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

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WINFIELD, Kan.—It is a sad thing if, in any field, we are going to decide our position not on what we think is right but on being sure that we are in opposition to any stand taken by the Soviet Union.

This is actually the way Sen. James O. Eastland of Mississippi presented his point of view during a Senate debate on civil rights legislation when he accused Chief Justice Earl Warren of making decisions in favor of the Communists.

A prominent Democrat, Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey, commented that the Chief Justice "is a great American and a courageous and learned judge." A Republican Senator, Kenneth B. Keating of New York, commented, "However one may disagree with a specific decision of the Supreme Court, I do not consider that it serves a useful purpose to attack the character or motivation of the judge rendering the opinion."

Senator Eastland would not have us act or think in free and independent fashion. According to him, we must first ascertain what the Soviet opinion is and then we must disagree with it.

This is a weak and idiotic position in which the United States would lack freedom—not the Soviet Union. Russia would be making the first decision.

Like many other Southerners, Senator Eastland has long been rather free in calling people either Communists or pro-Communist in their positions. In a one-man hearing of his Senate Judiciary Committee some years ago he dubbed as Communists two Southerners who happened to be against segregation, and one of them had a heart attack as a result. Yet, I am quite sure that the Senator knew that neither of the two men accused were Communists and that both of them were patriotic Americans, even though they differed in their point of view on segragation.

It is a pity if we are going to be frightened into giving up freedom of thought in this country because irresponsible Senators might consider anyone with different ideas from their own as Communists.

My husband once said to me that an individual wanting to go into politics must decide to have a hide like a rhinoceros, and as the years go on I have decided that this is one of the necessities—at least in American politics!

A New York architect, Mr. Charles C. Platt, in commenting the other day on unemployment and the ways of industry and labor in general, made some rather interesting statements.

"Bernard Baruch writes that industry will never discipline itself," he said, "and President Kennedy defines democracy as free people guided by free government.

"Then, let government do a little guiding this time—with a spur on the boot.

"Industry, unguided, has a way of taking out of the economy more than it puts in, in the misguided chase for the `fast dollar,' pushing prices up and the dollar down," he said. "Let it put some of that back now in the shape of reduced prices and after the initial pinch all will be well.

"To spoon-feed it (industry) back to normalcy with tax reduction will never do, and it will thereby lose a needed lesson."

Of course, the idea back of this gentleman's feeling is that we can now do what was done years ago by Henry Ford in reducing prices and thereby increasing the volume of production and demand, and thus taking up the slack of unemployment.

The situation, however, is somewhat different today and may have to be treated in a different manner. But the question of government having a right to lay out certain guidelines for industry and labor in support of the general good and, above all, in an effort to increase the value of the dollar seems to me sound economics. We have probably reached the point where some government guidelines are essential, though the transition from complete freedom of action on everybody's part may be difficult to accept at the start.


(Copyright, 1962, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Winfield (Kan., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 4, 1962

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.