NOVEMBER 22, 1957
HARTFORD, Conn.—The President will be applauded by many people in this country for his statement asking employers to abolish "all artificial discrimination which hinders the right of each American to advance in accordance with his merits as a human being and his capacity for productive work".
He did this from the South which is, I think, a sign that he has begun to realize that that section of the country needs some leadership from him. The commission he appointed to abolish discrimination in all work under government contract has done a very fine job, and, of course, when no discrimination takes place in government contract work, it has an effect on all firms.
I take it that "artificial" discrimination means the kind that has not been openly admitted. Such would be the case when people, applying for a job, are found to be colored, so they are told the job is filled, and then they sometimes discover that a white person has been given the job after they had applied and been turned down.
This kind of treatment can only lead to great bitterness. It is difficult, however, to wipe it out because jobs should be given on the basis of capacity and merit and there must be someone who judges these two qualifications. If the employer is not free of prejudice, it is possible that he may deny the job to an applicant on grounds that he or she does not have the capacity or ability, yet there is no way for the applicant to prove that an injustice has been done.
If the employers of the country will really heed the President's declaration, I think we will have taken a real step forward in observing human rights.
I am disturbed by the many articles in the newspaper indicating that we feel we must reassure our people and tell them that the Soviet Union is not ahead of us in ballistic weapons. I have a feeling that if we said very little about what our plans are and concentrated on what we could accomplish for peaceful purposes, this arms race between Russia and ourselves would become less important.
I am not advocating that we allow Russia to go ahead of us. I think we should keep a balance, but I wish we would stop talking about it and stress the efforts we are making to help the countries of the world to gain economic well-being, show less anxiety concerning the Soviet Union's war potential and calmly go about our business of keeping a balance in arms so that the Soviets will not be tempted to try military aggression.
We should not create the impression, however, that we are giving so much thought to being able to attack them, since the last thing we intend to do is to launch an attack on anyone.