How Mario Savio Changed My Life

But in diverting the city's desires another way instead of complying with them....
that is the only business of a good citizen.
-- Plato, Gorgias 517 B-C.

It has taken weeks
of unsettled half-awareness
for me to recognize

the student wrestled to the ground Cohen Freedom's Orator 213
by six policemen in uniforms
baton menacing his neck and tie

(an arm across his throat
to keep him from speaking) San Francisco Chronicle December 9 1964
on the cover of this book
about how J. Edgar Hoover slipped lies to the San Francisco Examiner advancing the career of Ronald Reagan Seth Rosenfeld Subversives 212-13, 227 is Mario Savio on the stage of the Greek Theater December 7 1964; Rosenfeld Subversives 224 wrecking the well-planned closure of the assembly called to proclaim an end to the protests and sit-ins of the Free Speech Movement and the inauguration of a new era of freedom under law Rosenfeld Subversives 223 by an ambitious professor Cohen Freedom’s Orator 213-14 hoping thereby to become our next Chancellor who defended the war on TV and is now less remembered than his daughter a language poet Leslie Scalapino The anticlimax when Mario came back out to announce there would be a Free Speech rally Cohen Freedom’s Orator 213-14 on the Sproul Hall steps Rosenfeld Subversives 224 up-ended my own planned life I was just a few yards away at the same camera angle one of those who had urged the students to trust the decency of those in power my head then filled with Anglo-Latin verse from the ninth century why the return of a cuckoo in spring spoke to the heart expressing aspirations of friendship more deeply than Virgil could Scott Alcuin's Versus de Cuculo and did more to invent Europe at a higher level -- Christianus sum I am a Christian non possum militare -- I cannot make war Acta Maximiliani 1.3 than the battle stopping the Moors on the banks of the Loire two different kinds of power as I had seen in an iconic moment alone reading Plato’s Gorgias Plato Gorgias 503-21 in the Ambassador’s huge bed when I was chargé d’affaires in Warsaw -- the power of persuasion and that of the nightstick – Cf. Arendt Between Past and Future, 93 the first a traditio so precious and fragile I gave up all those frills (my chauffeur that flag up ahead on the limo) to help preserve it in a university Well – little could I foresee how Mario in an instant had changed me from a Latinist into an activist no longer a mere spectator (as I had been five days earlier when the students filed into Sproul Hall singing We shall overcome) December 2 1964; Rosenfeld 216-22 that same evening I spoke at the crisis faculty meeting Cohen Freedom’s Orator 214-15 and only one month later my first public appeal to get troops out of Vietnam which though I could not know it was doomed to bring an end to my evenings with Milosz debating the right English for only this is salvation Milosz New Collected Poems 78 Haven An Invisible Rope 69 Those were crazy disturbing years on all sides one could detect too much testosterone the gates opened to a decade of tear gas from Filthy Speech to Prairie Fire Smelser Reflections 30-38 and the struggle between two kinds of decency one struggling for an end to racial hiring in the local supermarkets Rosenfeld Subversives 176-77 one that of the U.S. middle class who did not want their kids dropping acid or cursing AmeriKKKa and so when given a chance voted for Ronald Reagan the great persuader Broder Washington Post 6/7/04 who bankrupted Gorbachev Mann Rebellion of Ronald Reagan 248 while Richard Aoki as a paid FBI informant armed the Black Panthers Rosenfeld Subversives 418-19, 421 But once one has seen a student’s cheek under a boot as an example of freedom under law and a vivid pantomime on a political stage of the two kinds of power one has to choose between the power of the Internet versus the killer drone either the troops with DEA equipment who massacred dozens of students at Thammasat University in Bangkok Scott American War Machine 127 and the cop who thanked Howard Zinn for his talk to the Police Academy then pled with him desperately to please leave the antiwar blockade before a little later battering him with a four-foot-long black club Ellsberg A Memory or the power of nonviolence which changed the American South and expelled Russian troops from Poland Schell Unconquerable World 227-31 encouraging me to hope for new Socratic energies at a higher level than the Occupy movement still struggling to break free from the habits of the past that less than a year ago led the UC campus police to arrest my colleague Celeste Langan after dragging her eight feet by her hair Robert Hass New York Times November 19 2011 BIBLIOGRAPHY Acta Maximiliani, ed. H. Musurillo. The Acts of the Christian Martyrs. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972. Hannah Arendt. Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. David S. Broder, “The Great Persuader,” Washington Post, June 7, 2004, Robert Cohen. Freedom's Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Daniel Ellsberg, “A Memory of Howard Zinn.”, January 27, 2010, Ralph J. Gleason, “The Tragedy at The Greek Theater,” San Francisco Chronicle, December 9, 1964, Robert Hass, “Poet-Bashing Police,” New York Times, November 19, 2011, Cynthia Haven, ed. An Invisible Rope: Portraits of Czeslaw Milosz. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2011. Contains Peter Dale Scott, “A Difficult, Inspirational Giant.” James Mann. The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War New York: Viking, 2009. Seth Rosenfeld. Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. Jonathan Schell. The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People. New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2003. Peter Dale Scott, "Alcuin's Versus de Cuculo: the Vision of Pastoral Friendship," Studies in Philology, LXII, 4 (July 1965), 510-30, Peter Dale Scott. American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010. Neil J. Smelser. Reflections on the University of California: From the Free Speech Movement to the Global University (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010).