If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

September 1953


Could you tell me about how much the average U.S. citizen pays each year to support the United Nations?

Seventy-four cents a year is the cost per capita. This includes sixteen cents for the specialized agencies.


I notice that Mrs. Eisenhower is a member of the D.A.R. Has your opinion changed since you resigned from that organization when it refused to let Marian Anderson sing in Constitution Hall?

No, I am afraid I can't say my opinion has changed, but I hope the D.A.R.'s policy in the use of their Washington auditorium has changed. When I was in Washington they were an extremely narrow and conservative group of people, with a great fear of anything new. They still, I fear, have these same characteristics, but that doesn't prevent them from doing excellent patriotic service in the preservation of historical landmarks throughout the country. This, however, does not make them one of the forces for moving forward in the world today.


Did you or your husband ever take any steps to stop the gossip and unkind comments that were circulated about you while you were in Washington?

No. In a way I think one is very fortunate in the White House. One is cut off in so many ways there from the ordinary social contacts of life that gossip of this kind seldom comes to one's attention immediately. One does learn eventually, of course, what is being said.


What in your opinion is the greater danger in Communism—atheism or its economic aims?

It is very difficult to answer questions of this kind, because what I really object to most in Communism is not some of the theories—which were written by Karl Marx in an attempt to correct some of the injustices that he saw during the Industrial Revolution in England—but rather the way Communism developed under Stalin.

Trying to make Stalin and the Communist party take the place of God has not succeeded even with many Russian people, and it seems to me that it would be almost impossible to wipe out religion by offering Communism in its place unless people had already lost their faith in their religion.

What I really consider the greatest danger in Communism is its creation of a police state, which puts everybody under such terror that there is no free expression of individual thinking and no dignity for the human being. The evil of Communism as it has developed in Europe is, of course, the same evil which existed in Fascism and Nazism.


It would help me in my church work if you would tell me your favorite verse or verses from the Bible.

My favorite verses are in First Corinthians, Chapter 13, which starts: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."


The age 65 is not considered too old to be President of the United States or a member of Congress, but it is considered too old to be a schoolteacher. Does this make sense to you?

I think the whole question of old age needs to be reconsidered. Actually it is an individual question, and when retirement ages are set an arbitrary stand is taken, which frequently is unfair to certain individuals. Some schoolteachers at 65 would be invaluable. Others might be so hidebound they would be of little service to their students. I think the whole problem should be judged on an individual basis.


Were you honestly as timid as your son Elliott pictured you in a recent Reader's Digest article? If so, how did you get over it?

Yes, I was just as timid as Elliott said I was. I got over it because I had to get over it! My husband took it for granted I could meet any situation, and little by little I found I could, and I became so interested in what I was doing I forgot myself and my own fears completely.


Do you manage to set aside any time each day so you can be by yourself and meditate?

Yes, at night.


I would like to know how you feel Secretary of State Dulles' performance to date compares with that of former Secretary of State Acheson.

I happen to think that history will consider Secretary Acheson a great Secretary of State. It is much too early as yet to evaluate what Secretary Dulles will be able to do during his term of office.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, September 1953

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | SNAC ]

McCall's, volume 80, September 1953

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
The George Washington University
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