Perspectives on Violence; 2
We on the. WB Jacey FM in Baltimore presented the Johns Hopkins University annual undergraduate project the Milton S. Eisenhower symposium 13 part conference on the United States in the 1970s perspectives on violence. Today's featured speaker is Dr. Henry Steele come under the introductory speaker is Dean Rudolph.
I welcome you to the second lecture of the Milton S. Eisenhower supposing in 1970 the United States in the 1970s perspectives on violence. Our speaker today is a distinguished American historian who was educated at the University of Chicago and the University of Copenhagen. He has how the position of professor at many prestigious educational institutions including the pip chair at Cambridge University the arms with chair at Oxford University and they got him a professorship at Upsala. He has served as a lecturer at the University of Jerusalem and the University of London among others and with special State Department lecturers of German universities in 1954. A member of the Academy of Arts and Letters he has received numerous citations and honorary degrees in this country and abroad. He is editor in chief of The Rise of the new American Nation series author of the well-known book The American mind. A study of recent American thought and character and has written and edited extensively in the areas of American political science history and sociology. He
has not confined himself to purely academic writings but has attempted to reach a wider audience through articles in periodicals such as the Saturday Review and The New Republic. This gentleman was one of the earliest critics of American war policy in Indochina. Thank you 36 you have held the Winthrop Smith professorship of and American history at Amherst College in Massachusetts and the other my cochairman Steven Hanka and my associate chairman Peter he reeling and recalls him. I present this distinguished scholar Professor Henry Steele commenter. We. See. Mr. adoring President Eisenhower. Ladies and gentlemen of the Johns Hopkins University community. Almost all of the commentaries run into studies of violence in America
defined violence narrowly and describe it in conventional terms. Violence is commonly thought though not universally equated with lawlessness. It is almost always physical in the ostentatious sense of inflicting bodily harm or physical damage at a particular moment. But violence as we know it is or can be something quite different from this. To strike a child is quite clearly to do him violence what shall we say of condemning him to work eight or ten hours daily in a textile mill to live was pretty violent but so we say of keeping him in slavery for a lifetime to condemn a woman or a child who are rat infested sale for no fault or crime is clearly violent but so too is condemning hundreds of thousands of women and children to rat infested slums and Harlem or Watts for
years or for a life time. The report of the National Commission on the causes and prevention of violence. And. Devote substantial space to the history of violence. It does not have branches it could not address as hell to these and similar manifestations. The effective destruction of the Indios for example or slavery the exploitation of immigrants and of women and children in industry and so forth. It does so it has ever been and so it still is. In our general consciousness. It is the Indian attacks on White Settlement. King Philip says we're on the Deerfield massacre that get attention in the textbooks rather than the systematic destruction of the Indian by warfare. Smallpox and whiskey are by the starvation which followed from the seizure of their lands and the killing off of the buffalo. It is a slave up
risings the Denmark beezy a pharaoh that turned a rebellion that commands attention rather than the savage reprisals against slaves for real or imagined injuries or the systematic violence inherent in slavery on almost every plantation in the south. So it is even today no one can examine the Walker report of the riots in Chicago in mid summer of 1968 without concluding that the police perpetrated more and more senseless violence against demonstrators and bystanders then the other way around public opinion and the court blamed the demonstrators. No one I think can study the recent Scranton report on what is called the CAn't day tragedy without realizing that it was the National Guard that was guilty of reckless and unjustifiable violence toward students not the other way around
by the Portage County grand jury exonerated the guard and indicted the students. It is sobering that this had been this is a bit histories of violence almost everywhere embrace such chapters of history as genocide against the natives of Mexico in Peru. Which reduce their population perhaps 20 to 3 or 4 million or the slave trade brought all together some poor millions of black from Africa to America. Nine tenths of them should be added to Brazil and the Caribbean. You just do not commonly include the story of child labor However in the mines and the mills of Old England are of new. The exploitation of women in factories and in domestic service. The denial of education to millions of children. The condemnation of immigrants to get hellos and slums in the great cities of the Atlantic seaboard. The assaults by
respectable society on what Theodore Parker call the perishing and dangerous classes. But humans takes many forms. Our day they speak testified to the variety of meanings we read into the word. Thus we speak of violating Kara Torii violating a treaty violating a promise or an oath or a law. Literature is filled with references to the violence of party passion. Philosophy rebuked those whose notions violate logic or violate truth. When we speak of violating the rights of man what's a paver a craze of Americans that term had reference to more than the use of deliberate force embrace to victual misconduct by government or by society it covers precisely such episodes as those in Jackson Mississippi or at Lamar South Carolina. Such conditions as those described by Oscar Lewis in his study of the Sanchez family by Claude Brown and his movie Manchild in the Promised Land.
