At Columbia, A History Of Boorishness

This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.

The New York Sun

As a young woman, I had such a high opinion of Columbia University that I purchased some book covers adorned with its logo. My foolish notion was to impress complete strangers with the idea that I could afford to attend the Ivy League institution, when in actuality I was at tuition-free Hunter College.

My infatuation ended when the Columbia students rioted in 1968, proving that the revered university accepted morons into its hallowed halls. The riot that took place last Wednesday showed that Columbia hasn’t changed its admission standards.

In April, I wrote a column asking, “Are liberals the worst bigots of all?” The left-leaning Columbia students apparently answered that question in the affirmative on Wednesday, as they railed against the appearance of two Minutemen Project representatives and repeatedly yelled the “n” word at the black director of the movement, Marvin Stewart. The students then stormed the stage when the Minutemen founder, Jim Gilchrist, stood up to speak, thus giving lie to the concept of free speech at this bastion of tolerant elitism. In fact, such trashy behavior has become more synonymous with liberal academia than the tradition of good taste that’s supposed to accompany a fine education.


In 1968, the Columbia students claimed they rioted over the building of a gym in a public park, but it was also because they felt the university was complicit in the Vietnam War by allowing ROTC drills on the South Field, military and CIA recruiters on campus, and military experiments in its labs.

It wasn’t their decision to protest these issues that led to the forfeit of my respect, but the manner in which these protests were conducted. I loathe violence, having witnessed so much of it in the barrio of my childhood. I can certainly understand protests such as those that occur in underdeveloped countries, where the hopelessness of life leaves few options for escape other than to violently overthrow the ruling powers. The Columbia student protesters did not fit into that category. These well-fed, middle-class individuals with the promise of the good life ahead of them trashed, burned, and stole university property and generally behaved like barbaric peasants.

Some but not all faculty members supported these riots. A Columbia historian, Richard B.Morris, abhorred the violence and was disgusted by the students and their illegal rampage. While he never spoke out in public about the riots, he kept a historical record of the events that are compiled in a book by Richard Ranlet, “Richard B. Morris and American History in the Twentieth Century.” In an article for the Historic News Network, Mr. Ranlet writes that Mr. Morris and his generation respected the law. “How could the war be ended by radical students urinating out of windows, as they did, or by their screaming obscenities, or by their very public sexual intercourse on the campus, which disgusted Morris?”


Well, these students were in my generation and they disgusted me as well. In my neck of the woods, Hunter College students were just as concerned about civil rights and injustice, but demonstrated a lot more sophistication than our Ivy League contemporaries. I recall the uproar that marked a scheduled speaking appearance by the leader of the American Nazi Party, Lincoln Rockwell. Rockwell was unable to attend, and the rumor was that he was arrested en route to Hunter. A substitute neo-Nazi by the name of Ryan delivered his hate speech to a large audience that groaned and sometimes booed at the nonsensical hate spewing from the young man’s extremely thin lips. We didn’t storm the stage, interrupt his speech, or hurl epithets. Many of the students were Jewish and certainly had just cause to object to any Nazi speech, yet they allowed the speaker to reveal in his own words the banality of the neo-Nazi movement, which was the best course of action.

Contrast that scenario to the absurdity of what happened at Columbia University last Wednesday. The Minutemen Project is a group of volunteers who patrol the borders and alert the authorities when they see illegals attempting to enter our country from Mexico. They have a constitutional right to do so to protect our borders. The student protesters carried signs calling the Minutemen racists while their cohorts shouted the “n” word at a black man. Disgraceful!

One student banner read “Workers of the World unite,” clearly identifying the Marxist ideology of the groups.


The very best thing Columbia University can do to salvage its reputation would be to hunt down all the students who participated in the anti-free-speech riot and expel them. Shouting and rioting are the trademarks of those who have nothing of merit to say.

Besides, these students simply have no class.

The New York Sun

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