The raspberry statement

Current events at Columbia may call to mind events at Columbia circa 1968. Before matriculating at Dartmouth in the fall of 1969, I joined a group of incoming freshmen who met to discuss Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul On Ice and Columbia undergrad James Simon Kunen’s just-published The Strawberry Statement.

We didn’t take Cleaver’s book particularly seriously and Eric Hoffer did even less so. He caustically mocked it as Soul On Horse Manure. However, Kunen’s book enjoyed a warm reception. I recall reading a Literary Guild book club edition for our group discussion (and the book remains in print). The next year it was turned into a bad movie with a good soundtrack (trailer below).

The title of Kunen’s book alluded to remarks on Columbia student protests made by the aptly named Columbia Dean Herbert Deane in a 1967 interview with the school newspaper. Referring to Kunen and his ilk, Dean Deane opined that the views of students should not necessarily influence university policy. He explained, not unreasonably, “Whether students vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a given issue means as much to me as if they were to tell me they like strawberries.” Mister, we could use a man like Dean Deane again.

It occurs to me that current events at Columbia call for The Raspberry Statement. Washington Free Beacon reporter Aaron Sibarium may be the man to write the book. He tells the story here and in the series of tweets below.

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