The New Left  

 #1      With President Johnson’s escalation of the war in early ’65, student opposition sprang up at many universities. SDS, the organizational form of the New Left, already had chapters on most of these campuses, and they in turn led the protests. In March, the chapter at Michigan organized the first campus Teach-In against the war, and several weeks later the SDS National Office coordinated the first huge demonstration against the war in Washington.

           The Johnson administration became concerned and decided the pro-war argument needed to be made to stem the academic revolt. A small group of State Department and Pentagon officials with Vietnam experience were sent out to test the waters at Midwestern universities. Indiana University was on the itinerary, but before the so-called Truth Squad reached Bloomington they came a cropper elsewhere as The Militant, the Trotskyist SWP paper, reported. 

Gov’t ‘Truth’ Squad Hits
Stiff Midwest Opposition
     

           The State Department’s touring ‘truth team’ defending the US war in Vietnam got badly battered on the first three campuses it went to last week.
           …The position of the Johnson administration presented by the ‘truth team’ certainly didn’t make any converts at the University of Iowa, Drake University, or the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
            [As the New York Times reported], at the University of Wisconsin, the ‘truth team’ ran into an ambush. In the formal meeting addressed by the ‘truth team’ … the State Department was again embroiled in a hot skirmish that ‘more than matched’ the confrontation at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
The ‘truth team’ will now go to the Universities of Indiana and Illinois…. 

                                                          #####

#2         In the early ‘60s, Indiana University presciently designated a section of the campus as a ‘free speech’ zone “where any group can discuss literally anything.” The idea was to draw excitable students away from the class and study areas, but it was also a beneficial move for protestors from both the left and the right. With President Johnson’s dramatic escalation of the war in Vietnam in early ’65, the zone was put to good use.

Jeers, Firecracker Explosions, and Applause 

            By March 1965 the Dunn Meadow neutral ground rang with a mixture of jeers, firecracker explosions, and applause. Before an audience of 3,000 persons, the Ad Hoc Committee to End the War in Vietnam outlined its stand to bring about a cease fire and stop the bombings, to begin immediate negotiations, and to withdraw American forces.

           Three professors and a student spoke for an hour and a half amidst the noise and efforts of the pro-US policy supporters to capture the podium.

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#3       At Indiana University (IU), Jeff played key roles in the SDS chapter. In late ’66 he was chairing the dorm-education program on the war. As an ex-Vietnam GI it was no doubt he who inserted an item on the ‘Fort Hood Three’ in the November newsletter. Three GIs attached to the 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood TX issued a joint statement announcing their refusal to deploy to Vietnam. They were arrested by Military Police and court-martialed. 

Excerpt from an Early GI Protest

           We have been in the Army long enough to know that we are not the only GIs who feel as we do. Large numbers of men in the service either do not understand this war or are against it.

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#4        In ’62, IU chose a new president, Elvis J Stahr. A man with an impressive academic resume, he had resigned JFK’s Pentagon where he had been Secretary of the Army to move to Indiana. After praising his academic distinctions, Time magazine gave Stahr a qualified send-off from Washington. Six years later, after many confrontations with the IU New Left, for which he was temperamentally unsuited, President Stahr left academe in bitterness.

They Know All the Answers Already

Time ‘62: Kentucky-born President Stahr, 46, [is a] lawyer and Rhodes Scholar. Less successful were Stahr’s 18 months at the Pentagon, where his academic personality failed to mesh with hardware-oriented Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. Stahr once admitted that he did not know a battle group from a battalion, and blame for foul-ups in last year’s call-up of Army reservists landed on his desk.

He should be happier at Indiana where his talents are more suitable.

Stahr’s exit interview ’68: The New Left does not want to study and get ready; they want things done their way, now, both on campus and in the great society outside. Not only is this a significant minority, but it is an extremely vocal and extremely active one.

It has members who are exceedingly bright and exceedingly arrogant. I think the arrogance of this, the student activist today, is a startling phenomenon. The only thing I loathe more than their arrogance is their utter lack of humor.

They’re just cold-eyed, they really think that they …. I don’t know why they go to college. They really think they know all the answers already.

                                               #####

#5       Well before the break-up of SDS with one faction turning to violence, the seeds of disunion were evident as early as winter ’66. The organization was becoming increasingly bifurcated, but with the campus chapters continuing peaceful antiwar protest while the national leadership began thinking more and more in terms of militant confrontation.

          As the ‘Days of Rage’ ‘biographer’ of SDS quotes a leader expressing the new turn:  

From Protest to Resistance

           The meaninglessness of non-violent, ‘democratic’ methods was becoming clear to us in the spring of 1967. The Civil Rights Movement was dead. Some leftists –the Trotskyites, Maoists, radical socialists … some of the radicals in SDS, Stokely Carmichael, Rap Brown, Tom Hayden – knew it early.

