We live in an age of political giants, which is fortunate. Rarely in world history has there been more exigent need for their services. Momentous issues are being decided in this world of ours, and it is in American that these issues are being articulated most eloquently and audaciously. Here the future of mankind is being formulated and fought for. The world looks on in awe.
Will men and women finally shake their shackles and realize their full personhood? Will American youth overcome the capitalist miasma and successfully seek out its sexuality? Can the junk-foods Camorra be thwarted? Will the subversive cigarette be banished? And what of the returnable bottle crusade? How about nude bathing, civil rights for animals and the solar campaign? Has it a chance? The struggle gains momentum and, as it is waged throughout the Great Republic, millions of the earth's inhabitants light little candles of idealism in their hearts and look on. American remains the moral showcase of mankind, and an incomparable generation of political messiahs performs within.
The Hon. Dick Clark is such a moral colossus. He became a senator in 1972, after walking the length and breadth of Iowa (700 miles all told), listening to the wails of the downtrodden and going through dozens of pairs of socks. There in the great chamber he distinguished himself, according to the Washington commentator, Tom Bethell, as a senator who took "the view that if there was anywhere in the world a Marxist dictator who felt like hollering abuse at the United States, then it was no doubt our fault and we should just curl up and apologize." Unfortunately, Clark lost his bid for reelectin in 1978, possibly because of a papal plot perpetuated on account of his abortion stand.
President Carter had heard of the Hon. Clark's violent humanitarianism, and he made him the administration's coordinator for refugee affairs with the rank of ambassador. On slow days, Ambassador Clark might be expected to issue a poem praising the president's marvels to the folks back in Iowa, but otherwise he was to coordinate Congress, the Justice Department and the State Department in the treatment of fleeing refugees.
What those refugees were fleeing from is a question that Ambassador Clark must have found perplexing. They were not fleeing from Chile or Argentina, and so for a time he could clear his mind of those dark visions of juntas and multinatinoal corporations that have inspired so many of his sonorous oratories, nor were they streaming out of South Africa or Zimbabwe Rhodesia. Theses were Cambodians, Vietnamese and overseas Chinese. Why would they leave?
Could they be dragging their pitiful belongings across unfriendly roads and perilous seas to escape the fear of unexploded American bombs and the unhealthy conditions caused by American defolients? God knows that in our imperalist madness we recently did much to destroy the quality of life in their homelands. Could they be coming out of Vietnam and Cambodia to protest our spoilages? If so, they carried no anti-American placards, and these denunciations were very pianissimo. Perhaps they were leaving in fear of impending right-wing coups or harassment from marauding bands of counterrevolutionaries armed with the residue of American military might. Yet these refugees were suffering from beatings, hunger, terror and ghastly diseases -- curious conditions for the citizenry of a progressive regime. Possibly the CIA was again attempting to discredit Hanoi's forces of peace and freedom.
Nonetheless, Ambassador Clark put himself to the task of finding homes, food and medical care for these refugees. Still, their numbers continued to grow, and their conditions worsened. The thing was unusual. No pronunciamento intoned by an American pol seemed to do any good. Erratic waves of pathetic Southeast Asians kept popping up. They appeared in leaky ships in the South China Sea, and those who did not drown -- about half -- muttered feebly about having been beaten, robbed and raped. Furthermore, these atrocities were not committed by our Americal division, but by Third World cousins. Then along the Thai border the most pathetic refugees of all began appearing -- mere skeletons, bearing tales of heretofore unimaginable cruelty. Some held dying babes in their arms.s Some had shed loved ones in pitiful expiring heats along their terrible route. Broken and dying, they collapsed in hastily laid out camps just like that. They died by the thousands. None of the Third World rhetoricians at the United Nations did anything. Evem Ambassador Andrew Young was relatively noiseless, and Jesse Jackson went off to condole Dr. Yasser Arafat.
Our American political giants relish moments of crisis, but this was too much. The numbers of refugees kep mounting. Their conditionss kept growing more critical. Doctors in the refugee camps began talking in tones of panic, and no one could do anything. Finally some of the pols began talking about dropping thousands of tons of food into Cambodia as though there were hundreds of shopping centers and tidy towns over there where people would gather to collect their airborne victuals. But even this scheme was denied the pols. The sovereign governments of Vietnam and Cambodia would not allow such tampering with their internal affairs. And why should they? Has not the United States brought enough misery to these lands? Those who govern in Phnom Penh and Hanoi are reasonable men. They are progressives. They eliminate human misery; they do not cause it.
Thus it must have come as a relief to Ambassador Clark when at the end of October -- just as some spoke of another huge Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia -- a Mr. Pen Sovan issued his statement. Sovan is the distinguished defense minister of Cambodia's Vietnamese-sponsored government, and from Moscow he declared that "I can say with a full sense of responsibility that no one is starving in our country." Well thank God for that!
And so on Oct. 30 Ambassador Clark quit his post. He would take the struggle for a better world to other parts, to Iowa. There Camelot II was in trouble. People needed him. He had heard the call from Hyannisport. w And so off to the Midwest ex-ambassador Clark did go, and in Washington the office of our coordinator for refugee affairs was left empty.