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To the Editor of the Crimson:
The John Reed Society asked me to chair their protest meeting Wednesday night with the feeling that a non-member of the society, interested, however, in the question of academic freedom which has been raised, would be free from a charge of partiality in the conduct of the meeting. But the intellectual sincerity of all of us who joined in protest against an abridgment of our traditional academic liberty has been seriously challenged.
The gentlemen who wrote the letter to the Crimson Thursday morning have a concept of democracy which is incredible; it can leave only the impression that they are seeking for a rationalization to justify an attempt to break up a sincere and serious meeting. Surely democracy and freedom of speech do not imply that when a group of people wish to gather together because of a common interest, they must invite all those whom they feel opposed to that interest to join with them and defeat their ends. Last night's meeting was called specifically for those who wished to protest against the University's discriminatory action. Those who did not feel like participating in this protest need not have come; surely, having come, they should not have attempted to destroy the common purpose for which those present, with but few exceptions, had gathered.
As for Mr. Pitts, on the other hand, who claimed a desire to participate in the protest, and whose attempt to disrupt the meeting also called forth Thursday's letter, the John Reed Society apparently did not see fit to invite him to speak. Whether this was an oversight or an intentional omission I myself cannot say. Even if it was the latter, their action is certainly understandable. Liberals and progressives have long known form bitter experience the destructive activities of those who call themselves Trotskyites. These activities have been felt by liberal organizations everywhere. Had he been seriously interested in the purpose for which the meeting was called, as he claimed, Mr. Pitts never would have engaged in such an effort to destroy its success.
It is a matter for great regret that Harvard students should have come to such a meeting as this for the specific purpose of ridiculing its serious intent. Are they unaware that there is now a war in Europe; that we too are threatened with involvement; that we have but one safeguard in such time of crisis--namely our freedom to hear whom we will, on what we will? Only in this way can the vital decisions which must be made follow from a considered survey of all the issues involved. To deny this is to deny the very basis on which such an educational institution as Harvard University exists. Paul Olum '40.
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