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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Dec. 15, 1969)
THE DAILY NEBRASKAN
MONDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1969
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Truth note on My Lai insures against future horror
by Sen. Edmund S. Muskle
Thanksgiving weekend I went to England to
address a Conservative Party conference and to
participate in a British Boradcasting Corporation
television Interview program. While there I had an
opportunity to talk with a number of political leaders
in the Conservative and Labour parties, and I was
questioned at length by British reporters.
The chief topic of Interest for Britons seemed to
be the alleged atrocities In Vietnam. This was the
subject of pictures and news accounts on television
and In the newspapers. The reports on My Lai had
shocked the British, partially because of their bitter
memories of the Hitler years, and partially because
they had never expected this of American troops.
At the an me time, I found considerable sentiment
among political leaders of both major parties In sup
port of the United States presence In Vietnam. It
seems clear that the margin of support for continued
1'nlted States Involvement In Southeast Asia Is higher
la the British Purllument than It Is In the United
States Congress. It Is almost as if the British expected
us to substitute for them as a major western force
In the Orient.
This is not to say that opposition to the Vietnam
wur is not strong. There is vocal opposition among
Labour members in the House of Commons and among
private citizens. That opposition gained a new focus
in the incident at My Lai.
I pointed out to my British questioners that the
incident at My Lai cannot be explained away as
an isolated act of brutality or as a simple by-product
of the Vietnam war. It is a problem which will
be around even when that war has ended.
The Incident at My Lai Is a terrible reminder
that man's capacity for Inhumanity cannot be
eliminated by a mere statement on behalf of human
rights or by an avowed devotion to democratic prin
ciples. The Incident was sickening and shameful. Those
who ure accused must be tried. Our country's official
and active opposition to such actions must be
But we must go beyond the specific trials to the
underlying questions of why My Lai happened. We
must take steps to prevent further incidents of such
Inhumanity. That is why I have suggested that we
establish a special commission to investigate tbe pro
blem and to report to the country.
It would be easy to write off the Incident at
My Lai, to hang it on our own personal preconceptions
or why It happened. That might satisfy our desire
for a scapegoat, but It would not enable us to unders
tand and to avoid such horrors in the future.
If we are to insure the survival of the democratic
traditions of human dignity and individual worth, we
must learn better how to forecast and avoid
developments which lead to the My Lais of our world.
What we learn about the perils of conflict, confrontation
and hatred, which can let loose man's capacity for
cruelty and destructlveness, can help other nations
avoid such problems. They need to understand what
we have learned: it can happen here.
Tht LMgar Syndic, Inc.
Here it is, almost the end of the "Soaring Sixties"
and journalists everywhere are turning out recaps
of the News Highlights from that Fabulous Decade,
or entrancing us all with predictions about the Future
of the Human Race. Yes, it's time for journalists
to prove how brilliant they are, to show how much
about Our Society they know, and to beguile us all
into thinking that, with enough facts and informed
comment, we can all understand what's going on.
Everyone, of course, tends - to overestimate his
own importance, but the sad thing is that so many
people believe the journalists; even if people are
uninformed, they kowtow to the power of Information.
Well now, I've already managed to slip Into the
old Facile Generalization, so I'd better stop right
away before I get carried away into a veritable
sermon. Of course I'm supposed to be turning out
some mind-nourishing swill because of my vast ex
perience and superior intellect, but since I find getting
out of bed to be a major challenge (with brushing
my teeth not far behind), I hesitate to offer advice
(friendly or otherwise) on Vital Matters.
While the world cries for the intellectual equivalent
of Ann Landers (Dear Ann: What do I do about
these reactionary right-wingers? They just won't leave
me alone! Confused.), I can only offer those old
standbys reading (books, I'm afraid) and thinking.
Yes friends, it's time to get back to the old virtues,
and Marshall McLuhan is full of shit.
Just how sappy the infatuation with the myths
of the media has become is evidenced by the reaction
to that paramount example of the New American
Pretentiousness in films, "Medium Cool." It's an in
teresting film, but a failure; its s i m p 1 e-mlndedness
and heavy-handedness about the Violence and
Insensitivlty of Our Time is disastrously apparent
on a second viewing the easy ironies on the
soundtrack (the cut from the roller derby to the
bedroom, while roiler-derby sounds continue; the jux
taposition of shots of the injured in Grant Park with
"Happy Days are Here Again" from the convention);
the cop-out ending with the necessity of any resolution
removed by the expedient of the accident (a trick
borrowed from Godard, who at least is original
one would think that people would learn from him
what It is impossible to do) all this for the daring
revelation that the police do bad things, that pro
fessional journalists may become callous, that some
people are cowards, and that things aren't entirely
happy down on de oP plantation. If Wexler had stuck
to the only interesting characters, the mother and
her child from Appalachia. he might have made
something, but as it is, "Madam Cool" fails as art
(too simple-minded) and as journalism (it's not news).
