Most men would snap at an honorary degree from the University of the South, popularly known as Sewanee, which for 104 years has been an Episcopal-controlled* showpiece atop the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. Yet last week Sewanee got a flat rebuff from its own Russian-born Eugene M. Kayden, professor emeritus of economics and translator of the poems of Boris Pasternak.
"Demonic Influence." Kayden was protesting Sewanee's decision to award another honorary degree to a famed alumnus ('25): Editor Thomas R. Waring of the Charleston, S.C.. News and Courier, the South's most segregationist newspaper. Kayden was not alone. One former South Carolina Episcopal minister, now living in Ohio, was so disgusted that Sewanee should give Waring a doctorate of civil law that he sent a brochure of Waring's writings to leading Episcopalians across the country. "Those who have lived in South Carolina," wrote the Rev. Ralph E. Cousins Jr., "can vouch for the demonic influence Mr. Waring and his newspaper have had on South Carolina. It is tragic that the university owned by 21 Episcopal dioceses of the Episcopal Church would applaud such a record."
An impeccable Charleston gentleman with an ante-bellum mind, Editor Waring fires on Fort Sumter every morning. He applauds Citizens Councils, mourns the fact that "even some Southernerspeople who should know betterare saying that integration of the races is inevitable." As for the rest of the world ("the whiter they are the better the country"), his newspaper sees it in black and white. One recent editorial was titled "Who Cares What Asia Thinks?" Another, on South Africa, "that outpost of Western civilization," sympathized with white cops "whose lives were endangered by hordes of savages in modern dress." When Kenya's Tom Mboya visited the U.S. in 1959 ("A busy year for touring cutthroats"), the paper dismissed him as "a man only lately come down out of a tree."
Balky Faculty. Twice since 1957 Waring has been up for a Sewanee degree, on the ground of his "distinction" and loyal-alumnus pitches for the old school. Each time the faculty, which Waring has frequently attacked for its "naive" support of integration, has managed to kill the idea. But the regents do not have to heed the faculty, and this year they decided to give Waring the nod. Sewanee's President Edward McCrady was especially proud that Waring would get a degree alongside pro-integrationist Professor Kayden. McCrady envisioned "a true ministry of reconciliation." Last week, as Kayden withdrew "until a happier time when there is no ideological conflict in the South," Sewanee was left with Racist Waring as the symbol of its pride.
*The U.S. has only six Episcopal colleges: Sewanee, Hobart (Geneva, N.Y.), Kenyon (Gambier, Ohio), St. Augustine's (Raleigh, N.C.), St. Paul's (Lawrenceville, Va:) and Trinity (Hartford, Conn.).