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LET'S BE HUMAN
If somebody told you that he was a ship’s husband, you might feel tempted to reply: “And how are all the little boats?” Actually a ship’s husband is a land agent who represents the owners and attends to the repairs, provisioning and other expenses of the ship. Ah, now the name seems more reasonable, doesn’t it. But much odder things are hap pening in connection with our ships. Would you believe that Our own Government would allow itself to be blackmailed into vio lating the citizenship rights of American seamen and others? Arab League nations have in vaded American rights, blacklist ing American citizens of all faiths whose travel routes, religious be liefs or personal opinions do not conform with Arab League dic tates. American firms going busi ness with Israel or even employ ing Jewish personnel have been Subjected to an Arab League boy cott. This summer, National Mari time Union prexy, Joe Curran, charged that “American seamen are subjected to indignities and threats of physical violence.” He asked President Kennedy to pro test to the UN against continued Egyptian violations of freedom of the seas. Unless something is done, warned Curran, the International Transport Workers Federation, representing 6 Ms million unionists in 71 countries, “will have to con sider joint action through its own resources, including boycott.” At the ITWF meeting, the Arab Seamen’s Union declared its agree ment that passage through the Suez Canal be “secured to all ships in accordance with the provisions of the 1888 Constantinople Con vention.” That 1888 document re quires all nations to guarantee free transit to international waterways, even in the case of ships of hostile nations. Nevertheless, the Arab boycott still continues. The United States Government must make it unmistakeably clear that foreign countries have no sovereign rights to discriminate against American citizens. That any power should presume to tread on liberties declared sacred to all our citizens by our American Constitution is an assault upon all the American people. ^JNDER THE GEORGIA MOON Several months ago, when the National Association for the Ad vancement of Colored People pro tested the existence of a segre gated local at the Lockheed plant in Marietta, Ga., the International Association of Machinists prompt ly agreed to integrate the Negro members in its three white locals (one for each shift.) Since there were only 420 Negroes out of a total work force of 6,200, the Negro unionists felt this would weaken their influence in the union and asked instead that all the locals be amalgamated into one. This was done and an election *ior three business agents has just been held. There were 2,820 bal lots cast and only 200 of the Negro members voted. Yet J. O. Waite, a Negro unionist, was one of the three elected, proving once again that union members, even in the South, can be color blind. birchers take note The current hullaballoo over teaching about communism in our schools again reminds us that there’s nothing new under the sun. Back in 1920, the New York Board of Education asked pupils in the city’s high schools to define Bol shevism. Here’s one youngster’s response: “Bolshevism is a danger to New York because if the Bolsheviki blew up the Mayor of New York the Government would be going on making laws which would not be approved by the Mayor.” GIVE THE PLAN AN INCH There’s an old saying, “If you give the Klan an Inch, they’ll take a yard. And when they take the yard, they’ll burn a cross in it.” In Alabama, notes Jet magazine, where Kluxers have flogged Negroes without fear of punishment, they recent ly became bolder and flogged a white couple who had allowed a Negro nurse to discipline their child. Imagine the Kluxers’ sur prise when arrested and found guilty. In Tylertown, Mississippi, a Negro voter registration instruc tor, John Hardy, was hit on the head by Circuit Clerk John Q. Wood after Hardy asked Wood to administer registration tests to two Negroes. Wood first pulled out a pistol and ordered Hardy to leave. When Hardy turned to leave, the circuit clerk hit him from the rear, then had Hardy arrested for breach of the peace. John Doar, lawyer of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Eights division, asked newly appointed Federal Judge Harold Cox to halt Mississippi’s prosecution of Hardy on the grounds that its purpose was only to “deter other Negroes from registering to vote.” But Cox, a close friend of Senator Eastland, refused. (Cox, it is worth noting, was appointed to the bench by President Kennedy de spite warnings that this might make it hard to enforce voting and other rights for Negroes