If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

February 1954


In a recent issue of McCall's you said you considered Christ, Confucius, Mohammed, Buddha and Plato the greatest men in history. Am I correct in assuming that you regard Jesus as a great man rather than the true and divine Son of God?

No. You are assuming something which you have no reason to assume. I happen to believe in Christ as being the Son of God, but he did come to earth as a man, and it was the value of his perfect life as a man which has made his example so important to the world. As you doubtless realize, we are taught that every human spirit has something of the divine. That is the basis on which we feel that all human personality is worthy of respect and that men have inherent rights derived from God.


I would like to know one case where you have come out strong against Communism in the U.S.A.

If you will read the records of the U.N. you will find many speeches in which I have been strongly opposed to Communism. You will find this is true in my other speeches too.


Is it your opinion that farmers and livestock owners are in a bad state now because of the Eisenhower administration or because of conditions that existed anyway? An honest answer, please!

I am afraid you would like me to say that I think it is because of conditions which existed anyway, but as far as I have been able to discover in talking to farmers and livestock men they feel that recently enacted policies have brought about the present situation. I am unable to form an opinion, since I have no experience in this field.


Did you or anyone in your family ever attend a nonsegregated school?

I did not, because I didn't happen to live in an area where that was possible. I went to private schools until I went abroad to school. In Europe people of many nationalities were in the same school, so I suppose my European school could be called a nonsegregated school. Many of my grandchildren have gone to schools which were completely nonsegregated.


Is it true you were opposed to capital punishment for the people who murdered Bobby Greenlease? If you don't think kidnap-murderers should get the death sentence, what do you think they should get?

I have never said I was opposed to capital punishment in any single case. I have said I was opposed to capital punishment in general, because it does not achieve the results we hope for. Many who have been in prison work their entire lives are convinced that capital punishment does not discourage crime, and many countries which have done away with it have found their crime conditions did not become worse but in some cases better. I think it is evident, therefore, that it is not the best kind of punishment for the worst crimes.


A hearing-aid salesman told me that the only reason you wear a Zenith hearing aid is that you own stock in the company. Do you?

No. I don't own a single share of stock in the company.


Would you mind telling me where your sympathies lie in the Israel-Jordan question?

This question is not one of sympathies, it is a question of thinking out what can be done to reduce the tensions which bring about bad situations. I think there is blame on both sides, but I think only the U.N., through its impartial commissions, can judge correctly where it lies.


In your book about India you say that most Indians see no point to the "Horatio Alger" kind of success so many Americans strive for. Frankly, do you think any true Christian sees much point to it either?

I said that most Indians do not understand what we mean when we speak of the kind of drive needed to achieve the Horatio Alger type of success, since they have been for generations geared to renunciation.

I think there are a good many Christians in this country who can still square the Horatio Alger story with Christianity, because as long as you are considerate of others there is no reason why you can't put great drive into helping yourself as well as others.


Hitler said once that your husband had boasted he had "noble" Jewish blood in his veins. Is this possible?

No, I don't think this was really possible. What he really said was that he could not find any Jewish ancestors, but that if he did have Jewish blood in his veins he would be proud of it.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, February 1954

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

McCall's, volume 81, February 1954

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
The George Washington University
Old Main Building, Suite 406
1951 F Street, NW
Washington, DC