thumbnail of Public Broadcast Laboratory; 106; Ronald Reagan at Yale
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Station in confrontation with students at Yale University Governor Reagan was a guest in New Haven on a job fellowship which each year brings leading American political figures to meet the students of Yale's Timothy Dwight college. And I think it's a little nervous at the moment but then I was always nervous about an examination because only in what ways you've been an activist for civil rights. You're well. You're looking at a hell of a. Lot of out of concern about it long before this whole civil rights I began my career to Cali as a sports announcer and I live along one of the militant places that particularly the colonel in the sports Well that's what gets me to play baseball against the discrimination and like you know organized baseball I mean one of them. Finally you know Branch Rickey took the step. Baseball the better for it.
You think the jumper Fair Housing Act in California is an ineffective or a bad method of ensuring fair housing legislation assuring open housing. I think that the run for fair housing act in California runs a very great danger and risk in attempting to achieve something that I desire very much. And all of us should desire. It runs the risk of my president giving the government of power that government should not have and that can someday come back to haunt us can be used for other than worthy purposes. And this is the infringement on the right of the individual to the. Private possessions and the control ownership of those possessions. Now there's a great difference between the restrictive covenant idea and the individual being told what he can or cannot do with his own home. Now strangely enough and I know this will sound strange to many of you in view of what you read and. You happen to be looking at someone who spent a lifetime. Rather
militantly and emotionally opposed to discrimination and bigotry as a sports announcer many years ago when baseball Organized Baseball opened its rule book with a line baseball is a game for a Caucasian gentleman as a sports announcer I editorialized constantly against this and can now point with sort of I told you so pride to the wonderful progress that they spot was made because Branch Rickey and the courage to do what he did. As I say I I would not knowingly patronize a place of business that conducted its business with discrimination bigotry or prejudice. I would urge all right thinking people to do the same. Hey everybody that's the site of the vanilla floods right there is God to keep me hanging on an old supreme song
down but a new way on JANDA man's new generation WIBC AM and FM. Hey by the way you'll be sure to listen with WIBC viewpoint. That's one day at 8:30 when Jason Roberts talks with Governor Ronald Reagan right here where news strikes first it happens to you on one big radio. OK what happened with a governor at your news conference on Monday you said that you didn't feel there was anything wrong in this country that would necessitate breaking the law in order to change the situation. Correct. That's right the civil rights movement as I recall progressed by breaking laws in the south getting tested in the in the courts can you see an analogous situation with the Vietnam war of Drano and I disagreed with the whole theory of civil disobedience because again you impose on the rights of others. It's very easy to say we're going to have a demonstration and it's going to be civil disobedience and you can make it sound as if all we're doing is going against the county supervisors or the city council's refusal to grant us a parade permit
and it doesn't stop there. Yes but if you have Daily News you said on Monday that quote I don't think there is anything that justifies a man taking the law in his own hand unquote. Let's imagine a hypothetical situation. In which an American is ordered by the government to go to war and kill people for what he considers inadequate reasons he feels that obeying the law would be totally immoral. After reading about the Nuremberg trials he decided that to disobey the law is the only just and moral thing to do. You think that such a man is quote justified in taking the law in his own hand. Well we have a provision in this country for the conscientious objector on the basis of religious scruples or belief. Conscientious objection only applies to people who are opposed to all wars. I'm talking about the person who is interested and would be interested in defending his country against foreign aggression and who would gladly to defend this country against
aggression if called upon. But this person also decided there are the wars which he cannot fight morally and that Selective Service Act does not allow for such a quote selective conscientious objection. But I have to say then that you're asking for a premise that I believe is untenable if we're to continue to have civilization and to have a law and order. Because what you're asking for then is the right of the individual to determine to his own satisfaction. When is the country endangered. And it may very well be that our country decides that it is better that a country is endangered and it's better to fight the war someplace else than on the shores of California or Oregon or even on the East Coast. Oh now you're saying that is that the law what the government says should be the ultimate thing in determining what an individual does. And I thought that this was specifically what was condemned at Nuremberg and that people who hold your point of view are convicted of crimes against humanity.