in Mis sissippi.) TOUCHE Far be it from Sperry Rand to knock IBM, but the follow ing sign, we are told, has been posted throughout its plants: “Think—Hell! Compute!” WHERE THEY BELONG Nineteen college students from all parts of the world were part of a novel work project in Long Island last summer, sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee. The group—which in cluded young people of all faiths —paid their own expenses to help make life a little more pleasant for children from migrant camps and slums. Of course, some of the local yokels failed to appreciate the whole idea. One afternoon, while 50 or 60 Negro children were en joying a picnic at the beach, a stuffy white woman strode belli gerently up to Hormoz Alizadah, the Iranian student who was watching the youngsters. “Why don’t you keep them where they belong?” she demanded, pointing to the children. “Madam,” came Alizadah’s apt retort, “they belong everywhere." BIG WINDS BATTER BOOKS When Hurricane Carla battered the Texas coast in September, it destroyed thousands of textbooks. At the same time, an even uglier wind, spawned by a “know-noth ing” group calling itself “Texans for America” huffed and puffed at the capital city of Austin against so - called anti - American history books Testifying at a hearing of the State Textbook Commission, the ultra-conservative group made it clear that their version of Ameri canism has nothing in common with the Declaration of Indepen dence or the Bill of Rights. Argued Rancher J. Evetts Haley: “The stressing of both sides of a controversy only confuses the young and encourages them to make snap judgments based on insufficient evidence. Until they are old enough to understand both sides of a question, they should be taught only the Amer ican side.” And what are some of the evils protested by “Texans for Ameri ca,” and their ally, the Daughters of the American Revolution? Here are a few examples cited in Pub lishers Weekly: America: Land of Freedom, pub lished by D. C. Heath, failed to mention that social security—be ing “socialistic”—is a social evil. Living World History (Scott Fores man) said World War II was caused by “superpatriots” and would thus “discourage patriot ism.” Mrs. William Moler, Dallas housewife, blasted Story of Amer ica (Holt, Rinehart and Winston) for not mentioning that Alger Hiss helped write the United Nations charter and for not reporting that “U.N. military forces have always been in the hands of the Rus sians.” (Mrs. Moler forget about Korea—or maybe she just doesn’t know her history! Attorney R. A. Kilpatrick hit the inclusion of such “un-Americans” as Upton Sinclair, Jack London, Carl Sand burg, Pearl Buck and Allan Nevins in United States History (D. C. Heath). How do literate Americans feel about such shenanigans? J. Frank Dobie, dean of Texas writers, told Publishers’ Weekly: “These objectors are really objecting to the Twentieth Cen tury. They seem unaware of the modern treatment of social history. Thye want to go back to history writing that consisted mostly of accounts of wars and heroes, and that left out the masses of people.” And if we’re not on our toes, they may get away with it. QUOTE OF THE WEEK When Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals by President Kennedy, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chose a white lawyer, Jack Green berg, as its chief legal counsel. Asked by reporters to comment on this, Mr. Marshall replied: “As those who are fighting against discrimination, we cannot afford to practice it.” Patronize Our Advertisers A BOOK REVIEW (Continued from Last Issue) And in Leo’s house he finds new images for the inner lights, but purifying flame, in a portrait of Jesus with the Burning Heart, and a box bearing the symbolic fish, the name GOD. For the rosary that box contains, he agrees to intro duce Leo to his sluttish cousin Esther, whose grimy favors Leo finally wins in the cellar beneath her mother’s candy store. As Leo and Esther squeal and pant in the darkness of one cellar shed, David crouches in another trying to exact light from the holy beads for which he has betrayed his family, his Jewishness, his very desire for cleanliness. Past drifting bubbles of grey and icy needles of grey, below a mousetrap, a cogwheel, below a step and a dwarf with a sack upon his back.. . sank the beads, gold figure on a cross swinging slowly ... At the floor of the vast pit of silence glimmered like a coin. —Touch it Touch it! Drop!! But the light eludes his efforts; and the other two, who have per very moment he sought the light, emerge blaming each other as they are discovered by Esther’s sister. “Tell ’er wut I wuz doin’, kid,” Leo blusters. “Yuh jew hewhs! We