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The Day We Lost Precinct 265 Ron Bailey The real issue was that there was simply no place in the SMU scheme of things for a popular and able professor who was not religious and not a. Booster. The reason the three year contract Was called after two years was anxiety about competence, a competence which they really didn’t want. Because I wasn’t really with it. I taught Sunday School myself, a small class at the Congregational Church. I published two articles while at SMU: one on “Feelings, Facts, and Politics” for Ethics, and another on “The Difference between Aristotle’s Logic and Aristotelian Logics” for The Review of Metaphysics. I started a Philosophy Club, which attracted 80 students to the first meeting. I was chosen faculty adviser to Mortarboard, the girl’s honorary society. I was faculty adviser to the Sammies, the Jewish fraternity. I was faculty adviser to the Conservative Club, and arranged for a talk by Henry Regnery, who gave an excellent presentation to a small group. As a conservative who strongly identifies with John S. Mill, Stephen Field, and Abe Lincoln, I tried to buck Buckley in Texas and arrange for a debate between Professor John Silber, chairman not keep me from the liberal luncheons held downtown by Otto Mullinax and his group, nor from friendship with activist liberals among the students. \(There were chaperoned once while these students erased a sign saying “colored janitors” from a rest room in the main classroom building: the students were fined; the colored janitors who watched, faces absolutely blank of expression, were fired for just being there when it occurred. I helped picket a local segregated drugstore, together with my wife and children. Together with some students from Bishop College, we tried to arrange a “line-up” in front of a downtown theatre showing the epic “Christ the,King.” Not very many picketers showed up, and no one had the $2.80 for a ticket. I remember we pooled resources and gave the dough to the lightest Negro student for him to try and buy a ticket. He came back from the attempt kind of sick looking: he had been sold a ticket and let into the theatre, unnoticed. No one wanted to see the picture and we didn’t have much money, so somehow he got his ticket refunded and we gave the money to the most visible boy, who was, to our relief, turned away. But the line-up didn’t work because most ordinary citizens also ignored the Negroes in line, thinking simply that they had to wait because it was such a popular picture. In the classroom, I got along well with the students, and had such large classes that we ‘were accused of “empire-building” in a scurrilous attack by , one of the professors of Christian Thought. My wife and I were constantly asked to chaperone dances, and constantly accepted. We were friends with the two or three people of academic calibre on the liberal arts faculty. N 0, THE REAL ISSUE was the resentment of the faculty and the consternation of the administration, accustomed to having the children in its “Family” constantly intoning vows of loyalty and admiration, and doing nothing else. When more intelligent faculty members left, the rebuttal was simply that the person had no loyalty. The loyal ones, well: the faculty in Spanish hated all Latins as Catholic and in general dirty; a professor of German felt an apology for Schiller’s writing Wilhelm Tell was in order, to the effect that the story really wasn’t true; a professor of government rejected a paper about public housing in Dallas, and insisted another be written on the better sort of people; the English department had fired Paul Boller, martyr liberal, after one year, for his ability and popularity \(he was rehired by the history department, which is with the dirty linen: in general the academic goal of the administration at SMU was to attain the rank of a Winter Replacement for Summertime Church Camps, or the cheerleading schools and Pep Leader schools that are such a wonderful part of SMU’s Summer Program. The administra Houston To the Northern noviate, an initiation into the labyrinthine world of Texas politics is an exacting, exasperating, but exhilirating journey. At the outset he realizes he doesn’t know his left from his right, politically. The Democratic-with-big-D brand bears little resemblance here to what the shopper has found on the national market. Social security is pink; medicare red; civil rights black and white. But along the way he suddenly finds himself using words like “liberal-loyalist” and “Tory” and learns that, after all, political deals in Texas are made not in smoke-filled hotel rooms but in air-conditioned elementary school kitchens. A year’s casual observation had yielded a few markers for the journey, of course. I had read about the Democratic Coalition and the Establishment and all that. But nothing in my previous experience as a kingmaker \(after all, I did nominate Adlai Stevenson at a college mock political convention, altruistically rigging a first-ballot day we lost Houston’s. Precinct 265or did we ever own it? The writer, a former newspaperman on the Cleveland Plain Dealer, works for a national magazine in Houston. tion pretended to view with distaste the general affluent country club atmosphere, but since the parents of many of the kids in the Thunderbird set were the Dallas businessmen who made up the half-a-million deficit in the budget every year \(and toleration was extended. With respect to the place of SMU in Dallas culture: that culture is built on money, not thought. Most faculty families strove desperately and hopelessly to emulate the, affluent. This meant entertainment was done with one big Potlatch every year, with drinks before dinner and expensive liqueurs afterwards, the whole thing to cost at least fifty bucks, or bean dinners for weeks. The undercurrent of violence beneath the clean salesman surface of Dallas is not present at SMU, the campus being sort of institutionalized goody-goodiness for the metropolitan community, and the limp wrist is preferred to the smiling clenched fist of the downtown culture. The buildings at SMU look like money; they even look like a university campus, but there is no truth in them, and the administration and the famous Dallas oligarchy are there to make sure it stays that way. Precinct 265 bestrides the pretzel turns of Memorial Drive in the southwest part of the city. If it were plunked down in Chicago or Cleveland and lazy Buffalo Bayou were a great lake, it would be dubbed the Gold Coast. Here it is the bayou’s Green Coastverdant with towering pines and money. He who sets out to poach in that preserve is tilting at the shibboleths of people with two-car garages in every home, three sprinklers on every lawn, and the enigmatic, paradoxical “Democrat” branded on their poll tax receipts. Last spring when his bandwagon rolled past my pillared, three-year-old Early American home, I hitched onto my political star, the candidate for precinct Democratic chairman. My people’s choice was a neighbor and a friend and, in the vernacular, a liberal-loyalist. That, he told me, meant he supported the national, as sometimes .contrasted to the state, Democratic Party. His platform was a simple one: to wrest control of the precinct from the dark forces of conservatism. GIVEN MY THEORY of Northern suburban politics, it looked easy. June 12, 1964 7