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


NEW YORK—I spent a very interesting morning last Wednesday, meeting with a seminar group brought by the YMCA to visit the United Nations. Members of this group spend several days in New York annually studying the U.N. and they come from a widely assorted number of communities in Canada and the United States. In fact 14 of our states were represented. I was most impressed by the men's interest in the U.N, and they certainly asked very intelligent questions.

Everywhere I go now I am asked about the recent attack by the American Legion on UNESCO, which, as you know, is the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization.

Now I find in my mail a document sent out by the Legion. It is a newspaper sheet reproduced by the Americanism Committee, Department of Ohio American Legion, M. Scott, Americanism Chairman. It is entitled, "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing," and a notice at the top says it was first published in the Florida Legionnaire, and called "The Menace of UNESCO" by Florence Fowler Lyons.

I have never heard of this writer, but she tries to sound almost like God. She knows so much about what she cannot possibly have heard with her own ears!

Though she quotes what sounds sinister from what would seem rather innocent sources, the sum total is a mass of misinformation and misinterpretation.

She starts out with a quotation from William Benton from something he said or wrote in 1946. She writes that he said, "We are at the beginning of the long process of breaking down the walls of national sovereignty," and then she leaves out the intervening words, and goes on, "In this process UNESCO must be the pioneer."

What were the words she left out? I haven't checked his speech, but I wouldn't be surprised if they explained the harmful phases of National sovereignty which make men think only of themselves and not of the whole "Family of Man"—which make men turn away from kindly cooperation with their fellow human beings and devote themselves to finding out what the faults are in their neighbors and thereby build hatred among men.

If we want peace in the world we must care about all human beings and their well-being. We cannot care only about our own good.

The real attack, of course, in this whole thing is against the United Nations, but it is hidden behind the attack on UNESCO.

Here is some more of this Miss Lyons writes: "UNESCO is the major propaganda agency for the entire United Nations system, and, as such, works in intimate and constant association with the U.N. Secretariat and secretariats of each of the other specialized agencies."

Then she points out that there is a Communist fifth column operating within the U.N. This, of course, has been proved untrue. But having once been proved untrue, the further proof which denies it receives no credence. It is hard to catch up with a lie, and if you repeat a lie often enough, most people would believe it.

This whole reprint is worth taking paragraph by paragraph and explaining, and now that I have seen it I understand why the Legion was so gullible at its last convention. They could accept this hate sheet much more easily than their own well-documented and well-prepared report on UNESCO.

Human beings are so made that they prefer to believe something that is bad. It is much more exciting.


(Copyright, 1955, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 22, 1955

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