wuz hidin’ de balonee — Yaa! Sheenee!” After such a denouement, noth ing is possible for David but a plunge into hysteria, a hysteria which overcomes him as he is re treading the passage about the calling of Isaiah, betrays him into telling to his rebbe a story com pounded half of his father’s delu sions, dimly perceived, and half of certain reminiscences of his mother, ill understood: his mother is not his real mother, he is a bastard, son of a goyish organist in an old country church, etc., etc. This fantasy the rebbe hastens to carry to David’s home, arriving a moment before the horrified par ents of Esther appear with their own scandal. And Davis, over whelmed by guilt and fear, offers to his father a whip, grovels at his feet, the rosary falling from his pocket as if to testify to the truth of his illegitimacy, his con taminated blood. At this point, he must run for his life, his father’s long rage at least fulfilled, pre sumably justified; and he runs where he must, toward God in the dark cleft, to the third rail, the coal of fire that can take away iniquity. He snatches a ladle from beside a milk pail and flees to an obbli gato of city voices, which from the girders of a half-finished building, a warehouse, a bar, a poker table speak with unclean lips of lust and greed, hatred and vengefulness. Only David dreams of a consummation that will tran scend and redeem the flesh, final ly thrusts the metal he bears be tween the black lips of the tracks and the awful lightning is re leased, his body shaken by in effable power, and his conscious ness all but obliterated. Yet his intended sacrifice redeems no one, merely adds a new range of am biguity to the chorus in which one voice blasphemes against the faith of another and all against love . Himself dazzled, the reader hears again certain phrases he has before only half understood, lis tens again, for instance, to the bar-room voice that mocked the street-corner orator, “How many times’ll your red cock crow, Pete, befaw y’gives up? T’ree?”—no tices the “three,” the name “Pete,** and remembers the other Peter who, three times before the cock crow, denied his Rabbi. In the interplay of ironies and evasions the final meaning of the failed sacrifice, the private apoca lypse (the boy does not die; the world is not made clean; only his parents are rejoined more in wear iness than effection over his bed) is never made quite clear, only the transcendence of that mean ing, its more than natural charac ter. Turning the final pages of Roth’s book, one realizes suddenly how in the time of the Great De pression all the more serious fic tionists yearned in secret to touch a religious note, toying with the messianic and the apocalyptic but refusing to call them by names not honored in the left-wing jour nals of the time. The final hon esty of Roth’s book lies in its re fusal to call by any fashionable honorific name its child hero’s bafflement as he learns the special beauty of a world which remains stubbornly unredeemed: “Not pain, not terror, but strangest triumph, strangest acquiescence. One might as well call it sleep.” Watch On Potomac THE BACKWAY — Not long after the bad effects of the short session wore off, some Democrats began talking of “executive action” as the way to handle the civil rights question. There was de creasing talk of the next executive “strongly supporting” new laws. When Congress convened Senate Democratic Leader Mike Mans field did promise to give consid eration to anti-filibuster proposals, but not early. In fact the debate came so late in the session that failure was inevitable. • * • If the ABC show had gone on the air a week earlier the results might have been different. But even so there are many lessons in it for the white man On the TV screen there was the “Black Muslim” who wanted noth ing to do with Caucasians. There were Negro intellectuals, especial ly from Los Angeles, who simply wanted to forget what their race has been through and asked only for consideration of themselves on their merits. There was a taxi driver who spoke of the vanishing white man, who he hoped could adjust to his forthcoming minority status. But the big lesson was that Ne groes felt they no longer can wait —100 years after the Civil War. Moreover they are not going to wait at lunch counters, in segre gated depots, or for court orders. They have reached the stage of direct action. Fortunately for all of us, un like some Negroes in Africa, the U.S. Negro thinks and acts “non violently.” I wonder it that les son has been lost on the Senate? If so perhaps Mr. Percy could ar range a special showing for those 28 Democrats and 15 Republicans who decided civil rights was not a high priority issue.