by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
At San Francisco State, it began with a fire in a dormitory. Hundreds of students awoke to a screaming alarm and rushed from their rooms in bathrobes as smoke and flames rose 30 feet from the roof. That no one was killed or injured was a miracle. The three-alarm fire left the social room of Merced Hall a smoking ruin. The year was 1967. The following year, the campus would be host (and I use that term advisedly) to the longest “student strike” in history. Dozens more fires were set, and radical students were able to shut down the entire campus for four months (there was even an attempted bombing). The college administration, in the face of law breaking, beatings and intimidation by radical students, backed off like cowards. …
… University presidents from Yale (Kingman Brewster), Columbia (Grayson Kirk) and Cornell (James Perkins), among countless others, responded with pusillanimity to the radicals’ absurd demands and tactics.
But not at San Francisco State. Two presidents in quick succession had resigned rather than confront the students who were disrupting campus and committing violent crimes. And then came a third. A seemingly unprepossessing professor of semantics named S. I. Hayakawa was appointed acting president. As the radicals were chanting, drum beating and refusing to disperse, he jumped up on one of the sound trucks and pulled the plug on their speakers.
Instantly, he became a national hero, a celebrity status he was able to parlay into a seat in the U.S. Senate from California.
Hayakawa had no trouble rejecting the cant and cowardice all around him. Asked why, being of Japanese extraction, he didn’t side with minorities, he said he certainly did, but the radical activists did not speak for the majority of blacks or anyone else. They were media creations, he said, adding that TV news suffers from an excess of “show business values.”
There’s an opportunity awaiting someone, anyone, on today’s campuses, too. Stand up to the social-justice warriors, tell the truth, and you may find yourself a household name.