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No. 20, March 1, 1968, p. 3

Reaction to the Anti-Dow Demonstration

There are many different ways of protesting the war, and all of them should be used. A food strike appeals to some, while draft resistance appeals to others. If we have learned anything from the civil rights demonstrations it is that one form of protest, although it may appear to be working at cross-purposes with another tactic, in the end only reinforces it. The best example of this phenomenon is the militant activities of SNCC and the Black Power advocates who have forced politicians into negotiating with the more moderate groups (such as NAACP and CORE) which used to be considered radical.

The same strategy should apply to the anti-war movement. Instead of insisting that the only valid, tactic (to discourage University complicity in the war) is obstructive sit-ins and physical confrontations, it should be remembered that peaceful, non-obstructive, even symbolic demonstrations have a place in the wide scope of anti-war activities which can prove effective.

It is apparent that some students are willing to join a symbolic demonstration while they are unwilling to participate in an obstructive demonstration which they feel is compromising the ideals for which they are fighting. It is important that the anti-war movement make a place for these students by scheduling events, such as the non-obstructive demonstration which took place at Harvard last Friday, so that moderate students can participate in good conscience. Many, of course, will argue that last Friday's sit-in was a waste of energy — "the closing of a chapter."

The sit-in at University Hall was neither a waste of energy nor the last time a similar show of strength should take place. For "show of strength," the tough-minded anti-war veteran snickers, "that was pretty piddling." In one sense, of course, he's right. The war is still going on, University policies haven't changed, and Dow was able to recruit on campus unmolested. So what have we achieved, you ask? To begin with, we proved to ourselves, to the Deans, to the community, and to the press that even in the face of enormous frustration and a feeling of impotence, we are still capable of acting with restraint. Now restraint is not always a virtue — there is a time to be passionate and violent-but restraint can impress the more moderate elements of society who need to be converted into affiliates of the anti-war movement. There were students in the crowd last Friday who have learned that not every demonstration turns into a bloodbath or an arraignment. But more importantly, they learned that they must do more if they are to play an effective role in stopping the war. Last Friday's peaceful demonstration allowed an important number of students who have been on the fringe of the anti-war movement to take the first step toward refusing induction or other forms of participation in the anti-war effort. We must continue to allow these moderate students the opportunity to take the first step, because only a few become militant over night. To insist on obstructive demonstrations at all times is not a strategy . which will allow others to join .us, it's more like masturbation. The people who will join obstructive demonstrations are usually already convinced that the war is a bad thing, and most of them have no plans of joining the military. For these reasons, militant demonstrations do not tend to convert people to the anti-war movement.

On the other hand, I am not making the classic argument against militant demonstrations. They too have their place. On the same day we were making a non-obstructive demonstration here at Harvard, students at Columbia were engaged in an obstructive demonstration which prevented Dow recruiters from carrying out business as usual. Which was more effective? It's impossible to say; but it is clear that college administrators now realize that they can negotiate with us — that a dialogue is possible. We had the power to obstruct, but restrained ourselves in order to prove that we had the disciple, the control which is necessary in every political situation which has two opposing points of view. Now it is up to the University — to its president and administrators — to reciprocate by showing that they are willing to face our demands that the University cut itself off from the war effort. If they don't respond, we can show them once again that we have not forgotten how to be militant.

The same strategy must be followed in creating a powerful anti-draft movement. The Resistance is one part of the answer, but not the whole — Why haven't students flocked to the Resistance? Because it is the most militant step that one can ask a student to take — it requires self-sacrifice tinged with masochism. Many students have already decided to refuse induction, when all other dodges have failed, but they refuse to bring the wrath of the Selective Service on their heads by openly defying them. Should we say that those students who refuse to burn their draft cards aren't worth organizing? In my mind this would be throwing away a valuable piece of ammunition which could be used to sabotage the war effort. Already an anti-draft union is beginning at Harvard which might possibly be able to make a political force out of students who have decided they will never go into the Army (but who will try every available alternative to keep them out of jail) and those students who have decided to join the military but who support people who resist induction. This group is potentially much larger and politically more powerful than the Resistance, because: more students will be involved. Militant resistance, as in the previous cases, will make the anti-draft union relatively legitimate; the anti-draft union will support the Resistance.

Steve Lerner

Mel Lyman