Through Spokane's eyes
Letters to the editor from May 22, 1961
Reds in Alabama
Your editorial concerning the disturbances in Alabama and proposing an investigation of CORE causes me to feel great concern. The prevailing view whenever there is a demonstration by Negroes seems to be that the participants are merely a handful of irresponsible Kremlin corrupted provocateurs.
Unless one takes refuge in the theory _ however disguised _ that Negroes are, somehow, different from (i.e. inferior to) white people, I do not see how one can escape the conclusion that the Negroes' status in this country is a cruel injustice and a grave national liability.
I do not doubt that among the demonstrators there are pro-Communists and professional revolutionists acting out of the most cynical motives. Whenever there is a great social discontent these people are to be found sooner or later. Their presence is not as frightening as the discontent which creates their opportunity. What I find appalling and really dangerous is the American assumption that the Negro is so contented with his lot here that only the cynical agents of a foreign power can rouse him to protest. This is a notion which contains a gratuitous insult, implying as it does, that Negroes can make no move unless they are manipulated. The time is forever behind us when Negroes can be expected to ”want.” What is demanded now is not that Negroes continue to adjust themselves to the cruel racial pressures of life in the United States, but that the United States readjust itself to the facts of life in the present world. If we are not able, and quickly, to face and begin to eliminate the sources of this discontent in our own country, we will never be able to do it in the world at large.
Barbara Jean Lindsley
The Spokesman-Review (lead editorial 22 May 1961) is to be cited for its firm editorial stand on the disorders in Montgomery, Ala. Perhaps CORE should be carefully scrutinized as well as the “... local rules and regulations ...” the flaunting of which ostensibly precipitated this spontaneous outburst of indignation by the southern ladies and gentlemen affronted.
True, the demonstrators are checking the validity of interstate rules and regulations. And, of course, our nation was ever infested with those who were prone to check rules and regulations. Some dumped tea, some died -- all were revolutionaries -- just checking the then prevailing local rules and regulations. It must be said now, in retrospect, that these tea dumpers did a passable job too.
However, and albeit, as the fiery lead editorial implied, this sort of thing has gotta be stopped, or controlled, or looked into, or something! That's for sure! Just try to imagine the disservice done to our diplomats in Africa, Asia, China, South America _ why, even to the Peace Corps! At this rate no one will believe we mean anything our statesmen say _ whether we mean it or not! One simply doesn't open certain closets to the casual view of strangers _ clean and well-polished skeletons are very hard to come by these days!
But back to the censorious ladies and gentlemen of Montgomery who heroically defended their mores' with purse, fist and boot. The septic water courses along England's city streets and the stygian gaols that were scoured and emptied in colonial days to provide progenitors for these persons would _ if they could _ revel in the sure knowledge that `blood will out.' The effluvium of gutter and durance vile, the honest heritage of these persons, provides the proper aura for their actions. And, I join with ex-President Truman with regard to the `S-R' for its editorial sentiment.
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