AUGUST 20, 1951
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Day by day, those who are responsible for our policies in the Far East must revise their actions in the light of new events. I constantly get questions asking why we do not have a definite policy and stick to it. The reason is simple. We cannot govern other people nor control what may happen in the various parts of the world. We can only meet what happens as best we can, as it occurs, keeping always in mind our basic objective of peace.
I think perhaps we might play a better game of guessing what is going to happen if everyone were gifted with foresight and imagination. Many of our diplomatic representatives, prior to their arrival at the country in which they are stationed, are not very well versed in its history and literature. Hence they are not always successful in interpreting the reasons for the actions of people living in parts of the world which are little known to the greater part of the people in the United States.
Someone offered me a plan the other day for bringing in an ever-increasing number of people to this country, both old and young, and letting them stay for a few months before going back to tell what they have seen and heard. Of course, there is nothing so valuable as firsthand information, and it would help us, too, if we sent people abroad. You may think you can get the feeling of something by reading, but you do better if you actually see it.
I don't know whether any plan of travel exchange could be carried out on a sufficiently wide scale to be of any value in the fight against Communism, but I am sure that every incident which brings better first-hand knowledge is important. For instance, I was told at the World Youth Conference that one of the delegates from the French Cameroons, on reaching here, found that he had to put one of his fellow delegates in a New York City hospital. He did this with great reluctance; but when he went to visit his comrade he found two colored boys in a room with two white boys, and all were getting the same attention from a white doctor and a white trained nurse. This completely changed his opinion of race relations in this country. He confided in one of the World Youth Assembly staff members that he had been told by the Communists that in the United States no colored man was taken into a hospital, no matter how ill he was, nor would he be allowed to eat the same food as the rest of the people.
People who preach isolationism or do anything to lessen the bonds between the United States and the United Nations are deliberately fostering fears which will eventually bring us war. Not supporting the continual strengthening of our forces at home, and not fostering a sense of responsibility for our work with the United Nations to create closer world relations and wider acceptance among our own people of their position in the world and their ability to accept leadership, will do us great harm in the long run.
On Thursday morning I went out to speak at Fort Slocum. I returned to New York City in time to see a number of people by appointment, and now we are back in the country after a busy and warmish few days in the city.