My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Monday—There were brief but pertinent notices in our newspapers late last week stating that for one whole session Senator McCarthy had not made a single interruption or point of order, and the papers commented that it was the first session since the hearings began that he had failed to speak.

All I can say is it must have been a relief to all concerned, for the frequent interruptions and constant repetition of questions that had already been answered but not to the Senator's satisfaction must have been very irritating as well as trying to the witnesses.

We may soon be reading of some startling developments concerning people who have been or are being investigated for one reason or another. I have actually heard of two people during the past few days who have made up their minds to fight. They seem to have overcome a feeling of terror and helplessness. Both of them happen to have sufficient means to be able to make a defense, but it is a relief to know that there are even a few people who will not sit down under unfair accusations or intimations and keep quiet because they are too frightened to speak out.

I am tired of the phrase which the Senator from Wisconsin coined, namely, "Fifth Amendment Communist." There is no such thing, except as the Senator has created it. That particular article of the Constitution was put there as a safeguard for the people, and some of our best lawyers have explained how one might easily invoke the Fifth Amendment for a number of perfectly good reasons without being a Communist.

Therefore, I think it is very wrong to use this phrase to smear people when you have no proof of why they have actually invoked the Fifth Amendment. So much that is untrue or unfair has been done, however, apparently with the Senator's approval, that I suppose it is too much to expect that he will forgo this neat little phrase which he has spread abroad.

Beginning July 1 we will see some smaller taxicabs on the streets of New York. I think it may be a great help in expediting traffic to have these smaller cars. I am glad that we are going to make the experiment even though I think that it might be difficult to tell at first how much advantage a small car has in New York unless all the taxis are the same size.

I see that the United Nations is being petitioned by certain islands in the Marshall Islands group against the use of that area for any new hydrogen bomb tests. That would seem to me a reasonable feeling, since they have borne the brunt of so many tests already. It is a good thing that these little islands have a place where they can send their petitions, and I hope they will be heard with care and an effort will be made to meet their objections.

There is one overall objection that deserves consideration, however. That is that we know now that we have the bomb that can destroy civilization rather quickly, so it might be well to give some thought to how we can prevent this destruction. While keeping this invention in the background for safety's sake, we must still move forward in sharing the atomic secrets for peaceful purposes.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 18, 1954

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 2008-06-30

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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.