MAY 17, 1950
NEW YORK, Tuesday—It makes me sad to read of the floods that are making so many people homeless in Winnipeg. I remember the delightful time I spent there only a year ago last March, and it is hard to realize that the river can go on such a rampage.
I have been thinking a good deal about the television show I did with Charles Collingwood and Senator Brewster of Maine.
In the course of our conversation the Senator made a remark which particularly interested me. He implied that anyone who questioned our judicial system, especially a trial by jury, was doing something very wrong, since, he said, it was the best system in the world. I am more than willing to concede that it is as good a system as anything devised by human minds, but I have never had the feeling that anything—whether a judicial system, an economic or a political system—devised by human beings must be accepted as though it had come straight from The Almighty and can be neither changed nor improved.
There are cases on record of people tried by jury and found guilty who later were proved innocent. I think the margin of mistakes is narrower under this system than under any other, but the reason we have grown, and are growing, in this country is because our minds have remained free. We have always questioned our own wisdom; we have been ready to make experiments and to change our mind. But, it is such a remark, and coming from someone like the honorable Senator, that troubles me most. Those who say such things are so sure that they are right in their judgments, whereas I am always so conscious of the margin of error, of our lack of knowledge and understanding!
However, there is one very encouraging thing that is happening and I note it with pleasure. Young men who are determined to keep the world free from wars are willingly giving much more of their time to public service. It is a good sign because it portrays an ever-increasing acceptance of personal responsibility.
I have just had a letter from the National Committee on Segregation in the Nation's Capital, Inc.
The capital of the United States is not a place where segregation should flourish. While it is often spoken of as a Southern city, it is, nevertheless, the capital of the whole country, and the place where foreigners from all over the world must come to transact much of their business, regardless of their race, color or religion. They should come to a city where all human beings are equal before the law, and where men and women treat each other "in the spirit of brotherhood".
The Interior Department has, under its jurisdiction in the District of Columbia, certain recreational facilities which it makes available for the benefit of all people without segregation. Repeatedly, the Interior Department has offered to transfer all these facilities to the local recreation board provided that the board will keep them open to all citizens. A bill will shortly come up in Congress, sponsored by Rep. John L. McMillin, Democrat of South Carolina and chairman of the House Committee on the District of Columbia, which will, if passed, transfer all recreational facilities now operated by the Interior Department to the District Commissioners.
It sounds innocent, but what it really does is to place in the hands of officials the power to enforce racial segregation. This seems a pity in the nation's capital.