Attaton 5raveoty Our True Diety? It only takes a week’s visit to our proud Texas metropolis not to be surprised by what the Houston School Board did to Mrs. Margaret Bleil this week. Mrs. Bleil is a Phi Beta Kappa. She has 30 years experience in the Houston schools. She has three sons in college. She is widely admired as a dedicated and excellent teacher. She was recommended for promotion to registrar of Bellaire High School by her principal and by the Houston superintendent of schools. The Houston School Board, however, rejected her promotion. As Mrs. H. W. Cullen, vice-chairman of the board, former Minutewoman, and a kind of latter-day Carrie Nation who keeps her trusty little hatchet poised for such occasions, explained it, “someone as controversial as that should not be promoted.” She elaborated: Mrs. Bleil had once been president of the Houston Teachers Association, and the year she was president that organization invited the National Education Association to do a study of the Houston schools because of the “climate of education” there. That was enough for Mrs. Cullen. This was seven years ago, and anyone even vaguely familiar with the “climate of education” in Houston in those days will recall it was quite soggy, humid, and tossed by hot winds. No doubt about it, the Minutewomenand FIAmentality continues to dominate the Houston board. Mrs. Charles White, the lone liberal, cannot even get a second to her motions. Indeed, if some kindly and farseeing Eastern millionaire would transport the majority sixlock, stock, and barrelto the fossile section of the Smithsonian for a special summer’s display, he would be performing a great philanthropic service in encouraging a better understanding of the Darwinian message. Only last month, you may recall, the same school board refused to rent a school auditorium for one night to the American Civil Liberties Union on the grounds that the group was too “controversial.” The board then promptly passed a resolution, Mrs. White dissenting, establishing a board policy that no organization would be allowed to rent an auditorium which did not share the opinions of “the people of Houston.” The same school board approved a set of mandatory lectures on “communism” by that renowned scholar, George Roberts, to Houston teachers. If his liberaland labor-baiting dogma was good enough for the oil companies, it was naturally good enough for the teachers. It took a last-minute filibuster by Sen. Hubert Hudson of Brownsville, who is by no means the greatest friend the people ever had in the state Senate, to kill the Padre Island bill in the regular session. Previously, both houses of the legislature had approved the 88-mile measure ; support in Congress was reported to be growing; leading park and conservationist officials had proclaimed their endorsement; and full federal responsi bility for the seashore area was closer to reality than it had ever been. Stuart Udall, the Interior secretary, has given unmistakeable assurances on road-building in the area that should satisfy the most lusty 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. JUNE 17, 1961 Willie Morris Editor and General Manager Bob Sherrill, Associate Editor Sarah Payne, Office Manager Ronnie Dugger, Contributing Editor These atrocities of American decency and equilibrium continue ; petty vindictiveness persists ; concerned Houstonians fret over the unmitigated travesty being perpetuated by their elected trustees. But the Houston daily press remains editorially silent. In the wake of the Bleil case, Rep. Eckhardt of Houston said this week he would introduce in the special session a resolution which would establish an interim legislative committee to study infringements on free speech in Texas. “I am not prejudging those cases,” he said, “but there is too much smoke around Harris County for there not to be some fire.” Mrs. Bleil’s activities in her own professional organization, he said, “which she has every right to engage in,” prompted the board to reject her promotion. Conclusions of such a committee, he suggested, might be purely educationalin showing the pressures applied by organizations, boards, or businesses against their members who speak out on controversial matters. In some cases, corrective legislation might be recommended. Too often, in this state and in others, legislative investigating committees have been associated with infringements on individual rights and dignities. The state of Texas would be taking a giant step forward, and would be setting an example for other states as well, in establishing such a committee, charged with the awesome responsibility of keeping the greater society informed of its failures and shortcomings in the area of free speech. Such a committee would serve as a reliable barometer in measuring the extent of our accomplishments and the depth of our failures in the preservation of this basic American birthright. And no better case-study could be made than that of Mrs. Margaret Bleil. _71a! Texas journalism got another onewatt star in its crown this week when the Austin American-Statesman’s onthe-spot newshenarriving in Jackson, Miss., just a month latesent back word for a page-one story that that Southern city, recently bloodied, is “just ignoring” the Freedom Riders, and that the law officers she had metthough they joked about jailing the demonstrators, or perhaps because of itwere “courteous” and “handsome and obviously well-educated.” She describes two Riders though she didn’t meet themas “mousy.” That’s Texas-style journalism! obstructionist, Sen. Hudson included. There is no reason under God’s sun why the legislature should not now approve the park once and for all and submit the matter to Congress immediately. Gov. Daniel should include Padre Island in his call for a special session. With no state spending involved, and with all the tough work completed on the bill in . the regular session, full legislative approval could be accomplished in a matter of minutes. In terms of future generations, this is one of the most crucial pieces of legislation yet unfinished. Daniel would be performing a service in demanding that the job be finished. 