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WALZER EXPLAINS

The Mail

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

I have been more than a little disturbed by some of the things said about the advertisement that I signed along with some one hundred other faculty members in Tuesday's CRIMSON. I signed that advertisement for the same reason that I voted against ROTC two weeks ago: because I believe that the freedom of a professor to profess is crucial to the very existence of a university. It may sometimes be appropriate for a man to consult his faculty or student colleagues in determining the content of his course, but finally he must teach what he believes to be true, relevant to his subject matter, and of value to his students. Any coercive interference with his decision on these matters, from inside or outside the university, from government agencies or political organizations of students, seems to me utterly wrong. Many of my co-signers were, as I remember, unwilling to apply this principle to ROTC, but that is their problem and not my own. I have often signed advertisements along with people whose politics I did not entirely like. But the political response the ad has evoked from the Harvard administration is my problem, precisely because I did sign. Dean Ford has publicly welcomed the ad, though for reasons I now cannot understand he never endorsed the opposition to ROTC. And President Pusey has issued a statement describing himself on the barricades defending our liberties. But where were the barricades, and where was he, during the years when the content of certain Harvard courses was determined by the Department of Defense? I am afraid that the incident at the Design School has been made the occasion for a very strange defense of the princpile of academic freedom: a defense marked, on the one hand, by an extreme readiness to rush to the barricades against any incursion from the left (or from students), and, on the other, by an equally extreme readiness to lay down arms whenever the government looms into view. I endorse the principle whole-heartedly; I don't believe that that is the appropriate way to defend it. Michael Walzer

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