DECEMBER 17, 1943
WASHINGTON, Thursday—December 17 is the birthday of the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honorable William Lyon Mackenzie King. He is a public servant of long standing and he has given unselfishly of himself for the good of his country. On several occasions Mr. Mackenzie King has been our guest, and I always look forward to his visits, not because of his importance as a public figure, but because he is a delightful person with whom to talk, and his sincerity and high standards of public service are an inspiration.
I often wish that we in this country knew more about the contribution which Canada has made to the war effort. Her people have expanded their industries and they have trained innumerable men sent from England—as well as those recruited in Canada—to serve in various branches of the armed forces. Canada's population is far smaller than ours. So some of their problems may be a little easier to handle. But, by and large, they have faced the same difficulties and they have met them with courage and a truly progressive spirit. They are not afraid of new experiments in government, in business or in social concepts. That augurs well for the future.
At present in our country, as in every other country in the world, we are assailed by many fears. The evidence of these fears lies in the acceptance of methods which closely resemble some of the methods of the Fascist countries. This tendency we must watch and prevent wherever we can.
People—quite obscure people—are questioned today about their political beliefs, their affiliations and their friends, and letters often are watched, all because we are afraid that in our midst we may be harboring those inimical to our democratic way of life. It is essential, in some cases, that precautions be taken, but we ought to call attention to such conditions now because they are a sign of fear. As soon as possible we should rid ourselves of fear and of the practices which fear has brought about.
In the past no one was afraid to state what he believed or was anyone called to account for the unpopular organizations to which he belonged—or for his friends, or his comings and goings. They were his personal affairs and only if he broke our laws did he become a concern of our law enforcement officers.
In wartime the growth of fear is inevitable. But we should recognize it and see to it that we return to the practices guaranteed to us in our Bill of Rights, as soon as the dangers brought about by war are past.