TO THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY: Bayard Rustin’s article, “The War Against Zimbabwe” [July], is a reasoned and provocative analysis of a complex issue which has been characterized by much misplaced emotional posturing. In detailing the factors leading to the Zimbab- wean internal settlement and the successful April elections, Mr. Rus- tin appropriately distinguishes be- tween the substance of what oc- curred (i.e., the democratic transfer of power to the black majority) and the admittedly imperfect process which has been the focus of sus- tained criticism.
Mr. Rustin raises a most signifi- cant question curiously overlooked in the debate about Zimbabwe Rho- desia’s future; namely, the political system under which effective major- ity rule will manifest itself. He spe- cifically rejects the contention that the guerrilla Patriotic Front’s par- ticipation in a coalition govern- ment is a necessary condition for a stable constitutional order, or that their exclusion (largely self-im- posed) suggests a cynical attempt to maintain white control at the expense of supposedly representa- tive nationalist forces. In fact, he describes the Front as a “paper political alliance” incapable of even reconciling its differences. The Front’s accession to power probably would trigger an even bloodier civil war to establish polit- ical control.
As such, Mr. Rustin’s argument effectively condemns the arrogance and hypocrisy with which our pres- ent policy toward Zimbabwe Rho- desia is infused. In commenting upon Zimbabwe Rhodesia’s inter- national pariah status, despite its popularly elected government, and the support for the Patriotic Front in the United Nations and other international bodies, he notes: It is especially interesting that the excommunication of Zimbabwe has been decreed in the name of racial self-determination, but in total dis- regard of that country’s black ma- jority; and that the Patriotic Front is favored in the name of majority rule, but in total disregard of that group’s anti-democratic outlook.
Given the United States’ own history of excluding blacks from the political mainstream, it smacks of self-righteousness when we pre- scribe, among other things, the pro- portion of white representation in the Zimbabwean parliament. Little effort has been made by some observers to understand the practi- cal and moral justification of the Muzorewa government’s position as understood by Zimbabwe Rhodesi- ans themselves. The West is obsessed with structural imperfec- tions in the constitution and elec- tion and appears wedded to accom- modating the views of African front-line states.
Bayard Rustin’s trenchant study strengthens the growing awareness that our present policy conven- iently ignores the significance of the transformation taking place in Zimbabwe Rhodesia. Paradoxically, we risk the very survival of repre- sentative democracy based ‘on majority rule which is our pro- claimed goal.
[Senator] RICHARD S. SCHWEIKER United States Senate Washington, D.C.
TO THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY: Bayard Rustin’s article is one of the finest pieces on the subject I have seen, and I read virtually ev- erything written on Zimbabwe Rhodesia. My interest goes back to the early 1960’s when I began re- search toward a doctoral disserta- tion in Rhodesian history, which I completed in 1972….
I share Mr. Rustin’s conclusions, and only wish that his voice would be heard by President Carter….
ANTHONY P. DIPERNA Commack, New York TO THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY: Bayard Rustin’s … remarkable article, “The War Against Zim- babwe,” should be read by every- one concerned with American for- eign policy. The stakes are much higher than the fate and future of a small and seemingly unimpor- tant country.
