Diana West

I tweeted recently about shocking news in The Daily Caller that Attorney General Eric Holder, as a Columbia University student and leader of the Student Afro-American Society (SAS), participated in the armed takeover of a vacant campus ROTC office. The takeover lasted five days in the spring of 1970. The online news site added: "Department of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler has not responded to questions from The Daily Caller about whether Holder himself was armed -- and, if so, with what sort of weapon."

Holder himself has acknowledged participating in a separate takeover of a college dean's office until SAS demands were met -- for starters, transformation of the ROTC office into the Malcolm X Lounge. The Columbia Daily Spectator of April 23, 1970, published the group's reasons, including: "Columbia's general contempt toward the beliefs of Black students," "Columbia's lack of concern for the welfare of Black people," "the general racist nature of the American society" and "the right of Black self-determination."

SAS also demanded a "Black Institute" to "house a black studies program, an all-black admissions board, all-black faculty members, administration and staff," the Daily Caller says, quoting African-American studies professor Stefan M. Bradley.

This program of black separatism dovetailed with the revolutionary movements of the time. "You must become a cohesive union," radical lawyer William Kunstler told an enthusiastic student audience at Columbia on April 8, 1970, "who will achieve by any means necessary the end, or at least the halt, of racism, private property and the domination of one sex over another."

The SAS got its Malcolm X Lounge, which student Barack Obama would frequent a decade later. The rapid introduction of politically conceived, takeover-forced minority studies departments at Columbia and elsewhere followed, de facto segregating campuses to this day.

That same semester, Holder's Afro-American student group also had declared its "full support of the Black Panther Party as a vanguard organization for the liberation" of black people, the Columbia paper reported on March 12, 1970. Earlier, New York City police had arrested 21 Black Panther Party members, charging them with plotting to bomb various New York establishments, including a department store and a police station. The SAS, other campus revolutionary groups and leftist professors were quick to sponsor "teach-ins" and raise bail for the "Black Panther 21."


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).