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The President's actions in lessening the tensions and hatreds built up around the integration controversy have so far been most often lip-service. Presented with numerous opportunities to state a position designed to cool the passions of the parties involved in the dispute, he has contented himself with well-intentioned platitudes from Washington. His prestige and moral authority could, if brought to bear in the South itself, bring a movement toward many of the positive goals he has espoused.
Eisenhower, through his ubiquitous mouth-piece, Sherman Adams, has refused an invitation from Mongomery's Rev. Martin Luther King to speak in the South on the problems of integration. The reason that he gave for his refusal was that he could not spare the time to "schedule a speaking engagement". The President has, however, in the past two weeks, been able to make two separate trips to Augusta, Georgia, spending a total of nine days.
Mr. Eisenhower is probably the most insistent member of the Republican Party in urging smooth integration. But he has allowed his excellent Civil Rights Bill to be pigeon-holed in the Senate. He insists on remaining behind the scenes, perhaps from fear of tarnishing the national father image. Cautious backing of federal legislation is just fine, but the President's statement during the last campaign to the effect that it didn't matter whether he backed the Supreme Court decision or not because it was the decision of the highest court in the nation is carrying the noncommital approach too far.
Certainly if anyone in the country has the influence to bring home the necessity of adjustment to the Supreme Court decision, it is the President. For example, President Eisenhower carried Montgomery Country in the last election, which is the first time since the Civil War that a Republican president has done so. No one besides the President can bring home to the South so clearly that the rest of the nation and historical progression are against their attempt to negate the Court's ruling.
The Administration's apathy has placed the full burden of securing Negros themselves, which is deeply resented by the South. Without firm and outspoken action by the President on behalf of the nation, the South may succeed in their obstruction of justice for many years. The Administration has a clear obligation to allieviate the Negro's status of second-class citizenship as soon and as effectively as possible. In the words of John Maynard Keynes, "In the long run, we shall all be dead." There is no justification for allowing these people to be deprived of their constitutional rights any longer.
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