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


NEW YORK, Thursday—Dr. Merle King, associate professor of political science at Washington University, has sent me an article he wrote which I think is worthy of consideration.

He takes issue with me and others because we have taken exception only to the procedures and methods of Congressional investigations. He says that those of us who advocate freedom must broaden the intellectual foundation of our position.

He adds: "Disagreement with methods, procedures and personalities will no longer suffice. The genuine disagreement is with the tenuous arbitrary criteria for loyalty and security which have evolved since the Second World War. A defense of freedom grounded in such fashion, of course, will also encompass individuals less distinguished, less influential and less popular than Dr. Oppenheimer.

“It must be acknowledged that to challenge the standards, the program, and the legislation is somewhat less safe and respectable than to voice misgivings over the technicality of procedure and the psycho-pathology of some Congressman. But then, American society ordinarily has appreciated attachments to values of a more inspiring dimension than safety and respectability.”

I have great respect for safety and respectability but the cases of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer and Dr. Ralph Bunche shocked me profoundly; and I feel we need a complete review of our whole attitude toward protecting ourselves against Communism.

Basically, I think we would be safer to revert to our old standards of entrusting our country's safety to the regularly constituted authorities, and to hold to our old legal procedures. They safeguarded individuals and insisted that the accused must be considered innocent until proven guilty. The reverse is the case in many Congressional investigations today, in which people accused of crime must prove their innocence.

This is, of course, of major importance to the Senate, and they will undoubtedly have to act. But it is also of enormous importance to every individual citizen. Perhaps the most important thing is that we should feel so sure of our belief in our democracy and should understand our standards so well that we do not feel afraid as long as we live up to these beliefs.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

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

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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.