April 23-24, 1995
Aftermath of May, 1970: Strikes, Legal Struggles, Commemorations
J. Gregory Payne
We're attempting to do this very quickly, because some of you are on a very tight schedule. You can see we're going to be looking at the aftermath of the May 1970 strikes, legal struggles and commemorations. I would encourage those people who are in the back to come in because we're going to get rather noisy, from the classes.
Professor Brigham I think is one of our speakers; Joan if you could come in? Thank you. Grant and Stephanie and we are hoping to have our procedings published here so [...] And as we look at this panel, we have Mary Joyce, Dean Kahler, Phyllis Haynes, Joan Brigham. Also I think we're also going to be hearing from Carolyn. You're going to be giving some commentary on this particular piece. Paul Keane, Bill Elwood who is from the University of Wisconsin and also I think Jeff Goldstein. [...] very controversial, she's a professor here at Emerson. She's gonna be talking about the some of her ideas on that. So Joan why don't I just turn it over to you?
Thank you for inviting me and [...] because oftentimes they get overlooked. The year following the Kent State incident, Kent State itself -- the university -- sponsored a national competition for the memorial and it was to be a permanent memorial to the students [...] and over 300 other people that I put in [...] they asked for boards, 20 x 30 boards. And I worked with a very good friend, Albert Ward who is with Parker Associates, who are landscape architects. Their main office was in Morrison.
So [...] which actually would be much much better, I just made some laser prints -- slides -- and I'm going to leave them here so that you can see them. Basically, this is what they look like. There were three boards and they were all hooked together. Here, this is Tex, which of course you can't read because [...] aren't clean enough. But our idea was, "Let's see, I'll situate you." Where the shootings took place would be off here and to the right. In other words if you follow this path right here, it leads down to the parking lot. That's where it was and then between there and the field, this is the field where they were gunned down, where [...]. So it was between the parking lot and the field where the killings took place. But this was a heavily wooded hill, right here, and this is a pre-existing path within [...] and so you know after so much talk, we decided that we thought it would be very beautiful to do two things.
First of all, [...] all the other awards we could think of that you have in your mind about you know, remembering events or wars or deaths don't work. We realized right away that this was going to break all the taboos about memorials. It had to really -- in my mind, I think, it had to be very tender. That was the word I used because it was so painful and that it had to be beautiful. It didn't have to be dramatic, especially -- at least in our minds.
So what we designd was called a runnel. It's an English landscape stream. It's a manmade stream and it's white. It's about the size of this table and it would stair step down this hill in little steps and they're basically pieces of granite that are gouged out so that a little stream of water can go right down the middle of the granite, and then drop and then go down to the next one and drop and and then go down the next one. So that in this densely wooded area you wouldn't see it. The idea of it was you hear it and then you kind of come upon it in the woods but that it does not announce itself [...]. So the runnels look like this, and it's water that ends up in little tiny, tiny breath of steam in the winter coming right out, and the names of all who were killed and wounded are on the steps, so there's fourteen. Thirteen? Thirteen. Anyway, so that [...] which was in the woods and then off this path.
Then at the bottom of the hill, in the flat area, was a kind of round area that would be flat grass, just [...] in which would be trees -- they're flowering cherry that would flower at or about May 4. They would just come into bloom on May 4th. And they go around this and then they thread their way up and toward the path that's right within the campus. So that was our scheme which I still have to say I kind of like it but we didn't use it.
Q Is this a place they marked out for you? Or were you allowed to select any place?
No, basically they weren't [...]. They wanted a hill and a certain part of the lawn close to the hill. So we weren't allowed to put it just anywhere. They really -- that was part of the commission. Does anybody have any questions? Another work that stayed on the brow of the hill up here -- it was a series of meditation [...]. They were open, they were made out ofİİthey were round and they were made out of granite and they were taller than the person there standing and they were a thin bench and they were very, very pleasant [...].
Q But it's never been built?
I don't think it's ever been built. Well what they did was, they had you and everybody else put this thing where it happened. This is where it started. I mean, they were still trying to remove everything from where it actually happened.
Gee, I feel like that's like taking down all the [...]. You know, if you don't remember, you can just visualize it. But thanks very much and I'd love to be able to stay, and I just feel terrible about leaving, but I just have to go. [applause]
I have some reservations about being here today, because I'm taking a bit of a long view, I guess, if you will, of Kent State and Jackson State, in this retrospective that we have here at Emerson College. Certainly retrospectives like these are usually embraced by those most [directly] affected by the experience. But such retrospectives can also lend an understanding to others of us who may not have been affected by the experience.
So what I wanted to do today was look a little bit at age cohort effects, and how the age cohort to which we belong might keep us from having as much of an appreciation for the event that they have heard. And consequently, how being a member of an age cohort might keep us from understanding people from that cohort. Being in marketing, of course, is what this all relates to -- in demographics and demographic trends -- and I would like to start off first with a definition of age cohorts, so we can move forward from there.
Certainly an age cohort is any group of similar age who have undergone similar experiences, much like the individuals you've heard from the past two days. They share, of course, common memories about cultural heroes -- and "sheroes," as Marian [...] refers to women in that category. [This includes] important historical events, economic conditions and deprivations that are experienced by age groups during socialization and values programing.
I, as many people here today, am a member of a group known as the baby boomers, which I know a lot of my students are tired of hearing about because they feel they live in the shadow of the baby boomers, because we are the largest age cohort in America. Those of us who are baby boomers were born between '46 and '64, and in our early years we were affected by numerous things, some positive, some negative. Economic prosperity was are start. Fallout shelters, duck and cover routines, the advent of television, rock and roll for some, rhythm and blues for others of us, Viet Nam, assassinations, drugs, protests, civil rights, and space flights -- all of those were part of our upbringing.
Because of those events, we were shaped. We were shaped in such a way that our behaviors today still hark to some of those events. I was more influenced by the race riots, not by Kent State. My English teacher was killed in front of my eyes in high school. My friends were [crying] were stuffed in hall lockers after having their legs broken and arms broken and faces cut by razor blades. Those are the events that shaped me, like so many events that shaped you. I swore to myself that I was never, ever going to let somebody treat somebody unequally, and yet my biggest fear and what I've become afraid of, is a lack of equity in our society and the lack of justice.
Baby boomers like me were all captivated by many people, and I include President Kennedy, who said to us "We have the power to make this the best generation in the history of mankind or to make it the last." And those words shaped us so profoundly that it's hard, I think, unless you were a member of that age cohort to really appreciate the cumulative effect of all of these factors. I would like to, however, put such events like Kent State and Jackson State and race riots and women's rights and all those things that were all amalgamated together into some kind of perspective.
I do understand when my students say to me "Mary, women don't burn their bras any more" and "Mary, we don't want to understand you through your '60's music," and that I am not the only age cohort that exists. And I think we do have to look at how other age cohorts relate to these events, because their cohort influences are different and because they're different, then the self definitions are different, and the way they relate to us is different, and the way they relate to these stories is different.
The G.I. generation, in which my parents were both members of, were born before 1930, and they fought World War II and they came of age during the Great Depression. They were, and are, patriotic, and those still living generally fear a loss of autonomy. Because of this and because of their losses in the Great Depression, they see the world differently than those of us who were members of the baby boom generation.
The Depression generation came next, 1930 to 1939, and they suffered through hard times as children, as you can imagine, but most of them prospered as young adults. They still believed that anyone can make it in the United States if they worked hard enough. I hear this all the time from people that came through the depression generation. They don't understand what we're griping about. They really don't understand what our problem is because they see the world very optimistically, because they, after all, survived the Great Depression. They wanted better for their children and they pursued it, and they influenced many of us with that pursuit. As a matter of fact, I have to say the Depression generation, if anything, was responsible for the birth of materialism which you may or may not have good opinions about. This group will, of course, fare better than any other age cohort in the country with their pension plans and social security, and that sort of raises a lot of fear in other age cohorts and resentment. I think it's fair to say that they see the world differently than baby boomers.
