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

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NEW YORK, Thursday—I think the time has come for us to reconsider carefully our entire policy for finding Communists in our Government—or anywhere else, as a matter of fact.

The President, in telling what the Administration and the executive branch had accomplished in this direction, emphasized the fact that they had used the regular Government officials charged with this duty, had observed the due processes of law, and had still achieved satisfactory results. It seems to me that if we continue the Congressional investigations in this field, we are going to find ourselves living in an atmosphere akin to that of Communist countries, for we are using the very weapons which those countries use.

I believe strongly that our country is not one in which Communist propaganda, or even Communist infiltration, will spread easily. We have not achieved a satisfactory standard of living for all our people, for there are still people with incomes below the level that we think is a minimum, but we are working incessantly to achieve better conditions through the cooperation of the people with their Government and with the leaders in those fields which affect our economic life.

There is hope in this country that people can help themselves and that they can do it in freedom. The hope is one we cannot afford to lose, because it is the real defense against Communist propaganda and the type of infiltration which tries to recruit dissatisfied citizens to accept a new ideology. The more dangerous type of infiltration, which might attempt sabotage or espionage and would be dangerous in military areas, must be watched by the regular FBI agents, as has been done in the past very successfully.

I do not think it possible for us to retain confidence in ourselves if we continue to allow such loose charges as were recently made against the Central Intelligence Agency—charges which were promptly denied by CIA Director Allen W. Dulles.

When a certain Senator announces that there are subversives in the CIA, he should immediately produce names and proof, for it is a sensitive spot. One is tempted to believe that this may be as ridiculous a charge as that levelled months ago against the State Department.

I think the country is profoundly shocked by the divided report on Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the nuclear scientist. All three members of the investigating board called him loyal and discreet, and yet two wish him to be barred from future contact with our atomic development. Who will suffer most—the United States or Dr. Oppenheimer? It seems to me the U.S. will, because secrets of the past and the power to think are in Dr. Oppenheimer's head and cannot be removed. Here is a man who has loyally served his Government, who has been honest about his past and who is a scientist, not a politician.

We will get less and less free thinking—and less and less cooperation from people who must think freely to achieve results—if they are told they cannot express an independent opinion on whether or not it is wise to develop a certain weapon.

Dr. Ralph Bunche of the United Nations Trusteeship Council, after investigation by a Government loyalty board, was cleared of a charge which should never even have been considered. His record spoke for his loyalty. I think the people begin to feel that we need a new evaluation of methods. I know the system of loyalty boards started under a Democratic Administration but I think our whole procedure needs reconsideration. The developments have become more harmful than the protection these methods afford.



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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 4, 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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Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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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.