NOVEMBER 22, 1954
NEW YORK, Sunday—All of us who really care about a well-functioning diplomatic service must be deeply disturbed by the manner in which John Paton Davies has been treated. Although he has been cleared over and over again after at least eight investigations, the five-man board which recommended to Secretary of State Dulles that he be dismissed has now come up with something new called "defects of character."
These charges are trumped up against a man who has had 23 years as a foreign service officer, with only three years short of retirement and pension. And all this happens apparently because one must not give Mr. McCarthy any possible controversial figure to attack in the State Department. We still seem so frightened of this bogey man in the Senate, though of course Senator McCarthy's possible displeasure will not be given as the reason for Mr. Davies' dismissal. In official life there are always good and pompous reasons for what one does. But everyone in Washington will know, and every foreign service officer will know.
Do you think this will mean that our men in the foreign service will be more willing to give their all to their country? Do you think the best of our young men will be anxious to enter this foreign service? I think not. I believe we are slowly sapping confidence in our own service, and we are doing it because we—in the nation that has the least to fear from Communism—are ridden by a terror created by certain people who have not wanted to educate our nation to defend itself ideologically but have thought that frightening our people was enough. It is never enough. It is harmful, and brings about disintegration of unity and deterioration of confidence in ourselves.
I don't know how many of my readers listened to Eric Sevareid's CBS broadcast in tribute to Mr. Davies, but Senator Lehman thought it important enough to have it inserted in the Congressional Record. I read it in a newspaper, and I felt it was a courageous thing for a broadcaster to take this stand for a man who has been officially disgraced and dismissed, to go looking for a job. I hope that Eric Sevareid will feel the support of every single citizen in this country who recognizes the courage it takes today to speak up for a man under a cloud. The story he told is not the story of a coward. It is told of a brave man, a man of character and integrity. I would be glad to hear someone say of me what Mr. Sevareid said of Mr. Davies: "For I thought then, as I think now, that if ever again I were in deep trouble, the man I would want to be with would be this particular man." I can only add that I would rather be Mr. Davies, out of government, than some of the people who are in it.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1954, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.; REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 22, 1954
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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