MALICE IN WONDERLAND The Felt Truths The Senate Race c ranctiooe 5014 If this week’s gory nightmare of a Senate race proved anything for Texas liberals, it proved that Texas liberals can be their own worst enemies. The presence of two liberal candidates , on the same ballot was the kind of,grandiose folly that should haunt our better judgment for the next fifty years. a myth which the dailies will sow and spread with relish and abandon. The true strength, as any straightforward analyst of our state’s politics will concede, would approximate a rough total of the Maverick and Gonzalez votes, minus that portion of the Latin vote which only Gonzalez could draw, plus those several thousand “pragmatic” dissidents who went for Wright or Wilson out of the sheer trauma of seeing two liberal brethren mutilating one another. And that figure would have been good enough for the run-off. It was lack of communication within the liberal community that told the tale. And so we are now witnessing the ultimate debacle : Tower vs. Blakley for the United States Senate. How did it come about? What are we going to do about it .? The roots of the trouble go back to last year, when Lyndon Johnson dealt the death blow to the DOT and the lines of communication among the various segments of the liberal coalition came tumbling down. Texas liberalism is, and it always has been, a community of various Jan Our friend Franklin Jones, in firing off one of his frequent letters to that great forum, the Marshall News Messenger, expressed our feelings perfectly : I I It is tempting to pass off the charges of communism against General Eisenhower and Mr. Nixon by saying that some chickens of the 1952 campaign have come home to roost. To say that when they insinuated a charge of treason against the Democratic party, they should have been thinking parallel to John Donne’s poem: Ask not for whom the Witch Hunters hunt; they hunt for thee. But the present wave of Neo-Nazism unloosed by the HUAC gives pause to such utterances. The John Birch Society should not be hailed before the Un-American Activities Committee. If its actions are violative of law, the Justice Department should handle them, and if they are not, the Society should have its God-given right to think and say what it pleases; to act as it pleases within the law. If its membership wants to believe the charges it makes against Milton and General Eisenhower, it may do so, subject to the laws of libel. The belief that they are communists is no more absurd than the belief that anyone who disagrees with the activities of our self-proclaimed and star spangled super patriots are dupes, agitators, or fit any of the other loose descriptions from billingsgate that Published by Texas Observer Co., Ltd. Entered as second-class matter, April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act of March 3, 1879. APRIL 8, 1961 Willie Morris Editor and General Manager Bob Sherrill, Associate Editor Sarah Payne, Office Manager Ronnie Dugger, Contributing groupings and interests. It includes labor, and the Latins, and the independent liberals, and the Negroes, and the brass-collar Democrats with old affections for Truman and Roosevelt and the free-wheeling Democratic tradition. If this week’s fiasco carries any lesson, it’has taught us that we will never win a statewide elec and petty clashes of personality which can only bring disaster. Are we going to use the same tactics in the governor’s race in 1962? Just for the general hell of it, are we going to send another of our number into the Senate campaign against Ralph Yarborough in 1964? If this is the senseless logic that propels us, why not go one step further and sally forth in the very next statewide race of any importance with Bob Eckhardt, Henry Gonzalez, Maury Maverick, Archer Fullinghim, Franklin Spears, Malcolm McGregor, Don Kennard, Bill Patman, H. A. Baggerly, Jim Sewell, and every other liberal who might deserve a place on” the ballot? What is needed, and needed desperately, is some continuing forum of Texas liberalism, no matter how informally organized, where spokes-, men representing all segments of the liberal community can meet and consider problems and disagreements similar to the one we have just witnessed. In nine cases out of ten they can be headed off before they happenin a spirit of friendship and common purpose. make up the entire vocabulary of the anointed. Again, the belief is no sillier than the remark of a candidate for the Senate that Texas liberals are . socialists. The point is that it is not Un-American to disagree, and only on the day when we can’t stand toe to toe and bargain ideas freely, without charges of treason against those who dissent, will we