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As the race riots burned out, the worst campus riot of the decade erupted. At my alma mater, Columbia University, student radicals occupied Low Library and Hamilton Hall. They ransacked professors’ offices and took a dean hostage. After a week, the NYPD, with clubs and sweeping arrests, recaptured the university. Nixon declared the uprising “the first major skirmish in a revolutionary struggle to seize the universities of this country and transform them into sanctuaries for radicals and vehicles for revolutionary political and social goals.” Rockefeller denounced Nixon, reversed himself and entered the race. But polls showed that America’s patience with radicalism was exhausted. The country was with the cops wielding the clubs. Nixon had captured the law-and-order issue. When the Kerner Commission, set up to study the causes of the weeklong Newark and Detroit riots in the “long hot summer” of 1967, blamed “white racism,” Nixon dismissed the report by saying it blamed everyone for the riots but the rioters themselves

— Nixon and 1968  

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