Letter to the Editor: Accusation (Vol. 36, Issue 3)
To the Editor:
While condemning the American who prefers that students in tax-supported universities (njoying advantages he never had) indulge more in pursuing excellence in education rather than incendiaries, of being politically naive, Mr. Geller himself escalates the war of anti-intellectualism by responding in kind. He innocently injects his own emotions into his conclusions rather than facts garnered from research and examination of what occurred at Kent State, what the Ohio Grand Jury really said, and what the maligned “silent majority” really stands for and desires.
The Ohio Grand Jury did not exculpate and condone the guardsmen’s reactions. The grand jury admitted that the situation that ensued was not a desirable one. They saw no reason for making scape-goats of the guardsmen and prosecuting them, while at the same time stating that the guard's reactions were not to be applauded. The guards were implicated but not to the point of illegality. Their reaction is classified as something less than desire or fully moral, though certainly within the framework of their duties, especially considering the violent circumstances at the school.
That the Ohio Grand Jury did not buckle to pressures of youthful demonstrators, a generally critical media, and the almost universal display of sentimentality is to their credit. As students, we view with disgust and fear the Shootings at Kent State. But though the guard reacted strongly, we must admit that they did not react maliciously! Many guardsmen are college age. Some are Kent State students, others attend other colleges. Many Kent students participated in the senseless burning of the ROTC building. Many threw back tear gas cannisters (as did one of the students shot) and many, including some of the wounded and killed, were found to be in possession of concrete and stone, potential projectiles.
We must realize that the FBI and other national institutions felt compelled to desist from a hard line against the students for fear of talk about repression and further campus unrest. Yet, while those politically minded organs had to respond equivocally, if an equitable system of justice is to prevail, the courts must not be concerned with outside pressures and opinions as the former are. The Kent State people, therefore, were charged with riotous behavior, arson, assault, etc, (crimes they might very well have committed).
If Mr. Geller believes Scranton is so adept in truth-finding then it would be logical to assume that he gives Scranton equal applause concerning the latter’s nd less evasive and ambiguous Middle East report.
Concerning the President's Commission on Pornography: Which President? All but one of the commission members, the dissenting opinion, were appointed by Johnson. Mr. Nixon challenged the report on several grounds, the first being that it was a lame duck commission, definitely partisan, and that he had nothing to do with its creation.
Mr. Nixon, worried about the demoralized American society, did not base his criticism of the report on contradictory research. He never attempted to play the anti-intellectual sweep Mr. Geller makes him out to be and doubt the hard facts. (Although we intellectuals know any commission can find any facts with any research that it sets out to find the first place — observe the many contradictory polls of the individual candidates in the previous election.)
Mr. Nixon simply said that there is nothing good to be gotten out of smut, so why should we help the moral decay of America in any way. I'm sure those same sentiments are expressed by many of our roshei yeshiva, students and Mr. Geller himself. probably even in the face of such conclusive data.
We at Yeshiva who pride ourselves in being so intellectual, we Jews who sometimes can not find it within ourselves to vote for a man who is not sophisticated or class enough, should at least be consistent, sophisticated and intellectual in our own approaches. If our emotions are to be guides for our policies and actions, then who are we to condemn and criticize less educated Americans for doing the same.
Eliot Lauer '71
The Editor replies:
I must accuse Mr. Lauer of the same thing for which he accuses me—injecting his own emotions into his conclusions rather than the facts garnered from research and examination. He claims that the Ohio Grand Jury did implicate the National Guard at Kent State, only decided there were no grounds for prosecution. Why then, only a few hours after my column appeared, did the New York Post, which had undoubtedly investigated the matter more thoroughly than Mr. Lauer, write that the grand jury “exonerated the Guard?”
Mr. Lauer insinuated that the reports of the FBI and the Scranton Commission were muted in a political move to placate the students. The government has not been known for coddling college students (listen to Mr. Agnew for five minutes) and I find it difficult to believe that they chose this one moment to do so.
Mr. Lauer admits that Nixon had no better reason for dismissing the report on pornography than “nothing good is to be gotten out of smut.” I agree with that. But nothing good is to be gotten out of cigarettes (they're probably harmful) and yet they are not banned. Mr. Lauer views personal freedoms in rather contradictory terms, I think.