The elementary fact which glare was upon us from every chapter of our history and starts up at us out of every page of my daily papers. Is that the majority of manifestations of violence in our history and in our society have been and I think still are official in America violence is planned in the best routes of respectability and armored with the authority of law. You take it took and still takes a form customarily of assaults on the weak and the helpless. And the whole of society. Sure generations it is violence against the native peoples. Violence against Negroes violence against immigrants against women and children against the perishing in dangerous classes and against nature herself. Official violence characterized American policy
toward the native races from the beginning of our history in Virginia in the Bay Colony on a hundred front hears from those of New England and the Carolinas. To those of the farthest west the story is too familiar for reputation. The greatest example of genocide in history certainly until the Nazi destruction of the Jews was that which Christian Europe inflicted on the Indians. If the English killed off you were Indians and did the Spaniards that was because there were few word of his own. They did a pretty thorough job on what they had and continued to do a thorough job long after there was even the faintest justification for murder and destruction. Thus the massacre of the Conestoga Indians by the Paxton boys in 1764 the cruel Indian removals by Jackson in the 1830s. This was official the Blackhawk war with this monstrous massacre of women and children of the sun when the battle tribes the shipping to massacre all saw women and children in
1864 as nice and I was speaking of guns and gun control. Two days ago I'm reminded of the report of the Colonel who was at the chimney to massacre and who said in a never to be forgotten phrase when he was shooting one of the children. I did not want to shoot him with my Springfield rifle. It cut them up too much so I shot him with my revolver. Shooting him massacre the massacre of the Soon the next passe and so on to the very end when the Indian was finally caught up in reservations even today we are still taking their lands away from them. Interspersed in most a continuous display of violence we can see some of those features that were to possess and characterize so much of our history. First the mixture of the private the semiofficial and the official with everywhere a general public comment. So what was done.
Second the almost invariable application to this violence of a patina of moral justification. It was all the will of God for the Indians were heathens and probably children of Satan. It was manifest destiny for Providence itself meant that America should expand from sea to sea. It was even legal for an inferior people have after all no rights permanently to occupy land and to deny access of people of a higher civilization from the beginning to it was justified by the application of that double standard which we carry and apply even today. The roots of a double standard one for symbolized nations of Europe the other for the backward peoples of the rest of the globe are of course an old world philosophy and the standard flourished for 400 years in the Old World and in the new. It was applied enthusiastically by the Spaniards in Peru with the British and Indian slave traders in
Africa. Most of Europe in China it is rather out of date now but we still cling to it in Vietnam. The second pervasive and resistant manifestation of violence in America is also still with us. Violence against nature. No other people in history with the possible exception of the Arabs have rabbies then that kill resources so ruthlessly and so speedily as have the American Lake area is Dead Lake Michigan is dying 100 smaller lakes like the once lovely Onondaga in upstate New York are chemical cesspools fish are driven from our rivers and our lakes a shad no longer swim in the PD or the perch in Lake Erie. Lobsters are dying off the coast of Maine from DDT in Alaska seal from mercury poisoning all the birds have all but disappeared in many parts of our country. Even the countryside a prey to insect invaders by what authority we may
ask of corporations indulge themselves in destroying the resources of the country. But by the authority of power. Can this process be properly called violence. Clearly we have violated the land in the flora and fauna of the land which is not ours to violate but belongs to those thousands of generations whose future glory. Move Jefferson to such rapture if this destruction were perpetrated by a single individual. If Let us say a trustee destroyed a forest. Which was under his fiduciary protection or killed off a herd of cattle. Which he was required to conserve the violence and the criminality would be universally acknowledged and punished in any court of law. When Americans have been doing for two centuries and they continue to do it on an even more audacious scale is to destroy the inheritance of future generations and the fact that hundreds of millions of children are being deprived
