Page 2


Lc> t ,4 -rtie. czovrtcloar ta ro.s -r * EVENTS IN SAN ANTONIO Our Commonplaces ‘He Does Seem to Be Out of Uniform or Something.’ Twain’s Watchman AUSTIN Morning and evening the path I usually follow through the city borders a cemetery, one of those grisly gardens of grey stone crosses and shaped pink marble, ‘trimmed hedges and mounded lawn, wilted flowers and plastic wreaths. Occasionally someone stands by a graveside, and yesterday evening two women and a child were digging over one, doubtless planting flowers, although the sight was strange. The place keeps fresh one’s awareness of the passing time. The name “Glover” stares clear-cut from a shield-shaped stone and, perhaps because I know someone who still bears that name, goads me to use a little more of the day or the night, as the case may be. Recently, however, the cemetery has become more than such places usually are, even considering the profit in them. Inadvertently, it offers its patrons an extra function, the passers-by an extra feeling. Erect above the graves there stands’ a brightly yellow Civil Defense siren in stiff, open-jawed vigil for the occasion of its usefulness. Until you have driven past there, you cannot imagine how curious this seems, that the gaily painted siren of our future doom takes root among boxes of bones, that the moist, dark sepulchres of the definitely dead may amplify the next war’s alarm. Such a queer circumstance stirs one’s memories of the gruesome, of crimes in swamps and Poe before bed on a full stomach. In Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain tosses in a story of a fellow who -dwelt by the river until someone murdered his wife and child. He spends the rest of his life looking for the culprit and finally, when he is almost dead, himself, takes a job in a morgue in a distant land. His work consists of sitting up with an alarm so connected to straps and wires attached to the bodies of the dead that should one of them twitch, sigh, moan, or otherwise exhibit the slightest sign of life, the alarm goes off with ear-splitting din. One night, as the aging watchman nods, the alarm goes off. Rushing from slab to slab, the watchman discovers that life still flutters in one of the bodiesnone other than the erstwhile corpse of the killer of his wife and child, many years ago. After some ghastly goings on between them, the watchman lets him die, savoring his each agonizing breath. This, you will say, is not only horrible and fantastic, but quite improbable; but wait a while. Sam Clemens’ yarn would pass for a sweet girl’s bedtime story these days, when scientists write the horror stories and the most fantastic prospects are not only probable, but are also widely accepted commonplaces. HOW CAN mere books and periodicals contain, how can mere words compass, the facts these days? Among the letters to the editor of Time Magazine a few weeks back was one from Linus Pauling, the scientist who has been investigated so many times because he is opposed, on the basis of a scruple, to the incineration of the human race. Dr. Pauling wished to take exception to a statement in a recent issue that the next world war can be expected to commence with 50 million casualties in the United States. The fact, said Dr. Pauling, is that radiation taken into account, no one will survive. Obviously this was merely a quibble, a nit-picking. Time’s “Ed.” didn’t even trouble to append a sniggering footnote. Perhaps even after one has been accustomed by prolonged practice to judging others, one hesitates before trifling with a scientist’s statement on such a question. Fifty million, 150 million, 1,150 million . . . what’s the difference, anyway? Who noticed, and who, who noticed, can ever forget the most singular circumstance about President Kennedy’s address telling the Russians we are ready to go to war for West Berlin, \(the city upon which our people a few years ago so readily excreted ing steps necessary for civil defense, he referred in a grammatical snarl to other measures necessary to save millions of lives, “if needed.” We gasp, and turn away; turn back to some graspable wrong, to something we can believe, something we can hate, or to some sport, some food, the itchy affair with the maid at the beergarten, to something we can have, something we can love. Day after day, the newspapers present us with all sorts of questions, whether the government should commit our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to West Berlin, whether we should occupy Fidel Castro and make Cuba the fifty-first state, even whether Price Daniel will run for a fourth term. None of these things is the question. THE QUESTION is asked by the pacifists who lie down in front of the gate to the plant making submarine missiles, who sail a ketch into the bomb-testing waters, who write for the desperate little journals of despairing brotherly love. The question is whether one freakish night Mark Twain’s watchman will start up from his dreams to the screech of the graveyard alarm and find the corpse who twitched in time to enjoy his dying. R.D. AUSTIN Events in San Antonio, involving the active participation of