Wednesday, 4 February 2009

NSA's David Ifshin -- a so-called radical who weighs his words - 1

By Joan Kramer

David Ifshin was talking. And talking. The words tumbled out, stumbled over each other in the haste to be said. He loves words. His senior thesis was on the "The Restoration of Language" and God knows David Ifshin is doing what he can about bringing it back.

He is on his way to Vietnam. The phone calls are coming in from all over to his office on the second floor of the National Student Association headquarters on S Street. Yes, he's talked to Rennie Davis about that. No, somebody hasn't checked with Dave Dellinger.

Yes, CBS television was interested in the trip. No, NBC wasn't but there was some talk about equipment. Yes, the UAW organizer was getting the materials for the St. Bonaventure campus. No, they hadn't heard from South Vietnam embassy about the visas yet (North Vietnam was easy--it's the South that didn't want the world's student-libs poking around).

Yes the State Department was in touch. No, he hadn't had any sleep for 24 f------ hours. Yes, he'd be at Kent State on Monday and no, he wouldn't read the letter from the student leader in Saigon, the one who'd just gotten out of the "tiger cage," not over this telephone, he wouldn't.

Twenty-two and at one of the nervends of maybe the American political future: president of NSA, successor to Charlie Palmer. Ifshin sits in the president's office easily, looking like something out of Bukharin, lacing the telephoned "oh wows" with an "oppressed" here, an "institutional racist" there. And underneath the beard, the topical bombast the hard-to-take facts, a very good politician who is fond and proud of his family and isn't totally depressed over the Future of America--just a nice Jewish boy from Wheaton High having the time of his life, with Cambridge or maybe Oxford in next year's plans.

No comments: