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Protests: And Now the Nouvelle Gauche

2 minute read

Unhappiness can be not having a draft card to burn. Or being clean shaven with a bearded conscience. Staughton Lynd, 36, is draft-exempt and beardless, vows to “defend all the bearded ways of protesting Viet Nam” — even to advancing, in support of pro-Viet Cong sentiment, as hairy a non sequitur as: “After all, many Englishmen sympathized with the Americans during the Revolution.” He is, after all, an assistant professor of history at Yale.

Lynd has found fame as a spokesman for the chaotic, campus-centered welter of organizations that styles itself America’s “New Left.” The Nouvelle Gauche might be more appropriate. Lynd’s dialectical credentials are 1) Trotskyism (in 1949), 2) Marxism (current), 3) Quakerism (current) and 4) pacifism (current). Last August he was splattered with red paint by angry spectators during a peace march in Washington. He needed no other credentials to be included on a Nouvelle Gauche expedition to Hanoi.

Last week it was revealed that he had left the U.S. on Dec. 19 to seek peace talks in Viet Nam. With him went two other self-anointed emissaries — Herbert Aptheker, 50, longtime top ideologue of the U.S. Communist Party, and Thomas Hayden, 26, a founder of the Students for a Democratic Society. Before the trio left, Lynd said modestly: “We have no assurance that we can add anything to American understanding of the other side’s approach to peace. But the recent bombing of Haiphong and the danger that this dreadful war may be further escalated confirm us in the feeling that we should try.”

All three were committing a criminal act by going. By law, U.S. passports are invalid for travel in Cuba, Red China, Albania, North Korea and North Viet Nam. Violators face not only the confiscation of their passports but a $5,000 fine and five years in prison as well.

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