the Fourth Army in a two-day program which will bring to Municipal Auditorium some of the same extremist spellbinders and witchdoctors who have graced similar platforms in Texas of late, bring close to home the “disastrous rise of misplaced power” cited by Pres. Eisenhower in his farewell address and the activities of the military underscored by Sen. William Fulbright in his memorandum to the Defense Department. Fulbright, as chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, earlier this year instigated a full-scale investigation which confirmed, as The Progressive summarizes it this month, “that the military establishment has been engaged for half a dozen years in a systematic campaign of indoctrination which, under the guise of ‘fighting communism,’ challenges the loyalty of such patriots’ as Adlai Stevenson, equates moderate social reform with communism, and classifies negotiation with our adver caries as “appeasement’.” Much of the present administration’s program, such as federal aid to education and medical care for the aged, have been condemned as works of Red dupery, Fulbright said. “If the military is infected with this virus of right-wing radicalism, the danger is worthy of attention.” Both President Kennedy and Defense Secretary McNamara have pondered Fulbright’s conclusion, the Defense Department issuing a directive in July warning military officials to be more wary of promulgating Birch-type views in official public places. The San Antonio Jaycees, of course, have every right under the Lord’s sun to espouse whatever they choose, from low vegetarianism to high humanism. But the Fourth Army, as an official arm of our military establishment, is treading on dangerous ground in actively co-sponsoring a public affair which will feature some of the wildest “revivalists of the far right” and Birch proselytizers in the land. This the Department of Defense should know. W.M. AMERICAN AS APPLE-PIE AND GENERAL MOTORS Lewis Buck, vicar of the St. James Episcopal Church in Austin, sent a letter this week to Gov. Daniel, Atty. Gen. Wilson, and members of the House general investigating committee responsible for the report \(Obs., lin has instigated racial demonstrations in Texas. We excerpt his observations here.Ed. AUSTIN I feel your reporting on the sitinners is unjust and erroneous. I have been a member worker in stand-ins, and I find no communistic approach, although I have met communists who were card carriers some years ago ; I fought to liberate a few Russians in France. I have nine holes in my body from Essen steel hardened by coal from the Saar ; so don’t throw me in Your carry-all with your “dupe or communist type”. Evidently everyone who does not see your way is a communist type. As a youngster I served in a Central Security Headquarters, and I feel that I have a little more acquaintance than the average man on the street with investigatory work. Many of the people who run aboutthe Birchers, Strube-ites, Bundy-ites, and other close-minded folk probably could not track an elephant in four feet of snow. To track, investigate, sift out, or out-fox anyone, one has to have intelligence, an open mind, creative imagination, and a knack for not getting caught between newspapers. We have here in Austin one of the few qualified communist and counter espionage investigators who worked in Hawaii and on the West Coast. This experienced investigator gets an old fashion belly laugh from the reports of your “commie” investigators. There are a few elderly Negro men and women in the Lord’s Church in Austin who would sit in if they were not so old. They are not communists; I doubt if they can spell the word. They are born and ingrained citizens of the United States and they accept the semi-slavery environment in which they have been forced to live by the liberty-howling white Texans. They accept it as their portion of the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of these people have been brought up to the rhythm of these words: “Thus spake the Lord,” bold Moses said; let my people go, If not I’ll smite your first-born dead let my people go. Go down, Moses, ‘way down in Egypt land, tell ole Pharoah, to let my people go, 0, let my people go. It is strange that when Dvorak sought to find an inscription for his New World Symphony, he inevitably turned to the Negro. After all, the Negro, in his unsophisticated way, has developed out of the American milieu a form of expression, a mood, a literary genre, a folk-tradition that are distinctly and undeniably American. I, Too I,Too, Sing America I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes, But I laugh, and eat well, and grow strong. Tomorrow I’ll sit at the table when company comes, nobody’ll dare say to me `eat in the kitchen,’ then besides, they’ll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed. I, too, am America. Sit-ins and stand-ins are as American in contemporary America as apple pie, American Tobacco, General ‘ Motors, Pabst’s Blue Ribbon, and reactionary witch-hunting. You are always welcome to worship the Lord with us when you are in Austin. Faithfully in Christ Jesus I remain, Louis E. Buck.