Sunday, April 16, 2006

Rev. Willaim Sloane Coffin, R.I.P.

The death of Rev. William Sloane Coffin reminded me of the time he did me a favor. I was trying to put on a panel about the plight of Vietnamese "Boat People" and Cambodian refugees during the Carter administration. A lot of antiwar activists didn't want to help (at that time I was a liberal Democrat). It was getting depressing to be turned down again and again looking for help from places like The Nation. I remember Emile de Antonio telling me they (the Vietnamese & Cambodians) chose the wrong side (with the US) and so deserved to drown.

Well, in the end Martin Peretz of the New Republic agreed to pay for the event, and Rev. Coffin offered a room in Riverside Church. Coffin's participation helped fill the panel with experts like Frances Fitzgerald. The event was a big success, the room was full. And it helped change the Carter administration's policy towards refugees,many of whom who were admitted to the US.

I was touched.

No matter what I may have had by way of disagreements with some of his views, because of this I'll always remember William Sloane Coffin as a mensch. May he rest in peace.