War babies, of which my husband is a group, a very small group comprising a very small portion of the population, about 6%, were born between 1940 and '45 and he spent his formative years not with his father but with his mother, because his father was away at war; and he aligns himself with baby boomers predominantly but also has some of the trappings of the Depression generation. So you can imagine some of the debates that we have over events like Kent State and Jackson State. He chooses to avoid and ignore them, and the reason for it is it makes him too sad. He doesn't want to relive it. He just wants to shove it away, whereas I want to keep pounding hard on it because it's who I am and it's how I've lived, and it's where I've been.
Baby busters, the generation next. You know if you are, I see a lot of you here today. Born 1965 to 1976 and I know you're the group that tells me, "Stop burning your bra, we're tired of hearing about it." Half of you came from homes with divorced parents or separated parents. I know you feel alienated from a culture dominated by boomers, boomers who tell you the same thing all the time about what the 60's were like or Viet Nam was like, and all of those memories that are so strong and so powerful for them. You're affected by the threat of nuclear war in your lifetime, AIDS, violence. You are the ones who watched the impeachment of a president instead of the assassination. You also lived through the financial debacles of the 1980's and you're more ethnically diverse than any of us in past years and you seem to have erased and ignored the value of the sexes. Good for you. I can appreciate how it's hard for you to, perhaps, embrace some of the things that we feel, but I'd like you to try and I think the reverse would be helpful as well.
And then finally, the group housed by my niece -- baby boomlet, which we're just beginning to see now in our university, molded by social revolution the past two decades, much more intergenerational in perspective. Three out of four of this group comes from two-income households. One in three belongs to a minority group clearly affected by a global environment or the degredation of it. The fall of communism, fiscal irresponsibility, terrorism and gang violence.
What I'm saying to you is that every age cohort has its moment, has its critical event, and they all raise emotional responses such as the one you got from me, and I apologize. I can't contain it. These critical events define who we are -- and if we share anything as individuals, as human beings, we share these critical events. Albeit, they're not the same, they're equally compelling and I think that's where we draw together as individuals.
People within an age cohort certainly confront crucial life changes at roughly the same time, so their values and the symbolism that's used during that time period evokes very powerful feeling in all of us. I think as you age you'll find that theser feelings beome even more powerful because of the cumulative effect of the things that affected you.
A lot of the research that I've done on epithotic memory, which refers to the events that are personally relevant to any of us, suggest that our motivation to retain these memories is very strong. As we age and we lose our ability to process information, and our short term memories go, all we have left is our long term memories, the things that are very visual and are quite profound. And I can tell you everyone here has a memory or two that will never go away and it will continue to lead all of us to define who we are, where we've been, where we want to go, and where we want to avoid going by definition.
Values and symbolism allow us to define ourselves, and our self concepts affect the way we behave and how we see the world. And that's what every speaker here the past two days has been telling you. Events that tell you who they are, where they've been, where they want to go and where they're afraid of going. Retrospectives like these allow for spontaneous recovery. For many of us, we'd rather avoid them because they're too sad, they're too emotionally disturbing and a lot of people avoid retrospectives because they haven't been personally affected by these things. Again, I'm so pleased to see many of you who are of younger age cohorts because it says to me that you want to learn about, why do people do what they do? You want to understand who they are because maybe you'll find some similar threads. All of us have to validate who we are through where we've been, I think, at some level -- and that's what's happening here.
For many of us, we've relived these experiences because we don't want you to forget, that this was [not] for nothing, that many of us fought, we sued, we battled to try to get equity, to try to get fairness in the world -- and we don't want you to forget that because it's who we are. And if you forget that, you forget us, and that's the worst thing that can happen to any of us. Grief and unhappiness and sadness, like the personal moments that people share, even during war and civil rights and political assassinations and terrorism and violence and disease do not have to be about age.
