The Great Schism
After many months of glib discussion on the question of a Negro-White mixed regiment, it is about time for some official Harvard student action--action to speak louder than all the words the subject has thus far stimulated. Most Harvard students realize that the wide gap between the preachment and the practise of democracy in the Army must be bridged; a foundation of that bridge lies in the mixed regiment, which is, in turn, a foundation itself for future liberalism and better racial attitudes in a post-war United States. The steps of construction must be taken now.
The traditional War Department policy of segregation has done nothing except further divide the Negro soldier from his white comrade-in-arms; it has divided the races spiritually as well as physically. Although only a token in its beginnings, the mixed regiment would offset the danger to national morale and unity inherent in segregation methods. Moreover, the organization of such a unit would have significant and heartening effect upon the morale of hundreds of millions of allies in China, India, and Africa who would find in it a concrete instance of the democratic ideal for which we fight.
The hesitation of the War Department to organize a mixed regiment has been due, in part, to the feeling that it would be ineffectual, that colored and white Americans could not live and fight together. But the Army has mixed Negroes and whites in Officer Candidate Schools, and the results have been thoroughly favorable. There have been no difficulties, and the men are learning to respect each other as fellow Americans fighting in a common cause. Secondly, the mixed regiment has been proposed as a purely voluntary group. Those men who have not yet grown out of their natural racial prejudices will not be forced to join. Any difficulties the Army may encounter in organizing such a unit will find multifold compensation in the increased morale of all the nation's races. The equitability of this scheme can best be summed up in the words of Professor Alonzo Myers of New York University, "a man who is good enough to fight for me is good enough to fight with me."
Until now, the only concern shown at Harvard for the establishment of the mixed regiment has been the half-hearted ineffectual attempts of minority groups to petition the student body. But because of the special importance of this measure, the Student Council, as a non-partisan sponsor, could step beyond its normal activity and circulate petitions for a mixed regiment. Action is necessary; the Council can act best, without political affiliation, to gather the opinion of the student body: opinion which will call for the beginning of a change in the radical attitudes of the nation.