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Other radical roots

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.

Cyril D. Robinson
Carbondale, Illinois

While 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 picture.

George K. Hendrick Jr, AB'49, MBA'49

On 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.

Francis T. Davis, SB'47
Carbondale, Illinois

I 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 Chicago.

One 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 thereafter.
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.

But 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.

David Ingle, PhD'63
Framingham, Massachusetts

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  AUGUST 2001

  > > Volume 94, Number 1

  > > Consuming interests
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The iron taxman cometh
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Street arts
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Letter by letter

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