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August 06, 1965 - Image 2

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1965-08-06

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SNCC-Its Radicalism
Is Necessary in South

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.

The New Republic
expected allies in his efforts to
discredit the civil rights move-
ment. They are not racists or
segregationists or even Southern-
ers, but white Northern moder-
ates, who have decided that the
movement is being infiltrated by
Communists and is heading to-
ward left-wing extremism.
From Wallace, the accusations
have little impact. There are
scores of billboards on Southern
highways showing Martin Luther
King at a "Communist training
school" and few take them, ser-
But from Northerners, the
charges suddenly are real, and
they hurt.
"THE RED issue is the one
thing that could break up the
movement," a white director of
the Mississippi Summer Project
said last month.
Since then a Pittsburgh rabbi
has made headlines in every
Southern paper by denouncing
civil rights extremists, columnists
Rowland Evans and Robert Novak
are howling that the Student
Non - Violent Coordinating Com-
mittee (SNCC) is "substantially
infiltrated" by Communists, and
the New York Post's James
Wechsler, a perennial poet of lib-
eralism, is convinced that mili-
tants are "staging an uprising
againstthe major civil rights blocs
.. . encouraged by a fragment of
Communists (Chinese rather than
Russian in orientation) ."
WHY IT has taken them all so
long to discover that the move-
ment is extreme in both its con-
cept and execution is not clear.
Civil rights leaders, and par-
ticularly those in the South, have
been proclaiming their radical in-
tentions for five years or more.
Before the marchers left Selma
for Montgomery, King's most cau-
tious and conservative adviser, the
Reverend Andrew J. Young, told
them: "Actually, we're at war.
We're trying to revolutionize the
political structure of America."
Perhaps it is only as the move-
ment is increasingly successful in
the South-as it has been during
the last year-that its meaning
becomes obvious.
When the first sit-ins began in
Greensboro, N.C., and then in
Nashville, Tenn., in the spring of
1960 they were denounced by old-
er leaders of the movement (which
was hardly a movement at all
in those days) as tactically too
DR. KING himself withdrew
support from the Freedom Rides
in 1961, and it was not until a
month or so ago that Roy Wilkins
of the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored Peo-
ple got around to agreeing that
demonstrations were a valid tactic
in the civil rights war.
Recent critics dosnot misread
the signs: The history of the
movement has been arecord of
its evolution f r o m Tomism
through tokenism and gradualism
to militancy and radicalism.
However, the critics do misun-
derstand what is happening and
for two reasons: generation and
STUDIES OF the battles in left-
wing politics of the thirties and
forties, or factionalism within the
International L a d i e s Garment
Workers Union do not shed much
light on the current conflicts
within the civil rights movement.
Terms of the thirties simply do
not apply today.
SNCC, which is rightly consider-
ed the most radical civil rights
group, bears little resemblance to

the popular-front organizations of
a generation ago.
SNCC is part of the "new rad-
icalism," or the "student left," and
is closer to Mario Savio than to
Marx. It is anarchic rather than
monolithic, social more than eco-
nomic, downward-pointing rather
than pyramidical in organization
It is supremely undisciplined.
There is no plan, no program.
SNCC'S MAJOR effort in the
South this summer is "Let the
People Speak" conferences, held
in several states and then, per-
haps, regionwide. "We want the
people to tell us what we can do.
We'll do anything they tell us,"
said John Lewis, SNCC chairman.
SNCC's leaders avoid rather
than command the publicity spot-
light. Bob Moses, the brilliant
young Negro who directed the
Mississippi Summer Project is, so
anti-leader that he has changed
his name and has slipped out of
the state.
SNCC despises the "cult of per-
sonality" which has surrounded
King, and the leader-worship
within his Southern Christian
Leadership Conference (SCLC).
The SNCC kids mock his Baptist
rhetoric; they dislike the way
SCLC "tells people what to do."
MOSES'S IDEA is to keep SNCC
workers in a Southern town only
until they can help the local Ne-
groes organize their own protest
movement, and then leave.
Now, SNCC field workers are
clearing out of Mississippi, having
spawned dozens of indigenous ac-
tion groups and a statewide anti-
establishment political party.
There are no doubt those in
SNCC who have read Marx, and
some socialist theory may inform
their political ideas, as it does for
almost everybody these days.
IT IS A far cry from interpret-
ing that vague longing for social
and economic equality and the
rather pervasive anti-establish-
ment behavior as evidence of a
Communist plot, or imminent
Soviet or Maoist takeover.
Since Russia is now so firmly
part of the establishment, Maoism
or Castroism probably are closer
to the romantic yearnings of the
SNCC kids who bother to think
about it, but there is no evidence
that Mao or Castro are taking ad-
vantage of their young fans.
There is no Manchurian can-
didate in Mississippi.
THERE IS, however, the be-
loved Fannie Lou Hamer and her
fellow zealots of the Mississippi
Freedom Democratic Party.
The MFDP got 80,000 votes in
the mock Freedom Election of
1963, and 60,000 in the mock
Congressional Election last year,
surely more than other radical
political party would pick up in
any election in the U.S.
The MFDP originally had the
participation of most of Missis-
sippi's older and most respected
Negro leaders. Its chairman is
still Aaron Henry, the president
of the state NCAAP. But in the
past two years, the bigger names
and oldersleadershhaveifallen
away, and the new leadership has
little respect for the traditions of
political compromise.
THE CRUCIAL moment was
the Democratic National Conven-
tion in Atlantic City, when most
of the other civil rights leaders
and the Democratic Party opera-
tives tried to convince the MFDP
to accept the very large political
concession which it had won.
Acceptance meant giving up the
claim to be the lawful Mississippi
delegation in exchange for two
national MFDP delegates-at-large,
and a promise by the convention
to exclude discriminatry delega-
tions in future years. SNCC alone

