Man and Woman of the Year: The Middle Americans

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changes. The Middle American's education does not dwell upon the agonizing moral discrepancies of American history—the story of the Indians or the blacks, or the national tradition of violence. He quite sincerely rejects the charge that he is prejudiced against blacks or calloused about the poor. He cannot believe that the society he has come to accept as the best possible on earth, the order he sees as natural, contains wrongs so deeply built-in that he does not notice them. His sense of indignation is all too easily served by the fact that so many reformers have gone beyond reform as being too slow, and are using methods ranging from rude to downright totalitarian. The issues that arouse and haunt Middle America form a catalogue of national crises, tied together by an underlying crisis in values:

RACE. The rising level of crime frightens the Middle American, and when he speaks of crime, though he does not like to admit it, he means blacks. On the one hand, Middle America largely agrees with the advances toward equality made by blacks in the past ten years. Says Robert Rosenthal, an insurance auditor in New York City: "Sure, I know it's only a handful of Negroes who are causing the trouble. Most of them are the same as whites." His daughter Nancy, 17, attends a school that is 60% black, and she expresses both the adaptability and anxiety of the Middle Americans: "I always look down the stairway to make sure no one is there before I walk. It's not really bad, except that you can't go into the bathroom because they'll take your money."

Middle Americans express respect for moderate black leaders like Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young—which is easy enough. Middle Americans would generally like to see the quality of black education improve. But the idea of sacrificing their own children's education to a long-range improvement for blacks appalls them. "They moved to the suburbs for their children, to get fresh air and find good schools," says Frank Armbruster. But programs such as bussing "negated all their sacrifices to provide their children an education."

Open admissions programs at universities strike Middle Americans as unfair and illogical violations of the merit system. Beyond that, they see a bias toward blacks in conventional admissions policies. "If anything," says Futurist Herman Kahn, "they believe that a black face helps. A Middle American can't send his kid to Harvard, but he knows the black man down the street can, if the boy is bright enough." Middle American workers frequently feel that blacks are given preferential treatment in job hiring. Says Harvard Psychiatrist Robert Coles, who has made a study of the grievances of Middle America: "They say that the Negro should be given jobs, but only so long as he does not go faster than they had to go."

BLACK MILITANCY. It is the black militants who especially anger the white Middle. During 1969, job militants at construction sites in Pittsburgh came up against phalanxes of hard-hatted white workers determined to prove that they were capable of counterviolence. "The threats strike me as blackmail," says Al Braselton, an Atlanta advertising man. "Negroes have got to confront the white community strongly, but it had better not be with shotguns, because we've got a lot more of them than

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