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


HYDE PARK, Friday—Because of the fact that occasionally newspaper headlines are misleading and even quotations may be incomplete and so do not represent the full meaning of what one has said, I think I would like to report a little more in detail what I think are the results of Senator Joseph McCarthy's methods of activity.

People write me that he has saved the country by awakening us to the realization of the dangers of communism in our midst. Undoubtedly, he thinks this is true, too. But to be made afraid of communism without being given much understanding of what it means may not help us a great deal to defend ourselves against it.

What has disturbed me is to find that his methods are so well understood and have attracted so much attention throughout the world. There was hardly a meeting of any kind in Asia at which his name did not come up and some question put to me about the result of his activities in the curtailment of freedom.

When I reached Europe I found that there, too, people were more conscious of the methods which had been used by Hitler and Stalin in coming to power, and they invariably felt that Senator McCarthy's methods were identical with those that they had watched successfully enslave many people.

We in this country have not had this experience, so it seems impossible to us that anyone should really control our thoughts and actions. But the European people think it quite possible because they have had the experience.

Everywhere in Europe the Senator's name would be mentioned whether you talked to a peasant or to responsible leaders of government. The journey made by his two young investigators, Roy M. Cohn and G. David Schine, has left legendary tales in its track. I was asked how one could censor so many books in so short a time, how in the time allotted by these young men could so many people be examined for loyalty.

Some people were amused, and rather derisive, that the United States should use this type of young man for any purpose. Others seemed genuinely frightened. For, remember, if the United States should find itself saddled with a dictator there would be no hope of freedom for other parts of the world. The United States has symbolized for the world freedom of thought and action ever since its inception.

The Senator may be completely oblivious of what his methods have done, but the results that he has brought about are harmful. For instance, many a young man who wants to hold his job in the foreign service is chary today of telling you his private opinion on anything. People have got into trouble for having opinions, and many now feel it is best to be careful. This attitude may hold a job but it does not make a useful public servant.

So, whether he knows it or not, the Senator is doing harm in many ways to the standing of the United States throughout the world.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 8, 1953

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