was against the compromise; the
MFDP delegates refused.
- Their point was that they had
no interest in, or hope of assimi-
lating into the Democratic estab-
lishment. They wanted to de-
molish it. It was rotten to the
core, not just eroded here and
there. They believed in their
rights to political power, and they
wanted them in 1964, not at some
unnamed future date.
Despite a masterful plea for
compromise by Bayard Rustin
(who ironically is head man on
Wallace's personal list of unre-
constructed civil rights Commun-
ists) the MFDP decided that
rights delayed were rights denied.
own, not of another society's or
another generation's making.
To understand the Southern
Negro's radicalism from Washing-
ton or New York is impossible. The
current crop of critics are not
only too old-fashioned to make
sense out of the movement, they
are also too far away.
In their March 28 broadside
at SNCC, Evans and Novak quot-
ed "an aggressive young Snic
worker" at a civil rights strate-
gy meeting: "You people just don't
know what it's like down South."
The worker's impertinence was
compounded, they said, because he
spoke not just to any old North-
erner, but to "respected liberals
who were crusading for civil rights
before he was born."
WHAT the "respected liberals"
do not know is that in the South
a Negro rarely sees a friendly
white face. Worse, he never meets
a white Southerner who will treat
him as an equal. The Mississippi
Freedom Democratic Party was
an inevitable development because
the Negroes are not allowed to
assimilate into the white world.
It is a mercy that the revolt
of the outcasts is not more viol-
ent. It is a civil rights truism
that wherever the movement goes,
the community is polarized. Mod-
erates evaporate, because their
role has been built on the foun-
dation of white paternalism and
black Tomism which the Negroes
must destroy to achieve equality.
SNCC is a Southern organiza-
tion working in the South. The
"respected liberals" of the North
never see the conditions in which
they work, or what they are do-
ing. They see King in Stockholm
or San Francisco but they do not
see a SNCC worker in Amite
County, Miss.
Evans and Novak think that
"SNCC and its leaders are really
not interested in the right to vote
or any attainable goal." They are
dead wrong. Only SNCC, in fact,
working through its Mississippi
alter ego, the Council of Federat-
ed Organizations, has bothered
about voter registration, county
by county, with the threat of
white violence always in the air.
SNCC has organized the Negroes
in Mississippi and has helped them
form a political movement as King
has never done, and as the NAACP
has never even considered. In
terms of local action, SNCC (with
help from the Congress of Racial
Equality, which is only spottily in
the South) is the only successful
THERE MAY COME a day when
radicalism in the movement pass-
es white liberals by, and there are
some who are working to keep it
far hence .
But there is a danger in the
growing gap between Negro expec-
tations and achievements. Legisla-
tion will in itself do much to
change the lives of Southern Ne-
groes. As frustrations grow, so
will the demands for radical ac-
tion. Many civil rights leaders
think that the problem in the
North has only begun to be un-

If the ghettoes explode, the
white liberal critics will look back
at SNCC radicalism as the mildest
of manners.
erals to have extremists working
for the same causes they support.
And the presence of politically
suspect characters in the move-
ment gives sincere but uncommit-
ted Northern whites an oppor-
tunity to damn the whole civil
rights effort.
But there is a good way to make
the movement moderate and "re-
spectable." The Confederate flag
still flies above the capitol at
Montgomery, andethere are no
Negroes in the white waiting room
at the bus station in Jackson,
four years after the Freedom Ride.
The successes of the past few
years have been won by increas-
ing militancy and more determin-
ed radical action ,and there is
much further to go. No one can
make a security check on every
SNCC worker who comes to the
South this summer, and it would
be difficult to enforce a uniform