Mr. Rustin was an on-the-spot observer during the recent election in that country and traveled widely throughout it as a kind of poll- watcher during the several days in which the election took place. On the basis of his observations he came to the considered conclusion that the election, in which the bal- loting was secret, was free of intim- idation and that Bishop Muzorewa is the democratically elected Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Rhodesia. Yet even before the results were in, the policy-makers in the State Department were ready with the pronouncement that nothing had changed, that it was still “Ian Smith’s government,” and that Bishop Muzorewa was simply a stooge for Ian Smith. Now one can assume two things. The first is that Mr. Rustin is quite competent to judge who is and who is not a white man’s stooge. The second is that the policy-makers in the State Department know perfectly well that Mr. Rustin, whose views had already been made known before the appearance of this article, is telling the truth. Why else would they go to the absurd length of trying to minimize Bishop Muzore- wa’s electoral strength by adding to the votes of the opposition the numbers of those who did not vote at all (31 per cent)? As Mr. Rustin points out, the use of this same technique for interpreting an elec- tion would have “proved” that Jimmy Carter was elected President with a mandate of 27 per cent of the American electorate! …
The crucial question is, why are these Americans so desperately and willfully determined not to be proved wrong, even if this were to require the destruction . . . of a country against the interests both of its own inhabitants and the United States? What is the basis of this fanaticism? As plausible as it may seem to think so, this attitude does not in fact derive from a pro- Marxist standpoint, notwithstand- ing the excuses these people are prepared to make for what is going on in Angola and Mozambique. What is at work, rather, is the old- est syndrome in race relations, namely, the use by the white of the black as an emotional pawn, and it works in the following way. First, whites are moved by moral indig- nation to become the spokesmen for blacks who are politically oppressed and utterly lacking any voice for the affirmation of their interests. At this initial stage, the aims are of necessity vague and sweeping-for example, “liberation”-for the op- pression is so pervasive that there seems to be no prospect whatever for practical amelioration… Thus in this phase the white spokesmen and the voiceless blacks are in agree- ment.
The situation, however, can change for the better in an unpre- dicted way. If it does, the blacks who are directly affected by the change at once lose interest in the vague aims of the past, which are then seen as mere slogans, and turn with practical concern to specific goals…. These goals can include a willingness and desire to enter, in a wholly new spirit, into accommo- dations with their erstwhile oppres- sors who before the change would not have sat down at the same table with them.
At this point the grounds exist for the most painful rift between the blacks, who now have a voice, and those whites who were for- merly their spokesmen. The blacks, who have their own interests to consider, want to live in the pres- ent and future. They are willing to forgive and forget and “get on with it.” The white spokesmen, on the other hand, have no interests at all to consider but only their passions of moral indignation which require a demonstrative act of revenge against the blacks’ former oppres- sors. And to get this revenge they are perfectly willing to advocate policies entailing the utter destruc- tion of the blacks! … At this point the blacks have become simply a pawn in an emotional vendetta. If blacks decide that they want neither revenge nor their own destruction, they are flatly dismissed as “un- representative,” “Uncle Toms,” “sell-outs;’ etc.
This is an old story which goes back to the Civil War. As soon as Lincoln became a political force in America, the black leader Frederick Douglass saw that the situation had fundamentally changed. The Union could be seen in a new light as sound and worth preserving. He did not, of course, cease to be an abolitionist, but he saw . that the old policy of wanting the North to secede from the “morally contaminated” Union, which was advocated by the white abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, was polit- ically insane because it would abandon the slaves to the total con- trol of the slaveholders in the South. Douglass, in what was a per- sonally agonizing decision for him, broke with his old benefactor over this issue. Garrison reacted with coldness to Douglass’s decision to strike an independent line which was focused on the interests of the blacks rather than on the moral feelings of the whites….
As for Zimbabwe, the white “spokesmen” for the blacks are angry with Bishop Muzorewa es- sentially because he does not want revenge against Ian Smith and the whites Smith represents. They are right. He does not want revenge. He wants the whites to stay. He needs their skills and he also thinks they have a right to stay in the country which belongs to all its cit- izens, black and white alike. The politics of revenge would drive out the whites. To prevent this, Muzo- rewa has been perfectly willing to agree to give the whites certain guarantees . . . which are tempo- rary and which may be absolutely necessary in the immediate circum- stances. Evidently many other blacks in Zimbabwe agree with him. After all, Bishop Muzorewa, had he wanted to, could have played the same card as Nkomo or Mugabe did; his popularity within Zimbabwe today may be due pre- cisely to his refusal to do this.
The situation seems to be some- what complicated by the hostility of the most “militant” members of the Organization of African States to Bishop Muzorewa. But … they too are using the blacks in Zim- babwe as pawns to blackmail the West by trying to make it feel guilty for supporting a “racist” and “un- democratic” regime. One could mention in passing that the rulers of Nigeria and quite a number of other countries in Africa are hardly in a position to give lectures about constitutional democracy.
The real moral of the story, how- ever, is the strangeness of demand- ing democratic change in Zim- babwe while arrogantly dismissing what the people of that country, black and white, themselves have to say about their own interests. Evidently, the whites in the State Department are more elitist than the whites in Salisbury.
