Led by golden-voiced Jack McMichael, the American Youth Congress last weekend rolled like a giant machine over all opposition, Harvard protest groups included, to stage a highly vocal demonstration against the Lease-Lend Bill, Jim Crew practices, war-mongers, and labor haters.
The Harvard branch of the Student Union, represented by some twenty delegates, merged into the much larger national organization, which dominated not only the general philosophy of the meeting but also most of the independent youth groups gathered there. CIO youth unions were dominant in labor policy, fortifying the pro-labor attitude of the SU.
According to David Bennett '42, recently elected President of the Harvard Student Union, no official address was made by his delegation to the Town Meeting of Youth. When the Liberal Union protested against opposition to the Administration's All-Aid policy, no reply was made, since the petition of the HSU had already been fully represented by other speakers.
Planks in the official platform of the AYC had already been cut out and fitted during the convention at Madison, Wisconsin, last summer, and although a semblance of democratic hearings for the opposition was maintained in Washington, the real purpose of the Congress was to make vocal a previously adopted policy. Opposition groups, such as the Liberal Union, were given two minutes apiece to make their protests heard, then hurried off the platform.
Few were willing to accuse the Congress of being Communist dominated. However, all sections of what Bennett called the "progressive" youth movement were represented, and no pretense of voicing "young democratic" or "young republican" opinion was made.
It is a matter of record that when an avowed communist harangued the meeting on the violent overthrow of capitalism a large section of the audience responded with enthusiastic cheers. However, political colorings were too various to be grouped under a general Party Red.
Oppose No Aid
Speaking Sunday afternoon for the Liberal Union, Edward Ames '42 stated that "while we are in agreement with the AYC's constructive domestic program, we oppose its anti-aid-to-Britain policy.
"A German victory in Europe would immensely strengthen the forces of reaction in America and would necessarily result in the abridgement of those rights and liberties for which the Youth Congress is fighting.... We urge full American aid to all nations determined to check the menace of a fascism seeking world conquest."
Ham Fish Backs Out
The Student Defense League, now connected with the nation-wide Student Defenders of Democracy, under the leadership of Royal Whiting '42 joined the fun in Washington without joining the Congress. The League lobbied for HR 1776 with Colonel Knox and Chester Davis, who is the Agricultural Coordinator for the Office of Production Management. An attempt was made to see Ham Fish, but the prominent isolationist refused to meet the delegation.
The many independents from Harvard either assented to the dominant attitudes of the Congress or wasted their energies in vain petitions to be heard. Many merely went down out of curiosity and returned more troubled than satisfied.