Rich Lowry

The parents against which the students rebelled -- as represented by the college administrations -- buckled. College presidents who were the finest flowering of post-World War II liberalism gave in to the radicalism, politicizing American higher education and trashing its standards. "The maturation of the student protest movement turned out to be part of the infantilization of the American intelligentsia," Kimball writes.

The freedoms fought for in the student revolt soon curdled into the opposite: free speech became speech codes; sexual liberation became the regime of sexual harassment; civil rights became quotas. Meanwhile, Mark Rudd and a fringe of the New Left spun off into the Weather Underground, which took the destructive spirit of the campus protests to its logical conclusion in a campaign of terrorist bombings. Jonah Goldberg reminds us in his book "Liberal Fascism" that the radical left committed roughly 250 attacks from September 1969 to May 1970.

If the academics gave in, another segment of the parents resisted. They were the Nixon voters, reacting against the disorder and cultural radicalism with which liberalism became identified. Republicans held the White House for 28 of the next 40 years, and the alternative history of the 1960s is the rise of the right. Even now, with Barack Obama dogged by his association with a former member of the Weather Underground, the Democratic Party's challenge is to free itself from the taint of 1968.


Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
 
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