DECEMBER 2, 1939
WASHINGTON, D.C., Friday—We seem to be living in an era when little countries have no rights. We must now weep for Finland!
I feel as though I had done little the last twenty-four hours except sit in the caucus room in the old House Office Building and listen to a Congressional hearing! However, we did have a pleasant interlude last night, when Mr. and Mrs. Melvyn Douglas from Hollywood, Cal., dined with us and spent the night. They are a charming couple and it is most interesting to find two people using their gifts for such constructive, social purposes.
And now I must tell you about these hearings, for I have nothing else to relate to you. At 4:00 p.m. yesterday, Mr. Hinckley was called for his testimony before the Dies Committee and was allowed to have Mr. Joseph Cadden and Mr. Jack McMichael testify with him, since they are more closely connected with the recent management of the American Youth Congress. Both the counsel of the committee, Mr. Rhea Whitley, who asked the majority of the questions, and the members of the committee, were courteous and helpful and in every way attempted to inspire confidence and bring out the truth. It was an extremely heartening exhibition of government operating helpfully.
I went down again this morning to hear Joseph Lash's testimony as executive secretary of the American Student Union. He received his telegram granting him the opportunity to be heard even later than did Mr. Hinckley, so he also came unprepared with all documentary evidence necessary.
The majority of the questions today were asked by Mr. J. B. Matthews, and his whole attitude, tone of voice and phraseology made one feel that a prisoner, considered guilty, was being tried at the bar. I surmised that this impression was made on other people, for in a little while a gentleman came around and whispered in Mr. Matthews' ear. I have no way of knowing what was said and it may have been entirely irrelevant to the matters in hand, but in any case it was soothing to Mr. Matthews, for immediately the atmosphere changed. His voice was softer, his manners were more courteous. He was asking questions from another free citizen of the United States.
The one important point which stands out to me after listening in on these hearings, is the fact that what is said by people about other individuals or groups, is not half as important as discovering what the people, themselves, working in these organizations, say and do.
The only other interesting incident today was when Mr. Matthews, who evidently is sensitive about what is said about him, remarked heatedly that an untruthful statement had been made about him in yesterday's testimony. It was almost at the end of the hearing and though a request was made to answer this remark from the record, it could not be done at the time. But I feel sure that the committee will receive the answer later on.
The committee members are genuinely courteous and helpful in their attitude. Judging from my two days' experience, however, the counsel of the committee more nearly carries out the attitude of the committee, at least of these members whom I have had the pleasure of observing, than does the "Director of Research."