You're tying two subjects together here the rightness or wrongness of what was done at Nuremberg is a different issue and is wrong that long been debated regard to its rightness or wrongness but what I'm saying with regard to any law in a system that more than any other system that has ever been created by man gives the individual citizen the right of redress the right to protest the right of peaceful revolution at the ballot box and even provides not waiting for the ballot box on the Election Day by way of impeachment and recall. All of these things have been build in and what you really in effect are saying although you want to put it in the highly emotional area of peace and war and killing and not killing you are simply asking that we try to have a nation of laws and yet give the individual the right to choose which laws which national policy he will obey. And if you do that I don't see any other recourse but that we are reversing back to the war of who
can carry the business of who can carry the biggest club. I think you can make a distinction between laws which require somebody to go out and kill people. And laws which require him to work drive on the right side of the road and pay taxes to his government. I mean there's a clear distinction and what you seem to be saying is that moral values should have absolutely NO NO effect on whether or not a person does what his government says he should do. Well I mean you seem to assume that the government of the United States is always going to make the morally correct decision what about what are people like. The colonists who work by the law of the British and I swear I will set up this system of ours is because those people left a form of government in which they did not have redress or did not have the means of impressing their will upon the people. How would I know. And I'm sorry and I don't mean to say this but there are others with questions and you and I are conducting a debate here on one issue and I don't think that there is time permitting if we're to get to
the other questions. But let me just say this one thing if you're asking me to defend all the actions of the federal government. Then. You're looking at a fellow that will match you and top you with where I think the federal government is wrong. As a matter of fact I'd like to remove a great deal of their power from them. But I have to come down that if the government has any one excuse for being a government such as ours it's only excuse can be that you and I. All of us together have by way of a government pledge that we will collectively. Come to the aid of and collectively defend the rights the inherent rights the rights by birth of even the least individual among us. And this in some times leads to more and violence. And it is true that in any war we've ever fought there have been people who disagreed with the
rightness in being involved in that war. But we have said that as long this is one of the areas where majority does rule in this collective security idea. And I doubt that we could possibly have a situation in which only those people believe in the cause I can see this now with even those in military Tenet says we take a 75 and a fellow as a way to we take a vote to find out who wants to go. What do you determine if you don't find enough people who are morally committed to fight a war that perhaps that war wouldn't be worth fighting. I when I was elected our relation between what I do you get a majority of the people to agree with you that we shouldn't be fighting this particular war and I'm quite sure we'll stop fighting it. Alhamdulillah I have to have I have to move on because the time is moving on. Maybe I could ask one question which might satisfy some of the things namely Can you imagine any circumstance 968
quite aside under what you would like to be president the United States. I think that anyone looking. I think that anyone looking at that job would have to be out of his skull to want to be president of the United States. No I never I never wanted to be governor of California and I don't know. I wake up sometimes wondering how this happened I just about I just about had it. I just about had it made if you want a personal confession. I had a sort of a television set up there that was kind of subsidized retirement. I spent about five days a week at the ranch and it took a lot of soul searching and a lot of belief in some of the things that I've been expressing for me to do of what I've done. No I I have no answer to that because I just I don't foresee it and I don't anticipate it nor do I want it
on Vietnam. Sort of where you get with me. Get outside of the building. I think anyone I would take in his position have contacts with people that are directly from chorus from the industrial era were in and out of there. Yes a matter of fact he had a meeting with a couple of weeks ago I was hearing. I only have a few minutes to the next topic. This gentleman is from the Brazilian press. QUESTION So please let me
begin with you were talking about where you get your information on Vietnam and you mention that you get a lot of that from industrialist from the aerospace company called over solve specific problems which industrialists and there were also just wondering which people the scholars that you've been talking to. Well I shouldn't if I gave the impression. I don't think that they have that regular traffic back and forth. And it's just that there are people of your acquaintance and particularly in California where there are industries that are involved in that sort of thing we have defense industries in no instance Say has anyone ever violated the security of a certain point. You know it's one business but they tend to
