Far East and West get together at New Lecture Hall last night and joined in urging a "search for Compatibilities" between these two great areas of the world.
Speaking before a near-capacity crowd, Owen Lattimore, professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University, and M. S. Sundaram, cultural counsellor of the Indian Embassy in Washington, found themselves in virtually complete agreement on the question of U.S.-Asian relations.
The only real tension at the meeting stemmed not from world conflicts but from earlier protests by the American Legion and a number of threatening phone calls to Dean Watson seeking to force the University to ban Lattimore's appearance. The threats resulted in no action of any sort at the meeting. Lattimore is awaiting trial on four counts of perjury in testimony before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee.
"Asia is Fully Awake"
Lattimore's speech, entitled, "The Place of Asia in American Thought," was in essence an appeal for a "revision and bringing up to date of American thinking about Asia." He stressed particularly the errors of our previous paternalistic policy and urged a respect for popular aspirations of the new Asia.
Sundaram, speaking on "The Place of American in Asian Thought," declared the phrase "the awakening East" a misnomer. "Asia is fully awake," he said, "the future depends very much more on the awakening of America to the new world order than on the awakening of Asia."
Asians would still like to look upon America as the defender of freedom, Sundaram said. "India particularly has taken so much in the way of ideology from America that it is unlikely to abandon America unless America in turn abandons this ideology." The stress in U.S.-Asian relations is the feeling of many Asians that this ideology of freedom is in large part being abandoned in this country, Sundaram added.
Both speeches dealt in large part with the problems created by Western colonialism in Asia. The speakers agreed that the bitter feelings engendered by this policy are the source of much of the present friction and misunderstanding between Asia and America. They pointed out that although America was not one of the leading colonial powers in Asia, it never repudiated colonialism and in re- cent years has adopted much of its favor in Far Eastern Policy.
Lattimore saw a germ of present difficulties in our belief that we had "far more control over Asia than we turned out to have when the chips were down." He bemoaned the Western assumption that "big decisions about Asia were not made in Asia but in the countries that had power over Asia, and that power over Asia could be passed from band to hand but could not be transformed into power in Asia, held in Asian hands."
It was in large part this attitude which put America into such a panic over recent revolutions in Asia, making us feel we had "lost" China and could have kept it had Washington not bungled, Lattimore added.
Sundaram said Asians' disillusionment with America was created largely by recent infringements of civil liberties in this country. He cited many embarrassing questions asked him by Asians which showed widespread belief that Americans are in great danger of "losing large parts of our long-cherished freedom."
Sundaram also urged the West to seek more earnestly a "reconciliation between the Communists and democracies which Asians sincerely believe is possible."
In the question period, the speakers were asked whether they felt the U.S. should recognize Red China. Lattimore replied that he did not feel there was any great urgency for such recognition now, but urged that the feelings of the independent nations of Asia be given an important part in the making of this decision.
Moderating the meeting was Arthur N. Holcombe, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government. Holcombe drew the only negative reaction from the generally appreciative audience when he introduced the speakers by saying "I can assure you that the speakers tonight are entitled to do so by the laws of the land and that is the only assurance I need to give you. The University disclaims all responsibility for their views, but no matter what they say we will give them a hearing."
The only other stir at the meeting was created by a small group of students who displayed a live skunk on the front steps of New Lecture Hall in a box marked "Side Show." Asked what the animal was for, one replied, "a deodorant.