AUGUST 29, 1952
HYDE PARK, Thursday—I have a rather interesting letter from a lady today and I would like to answer it in my column. She says: "In view of your past record of sponsoring organizations with Communist leanings, some of which even booed your late husband, I cannot conceive of your making a speech against a red-blooded American like Senator McCarthy. He has earnestly tried to free our government of Communists. What have you done in that line?"
First, I would like to point out that I have not as yet made a speech against Senator McCarthy.
The only organization I ever sponsored which had any degree of Communist control was the American Youth Congress in the early thirties. There was a very good reason for working with those young people and the bulk of the membership was not then, and was never later, Communistic.
A group among them were Communists then and perhaps may have remained so—that I do not know. But I would like to remind people in general and especially my correspondent that this was a particularly difficult period for young people.
They were coming out of college in great numbers and finding no jobs. Democracy was failing them and many of the most intelligent thought Communism would solve their problems.
Sooner or later many of them found out how intolerable Communist control was and they became better citizens of our democracy than ever before. They did not inform against their former colleagues, they simply gave up Communism and went to work as citizens of our democracy.
They were the more valuable because they knew what was wrong with Communism and they understood and cherished the democratic form of government and the democratic way of life.
Back in the thirties, however, these young people—even those who booed the President—needed friends. They were rude, true, but also desperately unhappy and frustrated. It was fortunate that the White House understood this.
My devotion to my country and to democracy is quite as great as that of Senator McCarthy. I do not like his methods or the results of his methods and I would like to say to my correspondent that I think those of us who worked with young people in the thirties did more to save many of them from becoming Communists than Senator McCarthy has done for his fellow citizens with all his slurs and accusations.
I know the danger of Communism. I know it perhaps better than many other American citizens because for nearly five months of every year for the last six years, I have sat in meetings with the Communist representatives of the USSR.
I despise the control they insist on holding over men's minds. And that is why I despise what Senator McCarthy has done, for he would use the same methods of fear to control all thought that is not according to his own pattern—in our free country!