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

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BOZEMAN, Mont.—The mid-air collision a few days ago of an Air National Guard jet and a Capital Airlines plane indicates there must be something very wrong in the coordination of rules governing flights of civilian and military aircraft.

One such needless accident in Nevada should have been enough; two is inexcusable.

I hope the people who use planes frequently will take the trouble to alert every government official they possibly can to the danger that faces everyone who travels by air. These are preventable accidents and can be explained only by negligence. The people responsible should take steps immediately to prevent any such accidents anywhere in the country.

If they do not take such steps, they show a disregard for human life which, when it manifests itself in different ways, is called murder.

Of course, every official will say he is not the one to blame, that someone else should have moved, that someone else should have done something. But people are dear, and you, Mr. Official, are at fault because you did nothing. I hope all the authorities will move, and move quickly.

We had a very comfortable night on the Union Pacific going to Butte, Mont., from Salt Lake City. The early evening scenery was lovely, and when we got out the next morning and took the Northern Pacific's beautiful train with a Vista Dome car, we had a gorgeous trip through the Rockies over the Continental Divide to Bozeman. Our day was closely scheduled and tomorrow I will tell you more about it.

I have a mail inquiry from someone who read a statement by Representative Francis E. Walter of Pennsylvania regarding the case of William Heikkila.

Representative Walter had this case looked into by Representative Patrick J. Hillings (R., Calif.), who reported "that the case was fully legal and justified." My correspondent says, "If seizure of a person for any reason without due process of law is now `fully legal and justified,' what becomes of our Bill of Rights?"

I think this is a fair question. It may well be that this gentleman should be deported, but I get the impression that he is being deported because he was once a Communist, not that he is a Communist today, not that he has done anything against the government of the United States.

He has been here a good many years. He is married and has worked, and we propose to send him back to a country he does not know and whose language, it seems, he does not even speak.

He may have come to the United States illegally, in which case he should have been sent back long ago. But we have permitted him to remain, and now we take the excuse allowable under the McCarren-Walter Act to disrupt his life and that of his family in what seems to be a strange procedure for the United States.

In the Soviet Union this would, of course, be considered by us to be standard procedure, but in the United States the individual has rights under the law. As far as I can see—and many other people seem to agree with me, because this is not my only correspondence in the matter—this man's legal rights are being ignored.

Sometimes I think that we not only retaliate when Russia does something to us, but we seem to adopt undesirable aspects of the Communist or Facist systems.

One of our most enterprising young State Department officials, who really tried to get to know some of the people in Moscow by taking a course in the university and playing basketball with the faculty, is being denied re-entry by the Soviet Union. This is a great mistake on the Soviets' part, but it shows how much the powers in the Kremlin are afraid of their people becoming friendly with any of the people of the United States.

This means that they know the weaknesses of their regime, and they do not want their citizens to know people who believe in something different.

I have said for a long time that our fear of communism did us harm, and now I can say the same to the Soviet Union officials. Their fear, as manifested in this refusal for a return visa, points up their weakness, and it will do them harm with other countries besides the United States.

I hope, however, we do not retaliate in kind, as the newspapers report we will. We should realize that if they have anyone in their embassies here who is willing to make friends, it is to our advantage, and sending him home would do no good.


(Copyright, 1958, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Bozeman (Mont., United Staes) [ index ]
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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 23, 1958

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