SOME SUGGESTIONS What Now? An Urgent and Novel Cause AUSTIN This column is addressed not to all Observer readers, nor to the officials of the Democratic Party, nor to “the liberal movement,” but to liberal individuals who wonder what in the world they can do of value in Texas now. John Connally’s nomination inaugurates at least two and possibly more years of political reaction. The narrowness of his margin makes the fact more painful, but does not change it. Whatever their stance visa 7vis Connally versus Cox, liberal people will not be wrapped up in that contest. The primary had a similar result for the rest of state government. Waggoner Carr, a conservative segregationist, is the attorney general, one assumes. The few gains for the public interest in the Texas Senate may be offset by Preston Smith’s ascendancy to the lieutenant governorship, although Senator Smith has always seemed to be a fair man. THESE EVENTS are discouraging not only because of their substance but because they make people who want to have a liberal effect on public life in Texas feel so useless, at least for a year and a half. The legislature engages the attention, but not the activity, of such people. Not until the early spring of 1964, when Senator Yarborough’s re election campaign and the stirrings of the national election begin, will di ect political activity again interest lib al individuals. I am going to make an unorthodox suggestion, because these are most unorthodox times, and those who hesitate to break molds and abandon formalities cannot regard themselves as adequate to these times. For this next year and a half, liberal individuals have two principal alternatives about what to do in public affairs in Texas. They can do nothing. This option has some attractiveness, especially for the summer, with so much sunshine and pleasure beckoning. But in the nature of the case this is not a real alternative for the people to whom I am writing. They will want to do something of value other than Texas politics something, perhaps, much more important. What might that be? THE ANSWER leaps forward on its own. As Norman Cousins, editor of the Saturday Review, said in Austin Saturday, the United States is now in the greatest danger in its history. We are coming to the point where human history may be drawing to a close. By a relatively sudden devolution in our standards of warfare, from the incendiary raids on London to the firebombings of Dresden, Hamburg, and the cities of Japan, to the atom bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the major nations, including our own, are now prepared to wipe out entire cities in the name of political principles. General Curtis LeMay of the Air Force has, in , fact, depreciated people in this country who advocate a mobile, relatively small retaliatory force “suitable only for destroying cities.” America and Russia are prepared to destroy, not merely cities, but nations : all the men and women and children of entire nations. According to Cousins Saturday, the military in Washington have won their argument about chemical warfare \(less inhumane than hydrogen have gone full speed ahead, for instance, in the manufacture of lysurgic acid with which to poison urban water supplies. Well, what of it? No good person with at least a suspicion that what he or she does can have some effect on human history can ask that question and stick to its implications. As Bertrand Russell says, the prospect is discouraging, but in such a crisis as this, defeatism is cowardice. Consider the single issue, resumption of nuclear tests. \(One wonders about that abort in the high-atmosphere test Monday. Was the warhead off course?Might it have been going haywire toward some unsuspecting country? Then suppose there had been a malfunction, not only in whatever it was that malfunctioned. but also in the mechanism to blow the C OUSINS SAYS that in one of his press conferences, President Kennedy .stated his belief that our resumption of nuclear tests in the atmosphere was contrary to our military security. This jibes with what he told the United Nations, that we have reached the point where military strength does not provide security. As nations get stronger, their security decreases because of the mightiness of the weapons that are poised to fire the world over. Why, then, did Kennedy resume the tests? “There must have been something in his mind,” Cousins said, and speculated : it i was pressure from the military, scientists, a small minority who have convinced the government they speak for the country. We who have other positions have not been heard from. The next year and a half, without any sharp changes of commitment or involvement, it would be possible, and it seems to me quite necessary, that liberal people in Texas undertake to change the climate of public opinion in Texas and within the Texas delega representing the majority views of its membership ; and I’ve never ceased to be puzzled by the attitude of most doctors, whose work is so intensely personal, toward the public place and responsibility of their profession. “Having beeh ill or injured in a variety of countries, I’m sure they’re the best-trained doctors in the world. They work with the, suffering all day long ; they overwork themselves for charitable purposes; they did wonders during the war. “They know perfectly well what hospital costs are doing to family lifesavings in the most tragic manner. Yet every time a political leader proposes a social answer to what is clearly a general, economic problem, they slam down an intellectual iron curtain, and propaganda replaces the civilized search for solutions. “There are doctors who charge brutal fees, doctors who evade their taxes, doctors who, while arguing that ‘socialized medicine’ will destroy the intimate ‘physician-patient relationship,’ run their own patients through their consulting rooms at assembly-line speed. Yet the generality of medical men are not getting rich and I fail to observe that as a class they are any more selfish than the rest of us. “If their organized lobbies confined their efforts to the enlightened selfinterest of the profession, as they see it, they would be a little easier to take. But