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

[This column has emendations. View original version]


NEW YORK—I don't know how some of the rest of the country may feel about the matter, but Herblock's cartoon the other day of Sen. James O. Eastland and Sen. Everett M. Dirksen, that Dixiecrat-Republican combination, reading the news of the horrible infant deformities resulting from use of untested drugs, made shivers run up and down my spine. In the waste basket behind those two prosperous, comfortable men is the Kefauver drug reform bill, which they helped to defeat in the name of free enterprise, and the caption under the cartoon has the two saying to each other: "Yeah, it's almost enough to make you want to do something."

How much longer are the people of this country going to stand for men in the Senate who act from pocket interest, not from real intelligence and study? What can the world think of a country like ours that does not control its drug industry but succumbs to the lobby of drug manufacturers? These are evil men who combine together to scratch each other's backs. When in the Southern states some of our citizens try to exercise the basic American right of registering and voting, only to have young hoodlums break up their meetings, there is no censure from these gentlemen. Yet somehow the two things—the situation in Georgia and the situation on the control of the sale of drugs -- have a connection. If you don't want your fellow citizens to have the right peacefully to protest their wrongs or to try and remedy them, what more natural than that you should be among those who consider free enterprise more sacred than human lives? I hope that all over this country there is a mounting knowledge about both situations. Believing as I do that people are basically good and sound, I cannot believe that there will not be a tremendous revulsion against those who hold the materialistic point of view of Senator Eastland and Senator Dirksen.

I have received a letter from a gentleman with a challenge that I publish it in my column. The letter is signed "James Oravis," and here it is, with the original spelling and punctuation:

"Are you as liberal as you appear? I have noticed with disgust some of the letters appearing in your daily news column. I dont expect this to get published because it favors the right wing.

"You write of a group of men who write you in support of a teacher of American youth. This man not once but twice joined the commie party. Because Mr. K. disillusioned him he now wants his teaching job back, this man should be run out of the country instead of teaching our youth. If he liked the party so much he should be in Russia. The men who wrote you in his behalf should be sent to Hungary.

"You spoke of the courage of the youth and educators who were against fall out shelters. Youth should learn, and we should teach them about Yalta where we lost our shirt and sold down the river Poland, because we thought we could talk to the Russian Murders. Educators are supposed to teach and any educator that denies my son a fall out shelter and tells him we should find a peaceful solution is killing him. We are of Hungarian decent and learned you dont do business with Russia. Even Yalta should have convinced you of that.

"Thirdly tonights paper you took off on Rep. H.R. Gross because he wanted everyone in the U.N. to pay their share. You said he was either misinformed or else they must have really wanted to play into the hands of the Communists.

"Reading your columns Mrs. Roosevelt I am struck with the thought that all the letters favoring the left are published, a teacher having a hard time because he joined the party twice. A leader in Spain who visited Red China and Russia and is still anti Commie. An article against fall out shelters. An article against Rep. Gross. Dear Mrs. Roosevelt, dont you think its time to shoot or hang the liberals and start promoting America? Any person who denies my sons the benefit of an Air raid shelter are murders and anti American. Any teacher who twice belonged to the Commie Party is a traitor and should be hung instead of teaching American children. Lets see you publish this in its entirety Mrs. Roosevelt, including your comments on Americanism if it fits."

My reply to Mr. Oravis would be:

Since you did not hide behind anonymity, I have done you the courtesy to publish your letter. I hope you will now permit me to suggest that if you are deeply interested in your son's survival in a fall-out shelter you get as much information as you possibly can on all the different types of atomic destruction that may easily lie before us. Perhaps you will feel that an effort to prevent this destruction has some value after all.


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

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 6, 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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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.