DECEMBER 4, 1958
BOSTON—A publication called the American Legion Firing Line, prepared and distributed by the National Americanism Commission, has just been sent to me. Its subscription rate is $3 a year, and it is copyrighted, thereby prohibiting reproduction of it in whole or in part without authorization. Therefore, I cannot quote from it.
I am appalled that a publication of this kind, attacking reputable people, sometimes by innuendo, should actually be published by a patriotic organization like the American Legion.
Does the Legion really believe we are in danger of becoming Communists in this country? If it does, it has far less faith in the American people than many of the people and organizations whom it attacks.
No one who has ever been in a country where freedom exists, and has known the feel of it, will ever be tempted to accept the material benefits offered by communism as a substitute for freedom.
There are areas of the world in which, because of certain economic conditions, it is essential to socialize certain parts of the economy, but this does not mean in any way that these nations, if they have known freedom, will necessarily give up political and social democracy.
Such ignorance of the meaning of certain religious organizations is shown in this Legion pamphlet that I am astounded intelligent people would pay $3 a year to be misled.
I had an inquiry the other day from a young woman who is starting work in the political organization of her choice -- an inquiry almost naive if it had not been sad.
"Do you think," she asked, "if it is possible we can ever have clean government?"
In her short period of participation in political organization work before an election this young woman had some across things she did not consider "clean government."
All of us know that good organization is essential to winning a political campaign and that the victory sometimes goes to the man who can get the best staff work done. This puts the emphasis on ability in organization and administration and is typical American.
But other types of efforts to control voting are not quite so commendable. For instance, one great corporation, it was reported to me by an employee's wife, put pressure on its employees to vote a certain party ticket in the last election.
The wife discovered this when there came through the mail a receipt to her husband for a small cash donation to a political party. He had made the contribution under pressure, even though it went to a party he did not belong to and for which he had never voted.
My own reaction is that, although he was forced to make this contribution, he could still go to the polls and vote for whom he chose, and I hope he did.
Putting that kind of pressure on any employe seems to be reprehensible and one of the ways in which we do not foster clean government in this country.