           But it took the rest of us awhile to give up the sweet life of the democratic Left for revolt.

                                                         #####

#6       Even before SDS split in ’69, political violence was spreading on the campuses by the winter of 1968-69. As the study, ‘Days of Rage’ tells it:

A Rash of Bombings

          For the first time underground papers began publishing instructions on the making of Molotov cocktails. Homemade bombing manuals began circulating at SDS meetings and rock concerts.

          A rash of bombings occurred in Detroit that winter; small devices exploded five times outside the city halls in Oakland and San Francisco.

                                                         #####

#7      When I began this memoir, I thought I knew Jeff well enough. After all, he was my kid brother, and did I not have several boxes of his letters and papers as well. Of course, that was an illusion, as I repeatedly discovered with each new interview of Jeff’s contemporaries.

           Turned out I really didn’t know the brother who had gone off to war and returned to achieve his destiny as a major antiwar leader.  

Charisma

           When I asked a half dozen of Jeff’s closest friends for a single word to describe him, each independently without hesitation replied, ‘charisma’. I was astonished. That was an aspect of Jeff that hadn’t been apparent to me or our parents when we had all occasionally gotten together during his last years.

           A very nice guy, well-spoken, and mature, yes, but I had never thought of my kid brother as a charismatic leader. I was of course pleased to learn this of him.

#####

#8        In 1985, long after Jeff was gone, two people very close to him on the VGI project – Tom Barton and Jim Wallihan – got together to give an interview to the Bloomington Herald-Telephone about Jeff on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the end of the VN war. 

Vietnam-era Comrades Remember an Unsung Hero

           I just thought it was a shame that everyone had forgotten Jeff Sharlet. Sharlet was haunted and driven by his Vietnam experience, his friends say. Jim Wallihan was a leader in the IU chapter of SDS. ‘Jeff wanted to get involved, but he felt a little alienated from what was going in SDS. A lot of those people didn’t have any experience in the world. K-through-12 and IU, and that was it’.

          ‘The students were mostly theorizing’, remembered Tom Barton, ‘about Maoism and Ho Chi Minh being a nice guy, and Jeff didn’t buy any of that stuff’. Sharlet was particularly disturbed at the hostile attitude that many students and younger people displayed toward the GIs.

          Vietnam GI was popular and controversial. ‘The Army tried to intercept it, so we had to be creative. One time we mailed it out as the Presbyterian Pen Pal Club of Chicago. Barton saw how important VGI had become when he tried to distribute it to troops assembled outside an antiwar rally in Washington, DC. The officer in charge looked at me and said, Get out of here or I’ll have you arrested’.

          ‘I was about to turn around when a voice from the ranks said, Leave him alone. Then there was another voice. All of a sudden, four guys came out of the ranks, and one guy takes the papers from me and starts passing them out. The officer said, Don’t touch them and the GI said, To hell with you’.

          Wallihan said the term ‘patriot’ would not be misplaced in describing Jeff Sharlet. ‘A real American hero’, Barton responded to a question, ‘Absolutely, and one nobody knows much about. His name isn’t even on the Vietnam Memorial, because he died after he left the war, not during it’.

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#9       As Bernella Satterfield, Nell Levin had been one of the principal co-founders of SDS at IU.

Part of the Small Coterie

        Yes, your brother was part of the small coterie who formed an SDS chapter in Bloomington in the mid- ‘60s.

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#10      Nell Levin recounts the early days of SDS at IU.

Young and Really Fired Up

            I knew Jeff when he was hanging out with us dissidents around SDS and the anti-Vietnam War movement in Bloomington. We had a small, intimate group that used to meet to plan activities and discuss leftist theory. We met quite frequently, often nightly, and carried out a free-wheelin’ discussion for hours and hours.

           Most of those meetings were in the living room of the crumbling old house I shared with David Satterfield, the father of my daughter Cordelia, and Robin Hunter plus some other folks at 102 North Dunn.

           You might have heard of Robin. He was a British poli sci grad student, a Trotskyite, and a brilliant fellow. He really knew his Marx and Engels.

          We were young and really fired up about politics, culture, and the war. The hippies and the counter-culture were just beginning to surface, but we were primarily involved with politics and not too much else at the time.

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#11       The student daily at IU was a middle of the road paper that leaned toward being pro-administration or was at least deferential to the powers that be. Hence, its lead editorial on 10/15/65, just as SDS was getting underway on campus, was a pleasant surprise.