they insist on affecting the role of philosophers of the whole human condition. They profess to see in a given legislative bill on health costs an act of treason to the Founding Fathers; sabotage of the Constitution, loss of the Cold War, the end of the Republic and the sure erosion of individual character. “How can they arrogate to themselves such Periclean wisdom with such ease? I think back to my university days and wonder if this special state of mind dooes not begin with the educational process. The medical school boys seemed contemptuous. of those immersed in the liberal arts tion in Washington on questions of nuclear war and foreign policy. You could do this in a number of ways, several of which might be: 1.Undertake on your own to inform yourself on these issues \(start with Cousin’s book, In Place of Folly, and perhaps, for more vivid understanding, John Hersey’s and write say a letter a week to one of your congressmen or senators, stating the case for peace and for negotiations in pereference to a nuclear holocaust. 2.Form what Cousins proposes, a Society for Individual Responsibility, dedicated to the propositions that the individual is responsible for what happens, and no one else, and that formed into a society, individuals who know this can have an effect. Cousins suggests these societies have sub-groups of four to study special questions \(Laos, Berlin, disarmament, radioacOne person might learn a good deal more this way than by studying alone. the groups and individuals in the town who run things and discuss the issues with them, assuming their good faith, of course, whether they agree or not. 3.Associate yourself with one of the extant local organizations for the prevention of nuclear war \(Austin for Peaceful Alternatives, or Houston one on your own, similarly to study, arrive at independent conclusion’s, and take action. The Peace Picnic in Austin this spring attracted 900 to 1,000 ‘snap courses’ on philosophy, history, sociology and political science. Few of them caught fire in’ the general intellectual conflagrations of the 1930s when imminent war, Fascism, and the re-making of the American society excited our minds. “They affected the posture of young men who felt they alone were truly exercising their minds and mastering a discipline; but I am afraid that, in their immersion in demanding technical studies, they were the ones who failed to become educated in the deeper and more universal sense of the term. Far too many of them simply lacked the opportunity or the inclination to read the time on history’s clock. “The doctor has always dealt in mysteries, to the gratitude and awe of his helpless neighbors, and since frontier days American doctors have been the most respected class of citizens in our common life. Perhaps they cannot be blamed for acquiring a tendency toward the Augustan and the oracular. But I wonder if they are going to retain, as a class, the high degree of respect they have always enjoyed; and if I were a doctor I would regard the slowly changing public attitude toward my profession with some concern.” CONG. HENRY GONZALEZ has demanded a Post Office Department investigation into the mailing of a campaign card which he called “deceitful, dishonest, and fraudulent.” The postcards, signed “Henry B. Gon zalez,” carried a photograph of Connally walking arm-in-arm with President Kennedy. The message said: “Dear neighbor : Just a note to let you know that I am supporting John Connally for governor and to ask you to join me in helping elect him on June 2. John Connally was a part of the Kennedy-Johnson New From tier as secretary of the Navy . . . Do not be misled by so-called liberals who would divide and weaken the democratic party.” Radio listeners in South Texas heard brief broadcasts in Spanish people for a fruitful and much dis cussed program. About one person in every 200 in Austin attended. There is a procedural difficulty. How do people who want to do this get in touch with each other in each town? A first possibility is that some individual take it on himself or herself to get on the telephone and start calling friends. In Fort Worth, for example, the group of 40 or so members of the Society of Friends might undertake such a project, widening it as much as possible. A second is this : If persons who want to do something along this line will write to me at the Observer, within several weeks I will gather the letters and cards together and undertake to put the people who have written from each area in touch with each other. Let each individual be responsible for his own convictions, let no group seek conformity of views. In a free country only the free convictions of individuals can form the basis of action for change. I SHOULD HOPE that at the end of a year’s telephoning, meeting, study, and work, we might reasonably bring together a Texas Society for the Prevention of Nuclear War, democratic and individualistic, a group of members and not of leaders, who might find enough common ground to act as a new force in Texas. Out of defeat can come defeatism or renewal. Let us renew ourselves in the urgent and quite novel cause, the survival of humanity. R.D. Thursday saying Connally was being supported by Gonzalez and President Kennedy. Next day they heard rebuttals in Spanish, saying not to believe it,. that Kennedy and Gonzalez were supporting Yarborough. It was that kind of campaign. AN ITEM to stimulate one’s imagination, from a recent Dallas Morning News: “A recording said to have been taped in a London travel agency bluntly brought home to . Dallas Monday the need for stimulating tourist visits. ” ‘Don’t plan a long stay in Dallas,’ said the London travel agent, advising an English woman planning to tour America. ‘Dallas is a dull place. There’s nothing of interest in it,’ said the agent. “The record was played for 325 “The London travel agent showed equal ignorance about other U.S. cities. Los Angeles got the same rating as Dallas,” said the Dallas News. Conservative incumbents in the Texas Senate watched the election boards closely Saturday was re-elected from his remote West Texas district. Medics, Dallas, and a Postcard
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