From a tiny French village, Oizon, comes a story of human dedication that is unique, and to us Protestants, an undertaking lacking the significance it does to a Catholic. In this little village the Marquis and Marquise de Vogue are almost legendary figures, having one of the oldest titles and biggest fortunes in France. This couple has traveled over the world, entertained lavishly, dressed in the most modish fashion. He is now 63 and she is 58. Last week they parted, never to see each other again. He will take on the rough cowl of a Benedictine monk and she will assume the simple habit of the Little Sisters of the Ascension. He will cultivate the soil with his brother monks in central France and eat the simplest of foods. She will nurse the sick and aid the poor in parts of Paris where formerly her limousine never took her.
The unusual couple has been married 35 years, but they made their decision long ago that when the last of their five children settled down they would devote the rest of their lives to religious work in this fashion. Their youngest son married a couple of weeks ago. The Marquis’ parting words were that “I shall miss my hunting rifle most of all.”
As I pointed out, we Protestants have no counterpart to the monastic seclusion characteristic of the Catholic faith, and it is hard for us to understand why their last years’ devotion need be in this way, but even while failing to understand, most of us can only admire the sacrifice, the devotion, and the determination to devote themselves to what they believe best for themselves and mankind. So we say to them both, “Bon voyage.”
A judge in Charleston, South Carolina, thinks that both the Ku Klux Klan and the NAACP must, as he put it, be “wholly eliminated from the picture in South Carolina” before an amicable solution can be found for the problem of desegregation of the schools. Judge Williams made this statement during the week in connection with a suit seeking an end of segregation on a beach in a state park near Charleston.
The judge would do well to consider two things:
First, that the KKK has from almost the first, been an intolerant, often secret, organization basing its activities on three main tenets of superiority, namely native-born, white, and Protestant. It has used force to carry out its own whims as to what was and was not moral, American, religious, or what have you. In our system of things, only the State has a right to use force to compel obedience to its commands, and then only after it has observed due process, and nobody has ever accused the KKK of scrupulously observing the letter or the spirit of the Constitution.
Second, the NAACP is a voluntary organization whose aim is to promote the welfare of Negroes and their progress toward equality of opportunity under the law. It is made up of members of all races. It has no record of using any force other than to seek the assistance of the courts whenever necessary to maintain or obtain the elementary rights of colored citizens. Since when has it become necessary to, in the word of the judge, “eliminate” an organization that uses constitutional processes to secure legal rights of citizens? Doubtless, at times chapters of the NAACP have been overzealous, maybe even with chips on their shoulders. Perhaps they have striven to make progress too rapidly from a sociological point of view, but as to eliminating such an organization because of its lawful activity, it is not only impossible; it is nonsense, and the judge should know better. The right peaceably to assemble and petition for redress of grievance is written into the First Amendment, and the judge is sworn to uphold that amendment.
Reference was made a couple of weeks ago on this program to the Landry case, Mr. Landry being the young man graduating from the Merchant Marine Academy with honors but denied his commission because, for a short while prior to 1947, his mother had been a member of the Communist Party, and it was proved that he had associated with his mother. The master cartoonist, Herblock, has been following upon this and other cases of similar nature, as you may have seen, the latest one being the Gaston case. This week, Herblock outdid himself in an exceptionally able presentation of the issue. And I wish at the moment we were on television so you could see what I am referring to.
Seated at the top of the cartoon are four members of a security board, each with his own personal enigmatic – sometimes blank – look. Down in front of this august collection of supposed wisdom and telepathic insight, in a witness chair sits the young officer candidate, pleading his case. He is making what obviously is considered by him to be a major point in the case by stressing, as a caption of the cartoon, “And if I may say so, I’ve never been good to my mother.”
It is difficult for this reporter to inhibit excess secretion of glandular juices when contemplating such a situation. It smacks of the reputed tactics of the German Nazis and Russian communists training children to snoop on their parents and friends and report to the party any deviation at all from strict party doctrine, which of course means unswerving and unquestioning loyalty to, and acceptance of, what the clique of rulers, including the dictator, wants the people to believe.
Much of this hubbub about security cases has bordered on the outright ridiculous. Psychologically it exhibits that as a nation we are political adolescents. This immaturity has been seized upon by demagogues who were not unwilling to make political capital out of the confusion, even to the point of whipping the lunatic fringe into hysteria to gain adherents. But we have come a long way in one short year. We have not come far enough however, as long as so-called security boards or other quasi-judicial agencies use such flimsy excuses as child-parent association to draw inferences of risk. The publicity given such cases is heartening, for once enough people are aroused, they will rise and eventually bring pressure on a somnolent administration to live up to the fine speeches its spokesmen have been making these past two or three years.