HOWARD BROTZ McMaster University Hamilton, Ontario BAYARD RUSTIN writes: I want to thank Senator Schweiker and Anthony P. DiPerna for their comments on my article. I also want to commend Howard Brotz for his analysis of the Zimbabwean situa- tion and for the very relevant paral- lel he draws between the moral ab- solutism of William Lloyd Garrison and the practical humanitarianism of Frederick Douglass. I have long felt that the tendency of some white radicals to use blacks as revolu- tionary proxies must be resisted if democratic reform is to succeed. Re- garding Zimbabwe Rhodesia, I think it is necessary to lay aside old prejudices and take a fresh look at the possibilities for a peaceful set- tlement that offers the prospect of interracial democracy.
Weber & the Court TO THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY: The Weber decision is, I fear, a much more serious defeat for the principle of nondiscrimination than Carl Cohen’s generally excel- lent critique suggests [“Justice De- based: The Weber Decision,” September]. Members of the Su- preme Court, even those who do not read COMMENTARY and thus may have missed Mr. Cohen’s ear- lier tour de force, “Why Racial Preference Is Illegal and Immoral” [June], cannot be wholly igno- rant of the ethical objections to ra- cial quotas. Yet the Weber major- ity deigns to mention none of them and therefore answers none of them. Five justices seemingly shared the conviction that “affirm- ative action” in the form of racial quotas and preferences is self-evi- dently just or, if not just, then a so- cially necessary expedient. Only such beliefs can explain the miscar- riage of law that occurred in Weber: the Humpty Dumpty defi- ance of plain statutory language, the misrepresentation of an uncom- monly clear legislative record.
Even Chief Justice Burger, one of the two dissenters, confined his crit- icism to the technical deficiencies of the Court’s interpretation, as dis- tinguished from the injustice of the outcome. Indeed, he granted that the majority’s misreading of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 achieved “a desirable result,” “a result I would be inclined to vote for were I a Member of Congress con- sidering a proposed amendment of Title VII.” (The Chief Justice somewhat inconsistently joined in the Rehnquist dissent, which con- cluded with a denunciation of the numerus clausus in either benign or hostile form, but one has to sup- pose that the purest expression of a judge’s views is his own separately- authored opinion.) Though he did not say so, Mr. Cohen must have found Justice Blackmun’s separate concurring opinion especially appalling. Read- ers of Mr. Cohen’s first article will recall his strongly argued view that a racial preference is morally accept- able only insofar as it affords resti- tution to identifiable victims of specific acts of racial discrimina- tion. In the Weber situation, as Mr. Cohen pointed out, “[n]ot one of the black employees who were offered on-the-job training oppor- tunities . . . had been subject to any prior employment discrimina- tion by Kaiser.” Justice Blackmun transmuted this moral flaw into an apologia for the Kaiser plan. Blacks who might have been real victims of past discrimination by Kaiser Aluminum, Blackmun noted, “had never sued and so had no established representative.” By its resort to coarse, unselective af- firmative action, Kaiser-we are in- formed by Blackmun-“is able to avoid identifying victims of past discrimination, and so avoids claims for back pay that would inevitably follow a response limited to such victims.” Finessing the just but costlier claim of injured indi- viduals is, in the opinion of a mem- ber of the nation’s highest tribunal, the “practical and equitable ” foundation for private racial quo- tas.