I'm afraid however, that despite the compelling experiences that some of us share that these experiences are not the experiences that other age cohort use to define themselves. We're doomed to repeat past mistakes if we don't find some common ground or some common frame of reference. We need to try and transcend age cohort effects if we are to relate to one another as human beings. John Pope Franklin, the G.I. generation cohort member, historian, African-American who wrote From Slavery to Freedom, A History of African-Americans, recently commented in the New York Times magazine this last weekend on the great tide of white anger that swept over the country last November 1994 and here's his quote and I'll leave you on this note: "It's just something for the superior race to have temper tantrums and act like that. There's no magnamimity, no concession, no sense of compassion or understanding of the plight of some others, just for me." Thanks a lot. [applause]
My name is Paul Keane, and I was a counselor in the dormitories at Kent State in 1969 [...]. I had been in New York as a student at Ithaca College. In fact, I was accepted at Emerson College, and chose Ithaca College over Emerson because I was frightened with a law suit and when I was in Ithaca
[...] something that you probably never heard of called the Cornell Crisis happened, where armed students took over -- well, students took over as an active protest in Willards Street Hall, and then armed themselves when some jocks said they were going to come and oust them, and purposely to not say that the students who took over Willards Street Hall were black. But that's what made it so frightening to America and there was a famous picture on the front page of the New York Times of students with arms being... exiting Willards Street Hall, which was the Student Union's big, gothic, cathedral kind of building, and it was the first time that students had armed themselves in public.
And I remember being in Ithaca and the sheriffs took over the college town and the Cornell campus, and it was very frightening. I had come from a small town in Connecticut and I was a Republican... and I liked Richard Nixon, and I said "I'm getting out of this town." But when it came time to go to graduate school, I went to a little known school. I had never heard of it but it sounded British and they offered me money to come there -- it was called Kent State University. Kent sounded British to me and that's the absolute reason I chose it. It's an idiotic reason, so after the Cornell crisis to a little known university that eight months later became the most famous university in the world for student protest because of this event.
This piece of scholarship -- and it was scholarship -- it was presented to us, and I appreciate it -- helped me enormously because I've been sitting here for the last two days, not only looking at what antiques we have become... I was 25 when Kent State happened, now I'm 50. I looked in the mirror today, crepe paper skin you know and I don't use whatever that stuff it is that dyes your hair, so what you see is what you get here. And they say after 50 you get the face you deserve, so I'm waiting to find out [...].
But as I've been watching us talk -- it's like dinosaurs talking to dinosaurs about dinosaur bones, and that, it seems to me, is one of the points you're making about the cohort thing. Nobody who wasn't around -- and I voted for Richard Nixon -- but I became incensed a year after the shootings when his administration refused to convene a federal grand jury. To me that was betrayal. I wanted all the powers of government to tell me why these kids had been killed. I didn't care what color they were. They were dead, they were on my campus, I wanted to know why, and I couldn't believe the president I had voted for didn't do it.
You cannot believe -- you can't even imagine, you can't know the pleasure and satisfaction people of my generation have taken in the ten years, fifteen years after Kent State of hating Richard Nixon. He was fun to hate. He was delicious to hate. He was eminently hatable. And he symbolized all that the older generation seemed to do to oppress us. He lied. He smiled and lied. He was inept in lying but he got away with it. And he retained power. And he lied for 15 months in public and got away with it with the Watergate thing. Watching him fall was like watching Oedipus fall. It was horrifying and it was fascinating. It was an American tragedy, except that unlike Oedipus he wasn't a noble man. He never tried [...] yes, and he fell from a great height, the presidency, but his character was never at a great height.
I'm a high school teacher now, and I tell my kids in the class "No street language. I don't want to hear it." Well Nixon's mind was in the street. He was eminently hatable and "ye gads" I said privately to myself, this is the end of the Kent State affair, because there's nobody to hate anymore. He was the symbol of the injustice to me. And when he died, I said "Kent State is over, nobody is ever going to listen to it again."
