Mississippi Impasse

Despite the understandable desire of the Department of Justice to avoid an ugly showdown with the state of Mississippi, it seems virtually certain at this writing that Governor Ross Barnett will shortly become the second chief executive of a state of the United States to be convicted of a crime under federal law. His predecessor, Warren Terry McCray--Governor of Indiana from 1921 to 1924, was found guilty of misuse of the mails. Mr. Barnett will likely be found guilty of raising an insurrection against the authority of the federal government.

No matter how deeply one is committed to the cause of integration and no matter how vigorously one despises the unforgivable intransigence of Mississippi, he must deplore the coming brutality in that unhappy state. Justice, however sublime, always loses much of its power of reassurance when its execution is effected with demolishing force: a military action against Mississippi will decidedly not increase the total goodness in this world.

More practically, the martyrdom of Ross Barnett will not add to the total enlightenment of the South.

And yet the apparent hopelessness of conditions in Mississippi has made force the only available course of action. There is little chance in Mississippi that an intellectual community will lead the people toward rationality; there are not the vaguest signs of an evolution toward moderation. Not one person at the University of Mississippi has openly supported the admission of James Meredith. Mississippi has desired and kept an impasse in race relations. That is why the troops will be there.