Everyone is on a communal high. We of the action faction have spent all night in Hamilton Hall, the classroom building. The blacks are with us. Very good feeling.
Why are we here? To show solidarity with Mark Rudd, who with five others has been put on pro for demonstrating inside a university building. And why was he demonstrating? Because Columbia is playing footsie with the Institute of Defense Analyses, and is splurging on a gym-villa for Ivy League jocks on the very hip of Harlem. But like they say, The issue is not the issue. It's hard to express it all - not hard for Rudd, the Mouth (to be honest, he's not too well liked; he's just always there, nagging); but hard for some of us. We're here, let's say, because there is so much wrong . . .
This morning's New York Times, April 24, comes out: We're on the front page! We are big news. We have shocked the Establishment. But now it's embarrassing - the blacks want us out. They say we're here to wreck the university and they're here to get power in the university. We pack up our guilt and leave.
Then someone has a better idea - Low Library, where the administration offices are. Real bureaucratic turf. We smash a glass door and head straight for President Grayson Kirk's office. Wall-to-wall Alumni Fund on the floor. I sit at the desk. There's half-million-dollar Rembrandt across from me. I have my dark glasses on. I sip some of Grayson's sherry. I smoke one of Grayson's Havanas. Do not think I am not serious, just because I am President- for- a- Minute. Think of all the Honorary Degrees I could have.
We're here to stay. We find some fascinating, because highly compromising, documents in Grayson's files. But now they say police are coming in. A lot of students jump out the window - a ten-foot drop - and join the crowd outside in the rain. There are only a proud 27 of us left. The police poke their heads in - nothing to it; they jaw and leave. Wet people start climbing back in. We dries are the elite.
But late at night Low feels too crowded, and a bunch of us - mostly dries - hop out and take over Mathematics Hall. This is soon where all the real people are, including some older non-students. Tom Hayden is here, a much more awesome figure to us who are serious than Rudd is. Hayden helped write the Port Huron Statement six years ago, back at the beginning of SDS: the rallying cry for all of us - the old order is inhospitable to human life. . . .
Now we truly are here to stay.We barricade doors with furniture. We discuss and vote. We have our strike coordinating committee, our food committee, our bedding committee. We have walkie-talkies and runners. People hand in stuff from outside. After a few days we're weary. Ego-trippers get their kicks. Someone does his doodoo in Grayson's waste basket. Revolution! I lose my temper more than once. . . .
It all ended, on April 30, with the famous bust by 1,000 police. Under the eyes of all the world's reporters, the cops, who hadn't attended the Ivy League, thought it was now their turn to bestow some higher education - cracked the heads of bystanding curious kids, arrested 700, injured 148. When it was over, liberals didn't know whether to be more shocked by Mark Rudd or New York's Finest.
The ten days of Columbia sounded new notes in the youth movement - and in society's reaction to it. The youth movement, like so much else in 1968, was divided many ways; the most obvious gap was between the activists and the quietists, the politicals and the hippies. Their two galaxies were to come together with a bang later in the year, but Columbia's hubbub involved only the activists.
For them, the experience was a watershed which helped make 1968 a decisive turning point in the Movement. These were middle-class young people, brought up, mostly, by loving and decent parents, perhaps a bit spoiled by them, habituated to instant material gratification, given to tantrums when denied it - all symbolic products, it was said, of demand feeding at breast or bottle, a method which had broken with the rigidly timed regime that had preceded it, and which had been advocated in a book that had sold more copies than any other, save the Bible, in the history of publishing: Baby and Child Care, by Dr. Benjamin Spock - Dr. Permissive. Made aware, by their progressive education (Dewey: "learn by doing"), of the need to do something about the wide-spread suffering in the world, these children were haunted by the converse of Scott Fitzgerald's complaint. The very poor, they had to observe, are different from you and me. The Port Huron Statement was idealistic, melioristic. Young people could help make a better world. All those under 30 were drawn together by pervasive, inchoate yearning. They felt their lives to be crowded, and dominated by technology, so they hankered after naturalness, open communication, spontaneity, "freedom." They loathed, more than all else, hypocrisy - the abyss between the pretensions and performance of the older generation.
Most of the good in what the activists wanted both responded to, and refreshed, aspects of the Old Dream our people had long had. But by the time of the Columbia take-over, darker feelings, perfectly expressed in the rape of Grayson Kirk's files, and sealed by the futile bust, were beginning to predominate: helplessness, frustration, rage. Vietnam was the poisoned spring from which these flowed: all wars are fought against youth because only it can fight them, and our nation, in this one, destroying in order to save, was in a high fever of hypocrisy.
Columbia, with its barricaded library doors, marked the turn. Port Huron's hopes were doomed. The Haydens would lose out, the Rudds would inherit. The surge of the Movement in 1968 was toward violence, bombs, Weatherman.
The nuclear non-proliferation treaty is presented to the UN General Assembly . . . Two days later - what is the message? - the U.S. explodes a hydrogen bomb underground in Nevada . . . Responding ambiguously to the King riots in inner cities, the Administration sets up, in one day: 1) an Urban Institute, 2) a Riot Control Center in the Pentagon . . . The National Mobilization - "the Mobe," a united front of peaceniks - demonstrates in 17 cities. . . . Traffic's Mr. Fantasy hits the LP charts. . . . Humphrey announces. . . . Back to the Middle Ages: Armor-clad students from two factions at Peking University, accusing each other of treason against Mao, fight with rocks and catapults - the Cultural Revolution is out of hand. . . . Airport bumps Myra Breckenridge as the best-selling novel. . . .