Thursday, October 02, 2014
"Free Speech Movement" and its 50 Year Devolvement
It was 50 years ago this week that Mario Savio delivered his iconic speech from atop a police car in Sproul Plaza at the University of California at Berkeley.
The moment was epic in that it triggered the beginning of what became known as the "Free Speech Movement" (FSM).
The moment and the speech gave rise to nationwide anti-war demonstrations that led to civil disobedience that ultimately led to anti-America demonstrations, that then led to an abandonment of the very principles upon which this nation was founded. And an abandonment of most all civil and moral restraint.
In pursuit of "freedom," many of that generation abandoned the principles that provide freedom.
I remember it well.
I, too, was a college student, but was following a very different path.
As "FSM" is celebrated this week, it creates an opportunity to reflect on "then" and "now"---and on "tomorrow."
"FSM:The Tribute" is a musical playing this week at Berkeley Repertory Theater in tribute to the movement.
Mario Savio's son, Daniel, co-wrote the production.
It was Jack Weinberg, a graduate student, who coined the phrase, "Never Trust Anyone Over 30" while speaking at the event. That phrase carried out into the culture and has had measurable consequences.
That became the mantra of a generation and it was no meaningless phrase.
Dennis Prager believes the viewpoint not to trust adults gave way to the undermining of parental authority and that of the clergy as well, consequently fostering many of the social problems we face today.
The FSM began with peace rallies being led by socialist folk singers like Joan Baez and Woody Guthrie.
However, the intensity grew. Demonstrations against the Vietnam War soon became demonstrations against America itself and all that our country stands for.
Then came the clash at Kent State University between the National Guard and demonstrating students, sadly leaving 4 dead.
The movement became more extreme, giving rise to demonstrations at American embassies in Europe and elsewhere, which then led to a level of violence and the bombing of American government buildings here in the U.S.
Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn (now Ayer's wife) would start the Weather Underground, a group of domestic terrorists who would not only demonstrate but bomb government facilities.
Ayers and his wife still carry these views. Both are college professors.
Bill Ayers and his wife, you may recall, hosted Barack Obama's first political fund raising event in their home as he began his political career in Chicago.
In more recent years, Ayers has reaffirmed to the New York Times that he still holds the beliefs he held back in those days, telling the Times, "I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough."
During those early "FSM" days, I too was in college preparing for the ministry attending Northwest University and Bellevue College---while also working full time.
It was in a night class at Bellevue College that I experienced the fury of "Free Speech" for the first time.
My professor ripped the US flag from the wall of the classroom, threw it on the floor and began wiping his feet on it, while going off on a 20-minute rant about how much he hated this country. And why.
The professor, I'm sure, had no idea the lasting impression that made on me. Born and raised in the orchards of the Yakima Valley, I had not seen anything like it before---in or out of a classroom.
I shared the experience with one of my professors at Northwest University, the late Dr. Amos Millard.
It was Dr. Millard who helped shape my understanding of how the worldview of leaders shape the culture, and the consequences that would follow in the next generation.
Dr. Millard was, of course, a strong believer in biblical principles being advocated in the culture as well as embraced personally.
We had many subsequent discussions about those times, both personally and in the classroom.
A few years ago I received an email from an aging Dr. Millard.
He wrote: "Gary I read your article every day. Keep up the good work. Remember the discussions we had in the classroom back in the 1960s? We are seeing the consequences of decisions made then in our culture today. It will not improve until clergy and Christian leaders speak to the culture as you are doing. That is the only remedy. Continue to do what you do. I'm praying for you. Amos."
We corresponded until he passed away.
I miss him.
Karl Marx said, "Man is God, and religion is the opiate of the people."
That generation bought into his lie.
Today the secular left progressives see religion, particularly Christianity, as the primary obstacle to "progress."
Lenin and Stalin agreed with Marx and closed the churches and synagogues.
The roots of freedom were planted much deeper in America, giving the secular progressives a greater challenge. However, they have heeded Marx's call and have taken that "long march through our institutions."
Public education has become essentially "government run" education. And rather than "educating," the system "indoctrinates" each new class of students to the ways of the secular progressive, attacking nearly every biblical,conservative value and principle that made America the nation it has become.
While indoctrinating, secular progressives have facilitated the passage of laws that penalize and punish those who disagree, regardless of their deeply held religious beliefs.
The institutions of natural, biblical marriage and the sanctity of life are banner examples.
Think of how many small business owners are now facing the crushing force of the law because of their biblical beliefs regarding homosexuality and abortion.
The concept of "Don't trust anyone over 30" has morphed to an all out effort to fully undermine parental authority and influence.
Laws and policies have been put in place which now pit the parent against the state in too many instances regarding everything from sex-ed, which has been co-opted by the homosexual advocacy groups, to the sanctity of life curriculum provided through Planned Parenthood and its allies.
The parent is often shut out of the process, sometimes with legal force---sometimes by deceit.
The late James D. Freedman, former president of Dartmouth University, said in his 2002 commencement address, "The purpose of a college education is to question your father's values."
Is it time to take a stand yet?
Should Christians speak to the culture? Or should we continue to remain silent?
Be Vigilant. Be Courageous. Be Discerning. Be Informed. Stand Firm.