JANUARY 22, 1962
NEW YORK—President Kennedy made a very significant gesture, it seems to me, when he came up to New York last Friday to see U. N. Secretary General U Thant. It is very easy, when one is pressed with obligations of every kind, to feel that everyone should come to you, but the President evidently wanted to give the country the feeling of how important he considered the U. N.
The President knows better than most of us how the extreme rightist movement has been working in this country. He realizes that a great deal of money is available to this group. Even if they do not convince many people, the rightists can make it difficult for their own Republican party members to oppose them, for they control much of the cash that will be needed as campaign time approaches. This makes everyone, even those who are not especially convinced of their arguments, careful about coming out against them.
The extreme rightists cloak their activities largely behind the popular front of anti-Communism. If you look carefully, however, you find that the real object of their attack is the world of today, which they find a disagreeable world. If wishing could turn the clock back, we would certainly find ourselves back in the 19th Century; but since that cannot happen, the focus of attack is shifted to the U. N. The rightists do not seem to realize that this is also the focus of attack by the Communists, and that what they are doing is to play into the Communist hands. Thus, from the extreme right and the extreme left the U. N. is being belabored. President Kennedy's was a courageous step designed to make more Americans think of the value of the U. N. to us and to the world.
Adlai Stevenson's article on the U. N. which appeared in the New York Times Magazine section of January 14 has now been reprinted by the American Association for the U. N. and is available to anyone who desires to have an honest appraisal of the trials the U. N. has faced and still faces today. Mr. Stevenson reaffirms his faith in this instrument called the U. N. and its ability ultimately to create a world community at peace.
"As long as there is trouble in the world there will be people selling 'get peace quick' plans," writes our chief delegate to the U. N. "Some consist of wishful utopianism; others suggest that we fight fire with fire and let the world burn up if it must. Both are the escapist fantasies of the impatient and immature. The U. N.—the real U. N.—has no place for either one."
Some of the extreme rightists have urged that we should "pull down the wall in Berlin." Occasionally one of their speakers will suggest that we should "just drop one or two little bombs" on some particular area of the world. The consequences to us of this type of action apparently never occur to these fire-eaters. Americans are impatient; they like to see results. But in the world of today we have to acquire patience, and sometimes we have to wait a very long time before seeing results.
I am particularly glad that we have in the White House a President who recognizes the value of a personal gesture. At the same time we are fortunate that our leading delegate to the U. N. is a man able to think, write and speak with a background of history and a vision for the future. That vision provides no room for those attitudes of fear which promote a sense of inadequacy to meet the future and mould it constructively.
These two men believe we can and will survive, and that the U. N. is an essential instrument in the stability of the future world.