have a certain attitude towards the world that's their business to make money on. You know there's a misconception and I'm I'm a little disturbed that it is as prevalent as it is because the plain truth of the matter is that by and large American industrial. Complex stands to to do far better in the case time economy than they do in war. There's just no question about this report from Iron Mountain. I don't know that I'm quite sure that you could find a viewpoint in anything I know that for a long years there has been what I think is a myth and this is the myth of the munition makers who are out pulling strings to create. I wouldn't say that but they're in such a business where they haven't
been that concept what I'm talking about. Yes ma'am. He had that same tone that you read in the dispatch is the same tone that you get from the military up to a few months ago. This is the context in which we're talking and this is the man a little frustrated me thinks things are going badly what are we doing. And suddenly in recent months the press men like this military exchange back and forth and friends that you have there's there's just a different attitude there's a confidence and an air of we're doing all right this is what is led me to believe that we've turned a corner that we are on the office to such an extent that there is optimism among those who are closest. Give us some idea of the talk. We're wondering what scholars talk going and reading people like
Bernard for rush hour and you have to go along with me here if I don't name names of the individuals in the educational structure in California. It would range from. This might sound strange that I'm acquainted with some of the intellectual community. But I am such independent institutions Cal Tech Stanford University but generally the most vocal against the war and most concerned about the many university communities and I wonder if you ever sort of reflect on this and wonder why the university should be a source of opposition to the war. Now I also have to take into consideration that these four days here out of nine thousand students will probably have an individual
more than 200. I would like to hear from the others around here. Very quickly large numbers of people. Members just the other day. Thirteen hundred members in sociology at universities across the country signed a petition opposing the war on moral or political grounds and talked about the dangers to our society like the respect and deference that of those professors. Maybe it's something that ought to be of concern to those of you who are getting the education regardless of his personal views. Doesn't professor have the obligation to simply teach you and expose you and let you make up your mind and not indoctrinate. I was happy that I was just asking you how you know. Maybe you're being indoctrinated but I think we've been indoctrinated from all sides from Time magazine to Ramparts magazine
and I mean the Protestant Republican newsletter. Getting back to to visit here again I've spoken to a lot of people who've seen you in the three days you've been here and I've seen you several times myself and the overwhelming impression of the people I've talked to get is is this they say you know you're an actor you appear very very persuasive but it's all as if it's it's coming out of something that's been that memorize that if they question you for more than five minutes you break down. And it's all very smooth but that it doesn't really convince them it was a headline in the news today. It started off an article I knew the actor and politics and it is a question that bothers me very much. I just I don't believe that you really have mastered the subject you're talking about. Well that's just I like to say I've I've I feel that these are certainly very sincere. I don't feel that you're acting as a member of the drama school. Particularly
if one were to try to act in front of a public group that's an entirely different kind of acting. You aren't doing that. I think you really are sincere. I do also have to worry about whether whether the discussion went a little longer than the quick answer. Remembering the details of some problems just to make me say something. As it was my feeling could I possibly memorize a script for a bunch of questions that I didn't know were going to the right however. Let me tell you something that you're done repeatedly in your class. First of all there hasn't been any class there's only five minutes long. We've certainly been here longer than five minutes but many of you have insisted on getting on to the subject get emotionally involved which is Viet Nam. Which is not really the province of the governor and there's
been a strange lack of wanting to get into detail about what have I done in California and I think no one here again I do not deliberately or willingly go out and volunteer stands on Viet Nam. This is one of the things that you should learn and Derek you ought to learn this most of all if you're going to pursue journalism there is a thing that. I've learned and now I guard myself a little better. There is no way to tell the public when they read the headline of the lead of the story how the subject came up. You go on a press conference you're going to make a speech you talk entirely on California and what you've done in the state government for the member of the press comes up and he wants to talk to you about Viet Nam and he asked you a question and you say to him as I said and any number of occasions well look this isn't really a state problem and it isn't the governor's problem you're asking me as an individual I'll tell you just as a citizen what I
