Slipshod newspaper reporting, with perhaps (or perhaps not) an intent to deceive, has given the American people the impression that Congress has reformed the procedures of its investigative committees. It has not. This is the situation in the words of Representative Hugh D. Scott, Jr., Republican, Pennsylvania. It would allow a committee to circulate derogatory information from its confidential files without notice to the individual concerned and without giving him an opportunity to explain or deny the defamatory material. It would allow a committee to make public defamatory testimony given at an executive session without notice of hearing to the person defamed. It would allow a committee to issue a public report defaming individuals or groups without notice of hearing. It would not allow a person under investigation to cross-examine a witness accusing him at a public hearing. It would not entitle a witness even to 24-hours advance notice of a hearing at which his career or reputation would be at stake. It would not prevent the committee from sitting as a legislative court, trying guilt or innocence of individuals, or inquiring into matters wholly unrelated to any function of activity of the U.S. government. These admissions, from one who has never been noted for his liberalism, should cause more than a question mark in the minds of many of us who have read in the daily press how the McCarthy mess taught Congress and the people a lesson, and that now committees cannot and will not go to the extremes suffered a year or so ago. The first responsibility of a free press is the truth, unvarnished and undistorted.
I trust that the dean of Yale Divinity School will not mind my sharing his sentiments with you. He says that “Many so-called religious broadcasts are neither intelligible nor intelligent.” (Parenthetically, let me breathe a hope that this one may somehow or other fail to be included under his description.) But he goes on: “Some of the ‘wholesome family’ sketches constitute the best argument for celibacy advanced since the Middle Ages. As to the ‘peace of mind’ cults, it is not likely that a few psychological gimmicks or changes of attitudes will solve tensions that are really significant.” … No informed person discounts the importance of mental hygiene or the tremendous role that psychological attitudes can and do play in fashioning our peace of mind and our behavior. However, much of the above reminds me of some of the cults of the 1920s and 1930s, the devotees of which went around saying “Every day in every way I am getting better and better.” Perhaps it helped to those whose analytical and critical faculties were absent or dormant, but it seems about as logical as the oriental prayer wheel, and probably about as effective.
Numerous times I have stressed a constructive approach to the solving of the problems of human beings and the problems of human relations and have emphasized that the current notion that such problems can be solved only by mutual massive retaliation is a negative approach that really solves nothing, but instead creates greater problems. I should like to document the soundness of the constructive solution by giving what can only be a thumbnail sketch of how it worked in Greece. Call it the “Truman Doctrine,” Point Four, Marshall Plan, or whatever you choose, it shows far greater results than the billions we now appropriate for massive retaliation, while we let Point Four die from financial anemia – and from politics.
From the standpoint of land area, population, and production for world markets, Greece has little significance except to itself and its own people. It is only about one-third the size of California, but as a democratic outpost in Eastern Europe, it has an influence out of all proportion to its physical limitations. It is not only an ancient cradle of democracy, but unlike its neighbors, it fought on the side of the Allies in both world wars. After freeing itself from 400 years of Turkish rule, it established a democracy, breaking up the great feudal estates into family-sized farms. This establishment of a land-owning peasantry had a stabilizing influence through subsequent Greek history. But prior to the last war, the farmers of Greece were very poor, the land becoming so fractionated by inheritance that a single ownership might include five or more widely separated holdings. Cropland per person was limited and the average crop was about the same in yield as that for India, and some one-half to one-third the average yield in most countries in Europe. Farmers lived precariously in rural villages and there was much unemployment.
To make matters worse, after the war, Greeks were shooting Greeks in a bitter civil war. Britain, backed the government in exile in its conflict with E.A.M., the communist-dominated National Liberation Front which had become a movement of the unemployed and underprivileged. Much of the support of communism grew out of poverty, inflation, and general unrest.
These were a few of the conditions when the rehabilitation program began in 1948. During the seven years following, these jobs were accomplished: 740,000 were protected from flood damage; 589,000 acres were drained, including 94,000 acres of former lakes and swamps which added rich virgin lands to the arable area, capable of producing 45-50 bushels of wheat to the acre. 182,000 acres were included in newly developed irrigation projects, including the development or reconditioning of 8,530 wells for which new pumping equipment was provided through loans from the Agricultural Bank. In addition, master plans were prepared to guide future development, constituting something of a blueprint for the reconstruction of the economy of a whole nation and its social order. Reclamation of alkali land has been demonstrated feasible and profitable, and in 1954 Greece not only supplied her own needs for rice, but exported 18,000 tons. Demonstration of the use and value of fertilizers, sprays for weed control, adaptation of crops and methods to soil conditions, use of machines to displace crude hand methods has produced fruitful results. A forest and range land development program has been initiated. Highway building and transportation generally have been partially developed with long-range completion plans. A power program modeled somewhat after TVA – creeping socialists please note – has resulted in the construction of a national network served by three hydro-electric plants and one steam plant using indigenous lignite as fuel.
