Vol. 34 No. 1 1967 - page 50

intellectuals are willing; Kennedy understood and respected them. John–
son does not understand or respect them. The country is the loser.
More important, the President cannot end the war in Vietnam over–
night. But the decision to escalate is his.
You ask if "white America" is committed to granting equality to the
American Negro. What is "white America"? Surely the majority of Amer–
icans of white skin have never had any intention of establishing equality
with their Negro neighbors. The question should be: Are those white
liberals, students, intellectuals, and religious leaders who have shown
some willingness in the last decade to follow the moral leadership of the
Supreme Court going to keep on? At the present all these groups seem
to be confused by the cry of "Black Power" and frustrated by failure.
Segregation and racial violence have
in the last ten years. Men
are appalled by the seeming hopelessness of the struggle. The battle for
racial justice, like the war in Vietnam, seems to many thoughtful persons
unending, with no prospect of victory and with the possibility of total
catastrophe. It now appears that no one really knows how to go about
ending inequality: reports on REAP and other programs of education
are discouraging; urban renewal makes matters worse; Negro unemploy–
ment is increasing;
de facto
segregation increases faster than
de jure
regation declines. Stokely Carmichael and Martin Luther King do not
agree on either means or ends-what is the equality that Negroes really
want? So once-militant leaders become tired and discouraged, even the
optimistic young-the college students-have begun to lose interest in the
civil rights struggle, a struggle which has been for them until recently
great moral issue,
great alternative to apathy and indifference.
Somehow indifference and apathy have quite suddenly replaced the
measured optimism that once looked for some progress in solving the
problems of urban blight, suburban mediocrity, transportation, pollution,
mass education and mass entertainment. Much has been accomplished,
and our apathy is to some extent the boredom of spoiled children : we are
richer and freer than any other people in history, and we have a mag–
nificent art and literature and music and science and scholarship. Never–
theless, at the moment the prospect is not wholly bright and the mood
is .one of discouragement. Too much of what we have is as banal and
dead as Lincoln Center, that magnificent mausoleum of the arts, that
costly marble palace which has the smell of Versailles before the Deluge.
Over all is the shadow of an irrational war which has no end in view.
We cannot win since we do not know what we are fighting for, and we
do not seem to be able to withdraw. So long as the war lasts, poverty,
civil rights, and the promise of the Great Society inevitably take a back
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