Bombers and Radicals IT HAS BEEN a bomby summer in America. It may be an even bombier fall. Police stations, courtrooms, banks, research labs, theaters, opera houses, ball parks, airplanes and even churches have been the scenes of bombings, bomb scares, guerrilla and gang executions, and other violent incidents. The path to a sound moral and political assessment of these events is itself full of booby traps. Many erstwhile liberals find themselves thinking, and increasingly mouthing, repressive thoughts. Others, desperately anxious to hold on to their pseudo-revolutionary credentials, either pretend to ignore such incidents or provide apologies for them in terms of the Vietnam war or racism or the educational: establishment. Nothing contributes more to our present confusion than the glibness with which the media, the bombers and ‘most everyone else call such deeds and threats of violence “radical.” Nothing is less authentically radical in this culture which has been saturated with violence for so many generations. The bloody violence began with efforts to dispossess and exterminate Indians, moved on to the enslavement of black Africans, to violent revolution, to a national anthem which glories in the glare of rockets and the burst of bombs in the night and in a religion of conquest, to civiJ war, to frontier lawlessness, to vigilante executions, to industrial hostilities, to mob lynchings, to imperial adventures in Latin Anerica and the Pacific, to world wars, to atomic bombs, to assassinations, to organized crime, to urban chaos, to police riots, to napalm and antipersonnel weapons. Which is why H. Rap Brown said that “violence is as American as cherry pie.” No, the real radical is not the person who pretends that violent action is something revolutionary on the American scene: the real radical is the person engaged in the struggle to break out of this vicious circle of violence. The self-styled “revolutionaries” who bombed the math research center at the University of Wisconsin late last month, killing antiwar research assistant Robert Fassnacht, father of three, issued a remorseless statement warning that further action “of an intensity never before seen in this country will be taken by our cadres. Open warfare, kidnaping of important officials and even assassination will not be ruled out.” As the price of withholding such terrorist actions, three demands are to be met by October 30: abolition of ROTC and of curfew hours for freshman women, and the release of three Milwaukee Black Panthers charged with shooting a policeman. To yield to such demands for the sake of avoiding terror will surely compound terror and repression everywhere. The real radical in America is not the bomber, the kidnaper or the assassin. Nor is it the New Left romantic who seeks less murderous but still violent short circuits of democratic politics. On the eve of campus reopenings, Michael Harrington’s League for Industrial Democracy has released a survey of 50 U.S. universities which discloses that such pretended “radical” groups as Students for a Democratic Society have “lost the possibilities of ever winning majority support for their program for change. By provoking the opposition of labor and the representative black groups, the New Left destroyed its possibilities of becoming a mass movement.” The descent into nihilism has produced chaotic left-wing factionalism “with no shared sense of direction.” The real radical acts to transform the hate and the fear at the core of our institutions and our souls into germs of faith in a more humane existence. The real radical takes an integral view of the social situation, knowing that adversaries are not obstacles to be destroyed but persons to be included in the solution. The real radical wants not only to open up the present but to keep the future open, too, for he knows how often old tyrannies have only been replaced by new ones. The real radical is aware of the demonic capacities of power structures, but he resists becoming cynical knowing that power is_a mysterious force which can also create and heal. The real radical has imagination enough to relate the stuff of present action to some view of central meaning in the cosmos which he can apprehend but never fully understand. On this definition, a Christian can be a radical and had better be! Copyright 1970 Christian Century Foundation. Reprinted by permission from the September 9, 1970 issue of The Christian Century. Childers Manufacturing Company shares the growing awareness that corporations have a responsibility to the society in which they are participants, and here offers another in its exchange of ideas series . . . as a contribution to public thought, discussion, and understanding. etirmEns MANUFACTURINU COMPANY Box 7467, Houston, Texas 77008 . , . …. ,
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