OCTOBER 18, 1947
NEW YORK, Friday—A little paragraph in one of the columns the other day amused me. I don't know whether it was founded on fact, but it described how President Truman handled disagreeable letters. It said that, on receipt of such a letter, he immediately dictated a disagreeable answer. His secretary trembled and all the staff trembled, but the secretary typed the answer and placed it on his desk side by side with the original letter. Two or three days later, said the paragraph, he got around to reading both again and tore both up.
This amused me because I think there are none of us who receive such letters who have not, at one time or another, sat down and answered a good many of them. If we are wise, however, we always let them lie long enough to reconsider our first burst of rage. We realize that baiting someone is great fun but that it never can be completely satisfactory unless the baiter knows that he successfully upsets the baitee—and with this reflection one usually tears up both letters. This is really much better than continuing a discussion which can never get beyond the stage of calling each other names.
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I'm sure all of us read with excitement and pride the story of the Coast Guard rescuing 69 people from the plane that was forced down in the Atlantic. When I read that the flying boat was down in 35-foot seas, I could not imagine how the hull could stand up under the pounding it was getting. I still do not understand it. But the rescue gives one a sense of the possibility of making all overseas air travel much safer by scattering ships at given points along the flying route, which would make it possible for any lost flyer to give his whereabouts and be picked up.
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Things are moving slowly again in Committee No. 3 of the General Assembly. We have argued at some length about an item on the agenda which I thought would take comparatively little time.
The Economic and Social Council had referred the question of trade-union rights, or freedom of association, to the International Labor Organization. It was not as yet finally and completely settled, but it looked as though the International Labor Organization was well on the way to safeguard this freedom of association for trade unions, and that it was now preparing a series of conventions, to be entered into by different states, which would go into the detail of what constituted the rights of trade unionists. However, here we hit a snag, for the committees seemed to consider that we were the proper body to make recommendations as to these rights and what should be taken into consideration in connection with them.
The Economic and Social Council, pursuant to its obligation to try to prevent overlapping, had suggested that the Human Rights Commission cooperate with the International Labor Organization and incorporate in the international Bill of Rights certain labor rights which might be called inherent for all human beings who work. Further than this the Economic and Social Council had not gone. All they asked from the General Assembly was approval of what they had done and permission to continue their work.