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May 25, 1947 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1947-05-25

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Page Two



EDITOR .,... .. ...... ......... .. ...... . .. . . . . Margery Wald
EDITORIAL STAFF: Doris Cohen, Don Curto, June Friedenberg, Ferne S. La-
Due, Joan Lochner, June Miller, Harry Moses, Sue Siris, Dave Stewart.
ADVISORY BOARD. ........... Arno L. Bader, Morris Greenhut, Allan Seager
Academic Freedom

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This essay was pre-
sented to the open forum on Academic
Freedom last April 27, by John L. Brumm,
Professor of Journalism, University of
y MODEST contribution to this oc-
casion will be an attempt to define
its purpose. It should be clearly under-
stood, I think, that we are not here in
a spirit of rebellion, concerned to pro-
voke a united protest against any al-
leged grievance. We are unfurling no
banners of defiance; nor are we rally-
ing to the defence of crumbling bar-
Rather, we are assembled to take
such intelligent counsel together as may
be possible concerning issues of more
significance to the public generally than
the withdrawal of official recognition
of a student organization. The larger
interest to which we as a university
public should give earnest thought is
the increasing threat abroad in the land
against what is known as "academic
The Student-Faculty Committee on
Academic Freedom, which I have been
asked to represent on this occasion, has
been duly recognized by the University.
This committee has defined academic
freedom in two senses. In its "narrow
and technical" sense, it is defined as
the freedom of the teacher to discover
and teach the truth within the limits
of his own specialty and the freedom of
the student to select the studies he will
pursue. In its broader sense, it is de-
fined as the civic freedom or right, rec-
ognized under all liberal governments,
of any person to advocate any opinion
or policy which does not incite to crime
or violence. The issue, of course, would
be one for the courts of justice to de-
These rights are explicitly or implic-
itly recognized by our national and state
constitutions. The Committee on Aca-
demic Freedom expressly rejects the
assumption that teachers, beeause they
are public servants, and students, be-
cause they are public wards, are, by the
very nature of. thei status, restricted
in the exercise of the civic freedom ac-
corded to other citizens. And this lim'-
itation is rejected, not solely in the
interests of teachers and students, but
in the larger interests of the public, as
well. It is recognized, to be sure, that,
while the teacher is entitled to freedom
in the classroom in discussing his sub-
ject, he may be expected to avoid con-
troversial questions that have no rela-
tion to his subject. It is also recognized
that, when a teacher speaks or writes
as a citizen, he should be free from
institutional censorship or discipline. He
should, however, when speaking or writ-
ing as a citizen, take every precaution
against being mistakenly judged to be
speaking or writing professionally or as
a representative of his institution.
The Committee on AcademicFreedom,
aware of the suppression of freedom of
inquiry and freedom of speech in many
parts of the world today-and the in-
creasing threat of it here in our own
country-is vitally concerned to safe-
guard these precious liberties within our
schools and colleges. Certainly, the
scholar should be protected in the exer-
cise of his responsibility of dealing crit-
ically with the subject-matter which
comprises his specialized field of study.
Experience has shown that a censored,
suppressed, and timid faculty cannot
provide the inspired and competent ed-
ucational leadership that is essential to
a free society and that a student body
exposed to that kind of leadership will
have little to contribute to an enlight-
ened citizenship. No pressure of selfish
interests, therefore, should be permit-
ted to reduce teaching and learning to

