My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK—I have been hearing a great deal of discussion lately about our government permitting foreign countries to dictate to us what Americans shall serve in our armed forces or work in commercial enterprises and on United States military bases in these countries.

It is somewhat surprising that Americans have not risen in protest against such discrimination toward their own citizens in countries where we have had continued friendly relationships.

True, we still are struggling in this country to wipe out as rapidly as possible differences which, in the past, have given rise to discrimination in equal opportunities for all citizens. We feel that every person is entitled to take part in his government freely and that he should not be discriminated against either on the educational level or economic level.

These opportunities will not, of course, always lead to equality of success, for some people have more natural gifts than others and develop different characters. But one of the basic beliefs of democracy is that all citizens should have equality of opportunity.

All citizens should have equality before the law, and equality of justice should be the aim of every democratic state.

We acknowledge that anything that makes a group, because of race, color or creed differences, feel inferior is discrimination which removes equality of opportunity and, therefore, is no longer acceptable under a truly democratic system.

We know that in our own country time will be needed to reach these ideals, but in the past we always have upheld the right of any American citizen to have equal protection outside of his country.

In fact, in the past we have refused to enter into commercial undertakings on foreign soil rather than permit such discrimination. This policy has won respect for our nation and for Americans everywhere.

Therefore, I am astonished that we now should be submitting to the dictates of foreign powers, large or small, in permitting them to judge what Americans are not acceptable in their countries.

If they do not wish to accept all Americans on a friendly basis, why do we develop their resources and pay them millions of dollars for the right to do this? It is surely more important to them, who depend so much on these revenues, than it is to us. And we lower our prestige abroad when we accept dictation as to who will be considered an American by a foreign country.