AUGUST 10, 1956
NEW YORK—It is interesting to watch the drafting of a political party platform from afar. The greatest excitement in the Democratic Platform Committee meetings in Chicago earlier this week seemed to center about civil rights, which quite evidently will be discussed off and on until the final draft is made.
Former Secretary of the Interior Oscar L. Chapman on Wednesday proposed a draft plank on conservation of our natural resources, describing the Eisenhower Administration as "a sordid page in history" and its actions in the protection of our land, water and natural resources as a "faithless performance."
He said that the Republicans had encouraged "raiding and grabbing" of waterpower resources, of timber in the national forest, and of oil in the tidelands.
He made two new suggestions which I hope will be incorporated in the platform, namely, that the Democrats will increase their past efforts to obtain a freshwater supply from saltwater, and that they will support "a large-scale government atomic reactor power program with energy marketed by Federal power agencies." If this were done, he explained, we would more rapidly achieve new supplies of electric power at low cost, and we should take the lead in the international atomic power race.
On Wednesday night I went to the Museum of Modern Art for the preview of the Japanese film, "Kabuki Elegy." The photography in this film is simply beautiful.
The story is a very simple one, tied to the theater tradition of the kabuki. A kabuki actor is very proud of his popularity and of his name and he passes on his skill to his son or to an adopted son, and a very solemn trust it is.
In this case, it is complicated by the fact that the "young master," who has been trained as the successor in this particular kabuki family, falls in love with a maid in the house, portending a marriage beneath the traditional dignity of his calling.
The film seemed to me well acted and altogether I found it a charming evening.
On Thursday morning my son, John, and his wife and all the children saw his son, Haven, and my daughter Anna's youngest son, Johnnie Boettiger, off to Europe on the Dutch liner Ryndam.
This is Haven Roosevelt's first trip abroad, and I hope the boys will enjoy their trip over on the boat. We will meet in Amsterdam, if all goes well, on August 18.
I am glad that the New York State Education Commissioner ruled that a teacher could not be dismissed for refusing to give the name of other teachers who are or were Communist party members.
Commissioner James E. Allen Jr. declared that telling teachers to become informers does more harm than good. He apparently feels that this type of inquisition has no place in the school system, and I must say that I agree with him.
There may be other points which will prevent these teachers from being cleared, but I think the point of refusing to give information about other people is one we should get away from as soon as possible. I have disliked it from the very beginning.
Most of us, as children, were taught that the child who told on other children was a sneak. And so it is difficult to think that, unless you are convinced that one of your colleagues is dangerous to your country, you should be forced to inform against him.