If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

April 1958


I have heard shocking and depressing references to your husband's "anti-Semitism." I would be so grateful if you could clear up this matter for me.

Of course, there is no way of my knowing what you have heard. I can only say that I feel sure that my husband was not in any way anti-Semitic. The question never came up in any serious way in our household because he knew that I felt deeply about the right of all people to be treated as equals in our country, and I took it for granted that he felt the same way. As far as I was able to tell there was never any indication that he did not.


Can you give me the name of the garlic pills you take for aiding your memory?

No. They are a doctor's prescription and have no particular name as far as I know.


Is it true, as I recently read, that an Arab sheik with thirty-nine wives asked you to marry him? Also, did you invite him to come and visit you in this country?

I am afraid I did not ask Sheik Suleiman El Haseil to come and visit me in this country; and I am not aware that he ever invited me to be his wife, although I have heard some rumors of this in the papers!


What kind of president do you feel Senator Kennedy would make?

It is quite impossible to tell before a man has been nominated for the presidency what kind of president he would make. I would not presume to forecast such a thing for any one of the possible candidates.


What is your favorite flower and what was your husband's favorite flower? My husband and I are florists and would like to use this information in a column we circulate.

My favorite flowers are lilies of the valley and pansies, and my husband's were roses.


You say one reason we're behind the Russians with our satellite is that Congress wouldn't appropriate enough money. What good would that have done when our Secretary of Defense refused to use the money that was there already?

Of course, no one thing is ever the only reason something occurs. The fact that Congress has not appropriated enough money for research is the fault of the voters who have not been research-minded and insisted upon it. If the money that has been appropriated has not been used properly by the Secretary of Defense, then it is up to the people to speak up about that too. It seems to me that the country as a whole has been very complacent about keeping the budget down at the expense of defense measures.


I'm sure you don't indulge in profanity, but I think there must be some unladylike expression you use when terribly annoyed. Is there?

I am not often terribly annoyed, but I use a number of expressions such as "gosh darn," and sometimes I will say "What in blazes am I going to do about this?"


I was interested to read that you were "outraged" at the campaign of religious bigotry against Al Smith when he ran for president. What about the religious bigotry of the Catholic Church? Would you care for that kind of influence around the White House?

I do not want any religions to predominate in Government, although I think it is important that our people and our representatives should be religious. I do not happen to have come into contact with the "religious bigotry" of the Catholic Church.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, April 1958

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

McCall's, volume 85, April 1958

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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