What is This?

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What is This?
I don’t mean to sound arrogant in calling this a history. It is a history through one tiny peep hole. These op-eds and letters to the editor deal mainly with West Virginia and the threats to our environment. I started limiting my editorials to environmental issues because the mining method called mountain top removal coal mining concerns me more than any other issue and the newspapers aren’t going to give me a weekly column to discuss all of my other concerns. I wish I could have written more about the way children are raised and their “education”. Racism has been a lifetime interest of mine as I have tried to work my way out of the osmosis-like absorption of my White culture’s prejudices—I imagine this has been easier to do in West Virginia than in the deep south states. War and the absence of peace in my lifetime has concentrated my attention and is a subject I would have liked to write more about—if I pause to list the wars, government overthrows and assassinations the United States has been a part of in my lifetime it goes like this: Second World War, Korean War, the invasions of Lebanon(twice), Vietnam, Cambodia, Granada, Panama, Dominican Republic, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and a proxy invasion of Cuba and a proxy war inside Nicaragua--missile attacks on the Sudan and Pakistan, bombing of Libya, Bosnia, Serbia and Cambodia. Add to those the overthrow of the governments of Iran, Chile(assassination of Allende), the Congo(assassination of Lumumba), South Vietnam(assassination of Diem) and Guatemala. I am sure I have left some out.

Boy, Was I Naïve!

The Morgantown Post, January 18, 1964

I had just started as the first full-time foreign student advisor at West Virginia University. I was 26 years old and just back from two years in the Peace Corps. Looking back I am amazed at what must have been a lack of concern about losing my job.
I thought the stupid, near fascist philosophy of right wing extremism was beaten badly enough in the last election to negate the possibility of such asinine and uninformed editorials as have appeared in your paper recently. In one of those so-called editorials you admitted that not only did you not know where Indonesia is but that you didn’t care either. From this I gather that you probably never went to school since most schools find it rather anti-intellectual to ignore in their geography classes a country with one hundred million people. I didn’t write to you at the time you printed that confession of your ignorance because I didn’t want the one person in Morgantown from Indonesia to be offended by such a public discussion and I was also somewhat chagrined by your outburst. More recently you printed more of the same reactionary garbage in an article entitled “Back Home in Indiana.” In that article you assumed that the major reason for our foreign aid program was to protect the free world. Did it ever occur to you that it is moral and good to give milk to a child that gets no other protein or to give a shot of penicillin to a child suffering from yaws? The men, women and children who receive this aid need it badly and they have never heard of the “free world” and couldn’t care less who wins the struggle as long as they can live to see tomorrow. We give this aid because it is what our moral and religious heritage has taught us is good to do for our fellow suffering human. The next time you think of printing such inhumane opinions stop to consider if your God isn’t coming out more like John D. Rockefeller than like a Jesus or a Gandhi. Must you gain from everything? Can you sacrifice nothing?
Barry Goldwater was defeated by Lyndon Johnson because many of us were convinced Goldwater was too dangerous and that he would bomb North Vietnam back to some prehistoric condition. Johnson’s TV campaign ads pretty much said Goldwater was crazy enough to use atomic weapons. Well, to our surprise our man Lyndon let himself pretend to believe the invented report that there was an attack on some very big American ships by a few very small Vietnamese motor boats. He used that phantom attack as an excuse to destroy the oil storage facilities in North Vietnam. This bombing eventually reached its peak with the B-52 carpet bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong. A Jew secretary of state ordered the massive Christmas Eve bombing of a Buddhist country’s capitol. Henry Kessinger was Ecumenical for sure.

The Sheriff’s Bumper Stickers

The Morgantown Post, May 6, 1964
Dear Sirs,

As a private, tax-paying citizen, I would like to comment on a campaign tactic I have observed in Monongalia County. I notice that the Sheriff’s cars have stickers advertising the campaign of one of our gubernatorial candidates. The Sheriff told me when I called him that he saw nothing unethical about this. He said he owned those cars himself and even bought the sheriff’s emblems that are on the doors.

I asked him if it is unethical to use a sheriff’s car for campaigning during the day when the people driving them were on official duty and when the taxpayers of this county were paying their salaries and seven cents a mile. He replied that one cannot operate a car on seven cents a mile and that he did not consider it unethical to juxtaposition the official sheriff’s emblem and the campaign sign. He said, patronizingly, that the car was his and that he had the right to campaign for whomever he pleased.

