Page 15


The Texas Observer AUGUST 9, 1963 A Journal of Free Voices 25c 5he 5eot Ran 5reat y Senator Ralph Yarborough’s announcement that he will vote for the nuclear test ban treaty was an important event in Texas political history. We print his entire statement on the matter, not only because it is a new kind of communication from a Texas politician to his constituents, but also because it demonstrates the senior senator’s fundamental intellectual dignity and his sense of history. Said Yarborough, in his radio address Aug. 2 on more than a hundred Texas stations: it Friends and fellow Texans: The nuclear test ban treaty that was initialed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union must be viewed with cautious optimism at this time, but may well go down as one of the most significant acts of benefit to mankind in the history of the human race. In his stirring address to the nation, President Kennedy said: ‘A war today or tomorrow, if it led to nuclear war, would not be like any war in history. A full-scale nuclear exchange, lasting less than 60 minutes, with the weapons now in existence, could wipe out more than 300 million Americans, Europeans, and Russians, as well as untold numbers elsewhere. And the survivors, as Chairman Khrushchev warned the Communist Chinese, would envy the dead. For they would inherit a world so devastated by the explosions and poison and fire that today we cannot even conceive of all of its horrors. So let us make the most of this opportunity, and every opportunity, to reduce tension, to slow down the perilous nuclear arms race, and to check the world’s slide to final annihilation.’ Fellow Americans, with the nuclear tests that have been made, we have polluted the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, so that malignancies, leukemia, malformations of children yet unborn, and other deadly effects to the human race are what we are reaping from this whirlwind. I realize that there are great dangers involved in a treaty with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union has a record of breaking the treaties they make. But today we have means of detecting the tests covered by this treaty. This treaty covers tests in the air, under the water, and in space. It leaves each side free to continue underground tests where they are hard to. detect and at the same time where these tests can be made without polluting the air, the soil, and the water. So this is a matter of urgency. The president has expressed that urgency. A sense of urgency is also felt in the heart of every mother in this world when she realizes that more and more of these poisons are being spewed into the air by nuclear explosions above the surface. Clearly this demands that this treaty be viewed and acted upon with equal urgency. In a world of 2.8 billion people, where almost two-thirds do not get enough to eat, containing areas where education or even the barest of decent living conditions are virtually unknown ; where there is hardship and poverty and disease and death that man must already combat, this step to try to stop the pollution of the water, the air, the soil in this habitat of man is a step toward the realization of a society at peace which may fulfill the Sen. Yarborough’s decision to support the test ban treaty was one of the two most trying and important political decisions he will have had to make this year. One other issue on which he is still reflecting puts the same challenge as did the treaty to his honesty, his courage, and his deepest personal convictions. This is President Kennedy’s public accommodations bill. This legislation, which would require private businesses that serve the public to serve all the public without racial discrimination, is the guts of Kennedy’s civil rights program. Only one substantial objection has been advanced against it, that it violates property rights; and this objection will not stand. As attorney Thomas Black points out in Dialogue this issue, Southern laws have prohibited businessmen from serving Negroes and whites together for decades, and no outcry has been raised about the merchants’ property rights. If a businessman can be forbidden to serve Negroes and whites together, he can be forbidden to refuse to serve them together ; his property right does not extend to public policy in this area. Maintaining a business that serves the public has never been enswathed with the same rights that are associated with maintaining a home or choosing one’s personal associates. Public accommodations are regulated now by laws pertaining to advertising, sanitation, trade practices, even days of religious observance. Yet property rights are now invoked to defend requiring Ne prayer of Christianity, and indeed of all religions. It will be a step toward that day that was foreseen by the Prince of Peace in Galilee nearly 2000 years ago when He called for peace on earth and goodwill to man. Think, fellow Americans, what could be done for mankind if we could divert at some future date the great amounts of money, manpower, and leadership going into the development of nuclear weapons into peaceful uses, only one of which might be offsetting the great expense we are undertaking in the exploration of space. This treaty is but a small step. Its importance must not now be over-rated, but it is a golden opportunity that we must not allow to pass. As the Beaumont Enterprise wrote in an outstanding editorial entitled simply, ‘They Made It,’ The world looks brighter today.’ Fellow Texans, we have within our grasp the opportunity for a brighter tomorrow. 79 .groes to walk a mile for lunch, or to eat in a public cafe’s kitchen, or to drive miles until they can find a hotel for Negroes, or to be humiliated by having to wind around to the backs of buildings to use unclean rest rooms. As Mrs. Margaret Carter of Fort Worth argues in a letter, “Either we defend these petty cruelties in the name of private property, or we forbid them in the name of democratic decency.” Gov. John Connally has made his choice: he defends them in the name of private property. Vice President Lyndon Johnson has made his: he would forbid them in the name of democratic decency. When Connally was asked why they differed, he said because he represents Texas, and Johnson the nation. Afre we then to accept, in Texas, this step-child conception of our decency?this notion of political opportunists that when you represent Texas you trim your sails to racism, and only when you hold ‘national office can you advocate what is clearly just for all? This is a question Sen. Yarborough must now be musing upon. We have no good reason to think he might vote against Kennedy’s key civil rights bill, yet the mere possibility so galls us, we feel constrained to speak up now. Since his unfortunate 1956 Nacogdoches speech, Yarborough has traveled an honorably long way from those elements of his east Texas heritage which justify the racial injustices of the South. We have felt pride as he has made his way steadily toward unmistakable identification with the now swelling forces of racial justice in America, “all, here, now.” Indeed, _A &cone/ major