tamp Petaeta The Presidio… tap& levy Military Justice is to Justice as military Music is to Music by ROBERT SHERRILL “Robert Sherrill’s account of the sham of courts-martial and of the harsh, dehumanizing treatment afforded military pris oners should inspire national outrage.” SENATOR GEORGE A. MCGOVERN “The author has told it like it is…. I fear that a high per centage of those who read the book will refuse to believe it.” GEN. DAVID M. SHOUP, former Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. “A chilling analysis of what can pass for justice in a military system swollen and made callous by the Vietnam war.” MIKE WALLACE, CBS News “A remarkable book. In citing chapter and verse of military stupidity, venality and brutishness, Sherrill really goes beyond the stockade: he’s telling us about the street.” -STUDS TERKEL At all bookstores $6.95 Harper & Row 1817 New York, N.Y. 10016 1-f-1 A Valedictory A ustin I am, as of this issue, resigning the Observer editorship. The decision was not easy, of course; such decisions never are. But I feel it necessary to leave, given my conception of the nature of this publication and my view of my own needs and of the role I want to play in public affairs. I think most people who read the Observer know that it is the property now of Ronnie Dugger, that his considerable investment of his quite singular talents established the paper, that there would be no Observer today were it not for him \(and for the selfless contribution of money given by a number of Texas liberals, most notably that splendid and good woman, Randolph two years ago conveyed ownership of the paper to Ronnie for 81, as we reported at the time. It is, in my view, Ronnie’s quite special relationship to the Observer that has become a problem for me and at least so long as I remain as editor for the paper itself. When I assumed the editorship in early 1967 I privately determined to make the transferance noticeable as little as possible. It pleased me greatly when, as much as 12 or 13 months later, people still were expressing surprise on learning that Ronnie no longer was editor. I considered that a compliment to my abilities. But I have, in the last couple of years, begun to try moving the Observer into new directions. The going has been a bit sticky. There were, of course, scattered but unmistakeable signs of restiveness among the readership as I sought new ways. But by and large the longtime Observer readers remained on the paper’s subscription rolls. And some others were added. But there have been a number of things I have wished to do with the paper that I have not done. Part of the reason for my not carrying through was my uncertainty at the way things are going, my confusion as to just what is happening politically and socially. But, I believe, the primary reasons for my hand being stayed these past months has been my sense of this paper’s traditional devotion to electoral politics. I still believe deeply in the importance of electoral politics, of who it is we select at the ballot boxes to represent us in public offices. Yet I have come to believe, most deeply, that good people, particularly those to the left of center politically, must now turn at least part of their social and political attention to some additional sectors of the public arena, and not 22 The Texas Observer concentrate only on electoral politics. I’ll return to this point in a minute. IHAVE often heard it said in the last couple of years by Texas writers that they have felt keenly the need to be liberated from the spectre of Bedichek; Dobie, and Webb; that the intimidating effect of those three remarkable men’s reputations must be cast aside if new ground is to be broken in Texas letters and thought during these quite new times. I very much feel that the Observer is in a similar position; that the Dugger days must be ended and a new era begun for the Observer. Willie Morris, during his two-year editorship sought, I believe, to carry on in the Dugger tradition. I have already said that I so sought. But it will no longer do. Please understand, I love and revere Dugger greatly. He is the person who saw potential in me that even my parents and I never had suspected. No longer do I consider my professional future as consisting, as before, of editing weekly think I am up to writing books, publishing articles in the most important of our national periodicals. This is Dugger’s doing, his great gift to me. I hope to prove worthy of that. It is said, in the masthead of the Observer, that “The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him.” But, really, as I have found out, this statement is true only so long as the editorial policy generally comports with what it has been since the paper was begun in December, 1954. I first learned this in a rather traumatic way in November, 1968, when I wrote an editorial urging our readers to turn their back on the presidential candidacy of Hubert Humphrey. Our printer horsed around with that issue and the post office did likewise, their combined efforts delaying distribution of that issue until after the election. Then Ronnie expressed grave concern, in the most dire terms, about the paper’s future because of that editorial. At that point I began to wonder just how free this Journal of Free Voices really is. I was quite intimidated, yet was ready to quit on the spot rather than to recant or to modify my views in any way. Such, I thought, was the independence demanded of an Observer editor. It wasn’t necessary that I resign, as it turned out. Most of our readers didn’t like the editorial, but they respected \(and, indeed, I believe, rather admired, in a Observer editor’s right to say what he thought. We lost about 35 subscribers \(about 25 of them in one labor union local which received its papers in a subscribers directly attributable to the Humphrey editorial. A net loss of ten
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