Senator George McGovern has expressed the fear that the might of American institutions will be rallied in “a war against the young.” Irritated with campus dissent, itching for a chance to crack down on radicals, handed convenient pretexts by the irresponsible tactics of certain sections of the New Left, the powers-that-be in Washington, as well as in many state legislatures and local governments, are preparing, says Senator McGovern, a counteroffensive of repression.
Subpoenas have gone out to several Ivy League colleges from the McClellan Committee demanding that records of dissident and disruptive students be turned over for inspection. The number of bills presented before state legislatures aimed at students is enormous; some have passed. And in certain localities unwarranted penalties and excessive force have been used against student demonstrators—e.g., at Dartmouth where students who had engaged in a campus sit-in were sentenced to 30 days in jail and at Berkeley, where a conflict over a park resulted in large-scale official violence by the National Guard.
That there is a problem of disruption on the campus, that segments of SDS have become infatuated with violence, that such tactics play into the hands of the Reagans and McClellans, that the backlash against which we have been warning seems now to be gathering force—all this is true. But there is no comfort in having been “right” on this matter. Once begun, repression becom...
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