JANUARY 9, 1961
BOSTON—The fears which the Castro government has spread in Cuba of invasion by the United States seem to me very foolish, for I have yet to hear a single American citizen express the faintest desire to push such an invasion. At the same time, there are a large number of refugees, primarily in Florida who are anti-Castro; and I suppose they might well be planning an invasion if they are able to do so. I hope very much that our government has taken every precaution to see that we are not a party to providing them with military equipment or cash which might make it possible to equip an invasion.
In a column written by James Reston some time ago he brought out amusingly some of our inconsistencies, such as saying we must get rid of Castro but of course we must not interfere with domestic affairs in any other country! Since we have now severed diplomatic relations, I think it is more important than ever that we allow no interference with what is going on internally in Cuba. The hysteria which has been created there reached me the other morning in a telegram from a federation of Cuban women who begged me to prevent a war being started by us. I answered by saying that I cannot imagine any circumstances under which we would start a war unless their government attacks us in some way. Unfortunately, I doubt if my telegram will ever reach these ladies, since there is probably by now complete government censorship of all communications both leaving and entering Cuba.
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It was a relief to see in the papers that no evidence of any invasion into Laos has been found. That does not mean, of course, that there may not be grave difficulties within the country, with some of these inspired from Communist areas. I must add that our involvement through many treaties in different parts of the world is becoming constantly more difficult to follow. When I read the other day that there was a demonstration in Somalia against Ethiopia and we were involved because of the military aid we were furnishing Ethiopia, I began to feel there was no area of the world in which we were not somehow involved.
There was one bright spot, however, in the world news this past week when Finance Minister Levi Eshkol told Israel's parliament of the rapid advance made in Israel's economic situation. He said the country had an eight percent rise in overall production last year, the highest rate in the world, and he hoped for a continuing rise.
I am thankful also for the fact that on the whole I find a lack of hostility in our nation toward any of the peoples of the world. There is concern, regret sometimes bewilderment—but no bitterness or real hatred toward any people as far as I can tell. Perhaps our hatred and bitterness is being taken out among our own people.
I am appalled by some of the reports sent to me from the areas where Negro citizens of the U. S. are trying to gain their rights. For attempting to exercise the fundamental right of the franchise, the people in Tennessee have undergone the greatest hardships and even physical danger. And I saw a letter the other day written to the four little Negro school girls in New Orleans which showed how some Southerners feel about what is happening in their land. It was written by a Virginian, a lawyer who has lived in New Orleans for more than 25 years. One of his ancestors was a member of the first Congress of the U. S., another was a member of the first Supreme Court of Virginia, and later its Chief Justice, while his grandfather was a Virginia Congressman for many years.
"So the story of four brave little girls, and their heroic parents, who defied the jeers and ugliness and ignorance of a mob," he wrote in part, "has moved me deeply. You walked with such courage and dignity and beauty in your nice dresses with the lovely bows in your hair.
"I must tell you that every slow step mankind has taken out of bigotry and the ignorance of his past has been because somewhere strong hearts and unbowed heads like yours were willing to take the risks which beset those who walk the true, clean pathway to a better tomorrow for us all.
"So I, who am an old and sick man now, salute you—four little girls who, although they were too young to understand the forces opposing them, were still not persuaded to turn back."
Let us hope that we will soon come to the realization that we live in a world of mixed people, and that the first place to learn to do this peacefully is in our own country.