If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

June 1962


Are you in favor of our resumption of nuclear testing aboveground?

It discourages me greatly, but I think the President had no alternative. Undoubtedly, his advisors felt that some discoveries had been made in the Russian tests and that to keep a balance we must resume our testing. Hopefully, if we continue to be able to speak from strength, we may bring the Soviet Union to an agreement that will give the world a greater assurance of peace.


What is your opinion of the Daughters of the American Revolution?

I think they do valuable work in preserving historical monuments and in encouraging patriotism among young people. I believe, though, that they have a distorted view of patriotism in some areas. Their feeling about the UN seems to me childish. There is, however, evidence of a stirring among the ranks, and I hope this means the organization will one day grow up.


Don't you think parents have an obligation to exercise some supervision over their children's choice of companions? If you had a seventeen-year-old daughter who was spending most of her time with rude, uncouth boys and girls, wouldn't you use every means at your command to separate her from them?

If your daughter is choosing her friends from among youngsters of this sort, I'm afraid you haven't given her enough of your time and have not encouraged her to bring her friends home. A child whose friends are welcome in her home soon learns to distinguish between the desirable and undesirable, since differences show up clearly in this atmosphere. To use strong-arm tactics at this point will only antagonize a seventeen-year-old. Your best plan is to think of activities that will interest her and attract well-behaved schoolmates.


Do you think providing middle-income housing should be made a municipal rather than a private-enterprise function?

Middle-income housing should be of interest to both private enterprise and to housing authorities. Naturally, government's first concern is subsidized housing and slum clearance. But if there is great need for middle-income housing that cannot be met privately, it should certainly be considered by government.


What practical purpose will be served by getting to the moon? If we're just doing this to try to beat the Russians, it hardly seems worth the money we're spending.

The specific practical values of reaching the moon will be discovered only when the feat is accomplished, but it is all a part of the increase in scientific knowledge. However, I do feel that it would be better if the competitive aspects could be minimized and knowledge in the field could be shared by all countries.


Can you tell me why it is that relatively little money is raised for research and treatment of arthritis, which afflicts some eleven million people, when so much was raised for polio? Is it merely a matter of spending money to raise money, or do some diseases arouse more compassion than others?

Since polio is essentially a hazard to children, people have been ready to give. Although arthritis, too, affects children, its results are not so conspicuous. I also think better advertising and better dramatizing of the problem brought greater success for polio.


Do you have any hope that a summit meeting on disarmament will produce any agreement between the West and Russia?

I think it is valuable to go on talking and holding meetings even when agreements are not reached. I have had experience with the Russians. I know that it takes a long time for us to understand each other, because even the same words have different meanings for us. I believe we must have patience and continue our efforts, no matter how long it seems to take.


Is any real progress being made or any real decision being reached about fallout shelters? Or is this question, after all the discussion, still in the talking stage?

I think it is becoming accepted that fallout shelters are part of the defense of the United States and hence a function of the Department of Defense, not of individuals, cities, or states. However, this is still at the stage of talk rather than action.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, June 1962

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

McCall's, volume 89, June 1962

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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