Don’t Pre-Judge All SDS Activities

          It’s time for Bloomington Mayor John H Hooker to become more realistic. He is objecting to members of the IU chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) volunteering to participate in Bloomington’s anti-poverty program.

           Mayor Hooker said in a Herald-Telephone story, ‘This administration is not in favor of having any individual or group serving in a leadership capacity in any governmental activity or program who has taken a position contrary to the President’s and the nation’s policy in regard to the war in Viet Nam’.

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 #12        In the fall of ’65, former VP Nixon was touring the country speaking in support of LBJ’s war policy. He addressed a huge audience at IU on 10/17/65. SDS, Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), and Young People’s Socialist League (YPSL) demonstrated against Nixon as reported in the Indiana Daily Student.

Knock Off the Demonstrations

            The highly partisan crowd gave Mr Nixon his biggest round of applause when he ended his Q&A session by saying that if the so-called peace demonstrators ‘really are for peace, they ought to act in the interest of peace and knock off the demonstrations’.

        Mr Nixon’s speech was picketed by about 150 students at Showalter Fountain. About 50 members of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), Young Republicans, and Young Democrats marched in favor of Mr Nixon’s foreign policy stand and US involvement in Vietnam.

        Those demonstrating against Mr Nixon and the US stand in Vietnam carried signs saying, ‘How many must die?’ ‘War is intolerable’, and ‘Killing is anti-democracy’. Other signs said, ‘IU students say win in Viet’ and ‘Young Republicans support LBJ in Viet’.

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#13       In ’66, the Progressive Reform Party was created on the IU campus with the purpose of contesting student elections. Judging by its initial position paper, the new party clearly reflected New Left concerns. A year later, the PRP candidate, a member of SDS, won the presidency of the student body. 

Little More than Company Unions

          ‘All agents of student self-government have become little more than company unions’, the paper continues; and it adds that the ‘ultimate responsibility for such an unjust imbalance of power rests upon the entire Student Body’.

          The PRP says its policy will be to ‘seek open confrontation with the administration on rules which do not further educational opportunity; and will seek clarification of ambiguous policies’.

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#14     General Maxwell Taylor came to speak at IU in late February ’66. He had recently served as US Ambassador to South Vietnam and was wired into the administration’s war policy. As IDS reported, Jeff and fellow SDS activists planned a demonstration.

Support Senator Hartke

           Two demonstrations, one supporting and the other opposing US policy in South Vietnam, will greet General Maxwell Taylor tonight. A ‘Support Senator Hartke’ view will be sponsored by several students, a professor, and a minister, and a ‘Victory in Vietnam’ campaign will be led by YAF and the new Students for an Orderly Society.

          The Hartke demonstration will affirm the ‘extricate – don’t escalate’ position of Indiana Senator Vance Hartke and several other senators who have reservations about Vietnam policy. Its spokesmen stressed the fact that it will be a pro-Hartke, not an anti-Taylor, demonstration.

          YAF will emphasize a ‘Victory over Communism’ format with a call for increased military action and more strategic use of Allied air power.

          The Hartke demonstrators have reserved Showalter Fountain and will remain until the Convocation begins. This demonstration is being sponsored by Prof James Dinsmoor of the Department of Psychology; James Juhnke, grad; the Rev Gil Sirotti, Wesley Foundation; Lynn Everroad, sophomore; James Wallihan, grad; Jeff Sharlet, junior; and Steve Cagan, grad.

          One of the supporters, Mr Sharlet, commented:

          As Hartke comes under increased pressure, we want to make our support visible. His mail has been running 87 percent in favor of a cease-fire and negotiations. Congress, we feel, has neglected for too long its responsibility to advise as well as consent on questions of foreign policy.

          Mr Sharlet said that although the demonstration will key on Senator Hartke, other senators who have questioned the policy will be supported, among them Robert F Kennedy (D-NY), J W Fulbright (D-Ark), Wayne Morse (D-Ore), and Albert Gore (D-Tenn).

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#15      The first teach-in is thought of as a touchstone for the emergence of student protest against the war.

Spring ‘65

          The first all-night ‘teach-in’ took place at the University of Michigan, with 3,000 people participating in intensive discussions on the war’s real causes.

[After the escalation, the State Department received 20,000 letters during the next six weeks and phone calls almost hourly asking what was going on. The Administration launched so-called ‘truth teams’ to Midwestern campuses.]

          Johnson was angry and confused by the lack of respect shown for his leadership, and the teams of diplomats dispatched by the State Dept to debate with campus activists were strikingly ineffective.

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#16    The State Department truth team visited IU and received a strong reaction.

In Controlled Rage

           Conlon’s reception at Iowa and Wisconsin must have been wild because it was not tame at IU. Prof Bernie Morris, formerly with the US Department of State, laced into them in controlled rage.