of their just inheritance by those who no longer are faithful to their fiduciary obligation merely magnifies the criminality of it a thousand fold. The third largest. The third largest chapter of violence tells a tragic story of violence called The Negro. For two centuries a slave for another century as a freedman. It is the ostentatious expression of violence here that always aroused our indignation the violence inflicted by those who appear in Uncle Tom's Cabin and a hundred other abolitionists. The violence of some 5000 lynchings in the south between 1882 and the end of the 1920s the race riots run out of New Orleans in the 1860s St. Louis and Chicago. In the 20th century. But as various properties did twenty five
hundred years ago there are things in hotter than there are more shameless. If we assume that the only violence against blacks was the violence of the whip and the branding iron in the packets we may congratulate ourselves that violence against blacks is a thing of the past but the violence which whites inflicted on the blacks was a day after day affair year after year and generation after generation and the violence of imposing inferiority on fellow man of the denial of manhood in women hood. The violence of poverty and ignorance the social contempt. Much of this exists not in the South alone. As the negroes know but in Harlem and while in Philadelphia and Washington in every industrial city of the country this is the violence that is rooted deep in the minds and hearts of the American people. That has been nourished by mis education and pride arrogance for 200 years. There isn't a girl who is a negro alone who has
been the victim of a pixel amount of official violence. The Mexicans are Puerto Rican XE Orientals even minority groups among immigrants the Irish the Italians have suffered the indignities and other forms of violence for long periods of time. The melancholy record to step forth in a hundred volumes from Jacob Riis's how the other half lives to Oscar Lewis's children of Sanchez. These are the poor and the weak the perishing class or the dangerous classes. We received them to be sure the tired the poor the huddled masses yearning to breathe free in them allows us a great poem and gave them freedom from the worst of tyrannies and persecution where we inflicted violence upon them which was not so much out of malevolence as out of thoughtlessness and ignorance and greed. It was easier to exploit them to welcome and the process of Americanization as we are now coming to recognize was long and arduous. Fourth violence against minorities is
dramatized in the statistics of crime but crime itself is often a form of class struggle. We could say that class struggle commonly takes the form of crime. When we know that the number of negroes arrested and convicted of crime is wildly disproportionate to their numbers. We cannot conclude that Negroes have some innate propensity to crime but must rather conclude that crime is a form of protest against a ruling class that the private perishing classes of equal opportunities in their work and education in the benefits of society and imposes upon them ceaseless humiliation and degradation is all symbolized in the ghetto in the slum. We must conclude too is that the disproportionate number of arrests and convictions reflect a double standard applied almost instinctively by police one propose one quite respectable and prosperous. Another for those who are not white do not appear respectable and are clearly not prosperous. What
is true of violence against the blacks is coming to be true of violence against the young. This is something new in American experience. In the past the young in America were pampered and exalted. Ours was a society where it was taken for granted the only one I believe in history. That a new generation would be better a stronger clever and better educated than its pretty sad stories and this in fact was true. That mood alas has passed temporarily I trust has been supplanted by an ugly mood which looks upon the young with suspicion malice and envy and equates a comedy degree with a criminal record. The dis. The disproportionate number of criminals are alleged criminals among the young is not as our vice president would have us suppose an indication of some special perversity. It is perhaps an expression of a kind of class warfare waged with miscellaneous
weapons. Often those of violence between the generations but is not crime are concerned with violence. It is I think fairly clear that much of the crime of minority groups of the young is itself a product product of violence that the so called criminals are often the victims of violence both before and after arrest. That in many cases it is so CYA. It was already perpetrated ie preliminary violence against them. This is sometimes true and naked and unashamed fashion. Thus for example the physical attack on a group of Black Panthers by the police in Brooklyn and Brooke in a Brooklyn courtroom. So far no one has been arrested or punished for that. Thus it is again to oppression our minds to bear thinking about the affair at Kent Ohio where national guards killed four young people and the grand jury returned indictments in a Kafka esque mood of those who never read Kafka I'm sure.