And in a way, the first people who heard about the memorial is really emblematic of that because -- and the previous speaker talking about denial, the previous panel talking about denial, if I had to sum up what the last 25 years have meant to me, and I worked for ten years on this issue.
I helped mount a petition for a federal grand jury, we went to the White House, we lobbied, we worked with the parents. The May 4th [...] you were talking about that somebody talked about before the Kent State was my idea, I rammed it down the administration's throat. They wanted it up on the 11th story of the library, if they wanted it anywhere, and they didn't want it anywhere and I demanded that it be on the first floor. I mean, I was a radical then, by the time I left that place, and they were glad to see me go. But I was a radical who wore a necktie and was never in a demonstration and what I did was by mounting this petition was give a voice to the middle-of-the-road hanger. Radicals were out there yelling "Sig Heil Judge Jones" and all the yippie zippie stuff that nobody wanted to listen to.
And I got the president of the Kent State [...] to join with me and lobby his petition. We got half the campus to sign it, [...] the president of the campus who knew the campus, knew somebody at the White House, so he took us to the White House to present these 10,000 signatures. It was in a box this big. It's down at Yale now. And I had waited a year because I had... I believed Nixon would convene a federal grand jury. When he didn't I was.. I felt totally betrayed.
In light of what you have just said, I want to boil what the 25 years of this event has been in my consciousness down to one word. And that's "denial." Kent State is, for me now, a symbol of cultures and individuals, or collectively as a culture, and our need as individuals, to deny how evil, how chaotic, how frightening life can be. For one brief moment the curtain was torn back. It had been torn back for hundreds of years for the blacks in our country -- but for one brief moment, the curtain was -- it was like the curtain in the Wizard of Oz -- it was ripped away. And the American dream was exposed as a sham. Yeah, the people who were supposed to be protecting us, people in uniforms killed one kid, not in the ghetto, but on a college campus, the ivory tower where mothers and fathers send their kids to get a foot up in the world.
Whenever they talk about the Depression generation -- my parents lived in the Depression generation -- and their whole need, their whole denial, was to deny that the Depression would ever happen again. They needed to believe that we could create a world in which my generation would have prosperity. And that's what universities represented to them.
And so when Kent State tore that curtain back and they saw for a moment that, even universities aren't safe? Even white children aren't safe? It became so frightening... This is my opinion, I don't doubt it's [...] that the next 25 years was devoted to cultural denial and individual denial.
So, now, Kent State is a metaphor for, oh, protest. And that isn't what happened at all. What happened is what occurred in the middle of a protest. But what happened was really human nature, the raw animal hatred that human beings can vent or fear and fright that human beings can descend to, was staged -- choreographed, for the whole country to look at.
And that fear is in Mary Vecchio's face right there. That's the power of that photograph. And because she looked older than her 14 years, she looked like every mother, every mother of every Vietnamese that was killed, every mother of every American that was killed, every mother of everbody who was killed [...]. That expression was "How could you do this? How will I endure this pain?" Of course, we all know, as William Faulkner said in his Nobel acceptance speech, "The horrible thing about life is that we can endure any pain. We can endure any suffering."
And in my opinion the point you just made in this address about age cohorts makes me believe that the only way Kent State can ever mean anything to anybody outside of my generation, is through art. Can't through politics, can't through rhetoric or oratory, can't through memorials even. But only through art somehow. Through that picture, through perhaps the dramatic presentation I heard here for the 20th anniversary. Only through art can we recapture the feelings we had as age cohorts. Otherwise, it will all be washed out to sea.
I'm in the middle of the tube of toothpaste called life, and 50 years more my generation will be off the planet and this will just be memory. It will have been squeezed out that tube. In a way it's kind of futile of us, but I admire Greg Payne and the people at Kent State for at least providing an opportunity for us to try and restrain this event from being wiped out.
