either communist-inspired or not knowing what they are talking about,” he said. “I haven’t started a fight in 20 years, mostly because of my size, but I think I might if one of those demonstrations started in my presence.” This editorial, entitled “No Treason Here,” appeared in the Robstown Record, the lively, competent weekly paper in South Texas. Texas Cong. Olin Teague’s headlinegrabbing proposal that a law should be enacted declaring anti-Vietnam War demonstrations an act of treason will never get off the floor of the House of Representatives. Nor should it. If the Congressman has the bad judgment to introduce such a bill, he will display prominently his misunderstanding of the American Constitution and our country’s significance in human development. If peaceful demonstrations can be halted by law, there is no end to the repressions a government can enact. Under such a law as Cong. Teague proposes, our citizens would be committed by force to supporting \(or, more accurately, to not expressing However much we may deplore the Vietnam demonstrators, we must preserve the right to protest. We may want to practice that honored American tradition ourselves one day. A government that brooks no protest of its policies is a weak government. America has never been weak; on the contrary, her system is the strongest, based on a confidence in people, not on the premise that the people must be told what to believe. The Vietnam demonstrators may be 100 per cent wrong. But in America they have that right. We saw no editorials in Texas newspapers supporting Teague’s stand. We did see some opposing it, and we excerpt these. To make demonstrations against the war in Vietnam an act of treason is to open a quarrel with the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech and peaceable assembly. This would give a new and much more dangerous meaning to treason. Demonstrations against our involvement in Vietnam reflect a widespread uneasiness in the United States. The prospect of a steadily widening conflict with mounting casualties and the possibility of a wartime economy in the near future troubles most Americans, even those who do not demonstrate. The demonstrators may be misguided, as many of them seem to be. Some even may be incipient traitors. But to deny them the right to speak out and to demonstrate in the absence of a declaration of war in Vietnam is to invite the end of free speech and assembly and with it the end of the American system as we have known it. Corpus Christi Caller Rep. Teague is correct in his assessment Station, the home of Texas A&M, also returned from Vietnam. Teague, chairman of the House veterans’ affairs committee, said he’ll introduce a bill declaring demon strations against the war in Vietnam acts of the effects of the demonstrations: They do indeed injure the morale of our troops, and they appear to have influenced the policy of North Vietnam in continuing the war. And yet, if we are fighting for anything in Vietnam, we are fighting for just such a right as the right to demonstrate against governmental decisions. Houston Post It might be well for all of us to remember that freedom of speech seldom needs protection except on occasions when a minority is espousing an unpopular cause. Finally, it is unfortunate that bearded beatnik types, by their so visible and obnoxious presence, have tended to obscure the serious implications of the peace movement; that is, the disturbing feeling on the part of a sizable segment of the American people that this country is drifting into a major ground war in Asia which, if the course is not reversed, will cost the lives of thousands of American youths. Such fears, it might be noted, do not constitute treason. Houston Chronicle One hopes that Congressman Teague already has a World Almanac in his office. If not, he can buy one for $1.50, plus 3 cents for the state sales tax. The text of the Constitution starts on Page 645. H. Mewhinney in the Houston Post Misgivings about the war have begun to creep into Texas newspaper editorials. The Chronicle, having indicated that many Americans are getting worried about a general land war in Asia, also editorialized: If the hawk strategy is pursued, the next step will be to destroy North Vietnam’s dams, power plants, oil refineries and industries located inside cities while blockading Haiphong to cut off supplies. That would be a punishing blow to North Vietnam and hundreds of thousands of civilians would suffer. It would create a major task of rebuilding once the war is settled. Hopefully, the administration won’t feel such drastic steps are necessary to force the enemy to the peace table. On Dec. 1 the Corpus Christi Caller ran this two-sentence editorial: We have come a long way since April 25, 1965. On that day The Caller-Times had as its top headline on Page 1 this message: TWO MARINES ARE KILLED IN CLASH WITH REBELS. On Dec. 1 the Defense Department reported that only 40 U.S. servicemen had been killed that week in Vietnam. In the previous week 240 American servicemen lost their lives. of treason. He said they give aid and com fort to the enemy. “It’s time to quit talking about free speech and start talking about treason,” he said. “I’m for freedom of speech, but I’m tired of what these demon strations a r e doing to our boys,” he was quoted. “I’d try them [the dissenters] for treason. This actually is causing the Viet Cong to attack hard er. Communist China is getting the wrong idea from reports of t h e demonstrations. If it gets to the point Cong. Teague where the President is told by his intelligence officers that such demonstrations are causing continued fighting, then the demonstrations will have to stop. That’s treason, and there’s no doubt about it.” Asked about the right of dissent, he retorted to reporter Ned Curran, “Dissent gone too far is treason.” “I wish every American could make the trip I made,” he was quoted. “There would be no further demonstrations and no more draft card burnings. I am so proud of what we are doing there.” Asked if the U.S. should bomb Hanoi, he replied, “I think eventually we will bomb Hanoi.” g o Of Teague’s idea of making Vietnam dis sent treasonous met a chilly reaction in some Texas papers, in which some misgivings about the war are also appearing After making a 21-city swing around Texas, the Republican state chairman, Peter O’Donnell, said, “Our casualties are alarming people. . . . The public wants our leaders to use every means possible to bring the Vietnam war to a successful conclusion.” Professor Fights Back When Dr. Morton Rieber, assistant pro fessor at the Baylor University College of Medicine and research specialist for the Texas Psychiatric Institute at Houston both state institutionsbecome identified in the press with the forthcoming Christmas vigil at the LBJ Ranch for peace in Vietnam, he was told by officials of the institute he would be fired if he went through with it. He asked for this in writing and got it in writing. Deciding not to go on the vigil, he also got himself a lawyer Joe Tita, the new president of the Texas American Civil Liberties Unionand advised the press of what had happened and what he had decided. The march was to be on a Sunday and what he did on his own time was not the state’s constitutional business, he said. Confirming his account of events, Dr. Horace Cormer of Austin, chairman of the governing board of the State Dept. of Mental Health and Retardation, was quoted by AP from Houston, “I think it’s unbecoming of a professional man and a state employee to take a stand against the federal government.” Some kind of court action from Rieber may be forthcoming. The vigil, sponsored by Houston Citizens December 31, 1965 5 Press on Teague, the War
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