MAY 12, 1961
RACINE, Wis.—It is certainly refreshing to have a head of the Federal Communications Commission who has the courage to say he intends to see that television improves its programing.
"It is not enough to cater to the nation's whims," Chairman Newton N. Minow said. "We must also serve the nation's needs." Then he went on to say, "The squandering of our air waves is no less important than the lavish waste of any natural resource."
This certainly looks as though we are going to have to limit our Westerns, and I'll be happy if we never export a Western to any country overseas.
But improving TV programing does not simply mean the elimination of certain shows that we do not consider to be constructive. Could we not plan a couple of hours a day that would be carefully chosen to suit different age groups of youngsters and produce for them programs that would be both informative and entertaining?
This could be an enormous help to parents. They would then know when they could set the TV hour for their children and see that other assigned hours are given over to homework or some other necessary home activity.
At present too little time is given to reading. We all talk about children who are not able to read, but if it were a normal habit in every home to spend a certain amount of time reading—either as an individual or as a family—I'm sure we would find children learning to read more quickly and doing it more and more for enjoyment.
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The NATO meetings in Oslo, Norway, brought out some pretty forthright statements on the subject of the Berlin situation. But if we are to have a satisfactory settlement in this central part of Europe the principles recognized in the United Nations Charter and in the wartime and postwar agreements should be reconsidered. These principles call for self-determination by means of free elections and for a peace settlement that, within the framework of European security, would finally establish Germany's eastern border.
This sounds reasonable but it will be extremely difficult to actually work out peacefully, I'm sure, and it will take firmness and patience.
We would like to wish success to Vice-President Lyndon Johnson and his party on their mission to Asia. I have not the slightest fear that there will be any really serious demonstrations against the Vice-President, and this is an opportunity for him to get to know the statesmen of several Asiatic countries. He needs this knowledge and I have great trust in his intelligent handling of the people he will meet and in the way he presents the things he feels it is essential to put across.
We wish him well in a difficult mission and we have great confidence that there will be good results both from what he learns and from what the people learn from contact with him.
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I was somewhat startled to read in one of our newspapers about a meeting held in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., where Dr. Frank Schwarz, Executive Director of the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, made the prediction at a forum that "this country was lagging so far behind the Soviet Union in the Communist propaganda war that the Communist flag would be flying over Washington before 1973."
I looked for him to develop a program which the American people should follow to prevent this horrible prophecy from coming true, but I found that he simply asked for money and stated that his organization is tax free and contributed to groups overseas that are fighting communism. I should liked to have read a well-thought-out program of what the American people should do, and if anyone agreed with Dr. Schwarz they should be shown the need to wake up.
We certainly may need to be aroused from apathy in our fight against communism, but I think the first thing we need to do is to live up to our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, giving to all our people in this country the assurance that in a democracy every human soul is precious. Then we need to face many of the problems—financial, agricultural, industrial—that we have to meet here at home, and we will find they are tied to the problems that we have to meet in solving relationships with the world around us.
We have, too, to work more closely with the United Nations and strengthen that organization through our own belief in the value of example to demonstrate democracy in the world. Just to state that we are apathetic and need to wake up seems to me not very constructive.