The Past Is Another Country, They Say Things Differently There


Jonathan Kay writes in Canada`s National Post on the Occupy Wall Street people, to ask why they aren`t occupying campuses, like they did in the old days:

“What happened to the spirit of protest on campus? I put the question to Brandeis University President Frederick Lawrence, who spoke to a large crowd at Toronto’s Granite Club on Thursday night, a guest of Brandeis alumnus and board-of-trustees member Leonard Asper. Back in 1969, when Lawrence was still in grade school, Brandeis was the scene of a major sit-in by 300 black students and anti-war protesters. The New York Times published a large picture of the administration building, which, the caption explained, had been seized by “negroes.” These days, students — of whatever race — seem too worried about their job prospects to occupy anything except the library.”

I don`t know what he means when he says”which, the caption explained, had been seized by `negroes.` “

Yes, I realize that`s the old-fashioned way of putting it, but it was the polite way 40 years ago and part of the New York Times style.

The students in 1969 had just started calling themselves blacks—or sometimes “Afro-American,” which failed to catch on. They`re now retrospectively African-American in Brandeis history web pages,Possibly in ten years they`ll be called something else.

But Jonathan Kay is so far removed from how they wrote in the no so distant past (he`s 43) that he`s forgotten that “Negroes” has a capital “N”!