national platform, yet reaffirmed its own condemnation of Russia, was not exactly consistent. Nevertheless, it was the wisest course to take.
Those who favored adoption of the national plank, qualified by the "condemn Russia" amendment, recognized that there was at least a conflict of spirit, if not of letter, between the two. But neither of the alternative courses of action--abandonment of the anti-Soviet stand, or secession from the national organization--is wise or popular, and the local chapter was well-advised to surrender a little consistency for the sake of the tangible benefits which will result.
Retreat from its position on the Finnish question would be unthinkable. The Student Union has long stood for morality in international relations. That stand is perhaps an anachronism, but so long as it is maintained, it must be applied to every aggressor, not merely to certain of them. The H.S.U. has recognized this; the A.S.U. has yet to do so. On the other hand, secession is equally unwise; it would be at once the first step in the disintegration of the national organization, and a death-blow to the local chapter. As President Gottlieb declared, "there is no need to emphasize the necessity for a nation-wide youth organization working to keep America out of war. Under very favorable circumstances it took five years to build the A.S.U. If we are to help break it up now, we would destroy it at the time we need it most."
Yet in casting its lot with the national body, for better or for worse, the Harvard chapter must strive also to see that it is "better" which wins. The Gottlieb "condemn Russia" amendment, already adopted by the local chapter, is to be voted on through a national referendum in the coming fortnight. The H.S.U. should do all it can to convince the general membership to approve the amendment, and thereby rebuke the pro-Soviet Convention. Only thus can the American Student Union erase from the public mind an impression which has done much to destroy the value of the organization as a force for liberalism and peace.
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