Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories–Into Columbia SDS, 1967

Chapter 7: Into Columbia SDS, 1967 (xii)
February 1967 remained hectic, with SDS activity on two fronts at Columbia. The Columbia Administration went ahead with its disciplinary action against the PL-led students who had sat-in against the CIA’s campus recruitment. A hearing was held around the time that Ramparts Magazine was disclosing how the CIA had secretly used many “non-profit” U.S. educational foundations as conduits to finance non-leftist political organizations like the National Student Association [NSA], and activities in which people like Gloria Steinem, Allard Lowenstein and Barney Frank participated in during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The anti-class-ranking campaign was also beginning to reach out to both liberal student leaders of the Columbia Citizenship Council and the Undergraduate Dormitory Council [UDC] and to the broad mass of liberal Columbia College students. A characteristic tendency of Columbia SDS in 1967 was to ignore mass organizing at Barnard and neglect to make any real attempt to mobilize Barnard women against the institutionalized male-supremacist nature of Columbia. I did set up a Brooks Hall lounge dormitory meeting at Barnard in which Gadfly’s editor, Paul, and Professor Stade spoke out against the U.S. war machine before a small group of Barnard students, who floated in and out. But we all generally assumed that only anti-war men at Columbia were qualified to be featured at SDS public meetings. Only on rare occasions was the “exceptional” leftist woman allowed to speak at SDS-sponsored educational events. Yet New Left women at Barnard and Columbia did not vocally protest against SDS’ male chauvinist political practice in 1967.

I didn’t relate much to the disciplinary hearing of the anti-CIA students, because the hearing was initially closed to most leftist students. According to de-classified NYPD “Red Squad” documents, however, a New York City undercover cop attended these hearing sessions and made notes that listed the names of those students and professors who also attended the hearing sessions, for “Red Squad” files.

I did spend time listening to the rapidly improving campus sundial oratory of Paul:

“The CIA is a criminal organization. It respects no rules of international law. It abides by no morality—except for the morality of Goring, Goebbels and Hitler. Columbia University President Kirk directs the Asia Foundation. The Asia Foundation acted as a conduit for CIA funds. Columbia University awarded an honorary degree to Allen Dulles in the 1950s in order to legitimize CIA Director Dulles’ role in ordering CIA coups in Iran and Guatemala.”

Paul spoke in a fiery way. His face reddened with outrage when he described from the sundial how current U.S. foreign policies violated Jeffersonian principles of democracy.

Ted also felt Paul had become an increasingly effective orator. But in his dorm room one night, Ted cited one reservation he had about Paul’s 1967 politics:

“He doesn’t argue against the war from either a New Leftist or a Marxist ideological perspective. But just from a militant liberal democratic, constitutionalist perspective. He ends up perpetuating illusions that the U.S. Constitution and Jefferson’s political thought genuinely reflect a commitment to a truly democratic society. We want to rid people of these illusions.”

In February 1967, Ted was the Columbia SDS agitator who initiated the anti-class-ranking campaign by standing up on a wall in front of Hamilton Hall, between the 9 o’clock and 10 o’clock classes, and addressing three other Columbia SDS guys. While he attempted to harangue them, large numbers of students apathetically walked by him. Many of these Columbia students glanced at Ted with a condescending smirk as they passed by him.

Ted’s oratorical style was more verbose and pedantic, as well as less emotional and concise, than Paul’s style. But his political summations were more traditionally Marxist. Paul was much better at using hecklers to stir up leftist mass moral passion, because he could quickly think up an emotionally and verbally good response to a right-wing heckler. Ted was less quick and witty than Paul at retorting to hecklers. Although Ted explained SDS positions very logically, he was sometimes too long-winded and not verbally flashy enough to stir up student mass emotions. He usually sounded more like a super-logical leftist intellectual than a charismatic orator.

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