AUGUST 6, 1948
HYDE PARK, Thursday—One of our great metropolitan morning newspapers carried an editorial that seems to me carefully and thoughtfully written regarding the present proceedings in the various Congressional committees, which are divulging the sensational spy ring stories.
The first sentence of the editorial is one we should all remember. It reads:
"If there is one thing above all others in our American way of life in which most thoughtful citizens take pride and in which they firmly believe, it is in the principles of civil rights enunciated in the first ten amendments to our Constitution."
Then the editorial proceeds to suggest that it has been possible, ever since Elizabeth T. Bentley confessed herself as a Communist spy, for our most competent investigating authorities to work on the leads given by her testimony. Had her assertions proved truthful, the people involved would have been informed of the accusations, and they would have been indicted in proper manner. They would not have had to learn of the accusations through the press. There are still men who have been smeared in this way who have never yet been formally cleared.
The last paragraph of the editorial seems to go well with the first and to bear some careful thinking by our citizens. It reads:
"We have a precious heritage in this country of protection of the innocent against false accusation, of a fair trial even for the guilty. What price a few headlines if those rights are compromised or violated? A dubious security purchased by those means would be bought far too high."
All our newspapers and all of our citizens will not agree with this editorial. But I think the people of this country who treasure the safeguards in our Bill of Rights will ponder it carefully. Undoubtedly, there are Communists among the people mentioned in the Washington investigations, but there are also men among them who have never been Communists and whose names should not be smeared in this thoughtless manner.
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One other matter seems to interest everyone just now, and it indicates how much the people of this country hope for peace.
This is the reaction that was manifested to the meager news that the heads of the missions who saw Premier Josef Stalin came out from the interview smiling. Everyone speaks of it with hope and seems to feel that now we surely are going to have another meeting that will clear up the German situation and bring us at last a real peace in Europe.
What a relief it would be to eliminate the curious semi-warfare that now exists, with suspicion and fear rising every day. Let us hope that the smiling officials really justify the lift in our spirits.
But because we do not want war we must not convey the impression to any peoples anywhere in the world that we do not intend to stand firm and see that the things that we consider right and proper are actually done. We are told frequently that Russia is in no hurry for any kind of action, because she feels sure if she waits long enough there will be an economic debacle in this country that will spell victory for Communism.
This is something the present session of Congress should bear in mind. Either we prevent inflation or we raise these Russian hopes still higher. And Congress will have to accept the responsibility if no real action is taken on inflation before adjournment.