JANUARY 29, 1958
NEW YORK—I have just read with great care the 17 ways recommended by the Senate Preparedness subcommittee to strengthen the nation's defenses against the Soviet Union. The committee, it was reported, spent more than 100 days inquiring into the United States defense situation in the light of recent Soviet military and scientific successes.
From a military point of view, it seems to me that these recommendations are excellent, and I suppose you could not expect a military preparedness committee to take a look at some of the other aspects of our defenses which, it seems to me, are quite as crucial as the military and need study just as greatly. But now that we have these military recommendations, perhaps some group in the Senate will take a look at the other aspects of our defense.
As long as we seem to be copying the Soviet Union, let's wake up to the fact that it is not limiting itself to military development. We need to keep our economy strong and to wipe out unemployment just as quickly as we can.
Nothing would be a more real victory for the Soviets than a repetition of any of the aspects of our economic dilemma in the early `30s. It would be worth many a military victory to them.
We would do well to emphasize some of our cultural interests and achievements. I have an idea that in the creative arts of writing, painting and sculpture we could provide some real leadership if we became a little more appreciative of the achievements of our artists, giving them a little more government support.
I found in Elyria the other day—which is, after all, not a very big city, though it is only 18 miles from Cleveland—a community theatre called the Black River Playhouse. I had no opportunity to see a performance but a letter I received from the playhouse left an impression on my mind. It said:
"We are proud to be the first community theatre in the country to present the successful Broadway play, `Inherit the Wind,' a dramatization of the famous, or infamous, Scopes trial. We are also proud, because one of the authors is a former Elyrian.
"We feel that only a permanently producing National theatre, a playhouse in each and every community of a certain population will eventually forge a better nation, a more cultivated country and an individual less concerned with and less dominated by superficial probems and motivations."
I know that in Virginia there is a state theatre, the Barter Theatre, with headquarters in Abingdon. This movement may be growing, but the encouragement from government is poor, both on the national and the state level. Yet this is one area in which we might lead in the cultural struggle with the Soviets.
The struggle is also a real one on the spiritual level. The uncommitted areas of the world in Asia and Africa, and even our close neighbors in South America, are watching this struggle and I think they are, on the whole, more influenced by our economic, cultural and spiritual leadership than by our military defenses.
Important though it is to keep the military balance between U.S. and the Soviets, we must not forget that our defense is many-sided.