My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

LOS ANGELES, Wednesday—I think that the people of the United States are not communicating very frequently with their representatives in Congress! Some things which are happening in Congress seem very strange.

For instance, I see that the Women's Christian Temperance Union has been granted $5000 for an international convention. I can remember that once upon a time the same amount of money was granted when The Countrywomen of the World met in Washington, with the women's rural organizations of the United States as hosts. At that time, this organization included representatives of most of the women's rural groups in our country and in many other countries. The W.C.T.U. however, does not seem to me to be the same type of organization.

They are international but they do not represent a broad group of people who have general interests in common. Instead, they represent a limited group that has one particular interest for which it is working.

I hold no brief for the use of strong alcoholic beverages. In fact, I believe strictly in moderate living. However, prohibition taught me that individuals themselves have to learn to control their habits and that morality cannot be legislated. Prohibition not only failed in the objective for which it was designed, but it managed to create among large numbers of people a disregard for law—which seemed even more serious.

People may have forgotten what prohibition days were like but they should not do so, for we may be called upon to make the same decision again. Will we try this experiment anew, or will we work in other ways which might be more efficacious and more really helpful to human beings?

* * *

There are other things in Congress' activities which seem a little strange and which I believe are at variance with the average person's thinking. Congress has decided that veterans of World War II, even though they fought in the war and served their country, shall not be granted G.I. college benefits if they are Communists.

Now, this seems really odd, for one would think that here was a chance to educate these young people away from their faulty thinking. Evidently it is feared that a few youngsters who have been contaminated by Communism will be too difficult for the college authorities and their colleagues to handle.

I can work up far more enthusiasm for teaching real democracy, so that our young people can meet any Communist argument, than I can for refusing any veteran educational benefits. If our business groups would get out a really good report showing how our economic system is far superior to other systems in granting opportunity to all men, then I think we would really have some arguments which it would be pretty difficult for American Communists, young or old, to refute. Above all, we would be doing something positive instead of constantly expressing our fears.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL