NOVEMBER 28, 1949
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Chairman David E. Lilienthal's resignation from the Atomic Energy Commission means the loss of a courageous public servant who has done important pioneer work. I realize that a very small number of people will say that his resignation is a relief to them, and they probably congratulate themselves that, while he could not resign under fire, his resignation is a result of their work.
Undoubtedly Mr. Lilienthal feels that he can do better out of government service by constructive criticism and by being able to speak out more freely than he could when he was actually responsible for the secret work of the Atomic Energy Commission. To many of us, however, it is sad to lose a public servant of such calibre. He had the courage to stand up under criticism, to go his way firmly and quietly, and every now and then to say something which heartened every patriotic liberal in the country. When he stated his creed for democracy, for instance, I think every one of us felt that it set a high standard of citizenship and was a statement worth preserving.
I personally hope that he will continue in the service of the public even though he remains a private citizen. Private citizens can have tremendous influence, even beyond their own communities. When they are people who know a great deal about a very special and important subject, they can easily obtain a hearing over the air and in the press, and they are listened to by everyone who wants to get at the facts. I congratulate Mr. Lilienthal on public service well and unselfishly carried through, and I wish him well in whatever he may undertake in the future.
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I find I have been a little unfair to the American Bar Association because of my assumption that Frank E. Holman, its president, had carried practically all the members of the association with him last year when he attacked the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the covenant. It seems I was mistaken and that there are two groups within the association holding different views. One group is in favor of the covenant on human rights and the genocide convention, while the other is opposed to both instruments. The House of Delegates, the only body which has the right to take official action for the association, has not made a decision as between these two groups. It has instructed both of them to submit their reports to the State Department and the appropriate committees of Congress.
It happens to be the section on international and comparative law which supports the covenant and the convention on genocide. They have made some suggestions on both of these instruments, and since the covenant on human rights has only gone through its first drafting, these suggestions will of course be given careful consideration.
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I was saddened to read this morning of the death of the dancer, Bill Robinson, who for so long has entertained so many people in this country. One needs entertainment and one should be grateful to those who furnish it. I remember occasions during the war when I met Bill Robinson entertaining for the servicemen. He was a fine person. He did his job not just for money, but hoping to bring something of value to all of us who need the light touch in our lives now and then.