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Mr. ICHORD. To them then a great many of the authorities are the Negroes themselves in position of authority, Negro policemen, for example? Mr. LERNER. I did not understand the question. Mr. ICHORD. To them the authorities are the Negroes themselves? Mr. LERNER. Partly speaking. Mr. ICHORD. For example, a Negro policeman? Mr. LERNER. Yes. The object of their aggression and the symbol of their authority partly is the advantaged Negro community, including Negro policemen. Mr. IcHoRD. I have heard many speakers say and have read many times that the Negro riots are the result of a hundred years of deprivation and discrimination. You indicated that you partially subscribe to that theory when I believe you said at one time to a great extent we are victims of the past. Don't you think this is somewhat oversimplifying the matter; that is, in terms of relativity, the Negro today, even in the urban ghetto, is much better off politically, economically, and socially than he was 25 or 50 years ago or for that matter at any time in the history of the United States? Mr. LERNER. It is true that it would be an oversimplification to state that the riots are just the result of generations of disadvantage or to state that we are victims of the past and nothing more. Apparently there is some misunderstanding because I said that we were not responsible for the acts of previous generations. I do not feel that it is valid or constructive to say that the problem we face today is simply a result of what has happened over the last hundred years, or 350 years. The problem is what is happening now in this generation. Certainly Negroes are much better off today than they were a hundred years ago. They are much better off today than Negroes and whites in other countries, or some whites in this country, for that matter. I am reminded of a statement attributed to Dick Gregory by Life magazine recently:
At a national conference of Black Power leaders held in Newark after the riots there, Dick Gregory " * * Summed up in one word the direction of the 1967 riots. If asked what they wanted, Negroes, he recommended, should reply, “Nothing.” Gregory explained : “How in the hell are you going to make a list of 400 years of them misusing you?” But it would be unrealistic and almost meaningless to think of compensation for the deprivations of past generations. Other groups besides Negroes also could make lists of past deprivations and grievances. What would we do about the white Anglo-Saxon Protestants in the Appalachia and other descendants of the early settlers whose standards of living are lower than that of urban Negroes? What would we do about the families who lost 780,000 in the war which freed the Negroes? What would we do about southerners who were economic and social victims of that war and its aftermath and who sometimes even today are regarded as social inferiors by some persons in the North’ A complete social and historical accounting would include a fantastic inventory. This sort of thinking would lead to impossibly complex, impractical, and meaningless tradeoffs. We can try to ar
rive at equitable settlements only within the framework of living generations.
The point I was making earlier was that Negroes compare themselves with those who are immediately contiguous with them. People in Watts do not compare themselves with those in Harlem or in Cuba, but with those in Bel Air or some other community nearby.
This comparison results in a sense of deprivation that brings about feelings of resentment and aggression.
When I said that we are all victims of the past I meant that the entire community-all of us, white, blacks, everyone—are victims of our history. None of us has created the circumstances, the prejudices, the attitudes, and the values which constrain us, although we can influence them.
Therefore, none of us can be held wholly responsible for the situation. No one is really guilty. All of us are products of our heritage. I would say that the best that each generation can be expected to do is to make a determined effort to provide dignified social treatment and sufficient opportunities for satisfactory education, employment, and quality of life for everyone and to base compensation for work on uniformly applied standards of performance rather than group membership, except where physically and mentally handicapped persons are concerned. And I do not know of any scientific evidence that Vegroes are a physically or mentally handicapped race.
Mr. ICHORD. I am very much interested in your long-term recommendations and particularly in regard to making “hate activities” a Federal offense. Of course, you realize that in this field we do encounter serious constitutional difficulties. That is, under our system of government the responsibility for enforcing most of our criminal laws has rested with local units of government, and to a great extent I think this has been the genius of the Federal system, the idea, the principle that government works better the closer it is to the people.
It is true that rioting has been widespread. It is a serious national problem. But aren't we going to be to a great extent modifying our system of government if we enact detailed Federal laws making this type of activity a criminal offense?
