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"The side that appeals to youth will win the cold war," declared Max Lerer last night. "It's as simple as that."
"The United States must never break connection with the young people," Lerner told a Ford Hall Forum audience. He said that youth felt estranged from their society in England and France for instance, but are not alienated in this country. According to Lerner, American young people have a genuine connection with the decision makers in the government. He cited the recent "reflective, responsible" peace marchers in Washington as examples.
The liberal columnist and professor of American Civilization at Brandeis commented later that the United States could reach the youth of the world by developing "a sense of connection between American youth and other young people." Besides advocating expansion of the Peace Corps and exchange programs, Lerner proposed that every single American college student visit a foreign country--with a government subsidy--before receiving a bachelor degree.
At present, said Lerner, the only people who travel abroad are those who can afford it. As a nation, he added, we can afford to send all students abroad. Such travel by all would increase understanding, according to the speaker.
Lerner began his talk last night at Jordan Hall with mention of the Young Americans for Freedom rally in New Yok City last week and then blasted the "age of suspicion" fostered by the extreme right wing. He said that he regarded the radical demands of a YAF speaker seriously only because Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Arixz) and Sen. John Tower (R-Tex.)--"responsible office holders"--were in attendance.
After disputing rightists' claims that the real threat to the United States is internal, Lerner went on to name what he regarded as the real dangers--external not internal--to the country: "the massive new Communist empire and the chaos of nuclear weapons."
The possibility that the United States might fail to reach young people was one of several "nightmares" that Lerner said President Kennedy must have. Others are the possible failure of the "united states of Europe," a reconciliation of Sino-Soviet views, a continuation of troubles with Cuba, problems in Brazil, the fall of the "neutral" Laos regime, and failure to win the uncommitted nations.
Among Premier Khrushchev's nightmares are America's recent advance in space exploration (and its related publicity), Communist China, the increased unity of Western Europe, the Alliance for Progress, Russia's food shortage, lack of response among Russian youth, and the possibility of an effective United Nations--without the troika plan.
Both leaders, Lerner asserted, share the "joint nightmare" of nuclear and chemical-bacteriological-radiological warfare.
Next week's Ford Hall Forum will feature the French Ambassador to the U.S., M. Herve Alphand. He will discuss "France and World Affairs."
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