  At the end, critical students flooded the stage to go one-on-one with the speakers, and Fred Fleron had to intercede lest Erik Hoffmann, a non-violent guy, punch out Conlon, who was quite feisty and aggressive in rebuttal.

##### 
#17        Prof Robert Byrnes of IU sat for a long interview and commented on the protest Jeff led at the university president’s house, spring ’67. 

There Were about 200 or 300 on the Lawn

           I remember going to a meeting outside the president’s house. This was President Elvis Stahr. There were about 200 or 300 on the lawn around the driveway – it was a Saturday morning – and they were demanding something or the other.

           And Stahr wasn’t upset about it, but Mrs Stahr was. I think that’s the main reason the Stahrs left. She was just frightened to death, although I don’t think she should have been. They were there just making a lot of noise.

##### 

#18      Professor Byrnes’ appraisal of the New Left.

They Were Protected from the Draft

           In the late ‘60s, there was a change. Students weren’t quite so interested in academic work. And they had these other ideas about Vietnam, class arrangements in the US, etc.

           I don’t think they were very serious, they certainly weren’t very well informed about these matters. But there was an element of radicalism. Part of this, I thought then, still think, had to do with the fact that they were protected from the draft.

   Part of it was a kind of guilty conscience. You know, Princeton in all that Vietnam War lost one graduate.

##### 

#19     As the only antiwar ex-VN GI in the IU SDS chapter, Jeff was often out front in the demonstration against General Hershey.

A Display of Pseudo Patriotism

           When General Hershey spoke in the Auditorium on May 2, 1966, more than 2,000 demonstrators shouting pro and con sentiments marched around Showalter Fountain for an hour.

            A student group calling itself ‘University Students for America’ appeared to outnumber the Independent Committee to End the War. Students for America not only heckled the Vietnam critics, they engaged in throwing three or four showers of eggs, an act which Dean of Students Robert Shaffer branded as ‘a display of pseudo patriotism and disgraceful in view of Indiana University’s long history of academic freedom’.

            In contrast, the 300 supporters of the Independent Committee paraded in orderly fashion along the well-worn path of protest around the fountain. They seemed to have received the egg showers with the aplomb of martyrdom, thus making their point even more strongly.

            Somewhat relieving the solemnity and anger of the occasion was the humor created by an independent marcher. He bore a sign on behalf of ‘Students Wildly Indignant About Nearly Everything’ or SWINE.

 #####

#20      Tom Barton graduated from IU and was home visiting his 

parents when he stumbled upon a demo led by Jeff and others on Kirkwood near the university.  He himself got caught up in the police sweep and circulated a broadside on campus entitled 'What happened to me'.

Beating at His Head with a Flashlight

           One student, a Mr Camplejohn I later learned, went up into the parking lot and began to speak, but he never had a chance to say more than two or three sentences. One of the policemen, later identified as Detective Ames, literally leaped up and ran into the parking lot, grabbing Camplejohn by the shoulder and throat.

           Two of the uniformed police officers looked like they wanted to restrain Ames, but did not do so. Ames by now had turned completely red in the face and was shouting incoherently. He pushed Mr Camplejohn down the hill from the parking lot toward the street, and gave him a push with great force which threw Mr Camplejohn into me.

          I was standing halfway between the sidewalk and the parking lot. I shouted to Mr Camplejohn, ‘Get his name’, hoping he could examine this officer in court and make the necessary complaint against him. For my trouble, I was grabbed from behind by another officer and thrown with force against the police car.

           As the officer who held me opened the right rear door and began to shove me into the car, I observed Detective Ames had pushed Mr Camplejohn into the car ahead of me. I saw Detective Ames kneeling on Mr Camplejohn on the left side of the back seat, beating and slapping at his head with a flashlight.

         This was of course visible to people near the car, and to the officers in the front seat. He continued to beat and slap him about the head and chest for several minutes. This officer was completely out of control. He screamed continually various incoherent statements, and also said clearly, ‘I know your kind, I know your kind, how do you like this?’ as he beat the man.

          Finally, he was calmed by another officer and left the car to make more arrests. During the entire time the beating was being administered, Mr Camplejohn had his arms handcuffed behind his back.

#####

#21     Appended to Tom Barton’s broadside, an ad hoc committee called Students Concerned with Civil Rights in Bloomington, wrote an account of the demo and the police action.

300 People Were in the Area

          June 22nd [‘67] (last night): At about 8:30 PM, two students sitting next to the Spudnut Shop were approached by a patrolman who threatened them with arrest for loitering. At this time the shop was closed, and the two students were merely peacefully reading and writing – obviously not bothering anyone.

