OCTOBER 3, 1960
NEW YORK—Although we are in the midst of a national campaign and a momentous session of the United Nations, one little item from Dunn, N.C. arouses me to the boiling point.
On a Monday afternoon a short time ago, Judge W. Jack Hooks convicted and fined two Indian brothers on contempt charges for aiding, abetting and encouraging their children to attend the all-white Dunn high school in defiance of a court order. These children have no alternative except to travel 70 miles a day to attend school at all, for there is no Indian high school nearer than that. The judge imposed a fine of $150 on James Chance, 37, and a fine of $100 on Eugene Chance, 41.
Now the Indians in our midst were the original owners of our country, and it seems ironical to me to practice discrimination against them. We have a sense of guilt when we practice discrimination against the Negro because we brought their ancestors as slaves to this country. And yet we conquered the Indian and drove him out from his native lands simply because we had more knowledge—and firearms. We can hardly say with pride that, on the whole, we have treated the Indians as well as we have treated our more recent enemies, the Japanese and the Germans. You will tell me, of course, that the Indians were not as well prepared to help themselves in the modern world which we brought to them. That may be true, but it does not exonerate us from preparing them so badly to cope with that modern world.
This action of a judge in North Carolina may mean very little to the people in the rest of our country, but it will mean something to our reputation in the world. We need to build that reputation these days with extreme care and diligence. On it may depend the future of the entire world.
At the U.N. last week we witnessed a reasonable man of goodwill, Mr. Macmillan of Great Britain, make a carefully phrased attempt to defend the point of view of the West, but at the same time to offend as little as possible the sensibilities of the Communist leader, Mr. Khrushchev. He did not succeed too well, and the Soviet leader's shouted oubursts doubtless surprised a good many of the heads of state now at the U. N. Yet I believe the private conversations between Mr. Macmillan and Mr. Khrushchev will have some value, and patience will continue to be a virtue.
One would also think that Mr. Khrushchev would listen with care to the debates between the two Presidential candidates, one of whom will be leading this country from January on. I do not think either one of them is promising anything less than to make every effort to ensure the security of this country. There may be a different concept of the way this is to be done, and it might be useful for Mr. Khrushchev to listen carefully to find out what these differences are.
I doubt, however, if he will take advantage of his time in this country to try and know anything more about the people and their leaders. One almost feels that it is hopeless to try for an open mind on his part, and I must say Mr. Macmillan showed great courage in even thinking for a moment that Mr. Khrushchev would be willing to set aside his chosen complaints and try to resume discussion without reference to espionage and past acts. The one encouraging thing is that Mr. Khrushchev is staying on. The more contacts he has, the more he may possibly feel that there is unity in this country and that we do have to be persuaded. We cannot be browbeaten.