To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
As a former assistant dean of Harvard College (1930-39), I am interested to learn that some 300 students ejected 8 deans from University Hall yesterday, in protest against the University's efforts to keep the ROTC. This doesn't take me aback--but it does take me back, half a century back.
Fifty-two years ago this month, in my freshman year at Harvard, I was drilling with an ROTC unit; and a year later was shipped to France in the Signal Corps. On Nov, 10, 1918, in a concrete bunker near near the front, we received a radio message that a ceasefire would begin on the following morning at 11 o'clock. On that morning, two others in our outfit and I walked east along the road toward Metz--and suddenly we say a group of German soldiers.
What to do? We didn't know. So we just kept walking toward those Germans and soon found ourselves "fraternizing with the enemy." They appeared to be ordinary guys like us. We reached across the barbed-wire roadblock and shook hands with them. That was bout the only sensible thing I did during World War I.
For they weren't the real enemy. And the students who invaded University Hall yesterday know a lot better than I knew then, who the real enemy was and is.
World War II came, and at the end of it I worked in a relief organization in France helping to patch up war-damaged refugees.
Today, in Vietnam, we are already in World War III. Why all these wars, all this killing and being killed, and the indescribable suffering brought to millions of human beings? And is not the role of the ROTC "to keep the past upon its throne"?
I think we should try to understand those students at Harvard, and others making similar protests against the military elsewhere, not self-righteously condemn them.
Dr. Herbert Marcuse, in his new book, An Essay on Liberation, asks;
"Can there be any meaningful comparison, in magnitude and criminality, between the unlawful acts committed by the rebels in the ghettoes, on the campuses, on the city streets on the one side, and the deeds perpetrated by the forces of order in Vietnam, in Bolivia, in Indonesia, in Guatemala, on the other? Can one meaningfully call it an offense when demonstrators disrupt the business of the university, the draft board, the supermarket, the flow of traffic, to protest against the far more efficient disruption of the business of life of untold numbers of human beings by the armed forces of law and order?"
The young people today know that new attitudes and new values are urgently needed for man's survival. And they know that time is running out. It is new man or no man. Can we of the older generation learn this, before it is too late? William H. Cary Jr. '21