SEPTEMBER 6, 1949
HYDE PARK, Monday—The very first words I must write today are an apology to the Civil Liberties Union. In my recent column about the Paul Robeson meeting, I inadvertently said the meeting was sponsored by the Civil Liberties Union instead of by the Civil Rights Congress, which is an organization that has been on the Attorney General's subversive list and which is said to be a Communist-front group. It would be natural for the Civil Rights Congress to sponsor this particular concert. I think it is because I have had more to do in the past with the Civil Liberties Union that their name came more readily to my thoughts. I am very sorry to have made this mistake.
I was glad to see that so much care to keep the peace had seemed wise to the state authorities in connection with the concert given near Peekskill by Paul Robeson last Sunday, and I had hoped that there would be no more riotous outbreaks at any meetings. Nothing proves our freedom better than the careful guarding of everybody's freedom. In a democracy, one cannot keep one's own freedom unless each individual has a sense of responsibility toward the freedom of others; and so each one of us in every community throughout the country, day by day, is proving in our own behavior our capacity to live in a democracy and govern ourselves. No matter what propaganda the USSR may put forth, they cannot claim that they are a real democracy until their people have more choice of thought and action than is possible under their present form of government.
One of the sad things about having to fight against the subversive activities of Communists, at the present time, is the fact that people in general become so confused that they cease on occasion to make a difference between Communist tenets to which they are really opposed and, on the other hand, the liberals' desire for change brought about in the usual democratic manner through discussion, persuasion and final acceptance by the majority.
One of the recent examples that has come to my attention is an attack made on Shad Polier, the Fair Deal candidate for City Councilman from New York's 20th Senatorial District in the Democratic primary to take place on September 6. His Tammany rival has distributed an election handbill charging Mr. Polier with being a "stooge for the Stalinists."
Actually, Mr. Polier is a liberal and a democrat—the son-in-law of the late Rabbi Wise. His wife is a judge in the Children's Court. Both he and his wife have been active not only in charitable but in civic affairs, striving to make their city and their country more truly democratic, more representative of the real democracy in which we all believe.
This kind of attack is not strange in politics; but it is sad, because it plays on the temporary fears of a period. These fears will pass as our own security grows. But great harm may come if we are prevented by such attacks from electing able and conscientious officials.