For several weeks news from Alabama has been plentiful and of the sort of which no state could be proud. First it was the Autherine Lucy case and segregation at the University, a case that is not yet settled. Your reporter steered clear of that one simply because this program had dealt with school segregation so much already.
Now, however, another racial fight has boiled over to the point where it cannot be ignored. Some months ago the Negroes of Montgomery, the state capital, started boycotting the city buses because of Jim Crow provisions requiring colored people to sit in the back seats. Apparently the boycott was pretty effective, for soon the bus company was yelling and trying either to get the force of government to whip the Negroes in line or to seek some grounds for compromise. The last compromise proposed was to set off a section in front of the buses for whites and another section in the rear for Negroes. The latter, quite naturally, refused this as any improvement over what they were staging the boycott about.
During the past week, someone at City Hall came up with an old anti-labor law of 1921 vintage, which forbade boycotts as restraints of trade, and under this law, over a 100 of the Negro leaders of the city were arrested and indicted by the grand jury, among the arrested being some 24 Negro ministers. Free on bond, the Negroes proceeded to church to hold services and to pray over their predicament. Interestingly enough, the spokesman for the group said, “This is not only a conflict between whites and Negroes; it is one between justice and injustice. Whatever happens, do not let anyone pull you so low as to hate them.” That is, indeed, magnanimity that only persons of deep spiritual convictions could display.
The governor, on his part, is seeking to get a bi-racial commission to see if a compromise cannot be reached. Whatever happens, it is unlikely that the colored people will be satisfied with less than justice, and there is no reason to see why they should be. Only bigotry, intolerance, and injustice have thus far been displayed by the powers that be, and there is no justice in any of these.
The president’s passion for two-gun Western stories has been much publicized, and it is of course his own business what kind of recreational reading he prefers. Moreover, there is considerable evidence that he has spent considerable time, since his back to “full schedule” routine, in boning up on the heavier stuff in his office, or the tightly trimmed summaries of this stuff. However, as reported here some months ago, it is sometimes remarkable the things he is expected to know and which he does not. For example, at a recent press conference he was asked what he thought of Premier Bulganin’s statement calling for another “at the summit” conference of the Big Four. The president, with a straight face and quite casually, replied “That is one I missed.” Yet, it had appeared three weeks before and had turned up on countless front pages of the American and world press.
Shortly after that, Secretary of Statements, Mr. [John Foster] Dulles, created something of a world sensation with his chilling “Brink of War Interview” in Life magazine. Newsmen went to the conference with the president loaded with questions they hoped might unravel one of the major mysteries of American foreign policy. But the president was equal to the occasion. He simply said he had not read the article everyone else was discussing and debating, and besides, he said, Mr. Dulles was the best secretary of state he has ever known.
Your reporter’s guess, before that statement, would have been that the president had known at least one other secretary of state, but apparently he has not.
And while on the subject of Secretary Dulles, it might be worthwhile in passing to observe that he is heading away for India and the Middle East, apparently in an effort to repair some of the damage done by his own pronouncements in recent months. Your reporter should like to suggest in all humility that as he flies the Pacific and Indian Oceans he ponder the significance of a recent dispatch of The New York Times assessing Indian public opinion. The Times points out that among Indians there is a real fear that the U.S. is bent on destroying the Soviet Union by war; that in spite of the talk about freedom and the American revolutionary heritage, this country is interested in independence movements only insofar as they affect the fight against the Soviets. That, they say, is why the U.S is a friend of the colonial powers. Despite the fact that there is much to criticize about our foreign policy – or lack of one – this Indian assessment is rather a harsh indictment, harsher than the facts warrant. Moreover, it is a wholly unrealistic appraisal of Soviet conduct and intentions. But Mr. Dulles has provided enough provocation during his tenure in the State Department to furnish a basis for Indian criticism of our foreign policy. It is difficult to picture Mr. Dulles performing great feats of good will in India, but it is not too much to hope that he will do his best to keep his celebrated foot out of his equally celebrated mouth while on this trip.
One sometimes wonders why all the fuss because Senator Case was offered $2,500 that he didn’t accept. That sort of thing is common in American political life. The important thing is that the bill was passed and that it would take millions from the poor and give it to the gas barons. Eisenhower vetoed the bill with the explanation that it was a good bill but he had to veto it because of the attempted bribe. Can you see the logic of that? If he thought it was a good bill, he should have signed it. It is no better or worse because someone tried to bribe someone. One cannot help but wish the president would get different ghostwriters. Those he has sometimes make him say the most asinine things imaginable.
Arnold F. Westwood comes up with a thought-provoking statement regarding the validity of religious experience. He says, “You see, no matter what we call it or how we want to look at it, the one thing we cannot escape is the validity of the religious experience. The religious experience is as natural as wanting to know how a machine works, as real as the sun on your back on the first warm day of spring, as welcome as an old friend. As long as there is a first time to hold your own child in your arms, as long as we put aside childish things and grow up, as long as we agree to live together with a mate, as long as we die, there will be religion. To be man is to be religious.”
Anyone who wants to know what is going on in the fields of destruction of American principles, private steals of public resources, labor busting, violation of the principle of church and state, military plots, and most of the things about which the public should know, must dig for the facts, and spend considerable money also for releases from specialized agencies. He cannot get it from the newspapers, which are apparently helpless and dependent on the hastily-written and superficial wire services. Despite avowals occasionally to the contrary, there is considerable evidence to indicate that ours is by-and-large pretty much a one-party press, and that is not good in a nation that prides itself upon a two-party system.
Not long before he died, Albert Einstein, whose genius was largely responsible for unlocking the door into the atomic age, wrote these poignant sentences:
“Our world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing the power to make great decisions for good or evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”
It is doubtful if many informed, thoughtful men would disagree with this. We have gone far in accepting the material benefits, and damages, of science. We have taken halting steps toward thinking in realistic, scientific terms. Einstein saw, perhaps more clearly than any other person, that we are living in a perilous period of transition in which it is apparently too soon for world government and too late for anything else. And there are those who regard us, who plead for world government, as being subversive of our own national government. Association of a belief in world government with subversion is ridiculous. We who are citizens of Tennessee are also citizens of the United States, and we do not find the respective loyalties to each conflicting or confusing. There is no reason why one cannot be loyal to a world government ideal and at the same time be loyal to the United States. As a matter of fact, one could conceivably be a real reinforcement of the other.