“Thereupon Mr. Katzenbach said that as interesting as the constitutional issue was, the ‘gut issue here is whether or not the Congress supports the President in what he does...’ “ New York Times, Aug. 22, 1967.
Dear Mr. Katzenbach:
We, a group of your summer neighbors on Martha’s Vineyard, wish to express our shock at your recent testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and our outrage at your presumption that Congress, when it passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964, intended to authorize the series of open-ended escalations that now bring our troop strength in Vietnam up to a half-million men and our bombers within ten miles of the border of China.
We consider your testimony to be the most dangerous sort of legalistic subterfuge. It may easily be used to prepare Congress and the American people for the acceptance of any and all further escalations, including war with China, on the bases of a congressional mandate which, however skillfully argues, cannot be twisted to sanction World War Three.
“The gut issue” as far as we’re concerned is not only whether “Congress supports what the President does,” but whether you, who we have come to think of as a civilized and humane man, support what the President does. We urge you as an influential member of the Administration to stop playing the functionary and speak out against President Johnson’s indefensible diplomacy of violence.
Aaron Aher
Robert Brustein
Stanley Burnshaw
Jules Feiffer
Robert Heilbroner
Lillian Hellman
John Hersey
Henry Beetle Hough
Daniel Lang
Albert R. Leventhal
John Marquand
Jerry Mason
Philip Rahv
Philip Roth
Henry Clay Smith
William Styron 

Letters to the Editors, published in the August 29, 1967 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:


Responsibility of Writers is Challenged

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The most distressing part of this summer has not been the rainy climate but the climate of opinion to be found at parties and gatherings. There is a “MacBird” strand running through too much of the conversation. The President is rarely mentioned except in the most vituperative terms. He is seldom given the benefit of the doubt but is usually portrayed as some stupid dolt who can’t even speak with the right kind of accent.
I am also a summer and winter neighbor of Mr. Katzenbach, and, in a sense, so are we all, summer and winter neighbors. He has a right to express his ideas as he sees fit and others have the right to disagree. Just as we all defend the right to dissent on the Vietnam War, the dissenters also have responsibilities. A primary responsibility is to respect your opponent’s motives and honesty. As Adlai Stevenson wrote to Paul Goodman, he expected his sincerity and his motives to be accepted without question.
The advertisement on the “gut issue” should be read in contrast with the other advertisement in your same issue. Both oppose the war but the “negotiation now” advertisement is thoughtful and well-balanced, seeking a response from North Vietnam as well as the United States.
The “gut issue” ad was filled with emotional words which were skillfully used to produce a polemic rather than a discussion. Calling Mr. Katzenbach a “functionary” suggests that he is one kind of paid mercenary. The other phrases suggest that he is working for some kind of Atilla the Hun. The fairer way to discuss this issue would have been to take for granted that Mr. Katzenbach said what he believed - that he is an intelligent and honest man and that such a man would hold a different opinion over the complicated issue of Vietnam.
Writers, above all, know that words can be used for manipulating public opinion. Therefore, they have a duty and responsibility to use their words carefully. Writers can help bring about a climate of opinion for a reasoned exchange of ideas, or they can help bring about a barren season of hatred and hysteria.
Adriene R. Spivack
(Mrs. Robert G. Spivack)
Middle Road, Chilamark

A Correspondent Applauds

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
This correspondent applauds the tocsin sounded by Mr. Katzenbach’s “summer neighbors” on the Island in your Aug. 25 issue.
Really it was distressing to me to read Mr. Katzenbach’s testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee on the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. In strictly human terms, this seemed diametrical to his historical confrontation with Governor Wallace at Birmingham, when he dramatically espoused the cause of free men under our constitution.
It is inconceivable that he can now apply the refinements of a highly developed mind to a tortuous rationale that bespeaks the most vulgar opportunism. He, possessed as he is of the conventional wisdom of the intellectually elite, should be using his talents to lead us out of this wilderness of despair and moral bankruptcy...
Joseph L. Pierce
Oak Bluffs