           When they asked why they had to move, the students were told that businessmen on Kirkwood had been complaining about using their establishments to socialize. As people on campus heard about what had happened, they gathered around to discuss it. At approximately 9:30 about 300 people were in the area when police cars approached.

            The patrolmen told the students to leave. A number of students began questioning the patrolmen. The students then moved to the parking lot next to the shop. While attempting to lead the students off the sidewalk and into the parking lot, Al Camplejohn was seized, handcuffed, and dragged into a police car.

           Bob Goyette, Joe Fuhrmann, Allen Gurevitz, Jim Wallihan, Jeff Sharlet (Vietnam veteran and winner of a Woodrow Wilson fellowship), and Tom Barton were arrested and brutally thrown into police cars in clear view of the crowd.

        Camplejohn was beaten. Two students were told by G D Clendening, Badge #121, that their IDs would be taken and turned into the IU Safety Division. The police used the services of a 6’4”, 300-pound football player who shoved one of the students and tried to start a fight with several others.

          The policemen did not arrest him, although he was doing more to excite the crowd than any of the  others. He stood in the forbidden area, but was not arrested. A patrolman informed the crowd that he had been deputized to help the police.

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#22     In spring ’67 as president of SDS, Jeff led a rally in front of the university president’s residence. In a letter to the student paper, he comments on the president’s reaction.

 

Over 200 Students Met Outside President Stahr’s House

Editor, Indiana Daily Student

           On Friday, March 10th, over 200 students met outside President Stahr’s house during a reception being held for the Board of Trustees and student ‘leaders’. The sole demand of that rally was that the trustees, especially Chairman Frank McKinney and President Stahr, appear publicly to discuss with students a number of grievances arising out of policy decisions for which the Board is responsible.

          The Administration’s response to the rally has been a curious one. Rather than answer his own door, President Stahr sent out, as his representative, a police officer; when that failed, Student Body President Dean Aulick was then sent out to the rally as a mediator between student and Administration positions.

          We demand, again, that Chairman McKinney appear in an official capacity to explain the Trustees’ actions to students in an open question-answer session.

Jeffrey Sharlet,
President, Students for a Democratic Society

#####

#23     A few days after the rally at Stahr’s house in March ‘67, Jeff exchanged open letters with the president in Spectator, the alternative paper, under the headline, ‘Jeff Sharlet on Student Power’. He was criticizing Stahr’s speech to the faculty in December in which he had sharply criticized the New Left. In his reply, Stahr had denied the criticism. 

You Are Not Telling the Truth

          But attack students on this campus you did, and no amount of claims that we have ‘failed to read’ your whole talk or that we read it ‘out of context’ can disguise this fact. May we quote from your speech:

                But attack students on this campus you did, and no amount of claims that we have ‘failed to read’ your whole talk or that we read it ‘out of context’ can disguise this fact. May we quote from your speech:

             If anywhere an administration and a faculty can work                          effectively together, however, it ought to be here where they               worked together so well for so long. Yet if those bent on                     disruption can drive a wedge between us, it will be driven, I                 assure you. If they can alienate the students from either or                 both of us, they will gleefully do so, I assure you.

As to your denial of having made the charges, President Stahr, three interpretations suggest themselves:

     1.  You have not read your own speech.
 2.  You use the English language in a manner different from        us.
 3.  You are not telling the truth. 

Sincerely,

Jeffrey J Sharlet, President for Students for a Democratic Society

#####

#24     Jim Wallihan recalls his talks with Jeff in the fall of ’65 when he was trying to persuade him to join SDS. 

The ‘Unreal World’ of the University Campus

           Recall Jeff and me walking the streets in big conversations on more than one occasion after we first met in Bloomington. We’d both been some places in the ‘real world’, he, by virtue of Vietnam, more than me.

           We’d both been in the Philippines and some other places and had problems with campus people talking to one another. But that joined us in the ‘unreal world’ of the university campus.

           Part of those conversations was about me trying to convince him that, under the circumstances, he should join SDS. Jeff took it from there. I think it was an inkling of the frame of mind that led him to GI organizing a couple of years later.

           Recall too, that we talked about Jeff’s great sense of humor and his ability to tell hilarious tales about the absurdity of some of the chain-of-command contradictions he experienced.

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#26     Ralph Levitt reminisced about his activist days at IU.

The Cuba Demo Was a Highlight of the YSA

           The Bloomington Young Socialist Alliance, founded by Ellen and George Shriver, became an assembly line turning out recruits. The Cuba demo was a highlight of the YSA.

