No More Nukes
Columbia College 1961
On a beautiful sunny day in the spring of 1961, dozens of students gathered on the steps of Low Library during an air raid drill—I can't remember now how many, but in my mind's eye they filled the steps—to protest the staging of drills that we had concluded were intended to propagate the notion that New Yorkers could survive a nuclear attack. That notion, we thought, lulled the populace into accepting a "first strike" military strategy of massive retaliation and the continuation of nuclear testing. We waited for the police to arrive and challenge our act of civil disobedience; at least, I expected them to arrive, and wondered whether an arrest would affect my law school acceptance. To maximize my options, I placed myself on the eastern edge of the steps, where I might be able to slip off to the sanctuary of St. Paul's Chapel if my courage failed. To this day, I can't say whether I would have run. The police, of course, had better things to do than tangle with a crowd that wasn't obstructing anything (since everybody else was taking cover) and would be gone within the hour. With the all-clear, we drifted away, satisfied with our protest but disappointed that it had been so easy.
Before the 1960s were out, I found myself at the State Department in Washington, not long after the ratification of the treaty banning nuclear testing in the atmosphere, working on planning and negotiations for the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Latin America Nuclear Free Zone Treaty signed in Mexico City in February 1967. I was there!
Another Columbian ahead of his time (hardly!).