lose our freedom. So, my defense for the John Birch Society against the charge of Un-Americanism. It is as American as blueberry pie, the White Citizens’ Council, and the Ku Klux Klan. I I MOVING TARGET Published once a week from Austin, Texas. Delivered postage prepaid $5 per annum. Advertising rates available on request. Extra copies 15c each. Quantity prices available on order. EDITORIAL and BUSINESS OFFICE: 504 West 24th St., Austin, Texas. Phone GReenwood 7-0746. HOUSTON OFFICE: Mrs. R D. Randolph, 419% Lovett Blvd., Houston 16, Texas. AUSTIN The real world is too much for ideals, it overwhelms them with situations, but the idealist who is overwhelmed cannot believe himself fit for life. The persisting idealist gets his prides and satisfactions from continuing to put reality under a pressure toward the better by holding toward the best, even though he never knows, of course, where he is going or whether he is going anywhere at all. East Texas almost overwhelms me. It almost overwhelms all of us : that we live in a state that is part deep South, part of an infected system of human exploitation and the moral humiliation of the exploiters, seems to call for action from day to day, and make unjustified a rest or pride. YET THERE IT IS, the real world, good men and selfish, wise men and stupid, brave men and timid, and nothing is enough, an action like a breath blown into wind, and even a little too much, an affront to the grandeur of the seasons. So we do a little, and do find times for the blue sunlights and the yellow beaches, for love and intelligence. One night this week, for example, I became, for ten or fifteen minutes, bitter, and being in the course of answering some letters on Observer matters, found that I had written to ROBERT W. AKERS, editor of the Beaumont Enterprise, wrote recently in his personal column: I used to be a strong advocate of the death penalty, but now I’m not so sure. Suppose, for example, YOU were sitting in the Legislature and had to vote on whether to continue capital punishment in Texas or to substitute life imprisonment with safeguards against early release. I have the feeling that in such a spot I’d probably go with life instead of death. Maybe that’s because I’ve just finished a learnedly prepared paper on the subject by Dr. John R. Silber of Austin, president of the Texas So a minister alarmed about the bill to require teachers to believe in God, “I wonder what becomes of democracy, where friends of the people are so well hidden from them, and legislators so value their roles they run from the cause of free thought.” But the better course usually has more to do with love than bitterness. Lately I have realized, in the way emotions convince us of what before we merely knew, that every rule, every formulation explodes under the pressures of a situation, under the weights of the real, the felt truths among us now. Nothing is more suspect among a group of friends or lovers than the rule one of them will never break. The other evening I spoke two hours with an overformulated mind, and as I would suggest this or that, the other’s mind like a medieval rack clamped down and crushed it to fit another shape, crushed it to the uses of a disposition inflexible and compulsive. How arid, how dead to meet a mind made up ! Perhaps the best that we should mean by liberalism is a generosity of mind, a tolerance, a hearing of the other, a respect for the true situation, a greater love to the real world than to the maxims and axioms, propositions and formulations our minds contrive to weave chaotic flows of chance. R.D. ciety to Abolish Capital Punishment. Dr. Silber has done a lot of research and he writes persuasivelynot emotionally, understandbut persuasively in a reasoned way , . . As one who no longer looks with favor on the state taking lives, I note with approval that the proposed law would enable juries to specify how long a convicted person must serve before being eligible for a parole. This is, of course, calculated to reassure doubters who foresee murderers getting out after a brief period in the penitentiary. Probably penologists would protest the provision, arguing that you can’t tell how soon a man deserves freedom until he has been imprisoned awhile, but the idea does promise certain separation of a killer from the rest of the society for a specified period. To say that the outcome was a tion without a functioning and genuine test of liberal strength in friendly coalition. Otherwise our Texas is, of course, not true ; it is strength will be dissipated into cruel 21elenJe THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7c41*:= `Instead of Death’
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