APRIL 12, 1950
NEW YORK, Tuesday—If there is one thing that enrages anyone who has an interest in young people, it is that it should be possible for teen-age youngsters to obtain narcotics and become addicts. If it is possible to clamp down hard on every narcotic peddler, it must be done—and done right away. This type of preying on the young is beneath contempt.
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I was told yesterday of a trip being made in this country by a group called the American Student Good Will Tour to North America.
This group has among its Austrian sponsors the Austro-American Institute of Education, the UNESCO Commission for Austria, Mr. and Mrs. George T. Little of the American Friends Service Committee in Vienna, and the Rev. Dr. Alois Wildenauer of Vienna, among many others. In the United States it, is sponsored, to give only a few names, by Edward R. Murrow, radio commentator; Clarence Pickett, honorary secretary of the International Friends Service Committee; Donald J. Shank, acting director of the Institute of International Education; and Dr. George S. Zook, president of the American Council on Education.
There are 30 youngsters in the group and they are here under the guidance of their director, Dr. Oskar F. Bock. They give performances of folk dances and music and they try to learn something of America and impart some knowledge of their own land. They have completed their tour of the West Coast, having visited Utah, California, Washington, Vancouver, B.C.; New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and Colorado. They are now participating in the National Folk Festival in St. Louis.
Student associations, of course, both in Austria and the United States have been interested in them and in their tour that they are making to create good will.
There is a great deal that can be done in this way, but there must be some effort on the part of the people in the places where they go to help them understand the American way of life and American ideas.
One of my friends, who is married to an American and has long been an American citizen but who came originally from Austria, was telling me how much Russian propaganda has been spread among Austrian people generally, which is quite natural as part of Austria is in the Russian zone. She said that one of the first questions asked her by these students is about our treatment of minority groups.
Among other things, they were told before leaving their homeland that if they went to Howard University they would be boycotted by people all over the United States, which is characteristic Soviet propaganda. They also have been told that everything in the United States is in a constant state of confusion and that something is going to happen here very soon.
They wanted to know how many unemployed there were, and if a person wanted to work was it possible to find any work in this country. They have no understanding of our politics and cannot understand that when people argue you listen to the other point of view. They find it hard to believe that even if you don't agree, you respect an honest opposition point of view.
I hear they are giving very good performances and improving all the time. I am hoping that if they decide to come to Hyde Park there may be an opportunity to give a performance there. In any case, this is an opportunity to create greater understanding among the younger generation of a central European country, and I think we should not leave any stone unturned so they will return home with understanding and sympathy for this country.