This first article in your announced series probing the long history of the News is excellent, a good beginning. It’s a pleasure to see that Yale undergrads can still produce literate, forceful and accurate reporting.
A few thoughts for the future: the Black Panther Movement and the events surrounding its birth and demise is an example of the fact that history does not repeat itself, rather history displays recurring patterns from which we may find insight … if we look closely enough. The America you describe in the 1970s is not really that different than what surrounds us today. Nearly identical forces are at work today because the underlying causes of the BPM were never substantially or consistently addressed thereafter. Metaphorically, the treatment of the underlying condition failed because it was neither sustained nor properly administered … sort of like how and why bacteria become immune to antibiotics when they are improperly used.
The Federal fear and repression of the BPM were not limited to the FBI. The Department of Defense joined in the process. The Pentagon sent out orders to the three criminal investigation commands of the Army, Navy, and Air Force: Criminal Investigation Division, Office of Naval Intelligence, and Office of Special Investigations. The order was to assist State law enforcement efforts to acquire information against the BPM that would lead to criminal prosecution. You see, the FBI had been unable to find anything criminal or even dangerous about the BPM. Both Nixon and Hoover were enraged by this. Of course, the use of military personnel to assist State law enforcement is illegal under the Posse Comitatus Act. Most, but not all, units of the CID, ONI, and OSI complied with the orders, but soon stopped when a House Committee blew the whistle on the CID’s activities … which brought the program to a halt. The purpose of this bit of history is a reminder that the U.S. Military can be, has been, and may again be used against the American people. A cautionary tale.
On a more general note, digging into the deeply conservative reporting by the YDN may be best reported by attention to the specific editorial boards and editors in chief of the paper, focusing on how these men, and later also women, retained their stolid status quo stance for well over 100 years. It might be enlightening to examine whether, for example, the YDN editors of the 1960s were uniformly conservative or only sporadically so. How about the comparison of the YDN Board of 1969 with that of 1919, fifty years earlier? Were Henry R. Luce and his board radical or conservative for their time? Was the 1969 board radical or conservative by the standards of the mid-60s?
You might also explore by way of counterpoint to the conservative reporting at the YDN the radical reporting that existed in the ’60s and later. I recall, for example, in 1965 or 1966 the YDN published a spoof issue with the lead headline YALE IS CLOSED, President Brewster made the announcement to an astonished campus community. This edition went on to make many totally irreverent comments about the university and its staff.
On an unrelated note, I hope that the YDN continues its campaign against the still rampant misogyny infecting Yale’s fraternities, DKE in particular. It remains a blight on Yale that nothing has been done to quell this scourge even though many decades ago the problem was brought vividly to the attention of the Yale Corporation Board.
In all events, I look forward to your continued digging and reporting.
James Luce, ’66
Alt Empordà, Spain