Sunday, April 18, 2004

FSM @ UCSB circa 1965

I received this letter from Peter Young back in 2001. His observations of the Free Speech Movement at UCSB in 1965 I think are important:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Young"
Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2001 10:19 AM
Subject: Message from a Reformed Moderate

Dear Malcolm,

I've just read snippets from your monumental work so far, and have a comment about the pre-Bank of Amerika UCSB. I finished there in 1965, the year of the Free Speech Movement. While I would agree with your statement that the response to the FSM at UCSB was moderate, that there was a response at all on that campus--someone called it "Madison Avenue on a Surfboard"--was amazing. There was a small group of Marxists within the UCSB version of the FSM, which was called Students for Free Political Action, and their demands monopolized the student government's agenda that year. I was editor of El Gaucho that year from November, 1994 onwards, and I supported both the FSM and the SFPA generally in my editorials, much to the dismay of Cheadle and his cronies.

Frankly, I didn't like being cast, even by general reference, as a moderate in your piece, perhaps because I recognized the truth of it, and that prompted me to think a bit. Most of us are at college/university for only four years, and radicalization is a process that, at least for some folks, takes a few years. Most of the people who supported the SFPA in 1965 were by no means moderate a year or two later.

Moreover, the political climate was entirely different in 1971 than it had been in 1964-65. The students who had been active in SFPA in 1964-65 would have been outside the burning bank had they been born six years later.

By the way, I came back to Santa Barbara as a lawyer the day after the bank burned down to help the local lawyers in visiting and interviewing the jailed students. So did a couple of my comrades at the Venice office of the Neighborhood Legal Services Society, a poverty law office. It was amazing to see tanks rolling and the national guard marching down Storke Road to I.V.

The last time I saw I.V. was about 10 years ago; I stopped by on my way back from the Bay Area. It looked a perfectly horrible place.

Best wishes,

Peter Young

No comments:

Post a Comment