Monday, April 10, 2017


"In 'We Do Our Part,' a cautionary tale about losing sight of working Americans" PBS NewsHour 4/3/2017


SUMMARY:  Charles Peters was the one-time election campaign manager in West Virginia for John F. Kennedy, a founder of the Peace Corps and the editor of the Washington Monthly.  In his new book, "We Do Our Part: Toward a Fairer and More Equal America," Peters writes about how he sees long-term changes in equality and social progress.  Judy Woodruff with talks Peters about major cultural shifts in Washington.

JOHN YANG (NewsHour):  Now, a new book by the one-time manager of John F. Kennedy's 1960 campaign in West Virginia, a founder of the Peace Corps and the editor of the storied Washington Monthly.

Charles Peters takes on modern America in “We Do Our Part: Toward a Fairer and More Equal America.”

Here again is Judy Woodruff, who sat down with Peters recently and asked him, why this book, why now?

CHARLES PETERS, Author, “We Do Our Part: Toward a Fairer and More Equal America”:  I was terribly concerned about the things that had taken us apart, from a country that was relatively together during the time I was growing up.

The Franklin Roosevelt era, I would say, lasted roughly until 1965.  Not only were incomes becoming more equal, but the country was becoming more equal, in the sense that blacks were achieving legal rights that they had never known.  And our Jewish prejudice was radically diminished by the mid-'60s.  And our Catholic prejudice almost disappeared.

So, it was a country that seemed to be coming together.  And then just a few years later, the Vietnam War began to split us apart.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  You launched a magazine in the late 1960s, you said, because you wanted to look at what the federal government was doing right, and what it was doing wrong, how it could do better.

But you soon expanded that to look at the whole country.

CHARLES PETERS:  We felt we had to get into those broader cultural issues.

But the main thing that happened was the snobbery that began with the anti-war movement.  That was, I think, one of two really bad things that happened to divide the country.  The other was the growth of greed and the conspicuous consumption that fueled the greed.



JUDY WOODRUFF:  It's not a word that's thrown out a lot.


JUDY WOODRUFF:  What did you — who do you mean by what happened?

CHARLES PETERS:  In the anti-war movement, there was a feeling that the people who were against the war were morally superior to those who were for the war.

Well, I was against the war, but I understood there were an awful lot of good people who believed in the war.  That's when I began to worry about what was going wrong with the anti-war movement, even though I was part of the anti-war movement.

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