The Mail

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

The American resumption of nuclear tests in the atmosphere poses issues which deserve the most earnest consideration. A group of junior faculty members recently published a protest which, among other things, called attention to the lack of a full dress public debate on the matter and, above all, to the failure of the administration to make its case in adequate detail before the public.

The reply of Professors Hoffman and Kissinger (CRIMSON, May 17) is an unseemly performance by normal standards of taste and logic. They say that anyone who has waded through the arguments pro and con would find this protest incredible. They conclude that "there are only two possible explanations" for the manifesto. One is described as the blind, deaf liberalism of the thirties. The other is ignorance born of overwork.

The writers of this letter must surely be aware of the difference between the mere availability of a mass of evidence and argumentation through which one might "wade," and a public debate pin-pointing the significant considerations for an audience which extends rather beyond the Cambridge-Washington community. The administration has never come before the people with the basis for its decision in anything like the detail-sown broadcast in the matter of the Steel price rise.

But what is most striking about the communique from Professors Hoffman and Kissinger is their rude refusal, within the local community of scholars, to argue soberly in behalf of their evident commitment to test resumpton. Instead of answering the protest, they pretend to explain it in the manner noted above. Prior to this letter, such rhetoric was the special property of Goldwater, Nixon, Buckley and Welch. Now it is introduced into the Harvard community in this defensive and fake "answer" to a protest against a government policy which the writers themselves admit is open to legitimate challenge.


There is, of course, another possible explanation for the junior faculty protest. It is the more likely one that the signers are aware that the resumption of nuclear tests is inappropriately decided in terms of game-playing strategy and probability. The protesters may well be concerned with the irreversibility of consequences from the decision to test, be these an extended alternation of U.S. and Russian testing, or the progressive poisoning of the life space. In view of what is at stake in the decisions which have been made and those yet to be made, the reply of these senior faculty members is unworthy. And it does not inspire one with confidence to know that one of the authors of this arrogant letter plays an important part in the decision-making. Morton H. Levine,   Department of Anthropology.

Recommended Articles