It seems to me that during the normal duty hours of an elected public official it is quite unethical to use a vehicle for both official county matters and political campaigning, regardless of who owns the vehicle.

The following two articles appeared side by side on the front page of the Daily Athenaeum, the student newspaper at West Virginia University. I was informed that the coach was going to write a column concerning the allegation that the Negro basketball players were told not to date White girls. I did not see the coach’s article in advance of publication.

This editor’s note preceded the two articles: In a sermon decrying campus apathy last Sunday, the Rev. Michael Paine mentioned Negro basketball players were warned against dating white girls. Here, the two sides of the issue are presented by Julian Martin as the source of Paine’s comments and by the head basketball coach.

Light Shed on Controversy

The Daily Athenaeum, November 4, 1966
On October 21, 1966, I sent a memo to some of my colleagues, including some of the campus ministers, in which I asked them if they would believe that the Negro basketball players had been told not to date white girls because it would be bad for the image.

Michael Paine included this information in his sermon after I confirmed to him that the information was true. I was informed that a group meeting had been called of Negro basketball players and that during that time it was made clear that the Negro basketball players should not date white girls.

It seems that this “understanding” was carried to the extent of calling in a Negro basketball player and asking him about the “white” girl he was seen with—ironically, the girl was white in color but Negro by our interesting method of classifying people.

This must make it difficult on the Negro student trying to figure out who is white and who isn’t, especially when about 85 % of southern “white” people have some Negro ancestry.

As this argument progresses don’t be surprised to hear such qualified statements as “the head coach didn’t make such a statement,” or “no one every said that to us.” But bear in mind that no one has accused anyone of making any particular statement. There are many ways to make a point clear without being direct—this is not to say that the Negro basketball players were not told directly, just that no one has made that accusation.

The sad part of the whole controversy is that in our concern with “image”, our culture is mainly concerned with how one dresses and how one behaves publicly rather than whether or not one is really spiritually and intellectually growing.

Why not encourage the Negro athletes to foster the “image” of the brotherhood of man across the state by being seen dating whomever they want to date without reference to race, color or creed?

Perhaps by copying the total “image” of the basketball team the youngsters of our state would not only learn to dress in a neat and clean manner but might also learn to grow up without harboring the subtle hate that prevents one race from dating or marrying another.

The Coach Speaks

The Daily Athenaeum, November 4, 1966
It is with great disappointment that I reply to public accusations of the administration of our basketball program.

To publicly portray a lack of mutual respect between player and coach and imply an unwholesome rapport between any individuals in our program without the courage or slightest effort to substantiate the facts with me is of great concern.

The word “alleged” cannot vindicate the total irresponsibility of this act.

We do not always expect to be correct, but as long as we reside in the United States, we hope that our position will be accurately determined before being held up to public scorn. It is distressing to have to defend young men who need no defense and an issue that never existed, but it is apparent that I must clarify an injustice.

My position in regard to the social life of our athletes has been clearly defined—for them and for anyone else who wishes to know. Their areas of responsibility are as follows:

1) Strict adherence to the training regulations.

2) Their appearance will be exemplary because they have pride in themselves and our program.

3) Their conduct will always be that of a gentleman representing a God-fearing and wholesome organization and the youth of our state would do well to emulate them.

These are the only areas of their lives we try to influence.

We have complete confidence in their ability to manage their own personal lives as they have proven this without question to anyone who has had the pleasure of contact with our young men.

No university possesses a coaching staff or squad that strives harder than ours to attain success in our field of competition and we do not apologize for that. However, as long as I am directing the program, we will never lose sight of the important role we have in projecting the image of our University and state.

Millions of people will see, hear or read about our program. These same people may never see our campus, meet our president or speak with our students and faculty. They will probably not know how many volumes are in our library and, in fact, may never set foot in our state. To these people we are more than just individuals who play basketball—we represent a university and a state.

I confess that our program is guilty of being concerned with image and it has and will continue to bring pride to our school and our state both on and off the court.

Te preserve the dignity of our program, there will be no more statements or contributions to perpetuate this “alleged” controversy.

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