In your April/01 story on Karl Meyer ("A Radical
Takes Root"), you mention that he went on the Los Angeles
to Moscow walk, but you do not mention the person who conceived
and led it. He is Brad Lyttle, AM'51, who has had just as luminous
a career as Meyer. If you have not already done a story on Brad,
I would suggest it.
I applaud your policy of giving space to various points of view,
I was surprised to see your April article on Karl Meyer. Like
his friend Daniel Berrigan, Mr. Meyer is viewed, even by some
of his former associates, as a pathetic, nearly comic refugee
from the lunatic fringe of the radical left. To be sure, such
a far-out person deserves mention in the Magazine; but
please, not a sympathetic, featured piece complete with cover
K. Hendrick Jr, AB'49, MBA'49
this Memorial Day of 2001 I have just finished the four-page featured
article about Karl H. Meyer, AB'58. With some dismay I compare
it to the three-line obituary in the same issue of Martin Levit,
SB'40, AM'47, PhD'49, voted the best scholar-athlete in the Big
Ten and the recipient in World War II of two Purple Hearts, the
Silver Star, and the Navy Cross.
T. Davis, SB'47
have an additional comment on Karl Meyer's career as a pacifist
and social caretaker as well as the anger it generated in one
reader ("Letters," June/01). I met Karl in 1956 as he
visited our "work camp" project in a Washington, D.C.,
ghetto. It was directed by a "conscientious objector"
who later received a theological degree from the University of
day, after I was arrested for sticking my nose into a police "racial
incident," Karl was heard moaning. "It's a sad day when
atheists go to jail for Christian principles and Christians walk
the street free." He managed to get himself arrested soon
At that time Karl's radical Catholicism appeared to anchor his
pacifism. After associating with Quakers for a time, I too felt
impelled to take a pacifist position when drafted into the Army.
I reacted indignantly to the economic motives that permeated much
of our foreign policy and wanted to work in the "Third World"
able to tell my African or Indian collaborators that I had never
been a part of the U.S. industrial-military complex.
as an atheist I could not anchor my breaking a covenant of mutual
support with family and nation to a higher duty or to a personal
identity to be fulfilled in another world. After much emotional
wrangling, I decided that one would need a religious justification
for ignoring the many contradictions in a pacifist stance. I regret
that Mertens did not explore such issues with Karl, since a "secular
pacifism" based on political goals or personal squeamishness
involves acceptance of behavior we all regard as "evil"
(e.g., the rash of genocide around the world in recent years).
I do not blame Clarence C. Hardin for writing to point out that
anti-war advocates depend on warriors for their own comfort, although
Hardin undervalues Karl's hard work on behalf of the poor and
his imagination in espousing urban agriculture.