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November 22, 1968 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1968-11-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Purely Commentary

The 'Misunderstood Generation'—ls
Understanding a One-Sided Affair?

On the eve of the Nov. 5 election, some very interesting figures were released, reveal-
ing data represented in the following charts:

How education is
reflected at the polls.

This "slow, inefficient" system
protects people like me against

people like you; and (though
you don't realize it) protects in-
nocents like you against those
"reactionary . . . fascist forces"

you fear: They, like you, prefer
"action to talk." As for "secur-
ity"—at what price? The most
secure of human institutions is
a prison; would you choose to
live in one?

did not




voting in
1 964

65 UP





Those of voting age
in the U.S.A.

NOV 1964


NOV 1968

You rail against "leaders
crazed with power," who 'de-
ceive the people." Your leaders
are self-dramatizers who de-
mand that power, which crazes
them, and they deceive you in
not telling you how they plan
your "confrontations" to force
the police to use force, whose
excesses I hate more than you
do. I, unlike you, want no one
put "up against the wall." No
"cheap politician" more cyn-
ically deceived you than fanat-
ical militants did — and will.
Your support feeds their neu-
rotic (because extremist) needs.
Washington's " 'Non-Violent' Co-
ordinating Committee' has en-
gaged in gunfire for three days

as I write this.

Your irrationality makes me
wonder how you were ever ad-

mitted into Columbia. You con-
fuse rhetoric with reasoning. As-
sertions are not facts. Passion



We know now that less than two-thirds of those
eligible to vote cast their ballots early this month;
that women outnumber men of voting age by 5,000,-
WO; that there are more of voting age in the South
than in any other region and that there is the
lowest percentage of voters in the South; that the
fewest of voting age are- in Alaska; that the higher
the income the larger the percentage of those vot-
ing. And we know that the young voter vastly out-
numbers those over the age of 35.

Therefore, on the basis of the latter, we must
deal with the youth in all seriousness—with even
greater concern than we have attended to the youth
challenges until now.

The youth problem is universal. It has many
factors affecting all groups, some with aspects in-
volving threats of disruption anent revolution, others
less violent.

Leo Rosten is among those who have been deal-
ing with the issue. In one of his columns, "The
World of Leo Rosten," in Look magazine, he ad-
dressed himself "To an angry young man" and had
this to say in the course of his message:

I sadly agree that your college courses have
been "outrageously irrelevant to the times"—be-
cause your letter reveals that you could not pass a
freshman exam in at least three fields in which
you pass such sweeping judgments: economics,
history, political theory.

You say, "Destroy a system that has not abol-
ished unemployment., exploitation and war!" By
the same reasoning, you should blow up all hos-
pitals (and perhaps execute all doctors, biologists
and researchers): they have not abolished disease.
Before you destroy a system, propose another
that will solve (not hide, shift or disguise)
unemployment, "exploitation," war. Anyone can
promise Utopia—without specifying a program.
Tom Hayden, idol of the New Left, has said:
"First we'll make the revolution—then we'll find
what for." Would you employ a plumber who
rips out all the pipes in your house before he
learned how to repair a leak?

You say, "The mass media are not telling us
the truth." Then how and from whom did you
learn the "evils" you correctly deplore? After all,
your information comes from one or another
organ of—the mass media
You rage against "a heartless country in
which the poor get poorer." Alas, poor Yoricks:
The decline in poverty in the US. is among the

more astonishing and hopeful facts of human his-
tory. (In 1900, about 90 per cent of our popula-
tion was poor; in 1920-50 per cent; in 1930-34
percent; in 1968-15 per cent). You will cry that
15 per cent is outrageous. Agreed. The question
is: How best abolish it? (A negative income tax
makes more sense than anything your colleagues
propose.) -
"The middle class exploits the unemployed."

Please examine that cliche. Would the middle
class be worse off or better off if all theunem-

ployed magically disappeared? Obviously, much
better off: Think of the enormous saving in taxes,
the enormous improvement in public services, the
enormous benefits from refocused energies now
used to ameliorate poverty's abominable toll.

You say your generation "wants to be under-
stood." Well, so does mine. How much have yoif
tried to understand others? You pillory us for in-
justices not of our making, frictions not of our

choice, dilemmas that history (or our forebears
or the sheer intractability of events) presented to
us. You say we "failed" because you face so many
awful problems. Will you then accept blame for
all the problems that exist (and they will) when
you are 20 years older? And how do you know
that all problems are soluble? Or soluble swiftly?
Or soluble peacefully? Or soluble, given the never.
infinite resources, brains and experience any gen-

eration is endowed with?

I say that you are failing us—in failing to
learn and respect discomforting facts; in failing
to learn how to think (it is easier to complain);
in using violence to shut down colleges; in
shamefully denying the freedom of others to

study and to teach; in barbarously slandering and
abusing and shouting down those who disagree
with you; in looting, stealing and defiling; in
failing to see how much more complicated social -
problems are than you blindly assume; in acting
out of an ignorance for which idealism is no ex -
cuse, and a hysteria for which youth is no de-
fense. "Understanding"? You don't even under-
stand that when you call me a "mother—"
you are projecting your unresolved incestuous
wishes onto me. The technical name for such
projection, in advanced form, is paranoia.
Again and again, you say, "the American

people want" or "demand" or "insist." How do
you know? Every poll I have seen puts your
position in a minority. You just say, "the Ameri-
can people demand"—then add whatever you
prefer. This is intellectually sloppy at least, and
corrupt at worst.

