Being Honest


AN UNLIKELY COALITION of academia, business, and labor has formed to defeat the Nuclear Free Cambridge referendum. By supporting the referendum, citizens are vehemently expressing their frustration with current efforts to affect multi-lateral disarmament. They believe that the measure will serve to redirect the aim of local, national, and international movements towards the very structures which support the building of nuclear weapons. With President Bok's help and the newly formed Citizens Against Research Bans (CARB), whose major contributors include the nation's largest defense contractors, opponents of the measure have attempted to scare Cambridge voters with cries that the anti-nuclear legislation would mean a loss of jobs and violation of the First Amendment.

It is unfortunate that the legislation's restriction of research has been blown to such proportions. The fact is that the law would only ban research whose primary purpose is the development of nuclear weapons--specifically excluding basic research. Furthermore, it is unlikely that any judge, after reading the seven point preamble to the body of the act, would construe its intent to be the "ban of a high school student's research paper on nuclear weapons," as CARB spokespeople have suggested.

Preserving jobs is a more legitimate concern, but we must look beyond the referendum's immediate impact--that is, beyond what the closure of Draper would mean to 200 Cambridge employees. The Nuclear Free Cambridge Act explicitly addresses long-term employment needs. It calls for a shift from reliance on military-related industry, to labor-intensive areas which would also meet basic human needs.

Many of those fighting against the bill have said they agree with it "in spirit," but that it goes too far in making the production of nuclear weapons a criminal offense. Voters should not be distracted with questions of the measure's constitutionality or jurisdiction, for, in the final analysis, the courts will decide such questions. In addition, a too-often overlooked section of the referendum, the severability clause, preserves those parts of the referendum found sound, even if other sections are judged unconstitutional.

But the most important reasons for voting yes on No. 2 are moral ones. This measure's passage would hasten a realization crucial to the nuclear disarmament movement: that a nuclear war would mean the end, that the weapons which Draper builds would be useless in a nuclear conflict.

Those who would still say, "What's the use, they'll just build them somewhere else," should not underestimate the impact which a local initiative could have on the nation, indeed, the world. And as one elderly Cantabrigian said at a recent community meeting, "At least Cambridge could be honest."