I need not been he said. Broad area of violence in American history never wholly official but for the most part by public opinion has been directed against religious minorities. The Quakers in the colonial era press to death of town denied rights according to August 19th century the Catholics were often the victims of such violence as the Know Nothings inflicted upon them witness the burning of the Ursuline nunnery in the West it was the Mormons. More pervasive in prison however than religious violence has been industrial is subject sufficiently familiar to all of us. Here again it is fair to say that leverages been on the whole the victim of violence rather than the perpetrator. And then most of the violence directed against Labor has come from authority from the police the state through the National Guard or from appreciably recognised private police forces like the Pinkertons. What is with the history of slavery it is not primarily in the story of a lovely
massacre. The War of the Colorado coalfields the violence of the homestead in that Pullman and gusto Nia. It is not here that we trace the impact of violence it is rather in that done to the least of these to the women and children working in factories and mills for the families living in wretched company houses on credit. Grudgingly extended by the companies at enormous rates of interest. And denial until just the other day denial. A compensation for industrial accidents is an industry that thought of all the way up in politics fought in the court of law after 900 12 were lost. Jeff let me put on the back you will hear him in the long hours of labor of late as the 1920s steelworkers worked a 12 hour day in a seven day week until one thousand twenty eight hours in the textile industry average from 60 to 80 for a week. Even for the women and children who constituted a large
part of the labor force of an individual created the 12 year old child US corporations treated their child labor even into this century we will call the police. The fact that the abuse of children in factories and mines was not generally recognized as violence by those responsible for it is no more persuasive than the fact that slave owners generally insisted that slavery was a positive blessing for all concerned. Finally there's the violence of war. War is always and everywhere violent and it cannot be argued that Americans have been more guilty here than others. But it can be said that some of the wars in which the United States has been engaged run necessary and therefore it is usable. And it can be said that there was less excuse for Americans to resort to war than for most people or we were from the beginning a nation dedicated to isolation from the wars of the Old World. Dedicated to the subordination of the military to the civilian and to the search for peace. Certainly our
Indian wars were for the most part wholly unnecessary and were conducted with an excess of violence and a barbarism. The Mexican War it is now generally conceded was unnecessary carried on again. We have far beyond its original bounds and purposes the Pilipino war which most Americans have forgot who was all but inexcusable and was attended by the use of concentration camps to torture prisoners and barbarism. Much like that which attends our war in Vietnam. Of that more later. Let me turn then to some inquiry into Can I say an explanation of this extraordinary situation. The search for causation in history as we all know is where every event has at least a thousand and he says most of them hidden from the prot Krajina of the historian. We are however able to distinguish some aspects of our experience that may illuminate the American propensity toward violence. We are all
of us creatures and even prisoners of the past. Even those who rebel against the past can pass there by their dependence upon it. As Emerson put it it is in his essay on the conservative the past has been a little first in the words of Lewis Mumford. The settlement of America was the settlement of Europe first that is the up rooting the transplanting the rupture of the existing fabric of society the breaking of the cake of custom. Think what it meant to pull up roots and travel thousands of miles to a strange land second inextricably connected with the first with the absence of most of those institutions which had formed the foundation and provided the framework of society which held society together and gave form and meaning to life. We must not exaggerate from the beginning Americans being her only kept to recreate an orderly society to erect barriers against the wilderness and against barbarism. They built
churches set up schools established certainly in New England from little communities instituted government tenant forest laws and they created an orderly and law abiding society. But none of this could stand against the lure of the wilderness and of the land or prevent the violence of Indian warfare or of the destruction of family and community ties or of the ravaging of the soil. A third consideration illuminates I think the habit of violence in America and that is the special nature of American idealism and the concept of American uniqueness. I have in mind it deeply rooted notion of New World innocence and old world depravity to which I have already replied that great theme which runs like a scarlet thread through so much of American history from the Jeffersonian rejection of Europe to modern isolationism occurred a celebration of American innocence and virtue to the more profound and subtle explorations of that theme by Henry James
The Myth of that show superiority and the myth of uniqueness joined to form and sustain that double standard because for so long been one of the most striking features of American con and American character. As we were a special people creating in the New World a New Zion. We were not to be judged by the standards by which other nations were judged. What is imperialism in other nations was manifest destiny in America and what was classic Christian class society elsewhere was here but the normal operation of the economy and a private enterprise. Other nations should submit their disputes to international tribunals as we want did but that no longer applies to us not in any event in the disputes in the Caribbean not in the disputes in Southeast Asia. Other nations should forego the dangers of nuclear weapons and what China detonated her first nuclear bomb. President Eisenhower said it was a dark day for humanity but we are so far the only nation on the globe that has
ever used a nuclear weapon in war and we have the largest of all nuclear stockpiles. This is not relevant. There's no danger and if we would ever misuse our power Germany and Japan are bound by rules laid down by and formulated by the Nurnberg tribunals ended japanned War Crimes Commission. But these do not apply to us so said our secretary of defense just a week ago. We are the most humanitarian of the nations in our humanitarianism can be taken for granted we need not sign the international agreements on the use of chemicals and gases that bind other nations. We signed the convention for human rights as we have not yet. In other areas to the double standard taken for granted. We felt no such indignation when twenty seven thousand Marines invaded Santa Domingo to control an election there as we did from Russians invaded Czechoslovakia. For much the same reason.