feel about Viet Nam. But the headline comes out with nothing about what she said in the speech. They had land comes out. Reagan says a win in Viet Nam. Now the average person. Even your own people read this and I say what's he doing going up making statements about you and you didn't you answer the question why doesn't the reporter honestly say the governor was here to speak about the problems of California and was asked and did say that as a citizen his opinion was I don't say they're going to do it the other way. Why is it that each time you've spoken about civil rights you've talked about the integration of baseball Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson and it's become repetition repetition. And it seems to be a sad concept of civil rights but extends to the integration of baseball and the real problems or questions of housing. The question is I don't know and I let me ask you something. What is the Democratic machine in Chicago where you really really like Mitt Romney don't like Daley Daley What have they done compared to what we're doing in California and why don't you get down to some of the specifics
and some classes they have and I've answered. California is the only state I know in the union that has mobilized the entire independent sector and is actually with a program in the minority pockets and particularly at negroes as well as some other minorities but particularly there to solve the employment problem by way of good productive jobs involving job training on a state wide basis and is putting thousands and thousands of them in to find productive jobs. Why don't why did you ask that when when the president called a conference in Virginia some time ago on the problems of this kind in the state of California. The governor of California the governor was supposed to be represented represented his personal representative. I was the only one of the 50 governors who said a negro because he is my personal representative is on my staff. Why don't you ask that the first time in the history of the state of California. That a man that was not an officer an
enlisted man and a man that is a negro is the director in charge of all veterans affairs for the state of California right now. And we have heard you I'm a member we heard yesterday tell us about the some of the fine appointments you've made to Negro officials in your administration but we also asked you about for example marks and you told us about your business from friend Mr. Chairman Cleland who had gotten jobs for a number of negroes me found this very admirable. Johnson pointed out the high percentage of these Negroes moved out of Watts and the young man asked you then what about the remaining for the people in the inner ghetto the people watching aren't these ballplayers who aren't going to your administration what to do about them. And we didn't have an answer. Oh yes you did I told you that. Don't think that because I described that one program that now the social problem of those who are not that easily employable are trainable that we're neglecting at that all the other programs I told you are in effect there and working including some additional ones such as Operation Boot Strap and in others that are aimed at finding
the specific reasons for the unemployment and the problems and we are working on them. You might have been interested to know that I asked for and have legislation that has been passed that in what is an even greater minority in California and a minority that has a lower level of education a higher rated dropout. And a lower level of employment than the Negro is the American of Mexican descent and one of the great reasons that we discovered for this problem in the education of our children coming was heard the Spanish in their homes and we passed legislation now that we're going to put dual language teachers in those schools so that a teacher will be able to find out in the child's own language whether his inability to get a subject or get an answer is because of lack of language knowledge and thus can get the money. This is we have a number of things of this kind. But with regard to whether it can handle the job I would think that a voluntary early state of the visiting anyone is going to ask me and I didn't about some
of the things that have led to our ability to reduce a budget by one hundred twenty seven million dollars every year I mean I think you'll find that the students here will be described as liberal or liberal Democrats in many ways for many of the same same attitudes with your you know I'm very dissatisfied with the so-called you know liberalism of a person like Lyndon Johnson you know that to me in Democratic politics. But the problem comes down to I mean and we share many of the same anxieties and frustrations about the war but the problem comes down to solutions and ways to do it and it seems to us at least the choices are in a sense a retrogressive. You know the governor of California. I not only didn't declare the war I can handle it all. I mean the whole range of problems. Many similar you know attitude. But I thought it was a very good critique of the failure of public housing to meet the problems with your solution. Direction was to go back again to rely on private housing.
