reaction against his remarks on revolution and socialism?” “Absolutely,” Silber replied. Silber said he would gladly have laid down his deanship for a teacher with opinions such as Caroline’s on issues, provided he had intellectual responsibility and personal integrity as Silber conceives these qualities to be. Thus his case against Caroline in these two respects is his foundation for his defense of his own rectitude in this case. B Y INTELLECTUAL irresponsibility, such as that which he imputes to Carbline, Silber said he means “a man’s being quite willing to state publicly what he knows to be false and to argue in a manner that he knows to be specious simply in order to achieve a rhetorical effect.” Silber’s case against Caroline’s personal integrity has its locus in the short academic career of a Negro student whom Silber had admitted under special waiver, at Caroline’s request, in February, 1968. After Caroline’s October, 1967, speech, Silber said, “the first reports were so inflammatory, I recognized this could easily becime a case involving academic freedom.” Silber, who was chairman of the philosophy department then, went to Caroline, told him that as a political philosopher he had advocated wholesale revolution and that to Silber this didn’t seem sound, and ‘proposed a faculty colloquy at which Caroline would present and defend his views on the subject. \(For these events, a faculty member writes a paper, which his colleagues and graduate students in the department read in advance; then, in a free-for-all discussion, Caroline thought this a good idea, and it was agreed. Promptly thenafter, however, regents’ chairman Erwin was quoted in the press that he was “going to do something about it,” that is, Caroline’s remarks. Silber said he told Caroline that in light of this, the colloquy should be postponed, since “I don’t want you to think you’re holding the colloquy under any atmosphere of intimidation.” Subsequently, in the Rag, the Austin underground paper, the statement was attributed to Caroline that he had refused to have the colloquy in an atmosphere of intimidation. Silber said he told Caroline that he, Caroline, knew this statement to be false and Caroline responded that it was trivial and didn’t matter. It was, Silber said he persisted, an obviously dishonest statement; Caroline retorted that the Rag had just got it wrong and refused Silber’s request that he have it corrected. “I marked that down as the first serious thing I had against Caroline,” Silber said. “That I thought was serious.” Before the Rag with the disputed statement had come out, Silber recalled, he had taken Caroline out to the home of Prof. Charles Alan Wright of the law school. As Silber recalls it, Wright, after listening to Caroline on what he had advocated in the October speech, concluded that it did not at all exceed the limits of constitutionally privileged free speech, while at the same time not precluding what is Silber’s own view, that it “might very well affect the judgment of a philosophy department on the question, `Is it free speech within the context of responsible intellectual effort?’ “I released the letter to the public which I thought would help to restrain things,” Silber recalled. “Mr. Caroline told me that whatever he said off campus was none of my business.” Silber replied that a man could not be Socrates in the classroom and a sophist in public and deny his professional colleagues the right to judge him in his public role. This became the subject of the first discussion of the case in the philosophy faculty. T IS ONE of Silber’s criticisms of Sullivan’s treatment of the case that Sullivan evidently did not listen to the hours of tape recordings, \(such as the one carefully of the files Silber made available to him. “He told me he was going to write an article on the Caroline case,” Silber said of Sullivan. “Sullivan had access to everything I had on the controversy, the tape of speeches on campus and all the deliberations of the philosophy department.” The philosophy faculty, Silber said, were somewhat divided on the question of what Silber calls Caroline’s “public license,” but “it was an amiable discussion.” Silber regarded Caroline as “a young man who made a mistake.” Subsequently Silber was made dean of arts and sciences, and the amiability, Silber said, continued between the two men. “I thought this thing was just going to blow over and take care of itself.” In mid-January, 1968, Silber said, he told Rabbi Levi Olan of Dallas, then a regent, that he was “concerned that the matter was still bubbling. I said Caroline was young, impulsive, said some damn foolish things, but was very bright and may turn out to be a very valuable man. I said the regents should be careful in evaluating a man’s future development, that ten years ago the regents would have been delighted with the firing of the present dean of this college, and that in ten more years conceivably Caroline might be dean. I cite this conversation to show that there was no position in my mind that Caroline’s contract ought not be renewed. His speech, I thought, had been incompetent and irresponsible, but one swallow does not make a summer.” True, Caroline had told Silber, the dean said, that he would have his PhD finished by the time he came to Texas, and didn’t, but that, Silber said, “didn’t bother me at all.” Lots of people don’t finish their dissertations on schedule, he said. “Early in February,” Silber continued, “Mr. Caroline called me” about the black student mentioned above, advocating his special admission on grounds that he was “wonderful, intelligent.” \(At the same time, Silber said, Caroline renewed an idea the two men had discussed, special English training for students from the ghettoes, and Silber said yes, they should meet on it. In the present interview, Silber said, “I don’t make plans for the future with a man when he saw the student’s previous low grades, he said the youth had no chance to make it, but Caroline assured him the student was good and there would be no problem. Silber insisted that Caroline agree to tutor him, and Caroline agreed. After two weeks, Silber said, he received a police report critical of the student and a report that an English professor was very disturbed by what the student was writing in essays. Silber indicated that questions of violence of temperament and of a student doing his own work had been presented in the case, but that Caroline resented Silber’s inquiries. Silber persisted in them, but concluded that the student, while “bitter” and “alienated,” should be continued at the university. Then, however, Silber said, he found that the student was not showing up for classes and was not being tutored by Caroline. Confronting Caroline about it, he received confirmation of these facts; Caroline explained to him, Silber said, that the ‘student did not find anything in the university relevant. On the personal level, Silber said this was his first serious charge that Caroline had a duty to tell him that he had not been tutoring the student, but had not so told him. Silber told Caroline it was clear the student had to be withdrawn as a student, Silber. Caroline, Silber said, did not get the young man to withdraw and asked Silber what the hurry was. WHILE SILBER will not go into the events in the other dimension down at the Legislature, in the closed regents’ meetings presumably there were developments there, with knowledge of which Silber was approaching his own decision about Caroline. Silber does state that in all he received 50 or 100 letters from around the state on the case and replied to them. The day before Martin Luther King was shot, Silber went over to the philosophy department and told Caroline that if the student was not withdrawn by Friday of that week, he, Silber, would withdraw him. Again Caroline asked what the hurry was, but Friday, at the rally at the Capitol in King’s memory, a black girl student gave Silber a letter from the student which Silber said began, “Dear Massah,” and told Silber that the young man was withdrawing from the “racist” University of Texas. November 21, 1969 7
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.