Page 14


is? We hear that one day most Texans will live in one of three major urban complexes or “strip cities” encompassing Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange, and Houston; San Antonio, Austin, and Waco; and Dallas and Fort Worth. Those cities and virtually all the intervening land will be urbanized. In terms of today’s urban development this is a chilling prospect. Where will the respite, refreshment, and repose for those millions of human beings be then? Indeed, where is it now? We can’t stop urbanization, but we can make our cities and suburbs more habitable, more congenial for human existence. To Defend What? I think the thing that most disturbs me about the Vietnam war is its effect on our national mood. Of course, it’s terrible that we’ve become drawn, probably unjustifiably, into a dangerous war in Asia. The slaughter has increased substantially since the United States has been intensifying its military efforts. But here at home there is simply far too much intolerance of those who dare, most of them for reasons of conscience, to oppose our nation’s role in the war. Dissenters are bludgeoned with the deaths and injuries to our nation’s fighting men; our nation, right or wrong, we are told to believe. Yet so it was in Germany in the 1930’s. In Brownwood a few days ago I see the marquee of the Holiday Inn bearing some such slogan as: “Join the Demonstration, Get in the March to Church.” In Austin on what used to be my favorite country music station a disk jockey offers some jingoistic, juvenile remarks about the Students for a Democratic Society, insulting not only the group’s members but the mentality of the station’s audience. A why doesn’t somebody “stifle” Stokely Carmichael, and inquires about his draft status. Cong. Joe Pool of Dallas, surely the state’s most outspoken right winger, thinks communists are running the nation’s peace movement. This view is expressed, in more subtle phrases, by Secy. of State Dean Rusk on national television. A Houston newspaper says the peace marches in this country may prolong the Vietnam war. What are we fighting to preserve, if not the right of people to speak their minds, to believe as their consciences compel? Far too many Americans are simply making no allowance in their judgments for the possibility that other Americans could oppose war and, in particular, this war, for legitimate reasons. No one is unmindful of the personal sacrifice that our servicemen are making; but is it not legitimate is it not at least conceivably legitimate to question the propriety of our participating in a war in which, it well may be, we have no business? And if history proves that we should not have been there, how tragic for our nation that not more Americans objected. In any case, right or wrong, the minority the growing minority of Americans who oppose the war must be afforded the right to speak out. It is not necessary or desirable that we have 100% consensus. The national temper is worsening and democratic values are in some jeopardy. Those Silly Kids The rampant intolerance generated by the war frenzy is slopping over into many aspects of American life not directly related to Vietnam. Beards and unaccustomed styles of dress are taken as badges of subversion. The Texas legislature is considering, with some seriousness, regulating dress and grooming on college campuses. I often think how perplexing it would be should Christ appear at, say, Texas Tech. What would the administrators think of His beard, sandals, and flowing robe? The New Left kids around the Observer neighborhood put up with a lot of browbeating from fellow students, the police, lawmakers, educators, and others. But, so far as I can tell, most of them are taking it all with forebearance and in good and wry humor. They are determined to at least try and find another way of living before they resign themselves to the fate the rest of us have, unwittingly, chosen and irrationally believe so superior. We don’t take LSD or peyote \( alcohol We don’t resort to animalistic free love \( the sneaky, wifetrading, whorehouse variety is much more We don’t smoke banana rinds \( three packs a day We face our military responsibility \(by joining the National Guard or Reserves back in the days when there wasn’t a hopeless We march off to war unquestioningly \(and so war is now an unWe have sound, unshakeable political institutions \(but John Kennedy lies beneath We protect the fabric of society by leading responsible lives in our cities, dressing and grooming ourselves acceptably, and saying only prudent things \(and going quietly mad, trapped in our celophane-wrapped suburban bungaYeah, us older, wiser folks have got it figured; why can’t those unbathed kids get it through their unshorn heads that there’s no reason to experiment with new ways of living? G. 0. In My Opinion What Will Happen? Austin That a pleasure it was to drive to the ache and Brownwood areas of nearTexas for the Ben Barnes day celen and to see all that scenery yetiled by the hand of man. There it mile after mile of rugged, green, and tranquil countryside far 1 the grasp of the real estate boys. i you’re trapped in the traffic along our trash-strewn, neon-lit, gusted city streets it’s easy to ‘Iat there is still inspiration to be -iful Austin, are becoming more dehumanized, fit for cars and poles and factories and stores, people. I keep threatening to server offices out to Dripping some subdivider will be out next few years, I’m sure, signs advertising his “ranch ig down trees, scalping hills, utility poles. happen when we have used and have to stay in the . because that’s all there The Texas Observer