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CLEAR CHANNELS Arresting Or Promoting Maturity Page 6 May 30, 1955 THE TEXAS OBSERVER \(Gerald L. K. Smith, the “Christian Nationalist” a n t Semite, has practically vanished from the American scene. But he turned up one night recently in our neighboring state to the north and delivered a speech to 2,000 sighing Tulsans. Elwin Powell of the Department of Sociology, University of Tulsa, writes to The Observer of this meeting TULSA You don’t hear much of Gerald L. K. Smith anymore. He still has his largest following among the uprooted urban masses. His movement, the “Christian Nationalist Crusade,” draws its sustenance from the emotionally down-trodden people who have been thrust into a world they can neither control nor comprehend. Smith himself is a kind of a period-piece, and there is a certain charm in his absurdity. Fluoridation of water, he argues, is a plot by Jew-Communists to soften the brains of Americans \(as if TV were “the orders for our surrender in Korea were forged by mysterious forces in Washington.” Mainly we “lost out at Yalta because our official representatives w e r e all drunk.” Not Communism but “International Judaism” is the real threat to Christian America: Cornmunism is a mere front for the Zionists. Forrestal did not commit suicide; he was pushed from that hospital window. Roosevelt on the other hand committed suicide. Anna Rosenberg and the “senile” George Marshall were the “American Rasputins.” Eisenhower gave Berlin to the Russians and allowed “innocent German soldiers to be sent to Siberia.” Smith is opposed to the “mongrelization of the race”though of course he likes Negroes personally. The second World War was caused by “the British, the New Dealers, and the Jews.” The “International Jewish” rubber trust blocked Henry Ford’s scheme to make rubber out of wheat, potato peelings, sugar, and oil. \(Apparently you can make rubber out of any one of these four substances; as a matter of fact. Ford made Gerald L. K. a set of tiresone wheat tire, one potato tire, one from sugar, one oil. “Best set of tires I ever had,” he He had other things to say, but I felt the audience came alive only when he touched on the preposterous. Certainly one could deduce from the ideology of Marxism that the West is gravely threatened. But no, that is not enough. Reason is unromantic; only the ridiculous can jar the mass mind loose from its lethargy. Nothing appeals to this type so much as the impossible. Why do we take such delight in the impossibleand “intellectuals” are not exempt, they flock to Kierkegaard because of his concept of the absurd. Perhaps life is a balance of the possible and the impossible and the two are only reversed today. Anyway I am sure the outstanding mark of the time is our quest for the ridiculousin art, in philosophy, in politics. People believe big lies easier than little ones. That is the appeal of both communism and fascism. A culture no longer possessing a big Truth gets its “kicks” from a big Lie. What is the driving force behind the Christian Nationalists and allied movements of the extreme right? Poverty, economic oppression? No, that was the glib answer of the 1930’s. Nor is it simple ignorance. Nor even hatred. The dominant motif of Smith’s two hour harrangue tonight was not Hate but the Mysterious. Hidden forces are at work behind the scenes in Washington; the people are no longer ruled by their elected representatives. MacArthur w a s quoted on the “… secret, invisible powers governing my people.” Images of the “dark catacombs of treason” were ominously evoked. There is a press black-out on Smith himself, through pressure brought by “Jewish department store owners”; Another blackout on the testimony of the Korean war ;generals. Quotations are read from anonymous sources.. This imagery hits home with urban groups who have lost the power of self-determination. Dependent on abstract forcespolitical and economicbeyond their understanding, they must feel trapped in the present situation. If the business fails, it is not because of the indolence of the proprietor but competition which can’t be met. Their sons are drafted to fight wars in the Orient without the vaguest conception of the issues at stake. Many of the Christian Nationalists are old people, expelled from all significant functions in our society. They are without status in either kinship grouping or local community. Even the persons’ recreational lifein the urban setting is imported from remote sources in the East and West. Smith’s audience tonight some 2,000were good people. If they pervert many of the Christian teachings they profess, in their hearts they are acting rightly. They are not deliberately, consciously evil. None of us has any excuse for arrogance and snobbery and condemnation of the masses. No