The Pacifica Radio/UC Berkeley
Social Activism Sound Recording Project
Anti-Viet Nam War Protests,
Professor Eugene Burdick on the Berkeley Teach-In

Mr Burdick, why dont we start with a very general question of "just why", and we'll go from there.

Yes. Well, when I was first approached to participate in the Vietnam Day, it was explained to me that there would be six to eight people, all of whom were qualified in Vietnam or Southeast Asia...had been there, and it would be educational in content. I then left town to do some writing, came back, and discovered that it had become a circus, [that it was being called] an "educational protest", which seems to be a contradiction in terms, and it was not really a teach-in. You don't teach when you have people singing folk songs; where you have a pediatrician, whom I much admire, and my wife used his book with our three children--Dr Spock--who knows nothing about Vietnam, who's never been there; comedians...what have you. This is not a teach-in that's education, it's a protest. Now, I'm all for protests, I think they're fine, and a very vital part of America. And in a way I'm pleased at the number of protests that have occurred in the last several years, and they've done a great deal, for example, the field of civil rights. But this is not a teach-in, and I've never heard of anything such as "educational protest." I've been to protest meetings. I know exactly what they are: we're trying to put the arm on someone by our presence there, and the fact that we can rally several thousand people who are trying to change someone's political, social, or moral viewpoint. And in the South this has worked very well. That is not what is happening at Berkeley today. When I saw the composition of the thing, I just said, when you advertise it as a teach-in, you simply are being mischievous and inaccurate. And I went down today and listened, and what I anticipated I think is pretty largely true. It doesn't seem to be a really serious discussion of the enormously intricate problems of this tragedy that's happening in Vietnam. It's a gathering of people who are already committed to one view or another. No one's minds are going to be changed because that calls for a sustained intellectual dialogue. This is not a dialogue, it is a sort of shrill harangue. And for those reasons I withdrew.

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