Barely twenty yards from where Cambridge and Ohio dignatories were eulogizing the freedom-loving spirit of old and its colonial partisans, Cambridge police were showing just how far their fair city had strayed from the good old days. It was not a striking illustration, mostly because the question of whether to wave placards at meetings does not raise much fervor one way or the other. But it is an illustration, nonetheless.
The handful of students and their leader who waved signs in Senator Taft's face last Saturday were creating little disturbance--a ripple of laughter, but no more. Yet on these grounds the police refused them permission to display their handwork, even after Taft had left and the ceremony was over.
Few will deny anyone's right to wave signs so long as the spectacle does not break up a public meeting. But some will say that a Patriots Day ceremony is a sober occasion when one should meditate on the courage of our forefathers and reverence their memories, and an outburst of partisanship is in poor taste, if not worse. This doctrine was the police's second line of attack.
But it is difficult to see how Senator Taft can lend a ceremony any non-partisan flavor, especially when he arrives amid a welter of handouts, Taft buttons, and all the other sundries of campaigning. The Young Republicans did not help much by advertising the celebration as a Taft question-and-answer program either. Even the speeches, so trite and innocent on the surface, were hardly unblemished paeans on behalf of patriotism.
Whatever poor taste was involved, then, stemmed from inviting Taft to speak in the first place. The consequences were inevitable, especially since there was a college nearby noted for the liberalism of its students.