You want to "wreck this slow, inefficient
democratic system." It took the human race ,
centuries of thought and pain and suffering and
hard experiment to devise it. Democracy is not a
"state" but a process; it is a way of solving
human problems, a way of bobbling power, a way
of protecting every minority from the awful, fatal
tyranny of either the few or the many.
Whatever its imperfections, democracy is the
only system man has discovered that makes
possible change without violence. Do you really
prefer bloodshed to debate? Quick debates to
slow law? This democracy made possible a great
revolution in the last 35 years (a profound trans-
fer of power, a distribution of wealth, an im-
provement of living and health) without "liqui-
dating" millions, without suppressing tree speech,
without the obscenities of dogmas enforced by


is no substitute for knowledge.
Slogans are not solutions. Your
idealism takes no brains. And
when you dismiss our differences
with contempt, you become con-

By Philip

Jewish students made up one-
third of last spring's Columbia
Jewish adults view these sta-

tistics with mixed emotions.

Since joining the drug scene or
the SDS usually goes hand in
hand with a formal rejection of

inherited belief, many Jewish
parents are now worried about

the religious consequences of
radicalism. In Washington, last
week, speakers at the 125th an.
niversary convention of final
Brith agreed that, while most

Jewish youth still share the tra-
ditional ethical concerns of their
faith, too many have turned
their backs on temple and syna-
gogue. A Bnai Brith sun ey
showed that anti-Semitism is no
longer the prime worry of
American Jews; instead, Jewish
parents are more concerned
about retaining the spiritual
loyalty of their children.

One obvious reason for the
frequent appearances of Jewish
students in sit-ins and love-ins
is purely numerical: more than
80 per cent of eligible Jewish
youth are attending college, and
they form more than 6 per cent
of the total student population.
Some synagogue leaders con-
tend that historical tradition
does much to stimulate student
commitment to radical causes.
Dr. Harold Weisberg, a philos-
ophy professor at Brandeis Uni-
versity, thinks that many liberal
Jewish parents have raised their
children with strong ethical con.
sciences while neglecting their
own. "The kids find that their
parents have betrayed some-
thing. They look around and
ask: 'Where were you? You let
this happen. "

Leo Rosten really doesn't mean
to be rough: he seems to instruct,
and we wonder whet1ler he can
succeed. It's like the description
given of the wise man who tried
These views and figures may be
n oio cn a te
ask: fellow
to enanimu
co nds
"Wh o subject to challenge, but they are
under any circumstances nearest
listens? . .."
to truth in the developing Jewish
Nevertheless, we are facing student crisis—or revolt, call il
facts. Youth is in the majority what you will.
and soon will not only predominate
The fact is that Jews soon will
but, attaining the vote at 18, will
RULE! And as soon as people have 90 per cent of their numbers
begin to rule they become mel- in universities, and if Rabbi Irving
lowed, they reason with them- Greenberg is right in stating that
selves about their responsibilities, "by and large college is a disaster
and they begin to rationalize. We area for Judaism, Jewish loyally
should, very soon, have lesser re- and Jewish identity," then we'd
volt and greater sharing in the better think twice about the effi-
ciency of pedagogy in Jewish
duties of state.
schools, the realism of Jewish
While approaching this panacea, leadership if "leaders" are not to
however, we must reason together be listed in quotation marks.
and try to reduce the tensions
If we.are to examine conditions
that stem from revolutions.
realistically,, getting deep into the
We must also take into consid- question of ethics and of home
eration the position of young Jews, values, the attitude of youth Is
when we rationalize in terms of understandable and its defections
the Jewish community.
can be explained in simple terms.
Recently, Time magazine had a If parents do not observe (most
piece on "Jews: Prophets—True of them have ceased being three-
or False?" which approached the day-a-year Jews; they are now
subject of Jews in the current two-day-a-year Jews), why should
revolt by stating:
their children?
The youth problem plagues the
On June 4, Columbia's com-
entire land. The problem of the
mencement day, Keith Karnof-
sky, 22, was arrested in a stn- Jewish youth . is linked with the
student revolt. We suffer from a
dent protest near the campus. A
New Leftism which has suddenly
month earlier he had been
become the cement that binds antis
charged with criminal trespass
Israel Arabs with anti-Jewish
when New York City police
cleared Columbia's buildings of Communists, turning the enmity
student rebels. Today he is
into a new type of anti-Semitism.
studying to be a rabbi at Man. Suddenly the liberal has become a
hattan's Hebrew Union College,
hater of Jews who are - charged
and he sees no disparity between with being imperialists, and we
his radicalism and his faith. As liave not only a problem of secur-
Keith puts it: "Activism is a ing an adjustment of the Jewish
Jewish thing."
college student, but "the revolt"
becomes linked with bigotry.
Not all young rabbis are cam-
pus radicals, and few members
When Leo Rosten addressed
of Students for a Democratic So- himself "To an angry young man,"

ciety have much use for orga-
nized religion. Nonetheless,
many of the nation's most vocal
young protesters are of Jewish
origin. A survey conducted by
the American Jewish Committee
San Francisco last year found
that 30 per cent of Haight-Agh-
bury's hippies were Jewish. The
Billet Foundations, campus arm
of Bnai Brith, concluded that

2—Friday, November 22, 1968

he also spoke to the deluded par-
ents, to the community with a
lack of understanding, to the eld-
ers who find it difficult to find ti
solution to a grave problem. Arid
the gravity of a general youth
problem becomes vastly more
serious for the Jewish community
dealing with its youth that AIM
become suddenly uprooted from
Jewish traditions.


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