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

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NEW YORK, Thursday—Thinking by the public is being made extremely difficult these days, and I have decided it is time to point out a few facts.

For instance, this attack against the Institute of Pacific Relations is being made in the atmosphere of today with no perspective of the times in which the Institute was originally organized and in which it functioned. There was a time when many of us wanted something to be done to improve conditions in Asia. We were not afraid of the USSR in those days, and we did not feel that everything that happened in any country in that area was the result of Communist movements. Then we did not even look with suspicion on each and every member who served on a board with us, and neither were we careful to explain every implication of an opinion we might express.

This careful examination of our associates and this careful explanation of every thought is a recent development. It has only come with the realization that our friends and we, ourselves, may be subject at any time to attacks which will attribute to us false meanings and untrue affiliations because of faulty expressions on our part, or unawareness of the affiliations of our co-workers.

Some people who joined organizations with the hope that these organizations were going to do good work in an area where there was need, later found that Communists took over the organizations; therefore, they were obliged to resign. This was not so in all cases. But today fear has become so great that people are afraid to say that they once tried to do certain things through an organization, if that organization has since been put on the subversive list.

This is, of course, foolish fear, except for one thing—unscrupulous people can use the affiliation to smear a person's character. Unless the public has a long memory, they will, at first at least, accept the smear as a truthful accusation.

From my point of view, though I recognize the value to the FBI of information given by ex-Communists, I cannot trust either the motives or sincerity of the ex-Communists who give that information. One must remember that for an ex-Communist to testify against someone else is the best way to save his own skin. It is wonderful what good memories some of them have today.

We also have to remember that they accepted as adults for a number of years, the kind of domination of their minds which is completely stultifying. You can forgive a youngster who gets fooled for a time by a Communist who says that if he follows the rules implicitly there will be a better world for everybody in the course of the next few years. If he comes to his senses quickly, I would not hold it against him.

Where mature men and women are concerned, however, I would accept their conversion gladly and allow them to earn a living and give the FBI whatever information they can prove to the FBI's satisfaction. But I would not give them the pleasure of the limelight and the sense of importance which many of them have today.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 17, 1951

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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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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.