NOVEMBER 29, 1948
PARIS, Sunday—Despite a heavy day's work on Thursday, I did a little shopping. On the way to our committee room we have to pass through part of the Marine museum, where large models are on exhibition and where a very attractive stand is set up for the sale of various articles reminiscent of the sea. I stopped to buy a couple of scarfs which I had admired for a long time. They are lovely in color and texture and little sailor boys wigwag their flags in different squares. The profits from these sales are sent to naval charities, so everything one gets there does some little good.
No one else seemed troubled that we worked all day long on Thanksgiving Day, but when we finally broke up at eleven o'clock it was at the request of the Cuban delegate, who announced it was time the third session of the day came to an end. He did not know how others felt, but as for himself he was exhausted.
The day's labors, however, were fruitful. Article Twenty-eight was passed, and reads: "Nothing in this Declaration shall imply recognition of the right of any state, group or person to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms described herein."
The discussion brought an attack on the United States from the Ukrainian delegate, who said such organizations as the Ku Klux Klan were helping American fascism to grow stronger at the present time, and from their point of view was a great danger. It is essential in the Declaration, he claimed, to say not only that a state but also groups could not engage in any activity or perform any act which could injure the rights and freedoms proclaimed in this Declaration.
I do not happen to think that the Ku Klux Klan is strong enough to merit all the vehemence with which it is frequently attacked. If those who are members in the United States could see themselves as they are seen internationally, I am sure they would be surprised.
Of course, the notion of political opposition of any kind within a nation is entirely foreign to Soviet political thought. They may be critical of how an individual carries out the job which has been given him to do under the Soviet government, but that he should openly advocate something contrary to the political ideas laid down by the government would be unthinkable. Any group which has left any part of their country because of political differences must of necessity be a criminal group in their eyes, and the words used by one of the delegates in describing those who left their country indicated that he thought of them not simply as civilian citizens preferring some different kind of government but as actual traitors who probably connived with the enemies of their country, for with deep feeling he spoke of them as "scum."
This of course seems very odd to anyone coming from the United States, where we differ heatedly and yet are completely free to do so. How utterly unimportant, however, are these differences when big questions that affect our national or international life come up!
When we finished with Article Twenty-eight, we turned back for consideration of Article Twenty-one, which the hard-working subcommittee had been asked to re-draft. This article now reads:"1. Everyone has the right to work, to a free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work, and to protection against unemployment. "2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work."
The first paragraph was almost unanimously accepted. In the second paragraph, the Soviet delegate wished to enumerate the different kinds of discrimination, but his amendment was voted down and the second paragraph was agreed on as drafted. We did have one amusing little exchange when the Soviet delegate insisted the word "everyone" customarily meant "every man," and did not include "every woman." The chairman informed him that "everyone" meant men, women, children and, in fact, all human beings, but the Soviet delegate remained unconvinced.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1948, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC., REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 29, 1948
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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