You know the Boston Massacre? It's worse. I walk up to Boston Common, there are statues there. It's all forgotten. They're just words. You can go and read about them but you can't feel the feelings of the age cohorts of the people of Boston.
And so I am a dinosaur, and I'm talking to other dinosaurs about dinosaur bones and I apologize for that. In a way, too, you talked about this cleansing therapy. Yesterday for the first time in 25 years a tear came to my eyes over this event. There's something like, dead, in me. I've never cried at all about it but a tear came into my eyes when I saw Mary Vecchio, because somehow we have provided her, who became a victim really by what the press did to her, we provided her with an opportunity to cleanse herself, to feel that what she has gone through was noble, that she wasn't a piece of garbage because she was there. And that was a very noble thing and I applaud Emerson College and Greg Payne for doing that. Thank you very much. [applause
My remarks center around the time of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement in the University of California, Berkeley. I was not there, but I was at the University of Oregon. However, from 1963 to 1966 I was a doctoral student -- and I was a good doctoral student and therefore I was rather lunkish and stayed in the library. When I finished my Ph.D I had the opportunity to take a Fulbright in Berlin, and was further removed from what was going on in the United States, in spite of the fact that as graduate students, we argued the domino theory -- and we argued all those theories -- and I had a very good friend who's remained a friend all these years, who clearly was far left and perceived of me as far right although I've always perceived of myself as a centrist perhaps.
Everybody does perceive of him or herself as a centrist. But it really didn't occupy my consciousness because I had a degree to obtain and then I had a year in Berlin doing research on German human history and, my God, I was given an assistant professorship at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in the Fall of 1967, and I got off the boat in New York and drove to Madison expecting the kind of educational teaching experience that I had seen my professors have. Tweed jackets, swede arm patches, pipes -- they had all they could do to keep their pipe lit. I expected reflection [...], things of that nature, and I arrived in the Fall of 1967.
Prior to that, in the Spring of 1967, there were about 5000 students who protested the CIA recruiting on the Madison campus. And although I had one Big 10 degree, I had not been aware of how liberal the University of Wisconsin was perceived of being. And the University of Wisconsin in Madison really has a long and distinguished liberal tradition, but it was during this period of time in which I would say the tradition of the University of Wisconsin -- its liberal tradition -- became quite checkered.
So I showed up for class. I taught this Introduction to Theatre class to 350 kids and I had cameras and TVs and multimedia and I had all this sort of thing. These kids were coming in and I had my training and I had a Ph.D and I was ready to impart knowledge. They couldn't have cared less. They said "How is this relevant?" That is the first time I heard that phrase: "How is this relevant?" In fact, I was interviewed by the Chronicle of Higher Education on some anniversary of the Madison tragedy, and I think I said something like "I felt like I was the victin of a Rod Serling Twilight Zone episode."
The students were running up and down the campus calling the faculty cretins. The students were interrupting classes, doing sit-ins, and as a brand new bushy-tailed assistant professor, I had studied restoration theatre. I hadn't studied -- I studied [...] and political theatre, but not like this. And they rushed into my class, and in the Fall of 1967, there was -- Dow Chemical Company was recruiting on campus, and the students really got up in arms over Dow Chemical. And there were probably 10,000 students there -- the best I could do was looking up -- Madison was a big campus -- 40,000 students -- and my office was on the 14th floor of a 25 storey building, and I looked down on them and I saw these students in the building next door swirling in and out and I said "What the hell am I going to tell my class?"
So I talked about rhythms, the rhythms of movement, the rythms of chaos and so on and so forth. And in the fall of 1967, there was a lot of rioting that occurred, and it became -- it took on a very serious aspect. There were comic moments, but what the fall of 1967 and not the ppring of 1967 presaged, was that this is going to be a time in which the university was going to be called upon, and the faculty -- most of us trained very differently, really -- called upon to bring relevance with a capital "R," a significant kind of relevance. We were going to be called upon to justify certain aspects.
