SEPTEMBER 27, 1938
NEW YORK, Monday—This column rarely attempts to talk on a serious subject. I am only too conscious of the fact that I could fool no one into believing I had either literary pretentions or the cleverness needed to be a political writer. There are instances, however, when even in a record of the little things of life, one must recognize the seriousness of the times in which one lives.
No matter what our occupation today, no matter how selfish we may be in our desire that here in the United States we may keep clear of the difficulties of other lands, still we must realize that we feel the results of whatever occurs in the rest of the world. We already see ourselves the battleground for opposing trends of thought, and we know that many of our economic troubles are tied up with conditions in other lands.
Dorothy Thompson, in her very able column this morning, points out the line that German propaganda has taken to prepare the world for the action of today, and asserts that the foreign correspondents in Berlin and Prague have been responsible for retaining a certain balance in world news. That is an admirable achievement and we should be grateful, but for the moment we should focus on ourselves.
To me, one point is of the greatest concern, namely, that in our own country we find a constant battle going on between those who would have us fear the Communists and those who would have us fear the Fascists. You are thrown into the arms of one or the other in order to defeat the opposite trend of ideas. For example, Czechoslovakia, not being Fascist, has been pictured to us a training ground for Communists. The truth or untruth of that statement may concern us, but not as much as our own situation in the United States of America.
Rarely stressed anywhere is the fact that it is difficult to win a negative battle. We must not fight against something, but for something. Why do we not, in this country, stress a positive constructive campaign for democracy? We need not fear any isms if our democracy is achieving the ends for which it was established.
Our influence in the world can only be of value, if we believe so strongly in our own ideas and make them work so well as to convince other nations that the people are better off under our form of government. We can prove this to the world only if we have conscience enough to sacrifice material things in time of peace, in an effort to bring our influence to bear in social and economic ways on those people in the world who have opposing ideas, who believe that force and self-glorification are the only ways of preserving a contented nation.
These are the real problems which the United States must think through today. Not just her politicians, or her intellectuals, but you and me, the rank and file of the citizens of the country.