More than 1,000 demonstrators gathered today to oppose the University of Chicago's decision to grant an award for international understanding to former secretary of defense Robert S. McNamara.
About 25 were arrested.
Wearing black armbands to protest the World Bank president's connection with the Vietnam War, demonstrators picnicked on the main quadrangle of the Gothic Hyde Park campus, attented teach-ins moderated by faculty members and antiwar activists, staged an impromptu sitdown strike, and jeered as guests arrived for the presentation by university president Hanna Holborn Gray.
David dellinger, a Chicago Seven defendant and publisher of Seven Days monthly magazine, told the protestors that the choice of McNamara for the award was "bad history."
Ron Kovic, a paralyzed Vietnam veteran, received a standing ovation when he said the opposition to McNamara represents the first protest in a new movement against militarism and reinstatement of the draft. "They are not going to kill American boys and put some in wheelchairs," said Kovic. "We're not going to stand for it this time."
Kovic was among those arrested.
In a speech for a black-tie, invitation-only dinner for 250 faculty members and trustees, McNamara spoke of international security and the obligation of the United States to help Third World nations develop their resources.
"No nations, said McNamara, "can avoid responsibility of providing an appropriate and reasonable level of defense for its society. But what is just as necessary is to understand that the concept of security encompasses far more than merely military force."
Arguing that excessive military spending by both industrial and less-developed countries reduces rather than strengthens security, McNamara called for a partnership with increased spending toward alleviating world poverty.