My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Tuesday—Tomorrow, July the 7th, is the day which marks China's sixth anniversary of resistance to Japanese aggression. The Citzens Committee has written to me of their desire to honor China on this day, and of their belief that the greatest honor we could pay the Chinese people is to repeal the Exclusion Act and place immigration on the same quota basis that we have for any other nation.

I imagine that the country as a whole has given very little thought to this question, but there is no doubt that the Japanese have been using it as a great propaganda weapon. They hope to undermine Chinese morale by telling them that we show quite plainly that we never intend to deal with them on an equal basis. They report that China, in the future, has a better chance in a solid Asiatic block than in trying to make the world a peaceful world in which all nations can deal with each other on a friendly basis and consider each other's citizens as individuals and as having equal rights wherever they go.

We have no real policy as far as I know on this question. This law was passed primarily with sectional backing and because of special interests, but the people as a whole have never, as far as I know, thought this question through as a question of future world policy and made their wishes clear to their government. Perhaps the time has come when the people of this nation have got to think of questions such as this for the very reason that we are counting today on our Chinese allies to give their life blood in the struggle against Japan. If they should decide to give up the struggle, it would not be of sectional interest to us, or a purely academic question. It would mean that boys from all over this country would face in the southwest Pacific, a far longer war, a far more dangerous war. Even when the war was won, the whole nation would still be faced with an Asia arrayed against the rest of the world. It would mean that we must be prepared to meet that idea with a smaller population, necessitating better equipment, and equipment costs money.

I do not know and have no way of finding out what the people in this country as a whole really want to do, but I do think it is a question that they must think about and think about seriously. China has fought for seven years. Madame Chiang Kai-shek made it plain how she views the future and perhaps she and her people await our answer. It is an answer which no Government officials can give—the people themselves must speak.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL