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To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
Having learned from observing the Chicago debacle that cracks who enjoy brutality write most of those letters applauding police force while civilized men go on being civilized, I feel I must this time forward a crack letter from the side of civilization.
Like most Harvard alumni and undoubtedly the vast majority of people I was disturbed and annoyed by the SDS's takeover of University Hall rather as one is annoyed by an incessant insect. Again, like most people I have since sampled, I was disgusted, angered and saddened by the decision to use the police.
Twice as many police as demonstrators must indeed be a record. Was University Hall or the aplomb of the deans so precious? Was Harvard in fact so foolish as to play not just into the hands of the tiny radical student left but those as well of the Cambridge and other police who, as you know, relish an opportunity to crack Harvard heads.
Though I find the words "imperialist" and "revolutionary" rather droll in American usage, now I wonder if the generation gap is not something more than that--a distinction between a search for truth and a belief in forms. When the non-violent and stupid excesses of those without authority are met by the grisly, sadistic, and inordinate excesses of authority, where is "academic freedom" or "democratic process"? And where are they when the authorities excuse their own excesses as "only human, after all." I know of no such humanity.
Why would an administration so quickly destroy a fabric of free comment by responding so foolishly and, apparently, since it must have anticipated and approved the consequences, so brutally to an outbreak which was regarded largely with amusement and certainly not taken seriously by any group large enough to do much more than squat in University Hall.
The administration has not preserved "academic freedom." All but 200 (plus University Hall staff) were free before the police.
It preserved its power. It chose its power over good sense as well as "academic freedom." What can we men in the middle conclude but that there is substance to the argument of the left that the ultimate question is not one of response of existing institutions to the needs of changed conditions, but is instead one of power, struggle, from which new institutions emerge? Thomas R.B. Wardell '62
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