January 2 1970 Twenty-Five Cents A Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South The Texas Observer WRY 011101111$ The Observer considered for a time running a photo on this page of the impressive, 34-foot Christmas tree that was set up in the rotunda of the Texas Capitol. And probably we would have made some sort of remark about the fact that the Christmas packages festooned around the tree’s base are empty as empty as the performance of our state government in providing needed services for all our citizens and an equitable distribution of the burden of state government. Something like that. But somehow we don’t feel that even that really would have captured the spirit of the times. In a way, the traditional Christmas greetings trees, snowfalls, Santa, the reindeer seem quite out of keeping with the spirit of these times, even at this season when men are supposed to assuage their concerns by generous applications, this one time of the year, of goodwill and brotherhood. So long as there are gross social injustices abroad in our state and nation, so long as so many citizens can be thrown into jail simply for expressing their opinions, so long as so many people can be beaten, maimed, and killed for practicing their rights as citizens so long as all these things are true, the traditional year-end wishes seem somehow quite irrelevant and, in a way, immoral. . Pictured above are six of the students who were arrested at the Chuck Wagon restaurant on the University of Texas’ Austin campus. They are sending out a Christmas card this year to apprise people of what has happened in Austin, which is representative of what is happening, in more or less degree, throughout Texas and the nation. Defendants Bob Rankin, Randy Carly, Jay McGee, David Pratt, Bill Meacham, and Paul Spencer face jail terms of from two to 20 years for, as they and the Observer believe, merely expressing their opinion. In their Christmas card they say they are “going to have to hassle a long time in the courts to defend our rights and continue our struggle for positive change. . . . We ask that you take this opportunity to reflect on your own human responsibility to the cause of justice and freedom. Then, if you feel that our cause is your concern, we ask that you give us aid in our defense.” The card these six members of “The Chuck Wagon Gang” are sending out is a sobering reminder of the worsening social and political climate as 1969, the year of the repression, draws to a close. We of the Observer staff do offer you and your family good holiday wishes. But we would ask that each of you consider once again the trend our society is taking today and that you ask yourself what you can do about it. Individuals still can make a difference through individual acts. Today we need many such courageous individual acts to stem the rising tide of repression. It is, we believe, in the fullest and truest sense of this religious and social season that each of us consider anew what we can do to make real the values each of us cherishes as presumably free and concerned people. In that sense, then, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
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