DECEMBER 11, 1958
NEW YORK—It is disheartening to read about the six Alabama officials who are defying the Federal Civil Rights Commission and refusing to testify about Negro voting or any other phases of their work. And it was interesting that one of the commission members, John S. Battle, former Governor of Virginia, rebuked them because it looked "like an effort to cover up their actions on Negro voting."
There is no question that the feeling about them throughout the country will be that what they did as a usual practice was so indefensible that they did not dare have it known to the general public.
I was rather startled to read, too, the account of the dismissal of Ivan Serov, chief of the Russian secret police. I suppose these high officials get accustomed to the fact that they may have sudden changes and find themselves out of office and out of power, but one cannot help thinking it must be a little disconcerting.
One day you pull all the strings, have all the information about bigwigs in the whole Soviet Union and the next day you are removed and assigned to "other duties" and nobody even bothers to say what those duties are.
We are inclined, of course, to find a good deal of fault with the ways in which such things are done in the Soviet Union, but occasionally things happen in our own country which are disturbing because they smack of Communist procedures.
The vital concern about the Soviet Communist's way of behaving is that only the little group in power can be right. Everyone else must toe the line. You can't have any freedom of thought because you must accept whatever those in power say is the truth. Six months from now they may decide that something else is the truth and you have to accept this just as blindly as you did the original theory, which may have been entirely different.
If we are not willing to listen to other people's points of view and at least try out what the majority feels to be the right thing, then we are moving along the same lines that the Soviets have found necessary to establish.
I read with interest the various interviews on Senator Hubert Humphrey's arrival in this country and I was particularly interested in his remark that Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev was openly pressing for an invitation to come to the United States.
I realize that in a free country like ours there will be danger for him and the government will have to take a serious responsibility if it permits him to come to this country.
On the other hand, I think it would perhaps be one of the most educational things that could happen to Mr. Khrushchev and I cannot help hoping that somehow it can be managed. I think it might change his approach to a great many questions. If once he had really seen this country as it is, and had a chance to know some of its people, I wonder if his concept of the future might not be changed.