China is not a peace loving nation. And even now we are mustering all our resources to keep out of the United Nations. But we even though our nuclear bases all bordering China and Russia and I command both the Mediterranean the China Sea and we spend more on the military than any other nation. We are by definition a peace loving nation. It is pointless I think to elaborate on anything so familiar but it's relevant to emphasize the relationship of these myths to the problem of violence. What they do is in a sense make violence give it a curious kind of moral quality. Another of our original virtues of Likewise been exploited for purposes of Advent dice and the explanation of exploitation has often been attended by violence. I refer to the principle of equality of opportunity and the celebration of enterprise from the beginning America put a premium on individual ism.
It held out the promise of limitless rewards to those who displayed enterprise it promised the millennium without actually producing it. Private gain was identified with public those who conquered the soil and built railroads factories where public benefactor as indeed they often were but they were public benefactors no matter how they did all this law was expected to accommodate itself to progress and from the beginning there was a premium on certain kinds of lawlessness. You porous lawlessness among the young today does not I believe deplore the lawlessness of the Boston Tea Party or the evasions of customs regulations that parliament imposed on Americans or even the malpractises of pioneers who squatted on royal land or proprietary lands or of the dissenters who floated the requirements of religious conformity and the authority of the Established Church. What was true of the early chapters of our history remained true for later chapters.
It was inevitable that in a new country there should be a premium on aggressiveness. So there was in the Spanish dominions in America but their government and the church speedily established their authority and impose their own kind of law. Americana very different inheritance and a different philosophy. It was at the beginning the philosophy was Tom Paine summed up in an epigram government he said light dress is a badge of lost innocence. One really comes home to your generation. Government was by its very nature dangerous and should be kept to a minimum. But our government was weak and was expected to be weak. Where indeed it was often looked upon as the enemy of freedom. It was an irresistible temptation for society to take the law into its own hands. The vigilante tradition in America what Tocqueville early identified as a tyranny of the majority is not a manifestation of depravity but an almost inevitable product of the philosophy that that government is best which governs least by us breaking
but not surprising paradox. This principle flourished along with the counter principle that the majority has a right to impose its will on minorities and dissenters and non conformists for the voice of the people is after all the voice of God. This partially explains of course the situation is more complex than a simple explanation can suggest complains of resistance of the American habit of people taking the law into their own hands. The vigilante goodish of the West now are pretty generally admired by Americans. The lynchings in the south the acceptance by large elements of our population of the antics of the Ku Klux Klan the tolerance for the lawless use of governmental power. I do not call that authority by Amy Palmer. After the first world war or by the McCarthyites after the second the English do not take the law into their own hands because they have confidence in the ability of their police and their courts to enforce the laws.
We apparently have lacked such confidence or have not been willing to concede that power. Find the most important of all is an explanation of the present crisis in America is the power and the example of government. It is a common place within a democratic society government reflects the moral standards of the people. It is not perhaps sufficiently appreciated that in such a society the moral standards of the people will reflect those of the government. Resort of our government to violence is nothing new witness a prolonged come by us against the Indians as an expression of official policy or the violent ousting of Mexicans from their territory but never before has violence on a massive scale been so deliberately adopted by our government as now when we are all fearful of violence. Never before has it been so Sabra stubbornly maintained so defiantly justified. Never before what is
popularly called overkill. Has it been so triumphantly elevated to official policy. Of what use is it for the president to authorize and perpetrate this violence in his capacity as commander in chief and then deplorable violence on the campus or in racial demonstrations in his capacity as president. Americans like all people here because they have a long tradition of freedom in access to information and other people to this what they see is a government whose leaders are resorting to intense violence justifying that violence can only be designated as irrational and brushing impatiently aside conclusive evidence that the violence which are practices is held to be criminal by the very courts we ourselves set up just a quarter century ago and that the war we fight and the quasar wars we conduct. Are all but universally regarded
as violating international law. If there is one conclusion that seems to be inescapable it is a violence in the United States will not abate until we have a band we repudiated the kind of violence we practiced in Asia. Violence is a seamless web as was said centuries of slavery that those who wouldn't slave others must first in slaves themselves. So we can say that those who visit wanton violence and destruction on others will find violence and destruction at home. If this analysis of correct it suggests some of the following First the futility of most of the current attacks on violence to simplify the problem by reducing the want to permissiveness all of the breakdown of moral standards or the natural depravity of the young.
