Red-Tinged Algebra Cleared by Committee DISCOURSE ON FREEDOM It all goes to show that even your closest friends can be un American. I decided afterwards that anything the communists are against must be all night, so I took another vote with only my self participating. It was decided that The Fundamentals of High School Algebra was entirely suit able for American students to read. Although it has some obvious shortcomings, the color of the cover is pleasant to the eye, and the pages do not stick, which are certainly facts to be considered, I recommend it to the more mature, responsible high school students, with the stipulation that it be read while an adult is in the room. C.D, AUSTIN It recently came to my attention that an algebra textbook now being used in our public schools might be of very dubious value to the students using it and might, indeed, be definitely detrimental to them. I first heard of the book last week when I received an anonymous phone call suggesting that I take a glance at the bibliography in the back of Fundamentals of High School Algebra, by Peter Suggs, Jr. The next day I obtained the book, and was quite perturbed by what I found in the bibliography, namely, reference to a book entitled, “Modern High School Algebra,” by A. N. Plekhanov . . . the same last name as the wellknown Bolshevik philosopher and scholar. A quick check at the city library showed that A. N. Plekhanov was born in Westbury, Conn., in 1921. The question remained whether his parents were American-born. I telegraphed a friend of mine on the East Coast to check on it, and he replied the next afternoon that a reporter friend of his in Connecticut had checked the city hall records and learned that sure enough, Plekhanov’s father was a naturalized citizen, having come to this coun ‘ try in 1914, a significantly short time before the Russian revolution. That was enough for me. I contacted a number of my friends who are interested in seeing that the ideals upon which this great land of ours was founded are inculcated in Texas youth, and we met the next night over coffee and doughnuts to decide whether Fundamentals of High School Algebra should be made available to high school students. Mrs. Boon, my next door neighbor, thought that the mere mention of Plekhanov in the bibliography was just cause for the book’s being removed, but I pointed out that in a democratic society, questions of this sort should be discussed thoroughly and then voted upon. Reluctantly, she agreed. Mr. Jones, an insurance salesman, after leafing through the book, commented that it was obvious that its contents were much too difficult for high school level students. He said that he thought algebra should be reserved for college students, and even there such books should be placed on the “reserve” shelves. Confronting students with numbers and formulas did little but confuse them, he said, adding that communists often throw a lot of figures into their propaganda in hopes of confusing the readers. MRS. BROCK, whose husband is a wealthy surgeon, pointed out that there were several contradictions in the book. On page 35, for example, it was stated simply and without qualification that X was equal to 32. On page 151, however, X was held to be equal to 15. Several of the group clucked their tongues in indignation. Joe Burnett, a deacon in my church, pointed out two suspicious features of the book. First of all, there was no mention at all of the, fact that an American had discovered algebra. Further, there AUSTIN Solon, when asked how justice could be secured in Athens, replied, “If those who are not injured feel as indignant as those who are.” John Lilbourne, a printer of unlicensed books in England in the 17th century, said when he was banished by a committee of Parliament, “What is done unto anyone, may be done unto everyone.” Thomas Jefferson said, “I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility against any form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Ideals such as these, says lawyer James Hippard of Houston, animate the American Civil Liberties Union, of whose Houston chapter he is president. “In Austin,” he said while visiting here as principal speaker at the capital’s chapter of A.C.L.U. this week, “the state legislature, with executive acquiescence, enacts laws designed to deprive citizens of rights that go with citizenship or that, as in the case of narcotic laws, practically suspend civil rights. “In Houston, the right of any person to speak who may entertain non-conformist or unorthodox political views is subject to immediate challenge by groups which consider themselves patriotic although freedom of speech is a fundamental American right.” The A.C.L.U., he said, “defends the civil rights of everybody even those who do not believe in civil liberties. The A.C.L.U. never defends anything else for anybody.” Ilippard’s temper w a s still frayed from criticism he received because the Houston chapter came to the defense of General Edwin Walker after his arrest by the federal government. “People treated me like I’d lost my blinkin’ mind,” he said. “Negroes said to me they knew all along I was a spy and a turncoat.” He said one liberal said he wanted to walk Walker out before a firing squad. “The real threat to civil liberties in the years to come is from Not long ago a popular and hotly debated question was “Can Machines Think ?” Today it is generally agreed that they can, unless one defines thinking as something a machine can’t do. As the debate, and the machines, became more sophisticated, those who felt their human dignity challenged by the notion of machine thinking retreated to new definitions of thinking based on subjective creativity and the emotions rather than on analysis. A machine could not write poetry, they said, or compose a string quartet \(machine could not be conscious; it could not fall in love. These latter arguments were demolished as early as 1950 by A. M. Turing: should you observe a precocious robot exhibiting amorous behavior, you might think it in love, or you might suspect a trick; the question could only be answered by being the machine. Nevertheless we are still reluctant to attribute emotions, or a conscience, or the possibility of -acquiring them, to a machine. Today, as I have said, the machines, or their supporters, have wonnot so much because of the spectacular accomplishments of machines, but because, I submit, the now-widely-accepted criterion for useful thinking by a human is that he be able to think like a machine. We are reluctant to admit that we humans may have emotions and consciences. The to the Black principle, as embodied in the Smith Act, “unless they will just say that a form of politic, al thought is verboten.” He thought the communist, “as long as he is a neuter, and just sits in his living room and does nothing else,” and there is not “a clear and present danger,” has a right to “say his piece,” and the fascist also. “Americans, by their own declaration, are dedicated to a belief in the integrity, inherent dignity, and importance of the individual every individual,” the lawyer said. “Human values and human rights are, supposedly, paramount. Totalitarians, including admirers of the police state, take the opposite view, that the individual is important only as he contributes to the