A term that is much in the news these days is that of “coexistence.” From the pages of a recent issue of The Christian Century comes a heart-warming example of coexistence in practice, an example far removed from international wrangles, but one indicative of our own domestic problems. St. Louis recently re-zoned a residential block in a white neighborhood to permit two-family dwellings. “For Sale” signs began to appear. Then two Negro families moved in. More signs were put up. Many surmised that deterioration had arrived. Then the owner of one of the most stately houses in the block put up his sign. It read: “This house is not for sale. We like our fine neighbors. Your race, religion, politics, are not our concern. All who take pride in their homes are welcome on this street.” The “For Sale” signs began to disappear and finally all were removed. The neighbors began to get acquainted. Newspaper reporters, after investigating the phenomenon, got the impression that at least one block of solid citizens had found out that variety and a shifting status is the American way. The only thing this reporter wishes to add to this is that any comment on his part would be in the nature of anti-climax.
Harvey Matusow admits he lied for the McCarthy committee for $25 per day extra, which he did not get after all. Communist philosophy embraces the doctrine that the end justifies the means. According to testimony it appears that congressional investigative committees adopted this odious doctrine. Can anyone help wondering about the truth and veracity of people who rat on their fellow workers? We wonder how many laboriously built reputations have been ruined by perjured testimony. Professional informers have been proved liars again and again. Not one has been indicted for perjury. They go right on recalling more and more names, which is made necessary of course by their ghoulish profession. Apparently neither they nor their hirers are concerned about the commandment that enjoins us not to bear false witness.
In this situation of heated arguments and red faces, much has been said about the degeneracy of those paid informers who knowingly lied to the detriment of people against whom they testified. And this is as it should be; they are degenerate, morally. Curiously enough, little has been said about moral degeneracy on the part of those who encouraged and paid these informers to lie. Perhaps there is an area for further investigation of investigators, though there is indication that as a people we are, understandably, more than weary of inquisitions.
Snoopers, gossips, tattlers and others of their ilk would not thrive unless there were those willing to encourage snooping, tattling, and gossiping. It is reprehensible, whether it be before a legislative committee, within a school staff or student body, within a community, or where it is, and it all represents moral degeneracy, whether it be on the part of the snoopers, or of those who encourage snooping. Those who encourage it admit by their acts that they do not have the moral courage or the mental ingenuity to do open, honest inquiry and to face the objects of their inquiry. The whole rotten procedure is a despicable one, and one with which honest, moral people will have nothing to do.
And as something of an antidote to the above critical comments upon one aspect of the current scene here in America, comes something of a mash note from a Norwegian bishop who has just spent five months here. He says, “To me, American church life seemed to be more attractive, more in contact with people in general than is the case in Europe. This may be the result of the warmth of your church atmosphere…. In the USA a pastor or a parish worker may be approached by any man wanting his advice … about how to secure a good used car or something. This in Europe is not considered the proper thing for a Gospel man to be engaged in.… We think we are more pious and we claim to be more directly converting people…. Result: lack of contacts, lack of conversion.” He says further that “European churches consist of individuals, the American ones more of families.” The club like sociability of the U.S. Protestant churches reminds him of the “social trend so often noticeable in the New Testament.”
From San Francisco comes a dispatch that a body of self-styled “conservative” Americans are soon to meet there in an announced effort to get the U.S. out of the U.N. and to get the U.N. out of the U.S. This group calls itself the Congress of Freedom. San Francisco, you will remember, is the city where the U.N. came into being, and it is somewhat ironical that the fifth annual meeting of a group of radicals who call themselves conservative should choose the birthplace of the international organization as their meeting site. The roster of names prominent in this movement is also rather striking: Spruille Braden, former U.S. ambassador under the Truman administration; Merwin K. Hart, long the subject of considerable notoriety for his efforts to repeal anything that smacks of the 20th century; Lt. Gen. A.C. Wedemeyer, US Army, Retired; and Herbert U. Nelson, head of the National Real Estate lobby, a member of the Board of Regents of the University of California, one-time attorney for Wm. Randolph Hearst. Interesting also is the fact that a considerable number of prominent Americans whose names appeared on the list for the meeting last year in Omaha no longer grace this year’s roll. Could it be that these Americans realize that the only freedom involved in such a radical venture as that proposed by the self-styled Congress of Freedom is the freedom to commit national and international suicide? Certainly the veterans in the movement should be more keenly aware than anyone else of the futility of war as a reliable means of promoting peace. How illogical and ridiculous can some of us become?
On March 1, Tuesday of this week, Sir Winston Churchill addressed the House of Commons. He proposed as the most sensible course for the Free World to follow to achieve as much disarmament as we can all round among the nations, and at the same time to place our reliance upon the deterrent effects of our nuclear weapons as a preventive of war. You would do well to read his entire speech, for it comes from a man whose wisdom we respect, whose judgment we find not unreliable. However, the prime minister failed realistically to admit and deal with the simple fact that no weapon, however horrible, has been a reliable deterrent to war in the past, and there is no visible sign to make us hope that it will in the future. Admitting the need for possession and possible use of such weapons at present, is it not about time for human kind to realize, and act upon that realization, that the only substitute for war is the rule of law, that this rule of law will not come into existence without the long and sustained effort on the part of leaders to bring it about, and that until and unless we do, there is nothing apparent to keep us from continuing to proceed headlong into the abyss which our own incentive and scientific ingenuity is driving us? It is not only later than some people think; it may already be too late, but it is not too late to try.