Well might we say as we contemplate the ravaging of nature the gross injustice of our social economic establishment the conduct of war in Indochina. Look who is talking about discipline. Second of utility have tougher laws tougher cops tougher national guards and tougher judges as a remedy for anything. I'm a somewhat more sophisticated level the futility of the reversal of Miranda and the reinterpretation due process of law by the Supreme Court but this approach does not even pretend to get at the causes of violence in the United States it merely promises more violence and more lawlessness. Indeed it is it is it South lawlessness as the defiance of due process. The very structure of the foundation of civilization and of civility is the structure that you have lawlessness. The futility of your moral admonitions of clarion calls for discipline of unifying
Dr. Spock for example was as unlikely a Speak go to ever live or college professors collectively. There is no thing just likelihood that the problems that confront us will fold up and go away because we invoke a new and more alliterative rhetoric. There is no there is no alternate solution to the problem of violence or a propensity to violence is deeply embedded if not in human nature at least in Western Europe. But it will be a counsel of despair to conclude that there are no ways to mitigate our current crisis. We cannot risk right to shift our fascinating game from the mere manifestations of violence to its underlying causes. We can at least try to deal with those forces which appear to account for our violence. First we should assist Henri of equality political legal for the Negro. If he was assured of this he could I think be trusted to
achieve economic and social equality in time with equal access to the polls and with the assurance of equal protection of the law is something he does not now enjoy. He will be removed from the category of the majority or majority officials can savage with impunity. Second we should recover that sense of fiduciary obligation to posterity that animated the generation of the founding fathers. And because I do not believe me or their admonitions write it into law. We should make it impossible for private individuals or corporations offer our own governmental agencies like the Corps of Engineer of the Atomic Energy Commission to continue the pollution and destruction of our natural resources. Third we should abandon our current military malpractises return to the traditional principle of practice of the subordination of the military to the civilian authority. And what is more to the point the subordination of military to civilian interests and thinking.
We should cease providing our own people in the world the spectacle of massive violations of this country's violations of neutrality by the CIA which operates in 61 countries violations of international law the United Nations charter and restore that respect for the supremacy of the law that characterized us through most of our history. Fourth we should abandon the double standard of morality for private and public conduct for individuals and for corporations for national and international policy. That makes a mockery of much of our declamations against domestic violence and of our pretension to moral leadership in the world. The care to preserve society wrote the great jurist is the source of all law. It is a function of the purpose of all law is where. We use power and even law today at home and abroad to fragment society. We do it as on the domestic arena and even more
violently on the global. We cannot preserve even our society unless we commit ourselves to the preservation of society everywhere. Hungry and disease hunger and disease not an actual book. And so to the violence that they spread pollution is not a national book. We cannot pollute our own waters or sky without polluting the waters and skies that belong to all mankind. Science and education are global and even today we have learned in the marginal manifestations of unrest in the universities. We cannot by force ourselves from the great community of learning openly flout that ever memorable victim of Edward Jenner. That should be so precious said an institution at Johns Hopkins with his ever famous medical school that the sciences are never at war. What Jefferson admonished us in his first inaugural address that we should restore that harmony of affection. With liberty and even life itself. Very things
should be our guiding principle in the world as on the domestic stage. You. See. We. See. We. See. Ah. Professor comma juror has agreed to answer questions from the audience to entertain questions from the audience. Dr. Adam Howard in his speech advocated all registering all handguns needed for professional purposes and complicating all the others. And I want to how you as an historian and expert on the Constitution I soon would feel about that.
Wife I agree of course how can you do otherwise. As far as the constitutionality of it goes all things been tested in the courts and the test of the soul of honor and sustained it is absolutely clear that the guarantee of the right to bear arms is connected with the with the the existence of the militia and the right to maintain a militia it is not an independent and abstract right granted to everyone. It seems to me a matter even beyond debate. Ah. It'll. Be relative lack of violence shown by the American people during the Depression and which was Prime very one period of depression and depression. Relative like I suppose that is a fair enough statement though.
