AUGUST 16, 1948
HYDE PARK, Sunday—It is certainly unfortunate that we should be dealing with an extremely difficult situation in Berlin and at the same time with a story here which cannot be lightly brushed aside, even though part of it may be disproved. There certainly were efforts at Communist espionage in this country during the war, and certain Americans allowed themselves to be convinced that Communism was more important than loyalty to their own country.
Yet I disapprove very much of the way in which these legislative committees work. Smearing good people like Laughlin Currie, Alger Hiss and others is, I think, unforgiveable. Though we are told they have every opportunity to clear themselves, the fact that they have been smeared cannot be erased. Anyone knowing either Mr. Currie or Mr. Hiss, who are the two people whom I happen to know fairly well, would not need any denial on their part to know they are not Communists. Their records prove it. But many people who do not know them would read of the accusations and never know that they were cleared.
Why can't these hearings be held in private until something is proved against an individual? The legislative investigators accept the word of confessed Communists who have reformed and returned to the fold of democracy, and allow them to say anything they choose against citizens who have never been Communists. This seems to me indefensible and undemocratic. I still believe that these situations should be left in the hands of the FBI, who must have evidence before they openly accuse any man or woman.
There may be no political strategy back of bringing up these investigations at the present time on the part of the Republicans. But it is hard to understand why this moment should have been chosen for these disclosures if there are no political reasons involved. It is obvious that the situation in Berlin is tense at the present time, and little added irritations are no help to negotiations over there.
The Russian teachers who want to stay here and not return home, and the efforts that have been made on the part of the Russian authorities to oblige them to return, present no very great difficulties. The Russians themselves have accepted American citizens who have decided that they prefer to live in Russia rather than in the United States. The authorities in Russia could easily be reminded of this fact.
Minor irritations, however, should be avoided if possible, for our objectives, broadly speaking, in the next few years are to preserve the peace and find ways of existing in the same world in spite of our differences.