And how was all this accomplished? Simply by putting human ingenuity, patience, understanding, and cooperation to work with nature with the objective of bringing a better possible level of living for human beings from a relatively barren area of the earth’s surface. This program may have been more spectacular in Greece than elsewhere because, there, it started from scratch, there was no other way but up.
A large proportion of this reconstruction and development work was carried on by public and cooperative enterprises. In a country of poverty-stricken landless, would be farmers, it is hardly conceivable that any other course would have been feasible. Yet, the dollar cost of this program was a little over $30,000,000 while the combined incomes of farmers and farm laborers, and tenants rose more than $200,000,000, because the primary increase in buying power due to increased productivity created new demands which were met in part by new industrial activity. Unemployment and under-employment were reduced. Hundreds of landless farmers secured lands in reclaimed areas. Practice of local dentists and doctors increased markedly. Homes were improved and new shoes, suits, and dresses appeared in the village streets.
Not all problems have been solved, of course, but much progress has been made. Private construction companies, national governments, but, most important, the little people of Greece cooperated into putting into effect a program of cooperation with nature to bring about human betterment. Here is a shining example of practical, human religion in practice. We could drop a couple of atom bombs on Greece. They would cost about what the reclamation program has. They would wipe out the population and leave no human problem to solve, other than those left by the debris. This is the way we seem to be heading in many areas of the world. It is something of a pleasant exercise to look for a moment to earlier years when we had a human instead of the present inhuman attitude toward what should be our policy in areas where poverty stalks the earth and the specter of dictatorships is an ever-threatening probability. Bombs won’t cure that. Constructive rehabilitation might, and it would not only be cheaper financially, it would improve human existence, our own as well as the people in other lands.
Alabama Methodists, meeting in conference in Montgomery, are determined to keep racial segregation within their church. They have voted by a wide margin to oppose any move toward integration. The state Methodist conference rejected this week a watered down resolution to gradually adjust to the racial problem. It then voted to oppose integration “in churches, schools, colleges, and assemblies.” Ho! Hum! It looks as if it is about time we quit sending missionaries to foreign lands and concentrate on heathen closer home.
It is very refreshing to turn from this bitter note in the news to action taken by our own Holston Methodist Conference meeting in Chattanooga. It reads as follows: “The … conference has unanimously approved a six-point plan which calls for ‘community-wide inter-racial religious services.” This measure for better racial relations on the local church level was one of several in the conference program for 1955-56 voted on Friday. Since a recent broadcast was devoted to the matter of integration, further comment will be withheld until the pattern begins to shape up somewhat more clearly.
Memphis: The twelve jurors who convicted airman Gerald Rosenthal of murder have testified that anti-Semitism played no part in their verdict. Rosenthal, who is seeking a new trial, was sentenced to die for the slaying of Richard Carter in a Memphis hotel room. The defense claims one juror had stated he was prejudiced against Jews. Obviously, one should be convicted or freed only in terms of his guilt or innocence, not in terms of his religious beliefs.
The 300th anniversary year of the first Jewish settlement in this country has ended with a public assembly in New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Adlai E. Stevenson, former Democratic presidential candidate, told the gathering that a free society all over the world would be stronger today if free men had lived up to the responsibilities of freedom. (And it is doubtful if anyone would challenge that statement.) He also declared the responsibilities of freedom are essentially those that decent men and women must feel in human relationships. Stevenson lists these as tolerance, loyalty, charity, compassion, and brotherhood.
And somewhat in line with the sentiments of Mr. Stevenson comes this news that nine British [ministers] and eleven U.S. ones will exchange countries this summer. The Britons will appear in about 100 pulpits in 20 states, and the Americans will lead worship services in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. The National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S. sponsors this exchange.
Buenos Aires: Two Roman Catholic priests in Argentina are reported to have been convicted of holding an unauthorized demonstration and sentenced to 15 days in jail. Dispatches from the interior also report the arrest of at least 20 more persons on charges of holding pro-church demonstrations without police permits. How would you like to have to go to the cop on the corner to get permission to engage in church service?
In connection with the Argentine situation, a dispatch from Vatican City says that Vatican sources deny that President Juan Peron of Argentina has been excommunicated. The sources said the Holy See has not “as yet” issued any notice of excommunication.
Washington: The House Post Office Committee has okayed a bill authorizing cancellation of postage stamps with the words “Pray for Peace.” Now if they will also repeal religious words in the pledge to the flag, and remove other similar insignia form other public stamps, papers, etc., we shall be making some headway back toward our traditional separation of church and state.
A Manhattan rabbi has urged the temples and churches of NYC to make a united fight on juvenile delinquency. Dr. William. F. Rosenblum made the recommendation in a recent sermon, commemorating the day when young members of Jewish congregations traditionally pledge loyalty to their ancestral faith. He has stated the churches themselves must act, without becoming blue-nosed prudes or censors. Rabbi Rosenblum says that they must take a united stand against influences that tear down the beauty and inspiration on a day such as confirmation at which time young people dedicate themselves to a spiritual way of life.