Chaplin's Last Movie:
Comedy with a Purpose
At the Cnema Guild
"MONSIEUR VERDOUX" IS a fitting climax to the Cinema Guild's
summer program. It was the last movie Charlie Chaplin ever
made, released in the United States in 1947.
What makes Chaplin's films so brilliant is that they cannot be
categorized. Is "Verdoux" a comedy? But it's about a mass murderer.
Then it's serious? The movie's too funny. It must be a propaganda
film. But for what party, what creed? "Verdoux" is serious film that
uses comedy to present Chaplin's creed.
Monsieur Verdoux (who resembles The Tramp only in his use
of the human body as an instrument of grace and comedy) is a mild-
mannered ex-bank clerk. During the depression he lost the job he had
held for 30 years. And so to support the wife and son he loves, he turns
to a more lucrative and less monotonous occupation: he marries rich,
middle-aged women, murders them, and plays the stock market with
the money.
THE BASIC IDIOM for conveyance of the theme is contrast of
the ultimately uncontrastable. Verdoux, the suave, heartless murderer,
is a vegetarian. Verdoux, who can woo the ugliest of women, passion-
ately adores his beautiful but crippled wife. Verdoux severely re-
primands his son for pulling the cat's tail-"You have a cruel streak
in you, I don't know where you get it."
As always, there are several great comic moments. One of Ver-
doux's 14 wives is played by Martha Raye. They do marvelous comedy
together. In one scene he tries desperately to drown her, only to be
thwarted by a group of picnicking yodelers.
This movie has received almost no distribution in the United States
for many reasons. Chaplin had fallen into much disrepute for his po-
litical statements during World War II; his paternity suit didn't
encourage fan loyalty; the country was loathe to surrender The
Tramp; Chaplin had intended to shock and indict everyone; and a
boycott campaign was led by the Catholic War Veterans and columnist
Westbrook Pegler.
The theme of "Verdoux" is that both good and evil are produced
by the same beliefs and creeds. Verdoux says that murder is only busi-
ness carried to its logical conclusion. He defends himself in court by
pleading that in terms of the modern world he is only an amateur
at mass murder.
THE FINAL SCENES are rife with philosophizing-artificial;An
some instances. But Verdoux does turn away the priest, who tells h
to repent of his sins, with a classic line-sin is everywhere, "what
would you be doing without sin?"
It is easy to see how Chaplin antagonized everyone with this
movie. People must recognize themselves in it: their hypocrisy and
adherence to a double ethical standard as well as the gap between
what they are and what they appear to be. After all, nice people feed
stray cats. Verdoux fed stray cats. Does that mean that perhaps
I could ...?
Racial Discrimination:
TwO Approaches
At the Campus Theatre
DUFF ANDERSON (Ivan Dixon) is colored but he is also a man.
His problem is his pride, which will not allow him to be a "yes-
man" to his boss, or to let debasing remarks about his wife pass by.
It is about the episode of his marriage that "Nothing But a Man"
Duff does not climb on a soap bo and plead for integration;
rather the movie speaks in its own tone, neither a shout nor a whis
per, but a narrative. Of course, the narrative is shocking in parts:
Duff does not remember either his father or his son. And social
commentaries about, whites ("they don't sound human, do they?"
"They can reach in with their damn white hands and turn you on
and off.") are abundant. Still an artistic judgment, the restraint of
their suppressed passions and unspoken words, saves what some
would make into a soap opera.
Dixon 'and Abbey Lincoln, who plays his wife, exemplify this
analysis with their love, one which develops not to violin accompani-
ment but to the rock sounds of Motown. Not only the acting and.mu'
sic, but the photography (using hand cameras which move the pie.
ture with the action) emphasizes Duff's greatest achievement, when
he admits. "I feel so free inside."
"ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO" has a more controversial
theme, that of mixed marriages. Julie Collins (Barbara Barrie) mar-
ries Frank Richards (Bennie Hamilton); she is white, he is black,
The treatment of this theme is so delicate that only the most ob-
vious and perhaps naive points are communicated, i.e., colored people
have a hard time, or love conquers all, even racial prejudice. The
love between Julie an Frank is too sugary and as childish as the
title of themovie. In fact, the whole treatment is based on chil-
dren. The judge asks Julie's daughter about her colored brother.