one can observe these men and women without feeling a deep compassion. By JACK SUMMERFIELD If so many of us were not already so much of the time essentially Dull, it would be easier to point the finger of accusation directly at the radio-TV set in your living room. “I can’t stand for Sonny to listen to those shoot-’em-up programs,” we parents like to say, changing the channel from a “horse opera” to a “soap opera.” “I declare! Those crime shows ought to be abolished,” Mrs. Spouse exclaims. “Sh-shh,” says Mr. Spouse, “can’t you see I’m watching Dragnet?” It is not that we necessarily protect our children more than we do ourselves or even that we are hopelessly inconsistent. It is simply that we have seldom stopped long enough to decide seriously what. we think of radio and television and what they are doing for us and to us. Today the whole question of just how far the communications media go in shaping our minds is unanswered, just as it will remain un BRYAN Citizens of Bryan and College Station are pointing with great pride to their Friday morning laymen’s prayer meetings for people of all faiths and all races. They are held at 6:30 in the morning. Despite the early hour, the attendance has grown from 20 to 300 men and boys. At the last meeting, 375 were present. It is inspiring to see men and boys, Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, white and colored, sitting together having coffee and doughnuts and offering prayers to their Maker. We can talk about tolerance, write about it, and legislate until doomsday, without much effect. The one real way is by example, and the laymen’s prayer meetings in Bryan are an example for peoples everywhere. With arguments about segregation and desegregation and differences in political and religious beliefs raging all around us, it is heartening to see what sensible, intelligent people Yet it was raining tonight and I could not help but think these people would be happier if they could still, as farmers, rejoice in the rain always a Godly, wondrous thing in the Southwestand talk about the crops instead of Alger Hiss, and worry about the affairs of the town instead of how to abolish the UN. ELWIN H. POWELL til enough students and educational institutions find the question important enough to undertake the necessary research. It is often taken for granted that radio and television, as well as other forms of communication, automatically exert tremendous influences on you and me. The sheer existence of such media is assumed to carry with it powerful sociocultural consequences, largely unspecified. The President of NBC wrote not so long ago “we who are running television have a duty to humanity that comes from our stewardship of this overwhelmingly pow e r f u 1 molder of minds.” Dr. Norbert Weiner of MIT states in his book Human Use of Human Beings: “Communication is the cement of society, and those who have made the clear maintenance of channels of communication their business are those who have the most to do with the continued existence or the fall of our civilization.” “It Is altogether probable,” says can accomplish voluntarily. Among those attending the Bryan meetings are several men who had not belonged to any particular church or attended church even occasionally. After a few of these inspirational meetings, many have joined churches of their choice. Needless to say, the local pastors are enthusiastic about the program. The prayer meeting had its beginning 20 months ago. The College Avenue Baptist Church pastor, Dr. Charles F. Pitts, and some members of his church held a brotherhood meeting at 6:30 that Friday morning. Dr. Pitts, Rabb Jones, a local barber, and District Judge W. S. Barron, since retired, decided to open the meetings to men and boys of all faiths and races. Since then, other men, including Roland C. Dansby, Clifton C. Carter, and F. W. Kazmeier, pitched in to help make it the success it now is. They mail cards to hundreds of men in Bryan and College Station every week. The meetings begin at 6:30 a.m. with prayer, a few sacred songs, and another prayer. Then comes the laymen’s address. The meeting adjourns with a prayer at 7:15 a.m. Occasionally military and gov ernment VIP’s have been in at tendance and have acclaimed this as one of the most inspiring Chris tian gatherings they have ever seen. MIKE MISTOVICH H. A. Overstreet in The Mature Mind, “that in spite of their high technical achievements, their constant accessibility, and their relationship to deep human wants and needs, newspapers, radio, movies, and advertising are doing as much to arrest as to promote#our maturing. In many lives, in fact, they appear to weight the scales heavily toward arrested development.” The broadcaster, once presumed to be a mind-reader in terms of what the public wants, now is taken to be a mind-maker in