- 69 business
- In Memoriam
- The Ds of Old
The Parkhurst Problem (comment from Randy Dominic)
Randy Dominic notes that he enjoyed the 50th Reunion but asked that the following be shared with our Class:
I was profoundly disappointed that the one event from our college days deemed worthy of remembering was when some of us decided to exercise their First Amendment rights by denying them to the rest of us. Did we learn nothing in our four years at Dartmouth?
I was there at Parkhurst: I pushed through the demonstrators to help remove ROTC files from the building while it was still possible to do so. Later I watched and waited for the authorities to act. Fortunately they did.
Actions have consequences.
If Thoreau taught us nothing else about civil disobedience, it was that the moral force of any action comes from a willingness to accept those consequences. On that basis alone the two Parkhurst occupiers on stage Friday had no right to congratulate themselves. Without consequences “Hell, no, I won’t go” is merely sanctimonious self-interest masquerading as virtue.
That one of the two was a woman underlines the fact that agitators who were not part of the student body routinely used Dartmouth as a stage for their political theater. Her remark about how great it was that women portrayed the Parkhurst demonstrators was particularly upsetting. Why is gender germane? Identity politics robs us of our most important attribute: our individuality.
Left unmentioned Friday was “Our Day”, when people with opposing views on the war stood in parallel lines on the Green. John Lallis – our classmate and an Army ROTC cadet – and I organized this event because we wanted to demonstrate our support for the ‘boys in the bunkers’. We distributed mimeographed fliers throughout the community. We did not interfere with the anti-war protestors, even though many (most?) were bussed in from Franconia College and elsewhere. In a civil society one accords others’ views the same consideration one expects for one’s own. As Voltaire did not say – but should have -- “I wholly disapprove of what you say—and will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Those in uniform did not necessarily agree with the war or how it was fought. Most went simply because their government sent them. Protestors who spat at them on their return never stopped to consider their own complicity: America is a republic, and We the People dictate policy. If government policy does not reflect my views the failure is mine. I should have fought harder to convince others. Above all my actions must be consistent with the principles I express.
John was commissioned in June ’69 and eventually served in Vietnam. I enlisted in the Army after graduation because I felt it was my duty as a citizen. I was injured in a training accident in September, 1969, and was hospitalized for 14 months. I served for 2 years and was honorably discharged in 1971. I was never in the war zone but I am proud to be a service-connected disabled veteran.