Can a protest be polite?

Pro- and anti-Vietnam war demonstrators await Rusk's visit

In my last post I discussed the controversial Dow Chemical Sit-in, which served as a catalyst for student anger against the administration.  Today I have a short post about an event that, at the time, was seen as far more important than Dow recruiters being on campus.  Public reaction to protesters at the two events was also markedly different, which begs the question; can one protest an event or person without violating societal decorum?

Rusk speaks while IU President Stahr looks on

 

On October 31, 1967, just a day after the disastrous sit-in at the IU business school, United States Secretary of State Dean Rusk arrived on campus to give a scheduled speech.  As a major shaper of President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam policy, Secretary Rusk was a natural target for anti-war protests on many campuses he visited.  In the lead-up to his visit, leaders from a number of different left-leaning student organizations on campus worked fervently to plan an organized protest. Flyers and signs were created and handed out prior to Rusk’s speech.  Outside the auditorium, demonstrators (both students and some professors) carried anti-war signs.  These were met by even greater numbers of administration supporters carrying signs of their own.  Inside the packed venue, around 200 protesters wore “peace” armbands and heckled Rusk with cries of “Liar!” and “Murderer!” at key points in his speech.

Anti-war protesters hold up "Peace" armbands during Rusk's speech

Unlike the chaotic Dow Chemical sit-in of the day before, the protest went off without a hitch, with no physical confrontations or arrests.  Public reaction to the demonstrators was decidedly negative, however, as students, professors and townspeople alike felt that the heckling during the speech had crossed a serious line of decorum.  Midwestern values notwithstanding, members of the New Left would continue to use confrontational tactics in the years to come to protest against American involvement in Vietnam.

 

The Henry H. H. Remak Collection- Processing Blog #4

Recently, I heard an IU alumnus apply an appropriate description to Professor Remak. She called him a true “renaissance man,” and I hope that my blog posts thus far have shown this to be true. Having taught and, at various points, served in an administrative capacity at IU for just under sixty years, Remak contributed much to IU and the Bloomington community. While most who knew him will remember him best as a caring teacher and friend, Remak was also a dedicated and successful scholar on a variety of subjects.

Since a comprehensive list of his professional interests would be quite extensive I will only mention several of the most prominent to the collection: the modern German novella and novel; German writers Goethe, Fontane and Thomas Mann; Franco-German literary and cultural relations; European Romanticism; and comparative student movements and countercultures of the 1960s and 70s. The collection contains a particularly rich source of information pertaining to the last of these. In addition to publishing several articles about student movements/life in Western Europe and the U. S., Henry Remak also taught an honors course that focused not only on student unrest at the university level but also faculty unrest, which he refers to in his course description as a “much neglected problem.”

The collection contains several files on this topic with German, French and American newspaper clippings, many of which were sent to him by friends living or traveling in Western Europe. Also contained in the files are some interesting ephemera, such as a newsletter from the University of Hamburg which gives a detailed chronology of student protests that occurred between January and February of 1969. Another particularly rare document from an earlier time and a much earlier era of political and educational unrest is a letter written by Ludwig Borne to his friend, Jacob Mass, in 1835. Ludwig Borne, who must have interested Henry Remak for both his relevance to student movements and for the fact that he immigrated to France due to religious persecution, was among a group of German writers who inspired young German liberals, especially students, to protest the rigid authority and Romantic ideology prevalent at the time.

Letter from Ludwig Borne to Jacob Maas, 1835

Professor Remak’s interest in student movements from this time period carried over, in many ways, to his concern for the structure and organization of IU. More specifically, Remak remained constantly watchful of student and faculty welfare, as evidenced by his research, publications and lectures given on topics of concern or needed areas of improvement for the organization and structure of the university, and even the interaction between faculty, students and administrators.

I had meant to deviate from the theme of my previous posts on this collection, but I think I’ve simply reiterated my earlier realization. Even in his scholarly research, Professor Remak seemed bent on safeguarding his beloved university, students and friends.