Who Are the “Good” People? When a people are divided by the course of change, when they fall to violent means among themselves, they must find a bridge by which they can again become a people, or the devices they have painfully es tablished for the righting of wrongs and the settling of disputes will tear apart. The white, Southern Americans who have constituted themselves into mobs in Mansfield, Clinton, Sturgis, and Texarkana in the last few weeks have intentionally defied the law. At Mansfield and at Texarkana, they forestalled the enforcement of the law. What are men of good will to think, to say, and to do ? There is one line of thought that the principle of school integration should be abandoned and the evil of segregation left to time and the Southern conscience. This not only begs the real question, which is not of integration, but of the law and its place in civilized society ; it also presumes that segregation in the South will change on its own. This it will not do. The phenomenon of racial prejudice is passed from generation to generation like folk songs. It can be weakened only if something intrudes on the process, some idea, some ideal, some impulse, or a law. The idea, ideal, or impulse of human equality is far older than the South, or this Republic, yet it did not intrude on the ways of the South. Only the law, proclaimed in 1954, but really thrust into being by changing opinion in every part of the country but the South, has been able to challenge the customs of the South seriously enough to provoke its dogmatic guardians to desperate defiance. That very defiance leaves its mark on the prejudice of the young; the folk song is smashed. The law must be stood by, because it is a good law. It would be sophistry to argue, for the sake of the case, that men must always obey laws, simply because they are the Law. Men and women did not obey prohibition, they defied it, and it was repealed. Men and women do not obey many of the states’s sex laws, because they are invasions of adult privacy. The mother in San Antonio who stole a sack of groceries last week because her child was hungry came before the judge, and he fined her five cool lars, suspended the fine, and gave her two dollars of his own money. The judges must enforce the laws, but human beings must also abide by their own judgments. When any law is challenged by a substantial portion of a people, then the question becomes radical, or ethical, instead SEPTEMBER 12, 1956 Incorporating The State Observer, combined with The East Texas Democrat Ronnie Dugger, Editor and General Manager Bob Bray, Associate Editor Sarah Paine, Office Manager Published once a week from Austin, Texas. Delivered postage prepaid $4 per annum. Advertising rates available on request,. Extra copies 10c each. Quantity orders available Entered as second-class matter April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the act of March 3, 1379. hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above al: interests. to the rights of man as the foundation of democracy : we will cake orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. of legal. That is, by what standards are men to say : You are right to obey the law, or, You are right to disobey it. The standard which most men and women will defend is the appeal to humanity : to the value of the individual and to his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Let any law be judged by this, and it will stand or fall justly. The law of 1954, for any reasonable person, stands. No one believes that segregation is based on anything but the belief, or feeling, that Negroes are inferior to whites. That belief, or feeling, is incompatible with the value of the human individual and his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Its application, in segregation, not only cheats millions out of a fair chance in life, its intent is to perpetuate the masterslave relationship in more subtle form. That intent is anti-human. When the Governor of the State of Texas encourages the Mansfield mob, condOnes its defiance of the law, takes relish publicly in the triumph of redfaced hate, and employs the police powers of the state to thWart the enforcement of a good law, he behaves in a manner unworthy of ethically responsible citizens. He weakens ; not only the laW, but the ,society. Far worse for his conscience, he deliberately encourages the formation of more mobs. Hereafter, when a mob marches in Texas, Allan Shivers marches with it. Such was hisignoble choice. From the prototype of misleadership which the Governor has provided, we hope that Governor Daniel and Attorney General Wilson will draw the full-breath moral conclusion that leaders in time of public crisis must stand with the good law, and the good order, or march for-. ever at the head of wild and murderous rabble. We who are plain citizens can, each in his own way, stand by the good law. When a man at the lunch counter uses the language of hate, we can have the courage to use back at him the language of love. When a group in town forms to protest integration, we can form a group to protest violence against integration. When talk of mob action begins, we can talk against it. And when, and if, and wherever mob action starts, there will be one, or a few or several brave and worthy men who, like the priest in Mansfield, will walk into the holocaust and say, you are not beasts, but men, acting like beasts ; look to your souls, and to the life of mankind. 