There were nearly Needless to say all sorts of local outbreaks such as the milk war in Iraq for example of the march bonus Bonus Marchers here and there the shanty town set off in many places on private property or on public property. I just picked the answer is if there is an answer to a question of that kind that. The. Election of Mr. Roosevelt to be sure it was three years the election of Mr. Roosevelt created a sense of hope and confidence in the people. That. May persuade him to believe that these problems could be solved by the orderly process ease of the law. It is when Americans come to the desperate conclusion. That a lawyer cannot or more often will not deal with these problems that they tend to take in their own hands. Serve as one who is guarded in the accepted uniform of
violence. I with trepidation stepped to the microphone. First I would like to comment that I adore your litany of violence which is characterize the history of mankind too including today and deplore it as you do. Do I deduce from your remarks today that you favor the violence that is now being manifested by the young people of the disenfranchised and discriminated against blacks because they are violating it via being violent against the government which is in your mind not just psychology. The question rather shocks me and I want to do is get at the roots of it. Yes Phoenician I wouldn't try to try to remove those things that drive me into violence drives into hysteria drive them to desperate acts of desperation. We're not going to get out just by punishing everyone who throws a rock or by shooting them. We're not going to get at it. As I said by moral
admonition you're going to get by finding out what it is that drives them to these things again. Oh yes the misery ze injustice is a denial of constitutional rights the waging of a war which most of them think is immoral and unjust. These are the things that account for basing violent I do not believe the vast masses are people are naturally as violent as that. There are always a certain percentage of those who violate laws with impunity. But there's always a certain percentage of those who violate respectable gentleman or violate laws with impunity. We look at most of these matters to some degree of us stigmatism reading the other day about the city and is in there in Michigan some years ago in the development of city NS and the sit in of students and administration buildings. It occurred to me that when I go to New York I find not only respectable culture respect ultra respectable gentleman going on Cadillacs and Lincoln Continentals sitting in on every one of the non parking streets in New York and blocking traffic there.
That is that is if you will know that the violence against the people of New York City against me when I want to get the train to the station on time and in it is an act of violence which is accepted as proper because it has eroded the aura of respectability. If all of the spaces taken by every parked car that was parked illegally on all the side streets of New York were occupied by students of Columbia University the administration of New York would not look upon it with it with indifference as they look upon the other with indifference. But I want. What I want is a fair and equitable an enforcement of law all equally equally against all. Against the malefactors of great wealth as well as the poor. And I do not think we are going to get. Laws. Of. A lawful. Society until those in power obey the law as well as those not in power.
And the others here as violence the youths and the blacks in the past of the Indians was a result of repressive violence by governments and other more powerful forces. What brought on this original violence. Why these more powerful groups and the absolute original violence that brings on this other chain of violence. Not quite sure I follow you here. Violence toward the Indian was a might almost say spontaneous. Governments on the whole supported Indian warfare but it went down without governmental support and all sorts of problems here are fighting and all sorts of massacres of one kind or another. They vary in the story of India and the relations of the Europeans or the Indians with a long and complex one. We might start with the elementary fact that there's a great deal of doubt in the minds of Europeans that the Indians were human bein's they were conjured up as some new species of a creature not precisely human.
It took a paper ball in the end to decide that they had souls and therefore could not be killed with impunity. The greed of the European court to get at the precious metals or the expected pressure of metals in the New World accounted for a large part of the genocide which reduced the population of Mexico all from and an estimated 12 million to an estimated 2 million in a single generation and reduce the population of Peru correspondingly. In the in North America it was access to the land rather than to precious metals that was at stake. And as we know the land hunger the Land greed of the western pioneer was insatiable. The government made very feeble efforts to control Indian relations it did from time to time make such efforts. But again and again it cooperated with. Greedy public as in Georgia for example to the Indians and send them west in the Indian
Removal to what is now Oklahoma or cooperated with the Illinois in the Blackhawk war and things of that kind. What explains this I suppose is like asking what explains our attitude toward the Vietnamese as gooks deeply ingrained and perhaps even in the Radical have of European whites to regard other races into inferior. The conclusion that the Indians must be inferior because they had no civilization and no no knowledge literature lost because they were not Christians and the recognition of the fact that they were there and in the way. After I say after they were disposed of the counter philosophy of the noble savage moved in and you get this paradoxical situation and you get a paradoxical situation all through romanticism with respect to nature to what most spare that tree touched not a single bomb in youth that sheltered me and all protected now said the
pioneer as you would down as he read as he burned for the relief. And in. The end it was no but when he was in the way he was a good noble and the only good Indian was a dead Indian we had schizophrenia over the Indians for 200 years with us our literature. Well it's a big subject though I have a two part question. I think they are related in a way. The basic overall question is how do we make the police and the military responsible to the community and in the part about the military. I'd like to know if you agree with C. Wright Mills that the replacement of a of the draft with the establishment of a smaller more professional military might to put us in a worse position than we are now in. I think I should you know not and probably not a response to the US.
