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To the Editors of the Crimson:
We are writing in response to a recent series of Crimson editorials (on April 22; April 27; April 28--modestly entitled "What is to be Done?"; and May 2) While we share their support of PALC and of anti-war actions, we feel, nevertheless, that the strategy proposed in them has done serious damage to the antiwar movement at Harvard.
Their strategy endorses purely off-campus anti-war actions with the exception of support for the PALC demand that Harvard divest itself of stock in Gulf Oil: "A series of escalatory acts of protest and civil disobedience against the Federal government, and the support of anti-war candidates, are the only valid actions against the war" (April 22). Such an analysis suggests that Harvard's ownership of Gulf stock is the sole blemish on a pure university.
But the $21 million of Gulf stock is part of a portfolio that includes over $10 million each of stock in Polaroid (the company that brought you colonialism in South Africa and identity cards in the United States). Middle South Utilities (a leading practitioner of racism in Mississippi). International Telephone and Telegraph, and American Telephone and Telegraph (one of the top defense contractors in the nation, and the country's best example of sexism in employment according to a recent report of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission).
And lest we forget: Harvard is the school that gave the United States Henry Kissinger, war criminal summon cum laude, and Samuel Huntington, a leading ideologue of counter-insurgency: Kissinger may yet be welcomed back to sherry and scholarship at Harvard. Kissinger and Huntington are not alone: Harvard professors Roger Fisher (Law), George Kistiakowsky (Chemistry, Emeritus). Tom Cheatham (Engineering and Applied Physics) and Edward Purcell (Physics) have served on committees advising the government on military strategy and technology. Fisher and Kistiakowsky are among the originators of the "automated battlefield" program which now blankers Indochina with blind, mechanized destruction. Harvey Brooks Dean of the Division of Engineering and Applied Physics, is on the board of Raytheon, the largest military contractor in Massachusetts--and this is only the most glaring of numerous interlocks between the Harvard faculty and local warmakers.
Clearly Harvard's complicity in American imperialism extends far beyond the ownership of Gulf stock. With such obvious ties to the war machine at home, we must challenge the elitist Harvard assumption that the problem is only "out there."
The Crimson editorials are partly a reaction to events in the spring of 1970 that are not relevant to our present situation. At that time radicals isolated themselves from liberal anti-war students by focusing on the grievances of a handful of campus workers and by shutting down dorms. However, a campaign against Harvard's investment policy or counterinsurgency research could have been more organically related to the prevalent anti-war sentiment while broadening the understanding of the university's complcity in the war. The Crimson's reaction to the events of 1970 has been to translate the narrowly anti-war sentiment that was of value then to a period in which radicals should be educating people about the role which universities and other giant corporations have played in the war.
The actions advocated and given most enthusiastic and prominent coverage in the Crimson have been "confrontations" with the atmosphere of a class picnic. Local radicals have choreographed a series of civil disobedience actions which pose only a trivial threat to illegitimate authority. Traffic was rerouted briefly for the sit-down in Post Office Square; the Cambridge Draft Board and the Gulf offices were open for busienss as usual shortly after the demonntrators left. Surely by no stretch of the imagination could such actions be considered "massive public disorder" which threatens the ability of Nixon, Kissinger and the President of Gulf Oil to rule.
In contrast to the Crimson strategy of endless and ineffectual off-campus demonstrations, we advocate active support of PALC actions against Harvard ownership of Gulf stock. We support truly massive and disruptive civil disobedience along the lines of Mayday 1971, actions which can raise the domestic costs of the war yet which are more organized and disciplined than trashing.
But we hold that it also is important to broaden the issues raised by the anti-war movement to include attacks on corporate involvement, colonialism in South Africa, and Harvard complicity. Anti-war activity at Harvard must include visible informational picketing in the Yard and at all Harvard functions. The time has come to build a sustained movement against imperialism where we can be most effective: at Harvard, because that is where we work and study, where we really have the power to effect social change. Frank Ackerman Leslie Flahbein
(Two of the "editorials" referred to--appearing April 28 and May 2--were actually signed political pieces. They reflect, as do all such pieces, the views of their authors, and not the editorial policy of the Crimson.--Ed.)
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