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 6, Texas. AUSTIN Although we think that scientists, the witch doctors of the sophisticated world, are feted so much that they incline to smugness, occasionally a truly great scientist, aged in thie modesty of greatness, happens alopg and makes us re-shape our judgment of the fraternity. Nobel laureate Willard Libby happened along this week and supplied us with a new catechism of universal deference. Addressing a group of high school science students in Austin, he said, “The discovery of nuclear energy will probably be as important in the history of mankind as the discovery of fire. We are the first generation to look into the dark depths of the atom.” The possibility of nuclear warfare has nagged so steadily that it came as a shock to be reminded the technique of artificially inducing atomic fusion was indeed so recently developed, and with the shock came almost the willingness to make the same sacrifice that the primordial inventor of artificially-induced fire must have made. So long as it remains merely a daydream, there is something grand about the vision of half the world roasting itself to a crisp in the Promethean exultation that is rightfully due this generation of super firebringers, “the first generation to look into the dark depths of the atom.” Keeping in mind our own feelings in this regard, we come to have a better understanding of the writers of civil defense pamphlets who mention with such barbaric pride the potential of those weapons which they seem partly trying to escape, partly to embrace. In the student manual for “Per From the Corsicana Daily Sun: 4f Recently the governor warned that unless the people of the state speak out, they are in peril of being saddled with one of the most odious and inequitable tax systems ever devised the general sales tax. It is admitted that sizeable additional tax revenues now are required if the state is to retire its deficit and finance the vastly increased expenditures called for in the legislative session just ended. But there are commanding reasons why these revenues should not be raised by the grossly unfair general sales tax. This lobbyist-inspired tax idea is nothing in the world but the similarly-inspired ‘transactions tax’ of Pappy O’Daniel’s day. The people rejected it then, and we are convinced, want no part of it now. The fact is that if the general sales tax is adopted to raise the new money needed by the state, the overwhelming burden \(the governor declares 90 on the necks of those who are least able to 1*yindividuals and families with inadequate, marginal, or modest incomes. At the same time, those most able to payindividuals of great wealth and income, and the huge, profitable business complexwill escape with relatively small contributions. . . . Under the general sales tax, the poor man who must skimp and deny himself other needs to buy a pair of shoes for himself or his child pays the same levy as the millionaire who denies himself nothing to purchase the same item. Over Texas, there are 223,000 persons who somehow are existingor attempting toon old age pensions averaging $52.90 a month. There also are 63,000 dependent children receiving an average of $22.78 monthly. Some 6,400 blind persons get $58.52, and 6,500 totally and permanently disabled individuals receive $54.31. Thousands more are trying to eke by on meager social security benefits, paltry retirement incomes or, having sonal Preparedness in the Nuclear Age” issued by the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization, we read: “Nuclear weapons can be many thousands of times more powerful than the largest conventional bombs. This may be illustrated by comparing the results of attacks on Coventry, England, and Hiroshima, Japan, in World War II. In the Coventry raid, estimated to be the largest massed air raid on England, 437 aircraft dropped 394 tons of high -explosive bombs, 56 tons of incendiary bombs, and 127 parachute bombs. The results were: 380 killed, 800 injured, and general disruption of transportation, communications, and utilities. “At Hiroshima, one bomber dropped one 20-kiloton weapon \(20,more than 100,000 casualties. The weapon used in the Hiroshima raid had a small yield when compared with today’s multimegaton weapons.” Ah, the effort to muffle the note of pride is hardly successful and, as we say, it is almost understandable, for use it as you will, atomic fusion is a god-like gestureconverting hydrogen into helium, just as is done on our sun, which, after all, may turn out to be our true diety, as the ancients thought. Verse 2 in Libby’s text : “The C14 atoms in your body are probably 8,000 years old. They have been up in the atmosphere probably 80 times, coming down as carbonated. . . .” There our notes scramble, for he lost us. But it is a comforting thought. If we insist upon fusioning and fissioning ourselves back into the atmosphere, parts of us at least will find the trip no more perilous than the oft-traveled upswing of an old, old cosmic rollercoaster ride. B.S. neither of these, must depend on sons or daughtersmany of them marginal income producers themselves for their very lives. Is it into the pockets of such as these that this state, with all its claims to grandeur and wealth, now must lower itself to reach? Must the state now take away with one hand the pittance it, gives with the other? And must this be done while, as the governor charges, “gas pipeline companies, interstate and foreign corporations do not pay taxes on a basis comparable to our own domestic companies?” God forbid. It is reported that special-interest lobbyists at the last .session of the legislature virtually were crawling out of the woodwork in the state capitol, outnumbering the people’s lawmakers at times 10 to 1, and maintaining with almost every breath that facts and figures now prove that Texas voters look with favor upon the sales tax. It is perhaps understandable that the legislators, buttonholed and harassed at every opportunity by these operatives, and hearing so consistently but the one side of the issue, may have come to believe some of the pap promulgated. But the public alone may speak authentically for itself. Only the voters themselves can give truthful information to public servants about their sentiments and can inform legislators that lobbyists’ sales pitches, in the main, prove little but the old adage that, ‘While figures can’t lie, liars can figure.’ We believe our public officials are, on the whole, honest and dedicated men desiring to do the just thing in tax matters as well as others. But we urge you to contact or write your state representative, speaker of the House, state senator, lieutenant governor, and governor, and let them know your views on the sales tax before the legislature convenes again in special session July 10. ,, _An Appeal to 2Lniet THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7c4W’Zit An East Texas View
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