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#27        Some key dates of IU New Left activity. 
  • Antiwar Debates Start 3/12/65
  • Antiwar teach-in at Michigan, 3/24/65
  • Antiwar debates begin in Dunn Meadow, 3/12/65
  • Major Hiroshima Day march to Courthouse Sq, 8/6/66
  • Student power rally at Prez Stahr’s residence, 3/10/67
  • Antiwar demo, Monument Circle, 4/11/67

                                              #####


#28      Jim Wallihan remembered.

Nixon’s Visit in October ‘65

            I’ll never forget that one because there were about 50 of us with signs circling the fountain in front of the auditorium, and to the north of the circle at least 500 fraternity types had gathered.

           All of a sudden, they kinda broke and started charging the demo.

##### 

#29      Jim W recalls campus police.

They Monitored Our Demonstrations

           I remember Dillon and Spannuth. They and others monitored our demonstrations. On more than one occasion, I would call them out, pointing to them and introducing them as police or agents.

           I never thought they were especially bad guys, not the types who got their jollies beating on us. They were on the other side, but had their jobs to do.

##### 
#30      Jim W remembered the campus spies.

There Was a Guy from Army Military Intelligence

          There was a guy from Army Military Intelligence named Barney Kitchen who was kept busy there doing background investigations and interviews on us and getting them transcripted. I’d see him around campus and at Nick’s.

          There was another from MI that made a crude stop at the house one day. I had him figured, and that was confirmed years later when I got my FOIA file.

          There was an IU employee in his late 20s in our SDS chapter. We always figured him for a plant. We put him to work mimeographing SDS newsletters.

#####

#31     Nixon at IU was Jeff’s first antiwar demo.

       150 Students Marched around Showalter Fountain

          When Richard Nixon visited the campus on October18, 1965, he spoke to a crowded auditorium of students and townsfolk. He supported to some degree LBJ and Rusk on Vietnam.

            Outside the auditorium 150 SDS, YSA, and Americans for   Democratic Action marched around the Showalter Fountain bearing antiwar signs. Counter marching were about 50 Young Americans for Freedom, Young Republicans, and Young Democrats.

           The latter signs said, ‘IU Students say Win in Viet’, and the Young Republicans proclaimed, ‘Young Republicans Support LBJ in Viet.”

#####

#32     Reaction to General Hershey, May ’66.

The Jordan River ‘Debate’

            Earlier in the day the antiwar group held a rally at Dunn Meadow. The Jordan River, which runs through most of the campus, divides the gathering place, and yesterday served as the dividing line for the opposing groups.

          While those opposed to US policy in VN sat on one side of the river and heard speakers, those supporting the policy sat on the other side and jeered.

          At a nearby fraternity house, loudspeakers played ‘The Ballad of the Green Berets’ in an attempt to drown out the speakers.

#####

#33      Report on anti-Hershey demo.

A Feared Showdown Did Not Materialize

           A feared showdown between anti and pro-war demonstrators did not materialize. Riot-helmeted police and civilian defense workers kept a close watch on the two groups during the march.

           But while the two groups remained quiet, there were jeers directed toward the approximately 150 antiwar demonstrators, and eggs were thrown at them by a crowd of onlookers.

#####

#34      Essence of General Taylor’s speech, Feb ’66.

Vietnam, A Test of National Character

          The US will remain in VN until “Hanoi is overwhelmed with the fact that there is no real hope that the US can forced out.” He defined the US commitment as moral and pragmatic.

          Pragmatically, VN is militarily strategic because a Communist victory in VN could possibly crumble all of Asia, country by country.

#####

#35       Demonstrating for and against Taylor.

Positive Support for Hartke

           The ‘Victory’ demonstration, co-sponsored by the Students for an Orderly Society and Young Americans for Freedom, will begin at Dunn Meadow and march to the Auditorium.

           The Hartke demonstrators have reserved Showalter Fountain and will remain until the Convocation begins. The demo is being sponsored by Prof James Dinsmoor, James Wallihan, Jeff Sharlet et al.

           In a press release, SOS and YAF say their purpose is to show the public and  our troops in VN that the vast majority of responsible college students reject the radical, defeatist attitude of the left and steadfastly support victory in VN.

          The Hartke group affirmed our ‘positive support for Senator Hartke and other senators who have had the courage to question the ‘no-compromise’ escalation policy represented by Taylor and the veterans’ organizations’.

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#36     Nixon’s ’65 speech.

Nixon’s Vietpoint Enthusiastically Received

          “Mr Nixon said what we are doing in VN is necessary to reduce the danger of WW III.”

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#37       From Spectator, 3/13/67 on SDS rally at Stahr’s residence.

“As Long As They Don’t Harm My Children”

             Last Friday afternoon, administrators, ‘student leaders,’ and members of the Board of Trustees met at President Stahr’s home for a ‘social function’. Outside, nearly 300 students gathered for a rally. They wanted to present their views on various campus issues to the Board of Trustees. They had a right to be where they were.

