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Parallel Lives from May ‘68


For those who must live and work with those who glorify the month-long tantrum of May 1968 in Paris, there’s an excellent piece by John Castellucci in the Chronicle of Higher Education today about the SDS occupation of Columbia’s Hamilton Hall, an event that took place in New York City at about the same time.

On balance, the burning by the SDS of ten years of a man’s research seems to be more destructive than rearranging the cobblestones on the Left Bank. The professor, Orest Ranum, whose work was destroyed, lives on in peace, and in France, apparently free of anger and animosity. If there’s an moral to the tale — and there usually is — it’s that J. J. Jacobs, the middle-class, Che-inspired kid who burned Ranum’s research papers and later urged his fellow Weather Underground members on to commit more violence, died of melanoma at 50. After an unhappy, alienated life spent avoiding capture, he couldn’t bear to be touched.


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