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Personal Service Quality Insurance ALICE ANDERSON AGENCY INSURANCE & REAL ESTATE 808A E. 46th, Austin, Texas 459-6577 pear as a sinister, untrustworthy man. . . . this is not true.” A week before Johnson said he would not run again, Gonzalez was pressed at a public meeting to state his position on the war explicitly. “I don’t like what we have, but I don’t know anything better,” he said. “In the absence of any clear and viable alternative I must accept what is happening.” During a dispute with Sen. Joe Bernal, who had said that if Gonzalez was hard against violence he should oppose the Vietnam war and “all the killings of innocent women and children,” Gonzalez said it must be bitter for the parents of sons killed in Vietnam “to be told their sons died killing and burning innocent children and in a useless cause.” As late as 1971 he was quoted on the war, “Let us pledge ourselves to continue with firm determination not to dishonorably disconnect.” Yet during the Nixon years he also said that in Vietnam “our goal . . . is not clear,” and he wrote Nixon that the U.S. did not have “clear, attainable goals” there. Gail Beagle, his admnistrative assistant then and now, says, “He is strongly anti-communist. I believe he thought we should be there, however distasteful the means.” Although committed to the rights of dissent \(the tendency to condemn dissenters “frightens me very much,” he condemned some dissent as giving the enemy aid and comfort. When Sen. Robert Kennedy in 1966 said that in principle, furnishing blood to North Vietnam, if done through an international agency, would be in the American tradition, Gonzalez condemned “actions that aid and abet and enemy in the field who is in active hostility against us and killing Americans.” In 1969 he said adding to the noise and confusion about the war was “only serving the purposes of a consecrated enemy,” and even now he refers to dissent to such a war “showing aid and comfort to the enemy.” Once he was traveling with President Johnson’s party in Houston when insurance man Martin Elfant, who had been his campaign manager for governor in Houston, came into the party’s view with a picket, “Stop the War.” There was recognition, and Johnson’s aide Jake Jacobsen asked who the picketer was. Gonzalez told him. Gonzalez heaves onto the scale on his side in these matters his long-standing crusade to prohibit the use of draftees in undeclared wars without their consent. He first introduced a bill for such a prohibition in 1967 and has persisted with it ever since, voting again this year against the draft. He has presented statistics showing that the poor and members of the minorities died in unfair proportions in Korea and Vietnam. Those with money for college escape; the poor are drafted and die. “Our country would never be able to go into these ventures such as Vietnam if the President were not able to have limitless use of manpower,” he said in 1969. “When will we learn,” he asked in 1961, “the folly of Presidential wars?” The day they draft kids from Harvard and North San Antonio, he says, “that’s the day the war’s going to stop.” “I didn’t put those boys over there,” he says. “I had my doubts from the beginning . . . . I never came out in categorical support . . . . I never saw the rationale of the involvement to begin with.” What does he think of the war now, in the retrospect? He won’t say it was a mistake. “If anything,” he says, “the verdict isn’t in. Who knows but four presidents may end up in being justified. Look at the entire population decimated in Cambodia.” Well, was Vietnam a just war? “I don’t think the verdict has yet come,” he responds. “If I hada had my druthers, if I had had the decisions to make, I wouldn’ta been in there . . . . I woulda pulled on out. I woulda declared a victory and pulled ’em out . . . . But there’s no question it was the most nettlesome question for me . . . . I was groping for how could I have a greater input in trying to offer feasible alternatives. But you were caught in a dilemma.” Maury Maverick Jr. has this assessment. “I like Henry and consider him brave and honest, and would rank him among the top three congressmen from Texas.” But he continues, “Of all the Americans during the Vietnam war, Mexican-Americans suffered the most. No one paid in as much blood as they did. The swells got off the hook and Kennedy and LBJ knew that and did nothing about it. If Henry had done what Wayne Morse did, if he had gone from Florida to California raising hell as only he can do, he would have been a saint, and if he will do that in the coming war he can still be a saint. Week after week I would see Henry fly home on Air Force One and night after night on TV I saw the poor, especially the Mexican-American mothers, receiving medals for their dead sons. If Henry opposes the next war, if he fights for the poor, he will be remembered a hundred years and more in the hearts of the people. I wish him strength and good luck in that regard.” \(Next: the five-year war between Gon22 OCTOBER 17, 1980
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