The McNamara Incident at Harvard

The McNamara Incident at Harvard

Last November, 800 Harvard students blocked the path of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, demanding that he consent to a public debate on Vietnam. The demonstrators thereby touched off a controversy on the tactics of confrontation, a controversy which continues to plague the student anti-war movement. The issue has assumed particularly serious proportions at Harvard, as a result of the strong reaction of both the traditionally lenient university administration and a large section of the student body. While taking no action against any of the students involved, the Administrative Board has declared that such an incident must never be repeated. The hint has been dropped that in case of a recurrence, the organizers might be expelled. Immediately following the incident, Dean John Monro dispatched an apology to McNamara for “the discourteous and unruly confrontation forced upon you.” And 2700 Harvard students disassociated themselves from the demonstrators by apologizing for “the unruly behavior of a small group.”

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