I said that I favor it and believe that because there seems to be a lack of nation in the area of public housing there. Lacks the motivation that makes any other human being take care of the place where he lives. I have some concern about the neighborhood and so forth. Crime is increasing always things I suggested why don't we start exploring and experimenting to find out why we like this. And I made the proposal why don't we experiment with injecting pride of ownership and try a public housing project at least try one in which we give the individual the actual ownership position correlate to the Percy plan. I never read it in detail but there might be some similarities but I don't like that one small question. Any more about it simply I was talking to the kids live across the street from you and you describe how you once brought a copy of Conscience of a conservative over to his father's rather liberal to read. And I wonder if we in turn will
send you just one of two books but you at least try twenty or thirty lessons under estimate. I try to tell you one day. I am only recently a Republican. I was a New Deal Democrat. I was the most bleeding heart of liberals you ever saw. I think I have probably as good an understanding as anyone does of the thought processes of the liberal. I was there I sat where you now sit and I do read both sides. As a matter of fact I have an inquiring mind. I may not have managed to catch up with as many of the most recent things but then I would have to tell you if I could ask Nancy to verify it for me. When you get to be governor one of the things that bothers you is that you find yourself at night. Larry this is one of those corrections in your state you find yourself with a briefcase of memorandums and reports that must be digested
because the next day decisions are going to be given a dozen. If I simply mean you would take it and you take it nicely I mean return. I'd be very happy to get them and I hope that usually I snatch chapters here and there something I'm trying to read other than the things that I always felt I knew what his response was going to be was going to be an okay type response. Did any of you ever see a situation work where students were able to shake it. Yes I saw one where he was pressed about the poor taking part in the poverty program and making their own decisions. And to this he said. That he didn't believe in the poor should participate. Didn't believe that anyone who couldn't control their own lives in their own destinies should participate in administrative decision making programs meant to help them control their destiny. The student then pressed him and asked if he didn't believe in letting the poor learn by doing. And he said he didn't know about letting people learn by doing especially when they couldn't control their own affairs. And then the student
responded with the governor for the last 11 months you've been learning by doing. And this stopped him for a little bit. But being again the word performance being an actor he recovered his poise quickly and went to another question. Lettered as if that was your job where you had a chance to see the governor during his whole visit and in the provocations and the publications I was there any difference in his pope in private or in public. I think the. Constant presence of the press the very vivid presence of cameras and newspaper men did make a good deal of difference and reduced him a little bit to. The formula that we're used to seeing him in to these the figure of the. Public relations product and. With students especially. He was much more. A human being who was reacting emotionally to some questions who would like to talk about some things and didn't
like to talk about other things like oh he didn't like to talk about Vietnam. He. Several times privately to me expressed great reluctance and a real sense as if he were up against a hopeless obstacle. Because it was what he said in public was that he didn't have access to all that LBJ Has he has actually just started up. The last day or so I hadn't heard that line before. Of course I know I get a very strange picture of the child because I hear his jokes 14 times or so of course of the week. And anybody would seem boring to me. By Thursday afternoon much of fellowship could have been any more a match I think he fared pretty well in the realm I don't know since it's my first job. Fellow Daily News today had quite a long article which was a student with just
satisfied that Reagan did not come so I don't know what you read but I wonder whether whether that was your experience. You know that having so little sympathy with him of course bent over backwards to try to to be impressed with him as a person or something. Now I heard from the members of one group. Who had had Goldwater. That Reagan was a much bigger hit. Now that surprised me because Goldwater always entertained me. Well I wasn't here for Mr. Wright did hear a few impressions of other people that saw. And they like they like Barry Goldwater very much to be completely candid. The comments ran something like. Barry was friendly. With Mr. Slick. And they considered him to be
more dangerous I think as a result. Yes one member of the faculty such meetings. No question in any other way to learn from these men. But I would think in all fairness you might also add that at no time was I free of questions that I'd been asked to answer and answered. He
has just been a happy experience and you know my joke about Frank Merriwell. I happen to be so that it's true. When I was a small boy I did read all the Frank Merriwell books and that's why I've never yelled for Harvard. See what I do. I want to thank you again. It's been provocative. It's been extremely interesting and I have to tell you Nancy and I have both talked about this since we've been here. Back when I was your age and sitting where you now said at least in the academic halls not this particular one I must say we did not have your interest in the affairs of the world nor did we have your fund of knowledge and your access to information about what's going on in the world and you
offer a very bright hope indeed for what's going to take place in the coming days we need you very much out in that world. Thank you. We.
Public Broadcast Laboratory
Episode Number
Ronald Reagan at Yale
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/15-94hmh6vt).
Segment Description
Documentary segment from an episode of Public Broadcast Laboratory about Governor Ronald Reagan's visit to Yale University. Reagan, a CHUBB Fellow at Yale's Timothy Dwight College, answers reporter and student questions on topics ranging from housing to conscientious objection and the Selective Service Act to his sources on information about Vietnam.
Asset type
Social Issues
Politics and Government
No copyright statement in content.
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 83704 (WGBH Barcode)
Format: Digital Betacam
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:34:45
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Public Broadcast Laboratory; 106; Ronald Reagan at Yale,” 1967-12-00, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 4, 2023,
MLA: “Public Broadcast Laboratory; 106; Ronald Reagan at Yale.” 1967-12-00. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <>.
APA: Public Broadcast Laboratory; 106; Ronald Reagan at Yale. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from