If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

May 1962

 

Did your husband ever belong to any clubs with discriminatory memberships, like the Cosmos and Metropolitan in Washington?

I know my husband belonged to the Metropolitan Club, and it is possible that he belonged to the Cosmos Club. In his day, I don't think the question had ever been brought up of any kind of discriminatory rules or regulations. I am sure that he would feel very strongly that members of any club should be accepted as people and not because of their religion or color.

 

Do you see any value in the various women's groups' "marching for peace" outside the White House and UN? We certainly all want peace, but this seems as negative and pacifist as Britain's "Ban the Bomb" sit-ins.

The average person has a sense of frustration because he can think of no way to express to his government or to the world at large his desire for peaceful solutions to the difficulties that confront us. The demonstrations you mention are important if only because they dramatize the lack of more useful ways for people to show their devotion to the cause of peace.

 

It has become necessary for us to find a nursing home for my husband's mother, and we don't know how to go about it. What is a reasonable charge (the one place we queried charges $125 a week)? How can we determine that the medical and sanitation standards are met? Is there any central source of information?

The central source of information would be the doctor in charge of hospitals in your area. The real trouble is that nursing homes are not as yet fully developed. We desperately need homes for old people who require only a minor amount of physical care but can no longer live alone. We do not have this kind of home at the present time. Obviously, $125 a week is too much to pay unless one is actually in a hospital.

 

I wonder if you are appalled, as I am, at the carnival approach that is taken to putting our astronauts into space. Both the press and the public treat these experiments as though they were a sideshow, instead of the matter of life and death they actually are. Wouldn't it be more dignified if these launchings were held privately and the results announced only after the fact?

I feel, as you do, that the launching of an astronaut into space should be a serious moment. It should be carried out with little or no publicity until the return and recovery of the man. We have, however, a free press, and unless the press is willing to cooperate, it is futile to try to change the character of the event.

 

A provision was added to the postal-increase bill barring from the mails any material from abroad that the attorney general may deem "Communist political propaganda." Don't you think this hinders the exchange of ideas and flow of communication between countries?

I think it is a pity that we censor any communications that come in from any other country. I understand perfectly the feeling of officials who are opposed to the dissemination of "Communist political propaganda," but I have such confidence in our own people and in their ability to sift the truth from purely propaganda statements that I really have very few qualms about any problems arising from uncensored material.

 

Are you in favor of sanctions against Communist Cuba?

There is nothing else to do in the present circumstances. We do not feel (and apparently the majority of the South and Central American countries agree with us) that a Communist state in our midst is compatible with the true interests of our countries. We do not wish to use military force. So economic sanctions are the only means available to us.

 

You have come out against the building of private bomb shelters. Are you against President Kennedy's plan for community shelters at a cost of about $700,000,000?

I am not against a plan the Army would design and carry out. This would be part of the security of the country and might add to President Kennedy's strength when he must next negotiate with Mr. Khrushchev.

 

Would you be in favor of doing away with literacy tests for voting registration?

I don't think anyone who can neither read nor write any language is capable of voting intelligently. We might just as well lower the voting age to ten. I would, however, be in favor of eliminating the language tests, because I think it is quite possible for people who speak and read Spanish to vote intelligently, even though they cannot speak or write English. But I would not eliminate the sections that require literacy in some language as a prerequisite for voting.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, May 1962

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

McCall's, volume 89, May 1962

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

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