          Outside the students were asking earnest questions: why must the university regiment the lives of 25,000 students, both socially and academically; and when will the university provide its long-promised atmosphere of ‘free inquiry’ to all of its students.

         These students outside were not ignored inside. President Stahr looked out the window and muttered “as long as they don’t harm my children.” Dean Shaffer implied that they represented a “physical threat.”

         But the position the students outside represented was missed: the need for a direct dialogue between themselves and the real power, the trustees.

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#38    From Jeff’s and Jim Wallihan’s adopted ‘Reorganization Proposal’ for SDS of Feb ’66.

An Overemphasis on Participatory Democracy

          Among the more significant problems encountered over this past semester seem to be:

         An overemphasis on participatory democracy has resulted in a lack of action because of a tendency to delay implementation of decisions until a total consensus has been reached.

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#39   The new structure of SDS as of Feb ’66.

Four Co-Chairmen

        Four co-chairmen
       Two secretaries
       Treasurer
       Newsletter editor
       6 committees (including ‘Internal Education’)

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#40  Stahr dominates convocations with pro-war Washington heavies.

The Generals March on Indiana

        President Stahr, well-connected in Washington, invited a series of major pro-war speakers to campus. Quite an impressive roster, beginning with former VP Nixon, following with Generals Taylor and Hershey, then VP Humphrey, and not least, Sec of State Rusk.

        Stahr invited no counter-balancing antiwar speakers of similar stature. Aptheker, CP theoretician, and a few other lesser known leaders of the left, were all invited by tiny sectarian groups at the university with small followings.

        IU, a sleepy Midwestern campus, was fundamentally a conservative place, and the pro-war notables attracted very large audiences, while Aptheker drew only hundreds and was hung in effigy outside the student union.


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#41  General Taylor’s background.

An Ardent Supporter of the War

        The generals came marching onto campus, spring ’66. General Taylor, a hero of WWII, came in March; he was so closely involved with Vietnam war policy that his arrival was unmistakably a pro-war statement.

        After visiting Vietnam under JFK, Taylor recommended sending US combat troops and even the idea of ‘liberating’ North Vietnam, decisions the President declined to take. Subsequently, Taylor served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and later as Ambassador to South Vietnam. He was an ardent supporter of the war.

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#42  Then came General Hershey.

An Avuncular 73-Year-Old

       Taylor was followed to the rostrum in early May by fellow flag officer, General Hershey, an avuncular 73-year-old whose military career went back to the war with Mexico in ’16. He’d been head of Selective Service since ’41.

       An Indiana native son, he was a welcome guest at the Hoosier state’s largest university. He had recently told draft boards they could draft college men who were not performing well academically – prior to that, college students were automatically exempt from the draft. 
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#4
3  
The New Left responds to Stahr’s cavalcade.

The Main Problem Was Student Apathy

        Each of Stahr’s advocates of the war was met by an escalating level of antiwar protest at IU, albeit very small in scale compared to the enormous size of the student body. At the time of Nixon’s arrival, increased US involvement in the conflict was barely six months old.

        The campus protestors’ challenge was not students supporting the war; on the contrary, the war barely registered with the average IU student at the time – the main problem was student apathy.

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#44  New Left protest gains experience.

The Strategy for General Taylor’s Visit

        When the generals arrived on campus during spring semester ’66, the student activists were better prepared to mount protests, but by then a significant part of the campus population was also ready to counter-demonstrate on behalf of the war.

        Professor Jim Dinsmoor, who was hoping to win the Democratic nomination for Congress as a peace candidate, devised a different strategy for General Taylor’s visit in March.

        Instead of protesting the general’s appearance on campus, a demonstration was organized in support of Indiana’s junior Senator, Vance Hartke who had come out publicly against the war. Signs were made, male marchers were urged to wear jackets and ties; the women were to wear skirts; and Taylor was greeted by a neatly dressed, orderly group of young people vocally supporting a Washington opponent of the war.

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#45  The Hershey demo.

Jeff, Speaking As an ex-VN GI, Was Hit by an Egg

        In May, General Hershey was met by a traditional demonstration that unexpectedly provoked a raucous counter-protest. Again, CEWV put out word and had no difficulty in drawing 350 protestors to demonstrate in front of the auditorium.

       The demo then moved on to Dunn Meadow and included antiwar speakers who found themselves confronted by a crowd of 1500 to 2000 hecklers. Many fraternity boys were waving American flags, throwing eggs and water balloons, and calling into question the demonstrators’ patriotism.