Mr. LERNER. Sir, it is my opinion that the answer is “no." As for legal tradition, our legal and political tradition is an outgrowth of that of Great Britain, which has been noted for its liberality and its concern for individual rights.
If it can be done there and it is consistent with their tradition, it seems to me it would not be inconsistent with ours. You have introduced another point, that is, the question of whether legislation of this kind should be Federal or State in scope.
I believe that the hate-incitement propaganda such as that which we have discussed is serious enough, very clearly serious enough since it is a national problem, to make this a Federal offense.
We consider something like counterfeiting a Federal offense. Printing, possession, or distribution of counterfeit money or possession of plates is each subject to Federal penalties of 15 years' imprisonment. If instead someone prints, speaks, or otherwise manufactures and distributes hate propaganda, this kind of currency-counterfeit ideas designed to divide and destroy—is much more seriously threatening and
damaging to our national cohesion, unity, and health than counterfeit money is. Accordingly, if our system of legal control and remedies is to be rational, effective, and equitable, we should have Federal cognizance and regulation in the field of hate propaganda; and we should impose penalties which are at least as great here as for counterfeiting. Mr. ICHORD. Don't you think that we have overlooked the responsibility of local units of government which have the prime responsibility; the enforcement of law, the keeping of law and order, is the responsibility of police, your district attorneys, your city councils, your State and other local units of government. I know in my home State there were considerable rumors this summer of a riot going to occur in the city of St. Louis. As a matter of fact, I had one civil rights leader call me, quite concerned about being approached by one of Carmichael's cohorts who tried to persuade him that he could achieve fame by becoming another Carmichael. There were considerable rumors of riots going to occur in St. Louis. But the Governor of the State stepped in and made it very clear by a very well-publicized announcement that he would meet force with force and that disobedience of the laws would not be tolerated in the State of Missouri. The riot situation or the propensity to riot disappeared overnight. I am wondering if we have not been directing too much attention to the responsibility of the Federal Government in this field, and not to the responsibilities of the local units of government. Mr. LERNER. From a broad perspective, sir, I believe I am not really qualified to answer that question so well as you are since I believe you have been observing both State and Federal action against crime and subversion more closely than I. I can only speak in terms of personal preference. Since that preference is not a strong one and since I do not believe it is an issue here as I understand it, I would simply say I feel it should be a Federal of fense and that I do not feel that we are overemphasizing the role of the Federal Government. But this is a personal opinion. I am much more concerned with the substance of the recommendation apart from its implementation on a Federal versus a local level. Although I am here to respond to your questions, sir, I am curious and, if I may, I would like to ask why this is an issue? Mr. ióHoRD. Of course, it is a matter of personal feeling. By philosophy I have long been concerned about the movement of power from our local units of government to the Federal Government. This is the reason for my thinking along this line. I am not naive enough to think that in our 50 States at all times you are going to have fair, and just enforcement of the law. But I am optimistic enough to think that at least a majority of the time in the 50 States, in the majority of the 50 States, you are going to have fair and just enforcement of the laws. When we move all responsibilities to the Federal Government there may be a time when we might have a Federal Government which is not a fair and just government and then we are really in trouble. That simply is the perhaps I am oversimplifying it–reason for my concern about the Federal Government assuming broad responsibilities in the field of keeping peace and order. Mr. LERNER. Sir, I understand and appreciate your explanation. My comment, therefore, is that if we get to the point where our differences or discussions concern whether this kind of law should be a Federal law or State law, we would have made great progress. First we would have to reach agreement on the question of whether we are going to have any law like that. Mr. IcHoRD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. McNAMARA. Mr. Chairman, I have one more question. Mr. TUCK. We have a roll call. We can't remain here very long. Mr. McNAMARA. Mr. Lerner, when Mr. Younger was testifying yesterday and outlining the steps he would take if he wanted to start a riot, he said that he would not go to a city where no progress had been made but, on the contrary, he would select one where there had been definite improvement of the lot of the Negro. He did mention the fact that this might sound surprising to many people. I have here a quotation from a study of the Los Angeles Watts riot made by some professors of the University of