But then, do many people want anything that
Isn't simple-minded? It seems to me that evidence
of the proper attitudes Is about all that a student
audience looks for. Language has become so debased
that "pigs" and "fascists" are no longer joking
epithets, but are used seriously by those whom I
am tempted to cull radical Idiots. A sort of petulant
disbelief in the possibility that the "enemy" is human
is pervasive; there are entirely too many people around
with a too-certain sense of their own virtue. Smugness
and arrogance are not found only In the Evil
Here I am, preaching again! I have only a couple
of slightly tottered Deep Thoughts to offer you all;
I don't know if they will be enough to make it
through the 70's with, but then what will be? So,
with no further adieu, my Parting Shots: "Radical"
Implies getting to the root of things, not idolizing
Che Guevara; Eliot Rosewater, in Kurt Vonnegut,
Jr.'s "God Bless You, Jr. Rosewater," makes one
if the few Profound Comments in contemporary
literature when he supplies this advice to his
grandchildren: "Goddammit, kids, you've got to be
kind." Now that's relevance; to hell with Herbert
tond elm pUq paid it line!, N.
Tultphontti Idltar 471 ISM. Nm 471-Utf, ImIimm 471-UN.
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Nixon's self-created tax bind protends economic woes
By Roland Evans and Robert Novak
Washington Congressional tax-writers are set
to defy President Nixon's veto threat against a tax
bill with tax and Social Security Christmas presents
to the taxpayer, thereby confronting the President
with a dilemma of grave dimensions partly political,
The Immediate source of Mr. Nixon's problem
Is his unusually explicit press conference statement
Dec. 8, an unpleasant surprise to Capitol Hill, that
he would veto a tax reform bill containing two costly
Senate amendments: a 15 percent hike In Social
Security payments and an Increase In the present
$600 personal Income tax exemption to fftoo. Choosing
not to believe the President' threat, the Senate-House
conference now writing the final version of the bill
Is determined to approve something close to the
If the tax conference meets Its difficult timetable
of a finished product by Dec. 19, Mr. Nixon will
have a cheerless Yuletlde choice. He can sign the
bill ettly by sacrificing the credibility of both his
own word and his commitment against Inflation. But
because the bill's estensloa of the surtax and repeal
of the investment credit produces more money than
It ktf la the short run, a veto might do more
economic harm thaa good.
This dilemma merely illuminates one of the least
understood economic facts in Washington: the Nixon
administration has lost control of the fiscal situation.
Whatever Mr. Nixon finally does about the tax bill,
the Federal government unwittingly will be pouring
out more consumer money to fuel the fires of Inflation.
Actually, before last Monday 'a press conference,
the President had been criticized for not speaking
out In behalf of fiscal resixmstbtllty. Treasury officials
wanted Mr. Nixon to publicly urge restraint on the
tax bill. A similar request was made by Rep. Wilbur
D. Mills of Arkansas, foremost Congressional taxwritcr
and chairman of the Senate-House conference.
The President's new hard line only became visible,
even In private, at his weekly meeting with Republican
Congressional leaders on Dec. 3 when he promised
to veto any bill if necessary. But nobody In Congress
certainly not Mills was prepared for Mr. Nixon's
uncharacteristically blunt press conference pledge to
veto a bill constructed to the Senate's specifications.
What made this disconcerting to Congressional
tax-writers were the hard facts of life on Cupltol
Hill. No matter how much Mills cleans op the
spendthrift Senate bill, the provisions that Mr. Nixon
(inds objectionable cannot be eliminated.
Indeed, Congressional leaders of both parties
warned Mr. Nixon weeks ago that the IS percent
Social Security boost would be in the final tax bill
despite its inflationary impact. Acknowledging this,
the President conceded privately that his proposed
10 percent increase in a separate bill was not sweet
enough for Congressional taste.
Capitol Hill demands for a higher personal Income
tax exemption are only slightly less Insistent. Should
the conferees completely eliminate the new $300 ex
emption, their work would be reversed by the Senate
and peili.ips the House. Thus, Mr. Nixon's allies in
the conference hope for no mora than a stretch-out
to delay Its Inflationary impact, and perhaps scaling
the exemption down to $700.
Although veteran Congressmen cannot conceive of
the President's vetoing this kind of bill after a full
year's work, high Administration officials in close
contact with Mr. Nixon disagree. The President, they
Insist, meant exactly what he said Monday night.
For the President to concur In an out-of-balance tax
bill, they said, would convince corporate business that
his anti-inflation stance Is frivolous.
But a veto of much-desired tax relief would carry
Its economic liabilities. The bill contains extension
of the surtax at a I percent rate for six months
and repeal of the Investment credit Accordingly, the
veto would remove more than tta billion from the
plus side of the budget and free more dollars for
both consumer and Industrialist
Furthermore, If the tax bill la vetoed, It la unlikely
that Congress would extend the surtax or repeal the
Investment credit in separate measures next year.
That is the essence of Mr. Nixon's dilemma. The
much-advertised budget surplus for the current fiscal
year Is turning into a deficit even under suspect
new accounting procedures, and Administration
economists privately say the need now is for a tax
Increase to fight Inflation. But anti-tax sentiment In
the country is so Intense that such a proposal would
face instant death in Congress.
Thus President Nixon is trapped: his strong words
Monday night stnick the right note, but they came
so late that they helped to set the trap.
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