Demonstrations Are Good for U.S.; Goal in Viet Nam Must Be Peace Gibson: Thank you, Mr. Bush. The order of speakers was determined by the flip of a coin. I now present to you Mr. Dugger for twenty minutes. Ronnie Dugger: I thought I had won the flip, but after hearing Mr. Bush, I’m sure I lost. I should say in defense of the Texas Observer that my endorsement of Mr. Bush was not without whimsical intent. Mr. Jack Cox, however, doesn’t have a sense of humor as well developed as Mr. Bush’s. I am delighted to participate in this mental strip tease before the State Junior Bar. I believe in all seriousness thatcall it debate or discussion as you willconfrontation in free discussion between honest contenders is the great lost form in democracy and really constitutes what free discussion ought to be. First I would like to take just a moment to review some of Mr. Bush’s discussion. Mr. Bush takes the position that demonstrations are fine and horrible. He begins by saying that certainly demonstrations can’t be opposed generally. We then have presented to us for our consideration a series of emotionally charged examples of maldemonstrations. [These] people “don’t want solutions,” are “children of lawlessness,” are “disciples of destruction,” “must not be permitted to prevail,” boo Mr. Harriman, are “that selfish mean little group of pickets at Columbia University,” are the filthy speech movement, are people with unkempt beards or tennis shoes or girls who -don’t bathe. Now let me assure Mr. Bush that I am in favor of girls using soap, and I am sure you are. As for people who reject because they have been rejected, I think they ought not to be called “naive,” “radical,” and “obscene,” but to be understood if one can understand them and to be patient with and to learn from if there are things to be learned from them. It is of course true that communists are active for civil rights and against South Viet Nam in this country. This should not cause mental panic or McCarthyism against free debate, as I am sure Mr. Bush would agree. Incidentally, Mr. Bush said he does not understand the civil rights movement, and I am inclined to agree with him. He finds it puzzling why civil rights demonstrators don’t demonstrate against Russia, Russia and Hungary. There was widespread criticism in liberal as well as the conservative American community when Russia crushed Hungary. One of the points of civil demonstrations, however, is to help your own country correct what we felt to be wrong and undemocratic. We are more morally responsible for our own derelictions than for the derelictions of others. NOW DEMONSTRATIONS are grounded, of course, in the constitutional right to assemble and to petition for redress of grievancesa right guaranteed in the Texas _Declaration of Independence as well as in the American Constitution. It seems to me there are questions at three levels involved about demonstrations. First, is there a right to lawfully assemble? Clearly there is, and I think Mr. Bush would agree that there is. Second, are the demonstrators right in their cause? Now that depends on the cause and who you are and what you believe. I construe what Mr. Bush said about civil rights to mean that he is for civil rights. Certainly the civil rights demonstrators, in Mr. Bush’s estimate, are right in their cause. But the third question is, are all demonstrators always wise and desirable people? Do they ever behave badly? And obviously, the answer to that is no, they are not all wise or desirable people, and sometimes they do behave badly. Mr. Bush agrees on the right of demonstration and on some of the causes of the demonstrators in our kind of society, and yet, with emotional examples of unfortunate demonstrations, would turn us against good causes, properly pursued. My own position on demonstrations is that the first step in any social difficulty should always be negotiation among reasonable men. This pursued to fruitlessness, demonstrations in the South have then become germane to the situation. In the first place, they are an effective confrontation of evil. They have got the Democratic Party off dead center on civil rights and the Republican Party off dead silence. In the second place, one of the difficulties in contemporary mass society is the decreasing relevance of the individual to social change. To vote somehow does not give people enough sense of mattering in modern society. In the mass society where one individual makes little difference, it can be good for the individual, as well as the society, for there to be a way to matter. Take this for an irony: the Republicans who are most concerned about individualism are most concerned against this kind of individualism. In the third place, this commits considerable energy for change to non-violent activity, which is certainly preferable, for example, to violent counter-activity by, for example, the police authorities in Mississippi and Alabama. Mr. Johnson, the President, spoke on this question of demonstrations at Harvard University June 4th. “The American Negro,” he said, “acting with impressive restraint”which is certainly, if I may interpolate, a more accurate summation of the noble and frequently courageous demonstrations of the Negro in the South”.. . acting with impressive restraint, has peacefully protested and marched, entered the courtroom and seats of government, demanding the justice that has long been denied. . . . [O]nce aroused, the courts and the Congress, the President and most of the people, have been the allies of progress,” the President said. Earlier, March 15th, to the Congress he had said: “The real hero of this struggle is the American Negro. His actions and protestshis courage to risk safety and even lifehave awakened the conscience of the nation. . . . And who among us can say we would have made the same progress were it not for his persistent bravery?” NOW ON THIS QUESTION of civil disobelience, I am taken by something Emerson said as to the foregoing generation, preceding his time: “Why,” he asked, “should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?” Thoreau, in 1847, far from going limp in the face of American slaverythat is to say, a sixth of our people still in slavery enforced by the government did not approve the uses of the tax money for this cause and went to jail, rather than pay his town tax. There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, that Emerson went to Thoreau there in confinement in the jail and said “Henry David! What are you doing in there?” And Henry David replied, “Ralph Waldo! What are you doing out there?” Emerson himself explained in his journal that he would not obey the fugitive slave law, the law, as I understand it from my recollection of history, requiring that fugitive slaves to turned over. Now, “poor Mr. Thoreau” did say just about what Mr. Bush said he said on civil disobedience, and I should like to quote more precisely what he did say: “Unjust laws exist. . . . If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go . . . but if .. . it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, they I say, break the law. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which July 23, 1965
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