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September 28, 2006


Wow. Times change, huh? Who paid for the ad?

I don't remember whether I had anything to do with that first moratorium. I was a very, very raw freshman at the time and still getting my feet on the ground barely a month after starting college. I remember a friend singing "mo-ra-tor-ium" to the "volga boatmen" tune in a stairwell of the freshman dorm; his deep voice resonated in the small space. It must have been during one that followed in the spring that I went into the suburbs of Utica to take around a petition with a woman freshman I didn't know.
Most of the houses had no one home, and a few turned us away.
But one old man took my clipboard and signed it boldly, then turned it to us and said, "See that name? That was my son's name.
"He was a quarterback, a star, everyone knows that name. He died over there."
By the time we had gotten to that house, I had worked up a line of patter I could deliver with confidence. But after that, we just stammered our thanks and carried on down the rest of the street to the car waiting for us. I don't even remember the woman's name.
I had always preferred to stand apart from politics and emotionalism -- I'm sure the feeling affected my choice of career -- but there were a few times like that when I felt I had a duty to get involved. But I've gotten more, not less passionate about public affairs over the years.

Sorry to ramble on..

Boy, does that bring back memories. Those were scary times, but somehow we didn't feel as despairing; it seemed we could change things by fighting back. Now everything is so locked in place that even with the administration's ratings in the basement, it looks like the same gang of corrupt thugs will probably keep on running the place, just with different front men. I've been reading about Russia in the years after 1905 (deeply unpopular war, stubbornly reactionary government, growing frustration among liberals), and the parallels are striking. (Speaking of striking, why aren't workers doing that any more?)


I really enjoyed that post. What a flashback! I was attending the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa at that time. We had maybe 10,000 people at each of the anti-war rallies. Heady times! Soldiers just coming back from the war were speaking out against it....When will we ever learn...to quote Pete Seeger

Interesting, I was much more hopeless then than I am now, politically; back in those days I didn't expect the human race still to be extant in ten years. Since we've actually muddled through over thirty, with the second half of the 20th century turning out, on the balance, no worse than the first half, we're doing way better than I expected. I wonder if the difference is that I really don't remember the prelapsarian times. I came to political consciousness thinking that my government was evil, even more evil, in fact, than it turned out to have been. So it all looks like up to me.

thank you so much for posting this, beth! wow, does it bring back the memories. back then there was a tacit understanding that we had the right to protest the war, to 'critique' it, and the media cooperated, or at least didn't stonewall us. let's see, in 1968 I was just starting at Temple U. in Philly and i remember going to the March on Washington in...was it 1969? I felt torn apart inside by that war, mostly because the people around me were suffering so much. One of my high school friends lost four of her five brothers to it, and she hated me for being against the war. (I was the poster-peacenik in our conservative, working-class neighborhood, full of soldier-sons.) sad times, hard times.

ps - language hat asks a good question about why workers aren't striking any more.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.