Mr. Cohen, retracing Rehnquist’s “scathing and detailed” dissent, shows how the Court falsified the “intent” of the 1964 Congress. What he does not say, however, is that the Weber decision quite ac- curately expresses the current polit- ical orthodoxy. Yes, Hubert Humphrey gave emphatic assur- ances as floor leader of the civil- rights bill that the law would forbid discrimination in favor of minorities as well as discrimination against them. Yes, Senator Muskie made similar statements. Ditto Sen- ators Clark, Case, Mansfield, et al. And yes, John Lindsay made the same representations on the House side. But that was then, and this is now. Has anyone heard Senator Muskie grousing about the Weber decision? If he were alive today, would Hubert Humphrey be against any “voluntary affirmative- action plan”? With the federal government, business, labor, civil-rights groups, the ACLU, and most editorial opinion aligned in defense of af- firmative-action quotas and with only a rag-tag of amicus support on Weber’s side, it is not surprising that the Supreme Court chose to conduct a seance and commune with the ectoplasmic “spirit” of Title VII. And here I take issue with Mr. Cohen’s guardedly opti- mistic conclusions. In theory he is correct in suggesting that “it re- mains open to Congress to register its true intent so clearly that even this [Supreme Court] majority could not fail to perceive it.” But if the 1979 Congress has a “true in- tent” in the matter, an intent that somehow could be separated from the strong instinct of politicians to stay out of controversies that in- volve competing moral fervors, I suspect it would be in favor of fair-share quotas purporting to be transitional in nature, i.e., your standard affirmative-action plan.
The post-Weber battles will continue to be fought in the courts, not in the political branches, and the outlook is not good. As Bakke revealed, there are four predictable votes for quotas. It needs only the vote of Justice Powell or Stevens or (as in Weber) Justice Stewart to form a pro-quota majority in a given case. The self-proclaimed “narrowness” of justice Brennan’s Weber opinion (“We emphasize at the outset the narrowness of our in- quiry…. The only question before us is the narrow statutory issue of whether Title VII forbids private employers and unions from volun- tarily agreeing upon bona-fide af- firmative-action plans that accord racial preferences in the manner and for the purpose provided in the Kaiser-USWA plan”) may have been the price for Stewart’s vote, but I must disagree with Mr. Cohen again to the extent that he finds in these passages a promise of wiser decisions to come.
MAURICE KELMAN Wayne State University Law School Detroit, Michigan TO THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY: Carl Cohen’s article makes it plain that the only way to defend the interpretation given Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the Weber decision is to insist that the purpose of a law must override its language and its intention alike. But that is not an altogether unap- pealing or absolutely insupportable contention, especially when it is called, as it is, preferring the living spirit of the law to its dead letter. The prevailing opinion in Weber, however, lacks a full and true un- derstanding of the purpose of the law it expounds. No one who re- members the events and mood of 1964 can doubt that the congres- sional majority would have held that the highest purpose of the Civil Rights Act was to “establish justice.” Justice required impartial treatment of individuals, i.e., it required color-blind employment practices. Bringing blacks into the economic situation would follow, it was thought, as a necessary conse- quence of color-blindness. But col- or-blindness was even more valued for its own sake; it was fair. So the Weber majority, denying that jus- tice is the impartial treatment of individuals, is not only contrary to the letter of the 1964 Act but hos- tile to its spirit.
Mr. Cohen draws some consola- tion from the apparent narrowness of the decision. For one thing, it is not a case involving the Constitu- tion-not explicitly. But al- though both the majority of the Court and the minority, each for its own reasons, are unwilling to point it out, the decision has a con- stitutional dimension. For the Court must think that its interpre- tation of Title VII is consonant with the Equal Protection Clause, that the phrase “No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws” allows the legislature to per- mit employers to discriminate in favor of blacks while forbidding them from discriminating in favor of whites. It is impossible to con- ceive of the Court upholding the constitutionality of a law that ex- pressly authorized an employer to discriminate in the opposite direc- tion. But the Court’s concept of justice strikes at the heart of equal protection. Thus in the Weber de- cision the lawlessness of the manner comports with the lawlessness of the matter.
All the more reason then to hope, with. Mr. Cohen, that Con- gress will rally itself to “more em- phatic legislative insistence upon the equal protection of the laws.” R. S. HILL Marietta College Marietta, Ohio TO THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY: We are much indebted to Carl Cohen for the wisdom, moral vi- sion, and intellectual clarity of both his articles on Weber.
Most of my academic colleagues who oppose racial preferences do so because of their great concern for competence and academic stand- ards. This country can afford a good deal of incompetence but we cannot afford to weaken our com- mitment to racial and ethnic equal- ity before the law. Prohibitions against racial discrimination can- not coexist with officially sanc- tioned schemes of preference to persons because of their ethnic af- filiation. As Mr. Cohen so ably points out, no euphemisms can conceal the fact that what was of- fered to the nation as law to end racial discrimination is now being used to require or permit it.
