What A Price For Peace
But that is what has happened at the University of Alabama. And it is a development over which the University of Alabama, the people of this state and the community of Tuscaloosa should be deeply ashamed—and more than a little afraid.
Our government's authority springs from the will of the people. But their wishes, if we are to be guided by democratic processes, must be expressed by ballot at the polls, by action in the legislative halls, and finally by interpretation from the bench. No intelligent expression ever has come from a crazed mob, and it never will.
And make no mistake. There was a mob, in the worst sense, at the University of Alabama yesterday.
Every person who witnessed the events there with comparative detachment speaks of the tragic nearness with which our great University came to being associated with a murder—yes, we said murder.
“If they could have gotten their hands on her, they would have killed her.”
That was the considered judgment, often expressed, of many who watched the action without participating in it.
The target was Authurine Lucy. Her "crimes"? She was born black, and she was moving against Southern custom and tradition—but with the law, right on up to the United States Supreme Court, on her side.
What does it mean today at the University of Alabama, and here in Tuscaloosa, to have the law on your side?
The answer has to be: Nothing—that is, if a mob disagrees with you and the courts.
As matters now stand, the University administration and trustees have knuckled under to the pressures and desires of a mob. What is to keep the same mob, if uncontrolled again, from taking over in any other field where it decides to impose its wishes? Apparently, nothing.
What is the answer to a mob? We think that is clear. It lies in firm, decisive action. It lies in the use of whatever force is necessary to restrain and subdue any one who is violating the law.
Not a single University student has been arrested on the campus and that is no indictment against the men in uniform, but against higher levels which failed to give them clean-cut authority to go along with responsibility.
What has happened here is far more important than whether a Negro girl is admitted to the University. We have a breakdown of law and order, an abject surrender to what is expedient rather than a courageous stand for what is right.
Yes, there's peace on the University campus this morning. But what a price has been paid for it!