JUNE 18, 1948
NEW YORK, Thursday—It seems a pity that the Longshoremen's Union should decide to show its patriotism and dislike of Communism by refusing to load a Yugoslav ship. It is perfectly obvious that as long as we are not at war with Yugoslavia this ship has a right to dock here, to land its cargo and take on a cargo and continue on its way.
We may not like the government of Yugoslavia, but we are a democratic country which believes that people in other parts of the world have a right to chose their own form of government and live under it as long as they desire to do so.
We have a right to say that as long as Yugoslavia is a Communist country we prefer not to receive Communists from Yugoslavia as settlers in our country. But I doubt very greatly whether we really should exercise the right to refuse to let Communist citizens visit this country.
There is a difference between accepting permanent settlers who are to become citizens of your country and accepting visitors. By allowing people who are Communists to visit us we can hope to show them what the United States is like and why we think we have certain advantages over Communism in our democratic form of government and our democratic way of life.
When, however, one of our unions refuses to load a ship belonging to the Yugoslav government—because they do not like the photographs they find on board—that is really an interference with the right of another nation. We would object very strongly if the tables were reversed and it was our ship in a port in Yugoslavia that was treated in similar fashion and for the reason that we are a capitalist country.
The Yugoslavs suffered during the war and fought the Germans valiantly at a time when we were most grateful for all the delay that could be brought about in the German advance on any front. In return, this country, through UNRRA and private organizations, has shipped food and clothing and medical supplies of many kinds to Yugoslavia. At the present time some of these supplies, along with the rest of the ship's cargo, are on a Brooklyn pier, waiting to be put on board. It seems to me this action is a rather foolish gesture on the part of the three locals of the International Longshoremen's Union, who are involved in this dispute.
The union officials urged the men to load the ship, but they were booed down by the rank and file. Sometimes I think that the rank and file is a pretty irresponsible group of men.
It was a long day at Lake Success yesterday and I did not get home until after 7:30 p.m., but luckily, my dinner guests were late also. After dinner a man from Alaska dropped in because he wanted to tell me about the country and urge me to come up there and write about it. It would not take much urging if there were just a few more days in the year, and one could find time for all the different interesting jobs there are to do.