welfare of the entire social group represented by the state. “That is the difference between freedom and tyranny. “The philosophical basis for freedom was never more aptly expressed than by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, although the concepts enunciated there are far from original. . [Itl was that all men are created free and equal and that they are divinely endowed with natural rights which no government can take away from them without their consent. The premise applies to the most hardened criminal no less than to those who obey the law. ‘The Foundation’ “Whether the concept of natural rights is true or false,” Hippard said, “it is the foundation of all American political institutions . . . . the right of any person or group to searc’i for truth and express an opinion is more than an individual right; it is the heart, of democracy’s survival a n d growth.” Hippard was born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas. He went to the public schools in Houston, studied at the University of Texas, and obtained his law degree from the University of Houston. Presently he is a member of the firm of Thompson, Hibbard, and Gibson. R.D. We might do well to heed Norbert against achieving “a nominal victory on points at the cost of every interest we have at heart, even that of national survival.” Machine-oriented thinking has become fashionable. Moral arguments are losing impact: they are “too emotional.” Moral considerations and the emotions are UnMachinic if not Un-American. Most of us who have moral reasons for advocating certain policies find ourselves arguing on grounds of “realistic” self-interest to avoid the deflating accusation of emotionalism. Thus racial segregation is bad because it makes us vulnerable to unfavorable propaganda. Massive nuclear retaliation won’t work in peripheral wars. Fallout shelters won’t protect us against blast. The U-2 and Cuba-landing debacles were outrageous because they didn’t work as planned. In thus bypassing or postponing the true moral issues, we are nevertheless making a value judgementthe judgement that what were once considered fundamental human values are now scarcely relevant to our most difficult decisions. This judgement the assignment of low value to valuesis gradually being programmed into the machine of American political thoughts. CARL BARUS in the November issue of the newsletter of the Society of Social Responsibility in Science. was no statement that the Russians had not discovered it. Joe’s wife added excitedly that there was also no mention of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, or Calvin Coolidge. Mrs. Brock pointed out rather tartly that she didn’t think the omission of Jefferson’s name was particularly catastrophic, inasmuch as she had recently seen documentary evidence that Jefferson was not as red-blooded an American as left-wing history books had led some people to think. Joe’s wife replied that she would be very interested to see the documentary evidence in question, and Mrs. Brock said she would be glad to produce it at a later date. I observed that it was a minor point, because the omission of Franklin and Coolidge was in itself sufficient justification for condemnation. MRS. BROCK SAID it was not a minor point, and that I should mind my own business. Joe’s wife said she agreed with me. Mrs. Boon said she had indeed heard several bad things about Jefferson, but until tonight she had dismissed them as rumor. Jones asked Mrs. Brock whether Jefferson believed our government was a republic or a democracy. Mrs. Brock said that there was some doubt, but she thought perhaps he thought it was a democracy. Joe’s wife said she sure as hell would like to see proof of it, to which Mrs. Brock replied that she didn’t like to hear atheistic, communistic curse words in her presence. I said I thought we should vote at that point on the merits or demerits of the algebra text rather than concern ourselves with side issues, but Joe’s wife said to me that I could go to hell, and Mrs. Brock said Joe’s wife was undoubtedly a communist, or a liberal, or a dupe of the international conspiracy. I wasn’t able to record the next few sentences uttered by the two ladies, but short scuffle then ensued, followed by Joe’s and his wife’s and Mrs. Boon’s calling Mrs. Brock and Jones and me communists, and I ordered them out of the house. We then voted unanimously to condemn the book as disloyal and dangerous in the hands of the nation’s youth, and Mrs. Brock added an amendment to the effect that we condemn Joe and his wife and Mrs. Boon as persons whose loyalty was highly questionable. The amendment passed with a majority of two to one, myself dissenting on grounds it was immaterial to the question of the textbook. Whereupon Mrs. Brock and Jones proposed a second amendment including me in the group censured in the first amendment. Accusing them of totalitarian power tactics, I ordered them out of my house, as well. the federal government,” he said. “Doing things for us, they are also doing things to us. The individual rights become less significant to administrative procedures. “In Walker’s case, you had government arbitrarily deciding what an individual could or couldn’t do or what he was or was not. I agree there was strong reason to decide that way. But they were going to hold him 60 to 90 days without the right of being examined by a doctor of his own choosing. I thought that was an unthinkable thing to do to an American citizenregardless.” Good-time Freemen People believe in liberty until it’s time to practice it, he said. “Free speech is indispensable but what about anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish pamphlets? Due process is only fairbut what about the criminal who evades punishment by challenging an improper procedure used at his trial? Equal protection by the laws is right and properbut what about a Negro family moving in next door?” Hippard said “what’s right for Christians or Jews is right for Buddhists or atheists. What’s right for men is right for women. What’s right for whites is right for Negroes ” What about the civil liberties of communists, who oppres3 such liberties in societies they control? Hippard said the guarantees of free speech apply. “The A.C.L.U. agrees with the dissenting opinion of Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black in the Barenblatt case: ‘the real interest . . . of the people [is] in being able to join organizations, advocate causes, and make political mistakes without later being subjected to governmental penalties for having dared to think for themselves. It is this right, the right to differ politically, which, keeps us strong as a nation,” he said. Hippard amplified this in a question period. He believed the Supreme Court eventually would rule against provisions contrary mark of a clear thinker, at least in the field of world affairs, is “realism.” The mathematics of the new field of operations research \(game theory, queuing theory, statistical decision theory, linear programin parallel with the development of machines that permit such problems actually to be solved. These powerful techniques are being applied with notable success to many urgent problems in areas such as traffic control, telephone
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