"Of course he's different. He's a boy." Out of the mouths of babes.,
maybe. But the primary question of raising a child in a mixed house-
hold is loudly proclaimed and then left unanswered.
BOTH "NOTHING BUT A MAN" and "One Potato, Two Potato"
have racial difference as their topic. The first ranks considerably
above the second, yet seeing and comparing the two can be profit-
able. But don't miss "Notling But a Man."
This WayneWes tern
Has Paunch, .Punch
At the State Theatre
WHEN ONE THINKS of America, one can't help but think of the
Flag, Mother and John Wayne It's tradition. So put them all
together and they spell Western.
"The Sons of Katie Elder" is another in the long line that John
Wayne has ridden along. You take the rough-tough but good-at-heart
ALL AMERICAN boys and the over-zealous Government official
carried away with the power of his job, add a lot of low down bad
guys trying to take over the town (the outside agitators so to
speak), and you've got the general plot to any one of several recent
John Wayne films.
THIS TIME IS IS the sons of poor Katie Elder. all good boys
that sorta neglected their mother and return for her funeral to find
"All is not Right." Wayne, slightly full of paunch rather than punch
in this one, is ably assisted by Dean Martin and James Gregory.
Martin, excellent in the classic Rio Bravo (also with Wayne), is a
perfect counter for the Tall straight clean cut power of Wayne. He
slouches, mumbles and runs, and is generally low down but lovable.
Gregory is the perennial villain, slick, sly and ever too sharp.
Martha Hyer is another in the series of wasted actresses that are


Twenty Years After:
Knowledge and Wisdom

TWENTY YEARS AGO today, the B-29
"Enola Gay" dropped an atomic bomb
onto Hiroshima. A second bomb was drop-
ped three days later on Nagasaki.
105,000 people were killed, about 110,-
006d seriously injured. In Hiroshima four
square miles of homes were leveled. For
years, those who were unlucky enough
to be nearby have suffered from internal
bleeding and other more grisly effects-
sonie carried to the next generation, at
What does it mean? What does it mean
today, when countries are armed with
weapons that can sear 800 square miles
in one fraction of a second and which
can probably destroy the human race?
What does it mean to this generation,
which came into the world about the same
time as the reality of nuclear warfare?
IT MEANS LITTLE in reality, though it
should mean a lot. Despite the con-
stant assertion in Sunday supplements
and women's magazines that this genera-
tion is deeply shaken by the imminence
of immediate and useless death, this gen-.
eration is as capable of shallowness as
any other.
Education, communication, increased
leisure time, and political freedom have
led to a new, more knowledgeable ignor-
ance: "the bomb is there, but why do I
have to think about it?"
The reality of the bomb is "hanging
over this generation's heads like a nu-
clear axe," as one writer put it. Yet every-
time this generation looks up, where the
bomb should be instead are skyscrapers,
new satellites and the traditional sky.
Twice, when the United States and the
Soviet Union stood chest-to-chest over
Cuba in 1962 and this year, when loud
and strange noises come over the sea
from Southeast Asia, the reality became
more real to most people. Yet even today,
with 125,000 troops committed to Viet
Nam, there is still a widespread reluctance
┬▒rn 'svnif thal- ini Ppidpnt < Thhno '.

dent political activities draw only one out
of a thousand students. Good football
games, in contrast, draw closer to two out
of three students.
But political awareness is not the an-
swer. The basis' of the ostrich attitude is
not political but intellectual and emo-
Has this generation faced the reality
of the 100,000 dead Japanese of 20 years
ago, or the more important reality that
it is now training to make similarly fate-
ful decisions? Have today's leaders pre-
sented a rigorous, convincing and prac-
tical manner of facing these decisions?
Probably not. Wisdom has not caught
up with knowledge, ethics has not caught
up with science. Until a few years ago,
for example, almost all research money-
federal and private-went into the physi-
cal sciences. Then money began to be
spent on scientific studies o fthe humani-
ties, as in the University's Institute for
Social Research. Yet the big money still
goes into the cyclotrons and Minutemen
while things'like the physical, chemical
and "other" complexities of the human
brain are sadly under-researched.
EVEN PHILOSOPHY is in a sad state to-
day, leading to several different dead-
ends or to a new traditionalism no less
dogmatic than the old.
The study of matter may have excelled
in the last 100 years, but the study of
mankind has lagged far behind.
One reason the atomic bomb was, drop-
ped on Hiroshima was the fanatical de-
votion of some of the Japanese leaders
-an admirable but outmoded attitude.
The United States has been criticized be-
cause, the critics say, the bomb was drop-
ped due to some kind of "administrative
inertia." The weapon may have been con-
siderable but the wisdom of the society
was not.
VET THE LESSON of the fireball 20



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