California Department of Sociology and based on what they found it would seem that they would agree with Mr. Younger. This is a quotation from their report: Our data contradict the common notion that those persons who are the most deprived will sense the greatest frustrations and express the highest levels of discontent. Instead, they support the other common contention that those most aggrieved are those who have begun to overcome traditional barriers but who are impatient with the yet-existing constraints placed upon them. This point of view is well expressed by Pettee: [They quote George S. Pettee, The Process of Revolution.] “The consciousness of repression leads to discontent only when it is felt unnecessary. This is the reason why a rising class, which is actually becoming constantly better off objectively, generally rebels most readily, and why the most severe repression has so often failed to cause a revolution.” Would you care to comment on that finding as it is related to the view of Mr. Younger? Mr. LERNER. That point of view has been expressed very widely by social scientists in recent months as one explanation for the fact that, even though there has been objective improvement in the lot of the Negro, there has been a tremendous amount of overt, violent aggression. I think that there is a great deal of soundness to it. It is consistent, by the way, with a classic study in sociology which was done in a different field but which expresses a similar principle, a study which was published under the title of “The American Soldier.” This was large-scale studies of soldiers’ attitudes on a wide variety of subjects. It was observed regularly that the adjustment to military life, feelings about military service, attitudes toward promotion, and other characteristics seemed to depend to a significant extent on the comparisons which soldiers made with others. Their standards, expectations, and aspirations seemed to arise from these comparisons. For example, Air Corps personnel, whose opportunities for promotion were substantially greater than those of men in the ground forces, nevertheless were more critical of promotion policy than the latter. Men in the Air Corps, when comparing themselves with others, apparently learned to be more highly sensitive to promotions and more expectant of them than ground forces personnel. (Similarly, it may be reasoned, in recent years Negroes have begun to expect more, have been more likely to compare themselves with whites, and therefore have experienced greater impatience and resentment than before.) An idea that has been expressed several times during this session, the idea that was referred to as relative or comparative deprivation and which was brought up during the discussion with Mr. Ichord, was delo. and used by analysts in that study to explain many of the ndings. #over, I think one other point ought to be made about this. To those concerned with constructive remedies, simply referring to comparative deprivation does not explain sufficiently the rise in Negro and other urban violence. And this is not just a question of the impatience of those who have recently begun to taste a change for the better. Nor is it simply discontent over what may be felt to be unnecessary repression. I think other important elements also are involved. I am not completely clear on what these are, but I think the situation should be looked at very carefully. For example, I believe it would be highly dangerous to ignore the needs of youth in slums—of all races. In terms of job opportunities their lot is worsening, not improving. It would be at least equally dangerous to ignore the divisive influences of the very small groups of professional agitators and revolutionaries, a number of whom obscure and aggravate the problems with intensification of race hatred. And it would be disastrous to overlook the potential insurgency implications and the coordination with groups in other countries. We cannot simply dismiss such matters and say that Negroes have more freedom than before, that they have had a taste of the good life, and that they want more. Some of that may be true. But we must look at the situation more carefully than this, both as scientists and as lawmakers. Mr. TUck. Mr. Lerner, I might say I share fully the views expressed by the gentleman from Missouri to the effect that the responsibility for the enforcement of law and suppression of lawlessness rests entirely with the locality and the States. The Federal Government has no business whatsoever in that area. I am also concerned about another one of the long-range recommendations with respect to this British law. I am afraid that that might depend on what I like to think of as our freedom of speech. The Virginia Bill of Rights, which has been incorporated into the Constitution of the United States, says that freedom of the press is one of the bulwarks of liberty and therefore all men have a right to speak and publish their sentiments on all subjects, being responsible only for the abuse of that right. Of course, I think it is possible to draw a law dealing with the incitation to riot by someone. Certainly if someone who would be guilty of preaching hate would be violating some law to preach hate, I am afraid that might impinge on our constitutional liberties. Mr. ICHORD. What the chairman is saying—the English under their parliamentary system of government can pass such laws very easily;