To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
The recent petition sponsored by a Faculty group uses platitudes about academic freedom to cover up the main issue of racism at Harvard and is thus a direct attack on the Black students who stopped the riot control course.
The petition states that academic freedom consists of "free inquiry and discussion," implying an abstract battleground where all ideas somehow fight it out. But is academic freedom really an abstract fight? Isn't it rather a procedure by which the Harvard Corporation extends its protection to certain people to "assure the inviolability of...all duly approved courses" (i.e., whatever the Corporation approves is absolutely protected, no matter what is its content, ideas, or its effects)?
However, the ROTC campaign has shown that the Corporation is not neutral. In fact, the courses which they approve, from the economics department where Marx is a dirty word, to the humanities where art is separated from reality, to the ROTC program which enlists Harvard in the Vietnam war effort, to the riot control course, are hardly neutral. These courses help maintain the status quo of American capitalism and fight those trying to change it. Must we really accept such courses in the name of "freedom," even of "academic freedom" or of "neutrality?"
Perhaps the Faculty who signed this petition failed to realize the racist nature of "An End to Urban Violence." They should read the prospectus, which calls for course students to plan strategies for counter forces for use in Black communities in rebellion, to redesign "spatial relations" to make it harder to seek shelter and easier to move troops, to find a "critical mass" population density that might lead to violence, that sees "riots" as emotional outlets, and Black people as basically incapable of solving their own problems. And the results of these "intellectual investigations" were to be presented to a "limited, invited audience" and then published--and put into practice!
We wish to voice our solidarity with the Black students who stopped "An End to Urban Violence" and maintain that neither the Corporation, the Faculty, nor even a committee of students should have the "academic freedom" to give a racist course. Becky Kaplan, SDS Carl Pomerance, SDS Art Small, SDS