My offhand impression as you asked the group to say let's import the head of the London police system of Scotland Yard and set up the bobbies. After all they don't even carry guns they don't carry weapons. They maintain they maintain all law and order everywhere in England without the use of any of these weapons I don't suppose you do that now. The day has passed when we might have done it. We went on a different path in America and were paying a very high price for it. I don't think it's hopeless however in many communities in America the police are the friends of the community the friends of the children. What has happened in the last decade or so is not normal in American history is rather abnormal with respect to the police. And I see no reason why that good relationship between police and community wish it on the whole obtained through most of the month and into the 20th century which still obtains in most of the smaller towns in America cannot be restored. Now the other I'm
inclined to I don't know she right feels a particular argument. I'm inclined to agree with him if he is he writes as you indicate. I had grave misgivings about the subject to John of the ball here for a draft army. After all there's this to be said of a draft army that almost everybody is grafter hates the idea and it tries to get out of it as fast as possible come home as fast as possible. I think this is a very difficult question however I do not agree with the I did not I did not accept the statement of the young officer who asked the question. He was wearing a uniform of violence should not be the uniform of violence. It could be the uniform of law and the uniform of justice is no need for it to be misused. No one would call the soldier who wore out of the blue afraid you sixty one eye on a man wearing the
uniform of violence. I think we should not would none of us would call. Our Army and Navy in World War Two wearing the uniform of violence and the fact that we must keep our we must keep our keep our right. To avoid absolutes and avoid. Useless generalizations to avoid the absolute that all wars are bad or all wars are good. The absolute that never never never missed a university have anything to do with the government at war time. All of these absolutes are irrelevant. He's intelligent and educated institution and institution of intelligence does not accept these absolutes. The sum was a grafter when I think World War 2 was one of those wars. And I thought of to think of what might have happened in all parts of the world civilization as the Nazis and won that war. Some wars you don't have to win. There are indeed some wars you have to lose. I think the South
had loses because the civil war and I'm sure that is a popular statement in Baltimore where the seventh march through shot at by a by bystanders. And I think looking back on it most of us will agree that war was one of the wars that had to be lost. I think the war in Vietnam is a war we must to save our own souls or we must lose. And I think it's much. Much. I don't think we should base long. Conclusions. A marriage of this kind on a single chapter of history we must take take into consideration the whole of our history and the likelihood of the future not react so violent in the present war that we make what may be lasting mistakes such as that of divorcing the university from the government. After all every university in the country works for the government.
In World War 2 when I had to sort of every university in Britain or Britain might have gone under. We must not allow ourselves I say to fall back on your glib conclusions because we are faced with one kind of crisis. But keep in mind the vagaries of history and the checks at the next crisis will be able hold the difference they share. Well that is not a very sure that sure but I can't give conclusive answers to all these problems. If I could I'd be God. You stop at the point you keep it real. This has been perspectives on violence. Today's speaker was Dr. Henry Steele commenter presented under the auspices of Johns Hopkins University. This program was produced by the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting. Executive producer was Thomas Egil original theme music by Donal Schwartz editors were w Vince and clues. Richard
- Perspectives on Violence
- Episode Number
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Series Description
- The Perspectives on Violence radio program showcases a series of pre-recorded lectures from the 1970 Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium at Johns Hopkins University. Each episode features a speech from the thirteen part "Perspectives on Violence" conference. Speakers discuss the political, historical, and sociological issues related to violence in the United States in the 1970's. The program was produced by the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting and WBJC-FM Baltimore with the National Educational Radio Network.
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 71-1-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Perspectives on Violence; 2,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 6, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-s46h5n0j.
- MLA: “Perspectives on Violence; 2.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 6, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-s46h5n0j>.
- APA: Perspectives on Violence; 2. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-s46h5n0j