Kennedy was significantly different than Eisenhower before him, and different from Johnson after him. So those three years were the beginning of a détente with the Soviet Union, a new feeling for peace, a seeking out of a new ally with the Soviet Union - the end of the Cold War, as Kennedy called it in his American University speech.
American universities are organized on the principle of the nuclear rather than the extended family. Graduate students are grimly trained to be technicians rather than connoisseurs. The old German style of universal scholarship has gone.
There's a lot wrong [with American universities]. I'd remove 3/4 of the faculty - everything but the hard sciences. But nobody's going to do that, so we'll have to live with the defects. It's amazing how wrongheaded [the teaching is]. There is fatal disconnectedness. You have these squirrelly people in each department who don't see the big picture.
I was a trial lawyer. At the same time, I was a teacher. I taught about the political and social content of film for American University. Then I left and became a teacher at the University of California at Santa Cruz. I taught about the political and social content of film, but I also taught a course in law for undergraduates.
What [American universities] need, and would much benefit from, is more Marxists, radicals, leftists - all terms conventionally applied to those who fight against exploitation, racism, sexism, and capitalism. We can never have too many of these, just as we can never have too few 'conservatives'.
I used to ask myself why American universities are financed through endowments. Now I know: During the early days of America, the state was poor and when citizens wanted to set something up, they needed to collect money themselves. Historically, this was different in Europe. There used to be a strong state, a monarch or a king. He provided money.
It's no surprise that at the same time that American universities have engaged in a serious commitment to diversity, they have been thought-prisons. We are not talking about diversity in any real way. We are talking about brown, black, white versions of the same political ideology.