RPW to Campbell Letter 2/1/66
In what appears to be a draft version of a letter, Warren replies to Janice Campbell regarding a reading at which he was scheduled to present his work. Like John Updike, who had also been scheduled to attend, Warren indicates that he must withdraw due to SNCC's position on Vietnam.
Warren discusses the meaning of draft card burning and why he cannot support SNCC's stance on this issue; he withdraws with regrets and offers to help SNCC in other ways. A postscript mentions the expulsion of Bond from his seat.
RPW to Campbell Letter 2/1/66Collapse
[This is apparently a draft of a letter]
2495 Redding Road, Fairfield, COnnecticut, February 1, 1966
Miss Janice Campbell,
Unitarian Universalist Register Leader,
25 Beacon Street,
Dear Miss [C]ampbell:
I am sorry to have been slow in answering your letter,
but it came while I was in the crisis of term papers
and grades and similar matters. Meanwhile, even before your
letter came I was in in midst of some soul-searching of my
own, and perhaps for different reasons from those of John
Updike, have come out at the same end.
I have been deeply by the noble record of SNCC, andon the
matter of civil rights and race I am totally with them.
Among other things, they have done a great service in
affirming the esential nature andlaw of our society. I
sympathize, too, with the concern over Vietnam, for I have
been deeply disturbed -- enough any way to do a little
marchung, which is quite a lot for a sedentary character like
myself. I can respect a pacificst, and can respect the courage
of a person who, out of conscience and in willing acceptance
of the consequences of his act, will destroy a draft card.
But I myself would not destroy a draft card -- not unless I
thought myself in a society which did not provide means of
protest and unless I were prepared, on the particular point
in question to destroy that society. For such an act is,
symbolically at least, an act of total confrontation, one on
which discussion and compromise are impossible. There are
societies, of course, in which one shojld burn one's
draft card. I do not think that this is one of them -- at
least not yet. And I trust that it will not come to that
point. Since I would not destroy my own draft card, I do
not think that it would be honest of me to sponsor, as it
were, the destroying of draft cards. So, with real sadness, I
must withdraw from your program. I should like to give any
help I can on the other base of the activitiesof SNCC, and where
and if you you find some use let me know.
Very sincerely yours,
Robert Penn Warren
PS. As a kind of fottnote, I may say that I think it was
outrageous and stypid to expell Bond from his seat.