Improved attainment (assuming such an outcome) is of doubtful benefit to a minority group if that advancement involves the erosion of hard-won standards of fairness and undermines public confidence in the rationality and evenhanded- ness of the judicial system.
ELEANOR P. WOLF Wayne State University Detroit, Michigan To THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY:Many years ago Arthur Krock ac- counted for the Supreme Court’s finding that professional baseball was a sport but professional boxing was a business. The Court’s mem- bers, he wrote, had been raised on the sandlots of America and not in Stillman’s gym.
I was reminded of this on read- ing Carl Cohen’s “Justice Debased: The Weber Decision.” A majority of the present Court will not tol- erate blatant racial discrimination against an applicant to medical school, but will allow it in on-the- job training programs in industrial employment. These judges can evi- dently envision their children or the children of their social ac- quaintances applying to medical school. But industrial apprentice- ship is apparently as remote from their experience as was Stillman’s gym from that of their predeces- sors.
RICHARD F. SCHIER Franklin and Marshall College Lancaster, Pennsylvania TO THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY: In connection with Carl Cohen’s article, perhaps it is appropriate to quote remarks made by Abraham Lincoln on the Dred Scott case, the politically pernicious decision of the Supreme Court in 1857 that had far-reaching consequences, most of which were the opposite of what the members of the Court sought. Lin- coln said in part: We do not propose that when Dred Scott has been decided to be a slave by the court, we, as a mob, will de- cide him to be free. We do not pro- pose that, when any other one, or one thousand, shall be decided by that court to be slaves, we, will in any violent way disturb the rights of property so settled; but we neverthe- less do oppose that decision as a po- litical rule which shall be binding on the voter . . . , which shall be binding on the members of Congress or the President to favor no measure that does not actually concur with the principles of that decision. We do not propose to be bound by it as a political rule in that way, because we think it lays the foundation not merely of enlarging and spreading out what we consider an evil, but it lays the foundation for spreading that evil into the states themselves. We propose so resisting it as to have it reversed if we can, and a new ju- dicial rule established upon this sub- ject….
What are the uses of decisions of courts? … First-they decide upon the question before the court. They decide in this case that Dred Scott is a slave. Nobody resists that. Not only that, but they say to everybody else, that persons standing just as Dred Scott stands are as he is. That is, they say that when a question comes up upon another person it will be so decided again, unless the court decides in another way, unless the court overrules its decision. Well, we mean to do what we can to have the court decide the other way. That is one thing we mean to do.
Given the tortured judicial reason- ing in the Weber decision and its political implications, why … has there been so little public reaction? WILLIAM E. JOHNSTON, JR. California State Polytechnic University Pomona, California To THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY: Carl Cohen deserves praise for an outstandingly lucid statement of the case against discrimination and the case for merit. The Supreme Court in ruling against Weber was, simply, wrong. Anyone who has de- served a reward, and had it denied for artificial reasons, knows there are only three universally accepted and agreed-upon standards for achievement: merit, merit, merit.
W. R. SEARS San Mateo, California SALT TO THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY: I found Edward N. Lut- twak’s critique in “Ten Questions about SALT II” [August] not only informative but . . . particularly succinct and exhaustive in the manner in which he cuts through official obfuscation and equivoca- tion….
For my part, the question has never been, what kind of arms agreement can the U.S. reach with the Soviet Union, but rather, why are we speaking with Moscow at all -and particularly on the subject of arms? Official policy on this mat- ter more or less states that unless the U.S. and the Soviet Union agree on something, both countries will spend exorbitant sums on an unlimited arms race and so in- crease the possibility of nuclear war. But while both countries al- ready have enough weaponry to de- stroy each other several times over, in a strategic context I see no logic or reason in reducing our ability to pay the Soviets back in their coin. It has been our ability to do just that in the past that has served as some kind of restraint on the scope of Soviet incursions throughout the rest of the world….
