H. Bruce Franklin was the center of attention at Stanford University’s White Plaza one winter day in 1971. The steely-eyed, raven-haired associate English professor delivered a fiery speech during a campus rally. Stray dogs ran laps around the crossed legs of student revolutionaries as Franklin spit his ire toward an unlikely target: the campus computer center. As he and other activists had recently learned, the facility was helping the U.S. Navy develop a program named Gamut-H, which would be used for an amphibious invasion in North Vietnam.
The time for token acts of protest was over, Franklin declared, urging protestors to do real damage to the institutions of imperialism and citing the building as a “good target.” Soon after Professor Franklin’s speech, more than a hundred students scaled the fence of the center, broke open the back door, climbed to the roof to hoist flags in support of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front, and occupied the building. Their actions resulted in a daylong revolutionary melee. Riot police stormed the campus, the teenage son of a history professor was shot, and Franklin became the first tenured professor to ever be fired from Stanford.
This wasn’t the only incident of its kind in the day: the year before, the mathematician Peter Lax saved the computer at New York University from a similar attack. At the time I wrote the piece on that attack (2012) I made the following observations:
The fact is that the left, very much in the driver’s seat in this country these days, is largely the follow-up to the 1960’s radical agenda. One should think of the 2008 election; the Democratic primary was a battle between a 60’s radical who was actually there (Hillary Clinton) and one who absorbed the philosophy of its leading light (Barack Obama/Bill Ayers). Two years before the incident at New York University, Mary Hopkin recorded the Russian song “Those Were the Days” which included the following prophetic lyrics:
Oh my friend we’re older but no wiser
For in our hearts the dreams are still the same
That’s pretty much where the American left is at. Their dreams, Luddite to the core, have never changed, and they are certainly “older but no wiser”. They can wrap themselves in their “scientific” flag all they want, but their vision of life would take us back to a more primitive stage of living if fully implemented (assuming we survived the shock). That’s why, for example, they would never dare consider nuclear power to reduce greenhouse gases, even though Greenpeace’s founder has seen daylight on the issue.
Today we’re pretty much on steroids with all of this. The Antifa and BLM people who terrorize our cities are the successors of those 1960’s and 1970’s radicals, complete with the children of the privileged at the ramparts. This time, however, they have more support from those who own and operate this society, although they will pull the plug if they think their own privilege is being threatened.
The more serious question is this: it wasn’t a given that this country, weakened then as now by these kinds of movements, avoided loss to the Soviets. So what’s going to stop a country, weakened again by its own guilty elites, from being rolled by the Chinese?