MAY 21, 1960
HYDE PARK. —I have just read two letters written from South Africa and they confirm and point up the fact that what is going on there resembles more the Hitler period and the attack against the Jews in Germany and the Stalin regime in the Soviet Union than anything we have known since.
I'm sure many of you have read in newspaper accounts of native fathers and mothers being torn from their homes, leaving unprotected children to get along as well as they could and maybe to starve to death. And this is being done not only to the native population but, by order of the government, to the Indians and to the white people who have shown any sympathy with the natives and who have expressed any disapproval of the apartheid policy.
The government seems to be in the hands of the people who were defeated by the English in the Boer War, and now the English, who might be expected to behave more reasonably, seem to be dominated by the Boers. This is an intolerable situation and one which is bringing about cruelties that one would not expect in civilized nations.
The particular letter that I have in hand tells of a mother and a father—the man a professional, educated, and a South African citizen of long standing—who were taken away in the middle of the night, leaving unprotected in their home four children between the ages of three and 16. This couple and many other people who have been arrested are not being allowed any contacts with the outside world and no petitions have been accepted on their behalf.
Our metropolitan newspapers tell us that a number of children—some natives and some white who have lost their parents—organized and took a petition to the authorities. They were first denied the opportunity to present it, but finally succeeded in doing so. However, while the older children were talking to the authorities inside a building, the younger children were all taken to the station house by the police. On discovering this when they emerged from the building, the older ones dashed frantically to join the smaller children, plead that they had organized the group and that they should be in prison with the younger ones.
This is incredible, and the world conscience should join in protest against such cruelties and such curtailment of the right to express one's opinions and to differ from government thinking in a civilized country. What an example this is for South Africa to give to the new states now coming into being. Is this what democracy means? If so, democracy has fallen very low.
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I went to the Metropolitan Museum Wednesday afternoon with Mr. William Froelich to see the exhibition of "Photography in the Fine Arts." Two of Mr. Froelich's color photographs had been chosen; in fact, one of them has been used as a poster for the exhibition.
I must say I enjoyed it and was glad that I had found the time in a busy day to look at photographs for an hour. I hope anyone who goes to see this exhibition will not fail to see John Stewart's carnations. They look like a painting! How photography succeeded in giving this impression I do not know.
Another item of interest is the photograph of the back of Premier Khrushchev's head in front of Abraham Lincoln's statue in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. It sets one to wondering whether the meaning of Lincoln penetrated into Mr. Khrushchev's mind.