FEBRUARY 28, 1948
HYDE PARK, Friday—One wonders if the USSR, in taking over Czechoslovakia in such a high-handed manner, realizes the inevitable conclusion that forces itself upon people in other parts of the world. Many of us would like to feel that the USSR believed in self-determination for all nations and that, where people wanted to hold a free and honest election, the USSR would allow them to do so. But after this coup in Czechoslovakia, who can believe anything but that, when the USSR decides it is to her benefit to take over a country and has a large enough organized minority to do so, then the rights or the wrongs of the question mean nothing whatsoever to her.
I shall not be much surprised now if our Congress insists on outlawing the Communist Party in this country. I shall be sorry, because traditionally we have allowed people the right to belong to any party they chose, so long as they did not advocate the overthrow of our Government by force. In addition, we have felt that, if people believed in Communist theories, they should be protected in the right to have those beliefs.
Now, when a minority of 38 percent—which was the size of the Communist vote in Czechoslovakia in the last election—has been able to force a democratic government to accept Communism, it will certainly strengthen the hands of those in this country who wish to root out the Communists here.
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I am far from feeling that we are always right in the U.S.A. and that the other fellow is always wrong. But I must say that I look upon this latest Communist move in Czechoslovakia with regret, not only because of what it will do to that country, whose citizens many of us have come to admire, but also because of what it will undoubtedly do to us in this country.
I have been hoping that we might get away from our fears and might act from more positive motives in the political and economic fields. It seems to me foolish for the strongest democracy in the world, at the peak of employment and economic success, to be tremblingly awaiting a recession. I hate to see us tremble before the Arab threats and give such uncertain leadership within the United Nations on the support of the Palestine decision, purely because we seem to be afraid. I hoped we were justified in crying out against our fears, but the acts of the USSR make our fears seem more reasonable than they did a short time ago.
I still believe that neither the people of this country nor the people of Russia want war. I am willing to believe that certain interests in the U.S. may have aroused the fears of the Russian Government, but nothing which has been done in this country to substantiate those fears approximates the recent action of the USSR in Czechoslovakia. If the Russians wanted to make the jitters against them seem reasonable, they couldn't have done it more effectively.