        Jeff, speaking as an ex-VN GI, was hit by an egg, but, unfazed, he issued the shouters a forceful challenge to put their money where their mouths were since they were so gung ho for the war.

Years later a fellow activist, Russell Block, remembered “the courage of the Vietnam vet and the cowardice of the frat rats who were all for the war as long as someone else had to fight it.”

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#46  Jeff and Stahr exchange open letters.       

The University’s One-sided Speaker Policy

        In an exchange of public letters with the IU president, Jeff, by then doing his turn as SDS president, challenged Stahr on the university’s one-sided speaker policy, but to no avail.

        Jeff had graduated and moved on the University of Chicago by the time Rusk was welcomed to campus that fall.

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#47  Stahr quits.

Resigned in Bitterness

        The cumulative protests were eventually too much for Elvis Stahr, who publicly criticized and demonized the campus New Left. A former senior officer in WWII and member of the government, and, above all, a Rhodes Scholar long accustomed to a string of unruffled success, Stahr quit.

        He couldn’t take the dissonance of university life in the midst of a divisive war and resigned in bitterness at the end of the academic year.

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#48   Profile of IU Prez.      

A Person of Considerable Accomplishment

        Elvis Jacob Stahr was a person of considerable accomplishment. His life had been a string of consecutive successes – BA Kentucky ’36, where he was cadet colonel of the ROTC regiment; Rhodes Scholar at Oxford; prestigious law firm in New York, distinguished WWII record; dean of law at Kentucky; vice-president of Pitt; president at West Virginia; and Secretary of the Army under Kennedy.

        In 1962, he became President of Indiana University, and his luck ran out.

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#49  Stahr’s pal.

A Rousing Do-Your-Duty Speech

        A few months after General Taylor, President Stahr hosted another Pentagon pal at the university. Another general, this time it was Lewis Hershey, long time director of the Draft, which delivered up the bodies for the war.

        His was a rousing do-your-duty speech.

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#50  Jeff’s double-duty under Stahr.

A Honcho of the War Machine

        Early spring ’67, Jeff took SDS’s antiwar campaign to the steps of the IU president’s campus residence. He opened the rally noting that it was the second time he found himself under Elvis Stahr – first in Vietnam serving under Army Secretary Stahr, now as a student under President Stahr.

        He posed a rhetorical question – What is a honcho of the war machine doing running a university, a place of higher learning?

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#51 Stahr attacks the New Left.

A Sly Reference to the Hitler Youth

        At the end of fall term ’66, in his annual ‘State of the University’ address to the faculty, Stahr singled out the campus New Left for sharp criticism, saying, “We are fortunate in knowing a good deal about the motives of the leadership of the so-called ‘New Left’” and used terms like ‘dogma’, ‘conspiracy’, ‘deceit’, ‘puppets,’ and ‘propaganda’.

        In Feb ’67, with the university budget in jeopardy in the conservative state legislature, Preident Stahr authorized a statewide release of his text, which also included a sly reference to the Hitler Youth in universities of Weimar Germany.

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#52  Jeff replies to Stahr.

The Role of the New Left on Campus

        To say that Stahr’s public remarks were intemperate and inappropriate for an institution of higher learning would be an understatement, and Jeff, then SDS prez, took note and responded.

        In a full response to the president on March 9 ’67, Jeff gave a 2500-word counter-address, ‘The Role of the New Left on Campus: The State of the Student’, at a weekly gathering to an audience of over a hundred activists; his remarks received wider circulation in the campus alternative paper where he was described as president of IU SDS, a senior honors student in Government, and a veteran of the Vietnam War.

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#53  Jeff’s rebuttal to Stahr.

Not the Statements of a Lunatic Right-winger

        Jeff continued, saying New Left criticism was evoking a harsh response from university administrators hoping to silence, “discredit, and render ineffective student action on campus.” He illustrated by quoting some of President Stahr’s choice phrases, such as “enemies of freedom” and “a cynical effort to exploit the idealism of students.”

        Jeff commented that “these are not the statements of a lunatic right-winger, but of the president of our university, whose professed concern is the education of our country’s youth.” The main thesis was a call for “student power.”

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NEW CONTENT

#54  Stahr flees academe.

Activists as Bigots and Zealots

        A little over a year after his clash with the New Left, Stahr fled academe, abruptly tendering his resignation as president, citing “presidential fatigue.” It was a convenient euphemism for a man acknowledging the first setback in a long succession of career achievements.

        As a person more suited to positions where no one pushed back, Stahr had clearly been temperamentally unsuited to lead a major university through turbulent times.

        In an interview in Time marked by bitterness and vitriol a few months later, Stahr referred to activists as “bigots and zealots determined to destroy,” and denied that he had deserted his post.

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