DECEMBER 8, 1938
NEW YORK, Wednesday—As I listened to the speeches last night at the dinner given for the support of the Leon Blum Colony which will assist some of the Jewish refugees to start life all over again, I could not help thinking how much all human beings like to fool themselves.
Mr. William Green, President of the American Federation of Labor, a kindly gentleman with a rightful pride in his achievements, told me of his son practicing law, and how he had been able to give him and his five sisters college educations when he, himself, had had to leave school and spend twenty years in the mines. Natural enough that he should feel that this is a grand country. He knows that some things are not just as we might wish, but nevertheless this is the land of the free. He told us this in his speech and that we can pat ourselves on the back that we are lucky enough to live here.
Almost every other speaker gave us the same kind of pat and made us feel that, as a whole, we were more virtuous and fortunate than any other country in the world. Of course, I concede this, and I feel for me it is true, for I have been free and fortunate all my life. While I listened, however, I could not help thinking of some of the letters which pass through my hands.
Are you free if you cannot vote, if you cannot be sure that the same justice will be meted out to you as to your neighbor, if you are expected to live on a lower level than your neighbor and to work for lower wages, if you are barred from certain places and from certain opportunities? It seems from my mail that there are people in this country who do not feel as I do about having personal freedom, even though they might agree that they are better off than they might be somewhere else.
I think of the little girl who wrote me not long ago: "Why do the other children call me names and laugh at my talk? I just don't live in this country very long yet."
Are you free when you can't earn enough, no matter how hard you work, to feed and clothe and house your children properly? Are you free when your employer can turn you out of a company house and deny you work because you belong to a union?
There are lots and lots of things which make me wonder whether we ever look ourselves straight in the face and really mean what we say when we are busy patting ourselves on the back!
Somewhere someone must have a quiet laugh, I think, if there is a place where real truth is dealt in!
One of my fellow columnists spoke out in no uncertain terms on the subject of the way young girls are being allowed to run from night club to night club. He is much concerned about the poor little rich girl and this is rather a new subject for him to be concerned about. I want to give him a word of consolation—the few society youngsters he sees doing this in the big cities of our country are just a drop in the bucket. There are a few others perhaps, in smaller places who may do the same type of thing in a different way for the sake of emulating someone they've read about, but the vast majority of little girls all over this nation have something much better to do most of the time.