A man who made the system work
Allard Lowenstein's New York funeral today is scheduled to have speakers as diverse as conservative William Buckley and liberal Andrew Young. The range of his admirers is a tribute to, among other things, his bold use of the American system to change what he thought needed changing. During the civil-rights and antiwar movements of the '60s he inspired the young with the conviction that they could make a difference in the direction of their country. Some became impatient with his determination not to let the ends be sullied by the use of violent means. Some disagreed on issues. But they could not honestly fail to respect his adherence to what he believed.
After Mr. Lowenstein led the Eugene McCarthy crusade against Lyndon Johnson in 1968, he went on to seek and win public office himself as a Democratic congressman from New York. He roamed from this platform to speak against violence on the campuses where young people were making the choices of whether to pursue ideals within the system or in conflict with it. His effectiveness was enhanced by seeing that the government had a responsibility for meeting pressing problems if it expected to forestall resort to violence. He once pointed out that on no campus had he found leftist disruption to have majority support -- "but you've got to prove there are plenty of alternatives or it becomes the prevailing wind and the majority acquiesces."
Mr. Lowenstein proved that in America there are alternatives, and they work.