S 5S02 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - SENATE May J.i , 19fi.fJ
THE GENERATION GAP AND THE
Mr MANSFIELD. Mr President, with
respect to the rrlationship between the
generations, there has been increasing
concern expressed in various segments of
our society. There have been selious difficulties
among young people, to be sure.
but there has also bern a good deal of
fanaticism in reaction. In this situation,
there is no justification for pompos!Ly
on the part of the older generation anymore
than there is for anarchism on the
part of the younger generation.
That there is a gap between the old
and young is an inescapable biological
reality. Nothing can be done about that
except to accept it. That there is a Jack
of credibility or of mutual tolerance of
ideas between the generations is ::Wso a
fact. Tl1at difference, too, has a certain
inevitability; down through the generations.
it has been more the norm than
the abnorm between old and young.
We need only go back, in all honesty,
to our own younger da:vs to sense the
similarity between past and present.
There were strains and tugs then as
there are now. TI1e principal difference
is that we who are older, now, were
younger then and were doing most of the
straining and tugging.
The older generation has its faults
which, in my judgment, tend to center
on a shirking of responsibilities toward
the young who, in their own way, for
better or for worse. are striving to grapple
with a world which they did not make.
The faults of the younger generation, in
turn seem to me to center on a tendency
to reject whatever has gone before as,
at best, irrelevant. On the part of the
mini-minorities, moreover, therr is an
apparent detctmination not merely to
reject the past but to rampage over past.
present, and future and reduce them all
to a rubble heap.
What is needed is a realistic apprais::W
of the <'ituation. The present generation
of youngsters was born into a world
which they did not make and which
we elders helped to make. These kids arr
not to be dismissed as some sort of monsters
from another planet. They are,
after all, our progrny. If we start from
that point, perhaps we can biidge the
gapS between the grnerations with a degree
of honesty and humility, even 1! we
cannot close them.
I would also have the temerity to suggest
to young people that they resist the
temptation to blame everything on the
previous generation. Those of us who
are older should, In turn, act our age
and stop the flatulent berating of youngsters
when we ourselves are not wit.hout
blame. Young people have to make their
own lives. They havC' to find a way to
face the responsibilities which go with
life TI1ey have to mnkr nnd correct their
own mistakPs along with lhf' accumulated
mistakes of thf' past and, in that
way, to come forward, as we tried in our
turn to do, >Vith a rcSJ10nsible and reasonable
way of life of their own.
With particular reference to the pres-ent
wu·est on a small minority of the
Nation's college campuses, it Is my belief
that the following ctiter!a shoulfl be
First. The Federal Goverrunent should,
if at all possible, not become Involved
in the settlf'ment of campus disputes.
Second. As frtr ::u; praccful clemons! rations,
dissent.. and petition. .~ arc concerned.
they arc entirt>ly lnwful and guarantet'd
to all our cliizen' under the Constitution;
as far as violrncc and license
arc concerned, they are contrary lo the
law of the land and. lhPreforc. arc punishable.
TI1e law must bf' upheld ancl
the punishment made to fit the crimr
and this punishment ,<;hould be applicable
to all our citizens on or off lhc
Third. The uiliversll ie,; of the country
have rules and regulations, thr enforcement
of which Is their responsibility.
They also have penalties such as suspension
and expulsion t.o usc should tl!rsc
r ulrs and regulations not be adhered to.
Fourth. The administrators of the universities
and colleges as well as the students
and the faculty arc, in effect. in
the process of passing tluough pcrn1anent
institutions. The Institutions and
the maintenance of their effectiveness
ought to take precedence over the predilections
of any transient or group of
Fifth. Congress passed an amendment
to the Higher Education Act in 1968
which gives authority and rcsponsiblli~y
to administrative officials of the universities
and which was designed to assist in
restraining violence and license.
To the best of my knowledge, no administrator
in any college which has
been subject to violence and liccn~e by
students has seen fit to put thls amrndment
Into operation even though the authority
to do so rests with them.
It is my further understanding that
the reason that this has not been done
is that the administrative author ities of
the colleges have indicated that they do
not believe this amendment Is constitutional.
I can only say that if that Is thr
principal basts for their reticence, they
should take thr matter to the courts nnd
get a ruling ns to whether or not it is
Sixth. On tile other side of the coin.
the responsibility for listening to and
heeding legitimate grievances and maintaining
law and order Is the prime responsibility
of the collc"cs themselves
and this includes not only the administrators
but the faculties and the student
bodies as well.
Insofar as all generations are concerned,
we should face up to the difficulties
which confront us today. Our
most profound obligation-young and
old-is to keep this society, this Nation,
and this world llvable not only for
ourselves but for those many generations
which wi.ll come after us.
Mike Mansfield Papers, Series 21, Box 44, Folder 77, Mansfield Library, University of Montana
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