subserviance, and no teacher should On
ever be compelled, through overt or
covert threat, to make a choice between
the sacrifice of his intellectual integrity
and economic security. I:As
There can be no doubt, as the Com- She
mittee on Academic Freedom declares in An
its modest manifesto, that "those in-
stitutions stand highest in the academic
world which have taken the greatest M0
risks on the side of freedom and the Are
fewest risks on the side of censorship An
and repression." And it calls attention
to the fact that students should no
longer be regarded as immature wards
of the state. Many of them are veter-
ans of the most devastating war in his-
tory. It would, therefore, be a gross
injustice not to treat them as adult cit-
izens. If, by reason of their more or less
protracted withdrawal from the normal
life of the citizen they are in any way
backward in citizenship training, it is
because the fighting of a war has sub-
stituted military for civilian discipline-
a consideration which makes it all the
more desirable and necessary that they
should recapture the meaning of free-
dom in an environment dedicated to
free inquiry and expression.
Incidentally, the Committee on Acal
demic Freedom feels that these broad
generalizations should apply "no less
to communism than to any other
form of opinion."-So far as communists
really engage in unlawful activities, such
as sabotage and espionage in the inter-
ests of a foreign power, they can and
should be punished under the authority
of the law. But "so long as their alien
sympathies lead only to talk and writing
and open organization, they should be
met only by the wiser words and the
sounder arguments of others. Commu-
nists, in the opinion of the Committee,
are a negligible minority. Their free-
dom of speech constitutes no threat to
sober, unterrified men and women."
Our interest in academic freedom
should arouse us to the fact that a
fear complex, engendered by the atomic
bomb, has revived a witch-hunting cru-
sade that may prove to be a dangerous
threat to civil liberties generally. In-
itiated by the old Dies Committee, and
now carried on by the House of Repre-
sentatives Committee on Un-American
Activities, this crusade, however legiti-
mate its original purpose, has degener-
ated into an harassment and intimida-
tion of all sorts of persons and groups
whose social, economic, and political
views meet with the disapproval of this
inquisitorial body. This Committee is
to be regarded as inquisitorial because
it allows those whom it accuses no op-
portunity to answer the charges against
them, no advice'- of counsel, and no
knowledge of the source of the charges
brought against them. This undemo-
cratic procedure is a menace because it
corrupts public opinion and stigmatizes
any person who may advocate views and
practices unacceptable to a group in
no way restricted by rules of evidence
or the right of defence. Should this
iniquitous practice invade our schools
and colleges, it would imperil free in-
quiry and expression and thus blight
democracy at its very source.
If the world is to survive in this nu-
clear age, it will be because mankind
avails itself of all the knowledge and
wisdom and good will it can command
in a cooperative enterprise of building
a civilization that is secure against the
fears and hatreds and brutalities that
now threaten it. Our immediate task
and privilege, within the larger frame-
work of enlightened leadership, is to
cherish and preserve the freedoms of
thought and discussion upon which
statesmen and citizens must depend for
inspiration and guidance.

The Aunt
ditor's Note: Karl Shapiro sent this poem to Perspectivs
er his recent visit to Ann Arbor. It will appear in his
xt book.)
e aunt that binds her bosoms in her wrath
sow completely covered. Never again
il1 she go naked, even in her bath,
d she shall switch the uncovered girl of ten,
d scald the teapot twice and puff at dust,
ting the China vase, her egg-shell soul;
the white skin of her inverted lust
'ar charity as a deacon wears his stole.
if in rage the -blood has left her lips,
stuffs with straw her buttocks and her thghs
d squats down on the broomstick of -her hips
re hideous than disease. O Christian hag!
these the vestments of your last disguise,
old hat in a field, a flapping rag?
-Karl Shapiro
Spring moved west in the morning
slowly across the room,
including in its sweep
her eager figure
held in fragile cloth,
caught in dust-filled light
as relic through glass.
"I want no more." she cried
'than life each spring."
She spread her slender fingers on the table
making print upon the wood
and sat contained in being
uttering no sound
est stirring wake a god of darkness;
her eyes were more than stone.
-Don LaBdie
Soldier's Recitative
although my sight was broken by a seson
knowing only frost, no motion and white
tapping of snows beside the dead;
and the ear remembers rhythmatically
the march; here, the hushed ascending
of the shore sounds and dwindles, shawls
about the senses a new warmth.
And peace is spacious.
Joy seems isolated of itself
as single as the clock's tick
taken from the hour;
But soon the levees sway,
the rock diminishing
unherds a roar of disonance
upon this scene of old arms bent
in robust rhythms, -for they,
having slept in leisure, loved,
tended colors of many years,
should play my part. And I . . . I
should stroke the music into being.
Yet I hold visions of unison,
each digression finding its path
nto resolution.

And those who pause before the end,
and those who draw their bows across the tune,
and those who sit upon the cushions snoozing, -
perhaps I shall wave them shortly into motion,
perhaps when the skill is in the fingers.
Now ... well, I would as soon listen.
Let the old man goateed and trembling with his art
turn melodies. I am weary
having ventured beyond my years and burdens.
-D. C'ben

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