Observations ~~ #####~#~#~#~4#~#~~J ENLIST NOW TO HELP DRAFT KENNEDY WRITE TO: Citizens for Kennedy-Fulbright s Texas Division Box 1056 Austin, Texas 78767 Your Party Needs YOU Austin The full-page advertisement placed in the local daily, signed by 150 University of Texas faculty members, asking President Johnson to .stop the bombing of North Vietnam, was both a national event and a significant proof of the academic freedom at the University. I happened to be visiting in the offices of the New York Times when an editor came over and exclaimed, “Say, did you hear about what the faculty down in your city just did?” That was the first I’d heard. Events like this, events that require courage for them to happen, are noticed, do make some difference, in the overall picture. The same is true of the Easter Vigils at the LBJ Ranch. There was a particular context at the University of Texas that might have been assumed to be inhibiting critics of the war on the faculty. Not only is Johnson a Central Texan; the University has also committed itself to a $10.75 ,million Lyndon B. Johnson complex that will include a library to hom the Johnson papers and a school of government named in his honor. Does such a massive commitment to a living President mean that faculty members will be required to mute their freedom as private citizens? On the basis of the Stop-the-Bombing letter, the answer to that question is No, it does not mean that: Knowing full well what was going on, the University Administration did not interfere with the petition to the President, but instead responded with impeccable respect for the rights of the faculty concerned. Their letter was a good letter; here is what it said: “Austin, Texas “March, 1967 “Dear Mr. President: “The signers of this letter are all fulltime faculty members of The University of Texas who speak for themselves and not as representatives of the University. Some of us lived in Austin when you were a resident here, and many of us expect to be here when you return. We address you as neighbors, past and future, and as fellow citizens of the United States. “Many of your undertakings have made us proud to be your neighbors: We support your desire for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Vietnam. It is on this issue that we have been moved to speak our minds publicly at a time when you are faced with decisions of crucial significance to the entire world. “We strongly urge you to order an immediate halt to our bombing of North Vietnam. Both Senator Fulbright, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and U Thant, Secretary General of the United Nations, as well as other ex perienced advisors and religious leaders, have counseled cessation of the bombing as an essential prerequisite to negotiations. The public has been given no convincing evidence which would cast doubt on the wisdom of this counsel. “To halt the bombing of North Vietnam now would be a sign of the peaceful intentions of a nation whose strength and resoluteness are beyond question.” Given this example from the Austin campus, may we now hope to hear more from faculty people at other Texas institutions? Wouldn’t it be interesting, for instance, if, say, a handful of professors at Texas A&M, acting as individuals, petitioned the President about the war. Surely old General Rudder wouldn’t rip off their epaulets at a public ceremonyor would he? If so, maybe it’s time to find that out. And there’s Huntsville, and Prairie View, and San Antonio, and Lubbock. Politics and Vietnam The Democratic Party is in desperate doldrums because of the war. The President has been insisting that elected officials who are being sent out to speak by the Democratic National Committee defend the war. If they won’t they can’t go. Even at a big Democratic fund-raising dinner in Washington he attacks Senator Fulbright, who is sitting there silently, slowly smoking a cigarette. The Gallup Poll now shows that only 37% approve of the President’s “handling of Vietnam,” compared with 49% who disapprove. The climate is right for the Republicans to nominate either a dove-like candidate such as Senator Percy or a hawk on the dive like Richard Nixon. Nobody knows which they’ll do, but unless the war ends this year the Democrats, very objectively speaking, must expect political disaster in 1968. The condition of the psyche of the body politic which you apprehend in the East, in Washington and New York City, is grave inflammation. Everyone is worried. The war is depressing, of course; worse, March 17, 1967 15
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