terms of whatever the public has been given. On the receiving end, we listeners and viewers take the social effects for granted, often suspecting that the flood of information and entertainment is having a narcotic effect. With all the beautiful sounds and pretty pictures, we are becoming passive and apathetic rather than active and alert. It may be that the emphasis we place on the potential power and influence of communications media is largely a product of highly successful promotional campaigns launched by the media. The “power of Advertising” to sell anything, a concept to which most commercial broadcasters seem to subscribe, really places these broadcasters in a peculiar philosophical position. The broadcaster has thereby vested in himself the Power and ability to carry out his responsibilities to broadcast in “the public interest, convenience or necessity,” which he is legally cornmitted to do, and he has helped to remove “private profit” as his raison d’etre. If he is willing to extend his claim advertising can sell anything, his frequent failure to use it to sell ideas as well as toothpaste, to change attitudes as well as brand preferences, to modify behavior patterns as well as sales habits, is hard to explain. The first ,question today is no longer whether the mass media have fundamental effects upon our lives but whether these effect are good or bad. Rather than jumping into the bottomless pit of Good vs. Evil it would be better for both citizen and broadcaster to build a large reservoir of knowledge about ourselves, knowledge which the muddy waters of the communications media so often reflect and which we may later be happy to have. Such insight might help us in appreciating and enriching not only radio and television but our own lives. This, I think, would be infinitely more pleasant than the Alice in Wonderland view which radio and television now bring to focus. “I can’t believe that,” said Alice. “Can’t you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again; draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.” Letter From Tulsa PrayerMeeting In Bryan Something Basic at the Local Level Alistair Cooke Travels Across Poor Rich Old Texas Alistair Cooke of the Manchester Guardian is one of journalism’s master essayists. Here is one he wrote for his paper May 8, from El Paso: “Riches a n d Problems o f Texas.” The moment you cross the sluggish Sabine River you are in Texas. And for 935 more miles due west, as the trains and the highways fly, you will still be in Texas. By any charitable count not less than six hundred of these miles are a dreadful marvel to all strangers from lands that boast more than twenty inches of annual rain. There are more petrified and god-forsaken landscapes i n the United States, but none more evenly habited, none which the natives so imperturbably assume to be a reasonable and “m i g h t y pretty” place to live. Louisiana, the eastern neighbor, can swoon and sweat in the haze of its French and Spanish history and has the consolations of literary associations and of Napoleon’s rash transaction with Jefferson. There is too the dramatic reminder of great floods in the high levees, and in their cemeteries w h i c h, because the water starts three feet underground are true cities of the dead, marble and alabaster palaces and vast family vaults like banks of station luggage-lockers, or a ship’s ovens. Louisiana looks like the proper landscape of Poe, with its steaming marshes and dark bayous, dignified in the spring by water-hyacinths. It is haunted always by the ghostly oaks, which have yellow water around their knees and hanging from their heads the drifting Spanish moss, which is like nothing so much as the fuzz that you find under beds. All this is very macabre and melancholy and romantic, since it is the land of the blues, of voodoo, and the Acadian French. But after Lake Charles, where bill-headed mullet plop through the air poor rich old Texas, unsung except by the Texans begins: the frowsy monotone of the central plain and long slow invisible climb up the Edwards Plateau. To a man from Pennsylvania or Iowa or Warwickshire, it must look like a preview of any great farming plain after the hydrogen bomb seared and raped it. Admittedly in the East there are sugar and rice fields, but after that it is an endless flat crust relieved by occasional rows of cottonwoods and a white-faced Hereford padding miserably within the scrubby square mile that can just about nourish one cow. After that the sandy earth can put forth such wiry stuff as catsclaw and mesquite and other barren bushes, which only a sheep will nibble at. After that again the land is fit only for goats, which will eat anything that a sheep won’t after he has eaten everything a cow won’t. But fertile land, the Spaniards here learned long before the Tex