IS CIVIL DEFENSE A DEFENSE?
There are lots of things in the air these warm spring days, including plans for more civil defense programs. Not all government officials believe that Civil Defense provides any real protection against a nuclear attack, however. The underground shelter program was characterized as a "cruel deception" by Governor Meyner of New Jersey in a recent speech. We believe his remarks deserve some serious thought, and thus have reprinted below the news release covering his talk. As Governor Meyner points out, virtually all life would be wiped out in any city hit by a few megaton bombs, even if people were in underground shelters at the time of attack.
And if shelters are of no avail, how much greater is the delusion that air raid drills will provide safety in wartime. This is a problem we should be discussing in our homes, schools and churches. The reprint we have enclosed provides an analysis of the relationship of the church to civil defense. (This would make a good topic for a church youth group.) People keep saying that "the only defense against a nuclear war is peace," but acting as if a good civil defense program will really protect us. As people are fond of telling pacifists, "Let's be realistic!"
Sacramento, Calif., March 19 (UPI) -- Governor Robert E. Meyner of New Jersey criticizes as unrealistic today the building of the underground shelters for civil defense when "the basic purpose of modern warfare is to kill an entire city."
A vast system of underground shelters holds no answer to defense from an attack of megaton bombs (equivalent to a million tons of TNT) that would be used in a third world war.
"If a city like San Fransisco or Neward, or Los Angeles or Trenton were to be hit by a few megaton bombs," everything in the civil defense handbook would go out the window," Mr. Meyner said.
He said that the shelters would be buried under mountains of radioactive rubble in a blast spreading more than twenty square miles. He said that devastating fire would spread from the center of the explosion and [radioactive] dust would retain killing power for months and possibly years.
"Now, let us suppose that people could come up out of the shelters," Mr. Meyner said. "What kind of world would they come up to? What would they use for air? What would they use for food? What would they use for hospitals? What would they use for streets? What would they use for people?
"That is why i say we are fostering a cruel deception on the American people if we try to persuade them they can have civil defense through underground in shelters in the next war."
The Governor said he could best serve the people of his state by hammering away at the idea "that there is one and only one defense against a nuclear war -- and that is peace."
He proposed that the billions of dollars required for construction of an underground shelter network be used in a "massive effort to make our world safe for human habitation -- while there is yet time."
The Governor suggested building 200,000,000 homes for the homeless of Asia and Africa, strengthening ties with all peoples of the world, and bolstering the United Nations.
(From THE NEW YORK TIMES, March 20, 1960. Underlining added - D.H.)
State Archives of Florida: Collection N2015-1, Box 01, Folder 9
"Scrapbook" newsletter, Volume 15, Number 7, on the topics of picketing, forms of civil disobedience and civil defense tactics. The envelope indicates that the newsletter was sent from Richard Hiler to Patricia Stephens.