The faculty very quickly divided into liberal and conservative, and I will tell you one little thing about Madison, Wisconsin. It's a very interesting town, and the city government is quite liberal. During that whole war protest period, one of the war protestors was elected mayor, but Madison is a kind of a island in a very conservative state. There's a very well known senator in the history of Wisconsin: McCarthy. Most of Wisconsin is conservative people: [...] conservative people, McCarthy, right wing communism, and there were books published with such titles as "Student as Nigger," and when I did leave the town to maybe give a talk at the University of Wisconsin / Green Bay, I had long hair, of course, and side burns and so forth, and I was treated rudely in restaurants and gas stations ouside of Madison.
In the late fall of 1968 and early 1969, there was a protest about the Black Studies Program, and I did a little bit of research in The New York Times this morning, where the white students were protesting that the Black Studies Program be initiated. The Chancellor was saying the students aren't going to run this university. The black students were saying the white students aren't paying any attention to our needs, they're just protesting. And so it continued.
It got so tricky that at one point, it usually happened... Dow Chemical was in 1967 in the fall, but the others tended to be spring, late winter to early spring. And I was, as I said, a brand-new professor, and so I had to accommodate people coming in and disrupting the class and saying, "We want to talk about the latest whatever it was."
So we would sit up and we would talk about it. I would try desperately to relegate it into -- or hold it into some sort of teaching methodology that had to do with theatre. It got so bad that at one of the semesters, about March, late March, the dean said, "Do the best you can with the grades because there was so much disruption." And when I finally came to assigning grades, I didn't have a full list of grades for everybody. You know, as a professor you can't have five assignments and so one person has four and you say this person didn't do his assignment, so I called the student and I said "I have you only down for five papers." She said "Oh no, I wrote six." And she was a good student, and I assumed an honor student, and I just had to say, "Well what should I give you?" She said "You gave me an A over a B." I said OK.
I had to do it that way because there was that much disruption. It spread into the parts of Madison in which a lot of the faculty lived -- the area was right out of central casting. Tree lined streets and lovely homes and so forth, and all the lawyers you see and the politicians who lived there, considered me considerably left of center. All the faculty, all the campus considered me right of center because I wasn't for burning down things.
There was a grocery story near the campus. It was across the street from the campus. It was called the Produchain (if any of you are from the midwest) and it got burned down. And the issues got actually quite serious, because I am a lay student of German history and certainly a knowledgable lay student of the history of the Third Reich. I said burning down that grocery store is fascism, and incurred the wrath of a lot of my left or leaning colleagues. I said you can't solve our problems that way. You can't solve our problems by burning down buildings. Yeah, but they were overcharging the students. They were overcharging the students. So every day you got up to go to school you had a very tense environment.
Now, it had its comic relief. There was one day in which the students were swirling around outside the campus, and as a brand new professor in a docotoral university -- I was on doctoral commitees -- so I had practice in [...] comprehensive exams, and then you're supposed to meet, and for about 2 hours the student defends his or her answers and you ask them questions. Well, as an assistant professor you better be asking some fairly intelligent questions, because you're not tenured and the senior professors will say you don't know what the hell you're talking about.
So here I was very seriously concerned with all of my questions, and because I was the most junior I was asked last, and I was busy going through these exams, and I had these very careful insightful, very succinct comments and I was going to isolate this particular deficiency -- and I looked up and all of the senior professors who were then my age now and older, were very nervous, and just very nervous because they had all said "I don't have any questions. It's fine with me." [...] and that was a comic relief for me although I suppose it could have been real for this day and age of buildings blowing up. I think we have that real problem.
