AUGUST 29, 1951
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—To some of us there is an apparent connection between what is happening in Korea and the approaching conference in San Francisco to sign the Japanese peace treaty. It is quite evident that the Soviet Union is trying to work a little blackmail and all we can hope is that it will fail, as attempts at blackmail always should fail. Perhaps, therefore, we are going to find that nothing much happens on the cease-fire talks in Korea until after the meeting has taken place in San Francisco beginning September 4.
I hope the treaty, which has been carefully negotiated with many countries by John Foster Dulles, is signed and accepted quickly and that the Soviet delegation has little opportunity to do more than make a presentation of its views. The Russians would like nothing better than to make a dent in the solid front of the Western powers. The propaganda that comes from the usual sources is all about the increasing of Soviet strength as a threat to Germany and Western Europe. This is nothing new, but we must not allow ourselves to be led astray by this propaganda. We will hear more about the probability that if the Kaesong parley fails World War III is inevitable.
We know that we, ourselves, and the other Western countries with vast resources of materials and skilled labor, are having problems today. Just because no news is allowed to emanate from behind the Iron Curtain does not mean that Russia and her satellites are not also finding problems. In the area the Reds control there is less trained skilled labor and less developed natural resources. There is a greater problem to provide people with the necessities of life, let alone anything that makes life agreeable, and we must not forget that the more the Soviet inveighs against us, the more frightened she is. When one is frightened it is usual to resort to invective and not to reason, and that seems evident in much of today's Communist propaganda.
There is one other thing that we, in this country, should remember. That is to watch our own political activities at home. I am really surprised to find how gullible some people are. They do not seem to realize that there are some men to whom party success is so important that they seem willing to endanger this country.
I have a letter from a gentleman, quite evidently a Republican, who accepts as absolute truth two articles that he sent me, both of which state the opinions of people. Such "opinion" articles are interesting to read, particularly if you respect the people who are doing the writing. And here in the United States there is complete freedom for anyone to express his opinion.
But I think it would be wise if occasionally we tried to check such "opinion" articles with facts. If they are opinions about individuals they should be checked with the individuals. If they are about problems, they should be checked with people who have been close to those problems.
I hold opposite opinions to many Republicans on certain subjects, and when I have to explain my point of view I do not expect to convince closed minds. But I give the reasons for my belief for the benefit of open minds, just as the opposition does to our point.
All of us try to persuade our fellow citizens to see our point of view and that is the way public opinion is created in a democracy. It seems to me, however, we might achieve our aim with a little less violent invective and blackening of the individual character, for on both sides motives are probably good. The real difference is in the methods that are advocate.