DECEMBER 5, 1939
WASHINGTON, Monday—Many years ago, when I was young, I began joining organizations. At that time I gave very small amounts of money, a good deal of work, and my reasons for joining usually were that a friend I trusted asked me to help. As the years have gone on, I have belonged to a great variety of organizations and I have stopped contributing to some and stopped working for some. In the past, the reasons for doing that were usually, first, that I did not think the amount accomplished for the money spent was sufficient. Second, that I came to think the work being done was not necessary because of other organizations in the field. Third, that I came to believe that the organization was functioning primarily for the benefit of one individual who ran the organization and whose interest was purely personal.
All of us, in greater or less degree, make up the membership and the financial support of various organizations which function in the United States, but a new element has entered into the question of how we decide on the propriety of joining an organization, whether patriotic, civic or charitable. Any of these organizations may suddenly be declared Communist, or fronts for Communist or Fascist work. Therefore, the question arises—what is our duty when we are simply in sympathy with the apparent objectives of an organization and to which to make a small contribution? It seems to me that if we find one or two names of people on the letterhead, we have reason to believe are reputable people, we are justified in contributing and are not really open to attack as part of a subversive organization if it should develop later that a number of people in the organization have affiliations with undesirable groups.
If, on the other hand, we give our names to appear on the letterhead of an organization and work with it actively, it seems to me that we have a more serious obligation. A conscientious person reads all the publications put out by the organization which they are joining, attends as many meetings as possible, knows as many people working in the organization as possible.
It seems to me that something which was said many years ago applies in this instance: "By their works ye shall know them." When an organization stands up under this amount of investigation, I fail to see how there can be hidden either a Communistic or Fascist program or a surreptitious control of any kind. It is true that there might be a number of members who might willingly work for the objectives of an organization and yet belong openly or secretly to subversive groups, but you cannot fight shadows and you must wait till you find the objectives of an organization are being changed or interfered with. If I remember rightly, even Judas Iscariot was used and in the end he repented!
(COPYRIGHT, 1939, by UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.)
Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced
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About this document
My Day. by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 5, 1939
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
- Regenhardt, Christy (Associate Editor)
- Black, Allida M. (Editor)
- Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
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