6 Staff correspondents: Ramon Garces, Laredo; Clyde Johnson, Corsicana; Mike Mistovich, Bryan ; Jules Lob, Central Texas ; Jack Morgan, Port Arthur ; Dan Strain:. Kenedy ; and reporters in San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso, and Big Spring. Staff contributors: Franklin Jones, Marshall; Minnie Fisher Cunningham, New Waverly: Robert G. Spivak, ‘Washington, D.C.: John Igo, San Antonio ; Edwin Sue Goree, Burnet ; J. Henry Antonio ; Edwin Sue Goree, Burnet ; and others. Staff cartoonist: Don Bartlett, Austin. Cartoonists: Bob Eckhardt. Houston : Etta Hulme. Houston . MAILING ADDRESS: 504 West 24th St.. Austin. Texas. EDITORIAL AND BUSINESS OFFICE: 504 West 24th St., Austin. Texas. TELEPHONE in Austin : GReenwood 7-0746. HOUSTON OFF: B: 2501 Crawford St.. Hons. ton. Mrs. R. D. Randolph. treasurer. AUSTIN My seven-year-old son, Jimmy, has been having a very hard time understanding the school desegregation battles he has followed on television. He keeps asking who are the “good” people and the “bad” Pea -ple. If you have a small fry around the house, you may have had the same problem. Jimmy, in the manner of a small boy wanting to be sure he’s cheering for all the things that being good must mean, frequently inquires during TV who-done-its, and shoot-em-ups, whether this character is a “good” man or “bad” man. Nowadays, watching T V mob scenes at the schools, he’s automatically tried to carry the “good” and “bad” label from fiction to fact. His first, and certainly reasonable assumption was that the soldiers are the “good” people. He viewed films of the riots at Sturgis, Ky., where a cordon of Kentucky National Guardsmen used fixed bayonets to force a mob to let a dozen Negro students enroll in high school. Every seven year old knows that American soldiers stand for everything that is right, so Jimmy was sure they were the “good” ones in the episode. But who, he wanted to know, were those men they were fighting. Were they Russians or Germans or Japanese or who? He just, refused to believe, could not comprehend, how they could be Americans. “American soldiers don’t fight American people,” he declared, disgusted at my inability to give him a logical explanation. Finally we told him that the soldiers really were the “good” people in the picture, that they were protecting the Negro children from that big bunch of men who were trying to keep the colored youngsters from attending school. This answer, so far as Jimmy was concerned, was highly acceptable. The soldiers were fighting on the side of the little guys, or the underdogs, which was absolutely right according to the TV fiction pattern he has learned so well. Everything worked out just fine for several days, except that we found ourselves puzzling to come up with simple answers to dozens of complex questions on why those men were trying to keep those Negro children from going to school. That is, everything went fine, until Jinarrty heard that the Texas Rangers had been sent to Mansfield. Now, being a Texas boy all the way there just isn’t any organization that ranks with Jimmy like the Texas Rangers. Ironical as the geographical location might seem, he once had the joy of meeting two Rangers in Galveston. Perhaps that was what made them take on the extra special heroic significance. When , Jimmy found out the Rang. ers were in Mansfield, he could hardly wait to see them taking some Negro children into that school immediately. They wouldn’t even need bayonets, he figured. But as the newscasts wore on, the crowd and the Rangers stood by, and none of the Negro children got into the school, life got more complicated than ever. The soldiers had made those “bad” men let those Negro children go to school at Sturgis, but his number-one heroes, the trusty Texas Rangers, hadn’t done one thing to help. He’s still puzzling over it, and we haven’t had the heart to tell him the truth. BOB BRAY Let those flatter who fear, it is not an American art. JEFFERSON -An ethical QueJtion Trxas Mhstrurr I
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