The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


HYDE PARK, Monday—The other night, I heard a commentator on the air say that a decision rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of a lawyer who had refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, decided once and for all the question of the constitutionality of this committee.

I have never thought that Congress did not have the right to create this committee or any other which it wished to create, but I am not quite sure that the decision of the Supreme Court settled the matter of people who appeared before the committee and only refused to answer the question as to whether they were Communists. Though I rather imagined that the committee had a right to ask that question, I have always had the foolish idea that, for an American citizen, there was only one thing forbidden in the realm of free thought and political belief—namely, that we could not advocate the overthrow of our Government by force without being liable to action under the law.

* * *

I think the thing that needs to be settled today is whether a statement that you believe in certain economic and political theories known as Communism implies that you also believe in the overthrow of your government by force. Once that point is established, then this whole situation which bothers so many would be cleared up, I think. A belief in the principles of Communism, provided you did not intend to work to bring this form of government into being through violence, would not be any more dangerous than a belief in Socialism, which has been preached in this country for many years without marked advance.

You hear people say they want to outlaw the Communist Party, forbid its existence in our country, deport citizens who are Communists. It seems to me that this attitude is valid only if it is proved that being a Communist means that you believe in the use of force against the existing government.

* * *

I was amused by all the high-sounding ideas that came out of the recent conference in Washington as to how women should organize their lives. Most women, I find, like to organize their own lives in their own way. Telling a woman she ought to be freed from housework and prescribing how that shall be done is apt to bring instant revolt, just as when labor leaders try to tell their union members how to vote in an election. The result in the latter case is usually that they all go out and vote as differently as possible.

We are an individualistic people by and large, and women aren't very different from men in that respect. If they don't want to do housework, they want to plan it that way themselves and not have too much suggestion from outsiders. If they do want to do housework, they feel like the lady who was quoted in one of the papers. She lives on Christopher Street in New York City—right in my neighborhood—and she remarked: "I love to cook, but first of all I do not think my husband would enjoy anybody else's cooking."

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]
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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 24, 1948

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.