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


WASHINGTON. Wednesday —Mr. Khrushchev is certainly having a field day of words because of the rather strange and stupid way in which we have handled the U-2 plane incident.

Couldn't we get together on one story and stick to it?

It looks as though we never talk to each other in our own government. Every country has intelligence machinery, but this whole story, as it has been presented, is the most unbelievable and baffling hodgepodge. It certainly has handed Mr. Khrushchev all he needs to help him through any of his internal difficulties.

How Governor Rockefeller must smile at being "informally invited" to choose which of two positions he would like to occupy at the Republican national convention. It looks as though, since he found the cards stacked against him and withdrew as a candidate, he was in rather a strong position. The fear of him seems to be growing, not vanishing. For the Democrats, this is amusing to watch.

I have just received further information on the situation since the subcommittee of the Un-American Activities Committee has begun to subpoena schoolteachers and others in California. Fourteen of the teachers were subpoenaed, some of whom were subpoenaed last year and were served the subpoenas at their schools. All 14 are in danger of losing their jobs, for no other reason than that they were subpoenaed.

If local boards hold hearings, they may very well be cleared. But since the subcommittee on Un-American Activities selected the date of 12th for the hearings and, by California law, the teachers must be informed of renewal of contracts by May 15, it is quite evident that these teachers will lose their contracts for next year.

In our anxiety to find Communists we are forgetting some of our basic principles. We consider people innocent until they are proved guilty. And we consider it important that people should be treated with humanity, not as though they were Russian subjects and only so many numbers which the state needs only to consider as pegs to move about as it chooses.

I dislike seeing us falling into the condition of using Soviet methods which we are constantly saying we disapprove of. Yet, these are the methods used by the subcommittee on Un-American Activities. I feel very strongly that our need today is for good teachers, and they must be loyal Americans. But they should not be fired or be held under suspicion because at some time in the past they held certain political beliefs or engaged in certain political activities.

In peacetime we do not need to police our people in the way which seems to be considered necessary by the Un-American Activities Committee. On the whole, our teachers can be trusted. They believe in our govenment and in our way of life. They may discuss what they think of our shortcomings, but that is our right as free American citizens.

And I think we would be better off if we suspected less and left the job of proving wrongdoing to the proper authorities, such as the FBI and Secret Service.


(Copyright, 1960, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Washington (D.C., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 12, 1960

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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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.