Then, on August 25th, 1970, there was a bombing of the Map Research Center -- and interestingly enough the morning before that bombing, I had gone down to my office, that high-rise office building was next door to this building, and I don't know whether I felt so much of the tension because of the professor I had had as a teacher, high school teacher. (I taught high school on two separate occasions in Seattle and Los Angeles.) I just never went to school expecting -- as our previous speaker said -- expecting to have to duck, run, hide, fend for myself. And I could just feel the tension, I was down there early in the morning to get something, and then I went to a conference and found out that it had occurred.
When Kennedy was assassinated in November of '63, I remember being very young and reading "America lost its innocence," and I think probably for the University of Wisconsin, but probably for a large portion -- certainly at Kent State when that happened -- of universities, we lost our sanctity, we lost our right of sanctuary, if you understand that term from the medieval church. We lost a great deal of what we thought was a given.
The students didn't like us, they didn't trust us; it was fashionable to do movies during that period of time where, once you turned 30, you got killed. Everybody over 30 wasn't worth anything, whether it was a sci-fi movies -- fortunately it didn't last. And I can remember writing in my journal that I was really afraid for the republic, because as our previous speaker also quite succinctly and articulately said, this is the first time in which the kids -- our kids -- were the targets. Our kids, this was happening to us. It wasn't right what we did to the native Americans. It isn't right what we do to minority groups. It's not right. But this was a middle-class, particularly at the University of Wisconsin, a middle-class student revolution, and being a lay student of the history of Nazi Germany, I could see people responding in the same way. They get those kids up there and kill them if they're not gonna behave themselves. We're just lucky something like Kent State didn't happen.
One last comic story and then I will close before I make kind of a summary of this. There was a play on campus, and this was when the National Guard got called onto the campus. The National Guard -- 5000 troops -- came on to the University of Wisconsin campus. There was tear gas; it was a very, very tense time. And so all of those movies that were being shown, all of the movies with the military and the CIA and all of that fresh in my wife's mind, and she goes up to this one building to get into a rehearsal, this [...] hall is the primary [...] keystone building, the key building of the thing and here's this National Guardsman there. He was about 19 and he looked out and he sort of said, "What do you want?" "Well I'm here for a rehearsal." "Oh." "Where did you come from?" "From down the hill." "What are they doing down there?" They didn't have any of that automatic detectors, [so it was,] "Let's see your badge and you may pass," and so forth.
It was a 19 year old kid who didn't know what was going on -- and thought that my wife coming in for a rehearsal would know. I think it was the end of what I call the liberal, it was sort of the innocence of liberalism in the University of Wisconsin. It ended all that that represents, a kind of liberal enlightened university that's supposed to be open forum for ideas and free for everybody.
The University of Wisconsin -- I liked the image about the curtain being torn back. The curtain got pulled back (maybe not torn so violently) and here we had a lot of McCarthyism that was very much alive and, well, on the Madison campus in the faculty. A lot of the individuals who were very liberal, probably a lot farther left. I never thought it was at all appropriate to call police pigs. I never thought it was at all appropriate to call students goons. I was very worried that reason was losing out to hatred and to fear and to concentration of negative energies.
After the bombing of the Map Research Center in which one Woodrow Wilson scholar was killed and four other peple were injured, the only thing that made me feel more comfortable was that the white middle-class student who was suffering from the kind of torment that minorities had suffered, said "Oh, it's real." And the campus demonstration simply stopped. The following term I didn't have enough lecture notes to get through the spring term.
And then the university attempted to right itself, and there was a long period, I think, probably reflected in the national consciousness. There was a long period in which the University of Wisconsin had to address its own failures and its own flaws, because all of the chicanery that went on at the goverment level and the civic and the police level was going on at the university. People were being denied tenure because they were on this side or that side. Suddenly professors were not being given the supplies that they should or the travel money that they should and all of these things were happening, all very suddenly, with a great deal of sophistication, with a great deal of intelligence and a great deal of flowery language, but nonetheless that corruption was happening, and it happened to all of us. When I was in the library this morning looking back at The New York Times issue it brought back all those memories, because after a while the university settled down and eventually the Vietnam war concluded, and we moved on not to better times but to different times.