EDWARD CLINE Forest Hills, New York TO THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY: Edward N. Luttwak’s discussion of the implications of the proposed SALT treaty provides a penetra- ting look at the entire issue of stra- tegic-nuclear-weapons policy. But the article only touches upon what is one of the least mentioned but most important issues concerning the proposed treaty, namely, how the agreement would affect our NATO allies….
The Soviets hold the power, in the form of their intermediate- range ballistic missiles, to obliter- ate the population centers of West- ern Europe at a stroke. . . . The only deterrent Europe possesses is the U.S. nuclear “umbrella,” a shield which grows more and more tattered with the passing of time.
In the past, American nuclear su- periority meant that the Europeans could feel fairly well assured that the Soviets would not launch a massive strike. But the advent of American strategic “sufficiency” meant that our NATO allies were not really guaranteed anything. An essential balance can be effective in protecting New York or Chi- cago, but it leaves London and Paris wondering what the Ameri- can response would be if they were attacked. The answer is clear. Against an equally powerful Soviet Union, the United States would not respond to an attack on our NATO allies as if it were a nuclear attack on the U.S. proper. Now, with even the rough equivalency of the balance threatening to fade away, the nations of Western Eu- rope face the risk of standing alone and naked in the face of Soviet power….
For the Western alliance to have any credibility at all, this situation must be remedied. While the U.S. is not going to launch a total nu- clear strike in response to a Soviet nuclear attack on Western Europe, some sort of valid response must be available. All indications are that the weapon which would be best suited for such a role is one which will suffer greatly at the hands of the SALT treaty, the long-range cruise missile.
Due to its great accuracy and its consequent ability to carry out a precision mission .armed with only a small, perhaps even conventional, warhead, the cruise missile is a rel- atively discreet strategic weapon which, if properly targeted, could well provide the perfect weapon for the U.S. to respond to a Soviet nuclear attack on Europe without necessarily provoking a Soviet strike against the U.S Yet, as Mr. Luttwak points out, the provi- sions of SALT would severely limit the effectiveness of the cruise mis- sile.. .
But the specifics of the treaty as it applies to the cruise missile are only part of an overall pattern, the lessening of the American nuclear link to Europe…. If the Western alliance is to have any meaning at all, the nuclear link across the At- lantic must be kept vital and ac- tive. But if the U.S. continues to toss away its best strategic alterna- tives, this link will slowly vanish in the wind.
STUART K. SCHWARTZMAN Brooklyn, New York Joseph Heller &Woody Allen TO THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY: Pearl K. Bell’s review of Joseph Heller’s Good as Gold [Fiction, “Heller and Malamud, Then & Now,” June] is one of the finest I have ever read. It’s about time for the highly overrated Heller to be deflated. His book is not even poor caricature. It’s bad slapstick-trite, vulgar, and unimaginative….
ARTHUR WEISS New York City TO THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY: I was thoroughly delighted with Richard Grenier’s astute critique of Woody Allen’s recent film, Man- hattan [Movies, “Woody Allen in the Limelight,” July]. I found the look of the film affected and the plot self-indulgent. Woody Allen is seduced by the very `.`life style” he pretends to deprecate. I liked him better before he became a genius.
DANA-LYNN MACK New York City Clarification TO THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY: The September issue contains a number of letters from readers commenting on an article by Sam- uel McCracken concerning nuclear power [“The Harrisburg Syn- drome,” June]. In one of these, from Mike A. Males of Helena, Montana, my name has been used as an improper reference. Mr. Males states that I am “. . . now with the UCS [Union of Concerned Scientists] . . . ,” and that I have produced a correlation between “… nuclear cost increases and the number of orders processed by reg- ulators and industry….” Neither of these statements is correct. I am now in my sixteenth year at the Rand Corporation, in Santa Mon- ica, and have never been associated in any way with UCS. I have pub- lished several widely used studies of the capital costs of light-water- reactor power plants, including sta- tistical correlations, and have shown that the constant dollar costs of these plants have been increas- ing steadily. But I have never pro- duced anything that could be in- terpreted to be the correlation that Mr. Males ascribes to me.
WILLIAM. E. Mooz The Rand Corporation Santa Monica, California