JULY 6, 1944
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—Not long ago, I was told the story of someone who was reading over letters of recommendation for a prospective employee. These letters of recommendation were from people in pretty important positions. One was from Vice President Wallace and one was from Mr. Maury Maverick, and there were several others from gentlemen of similar importance. The reader looked up and shook his head, saying: "These letters prove what I have always thought, this man must read PM, and the Nation and the New Republic. He must be affiliated with some subversive organization."
It is curious the way some people seem to think that if you read anything liberal or talk to any people whose ideas are not exactly similar to those of highly conservative groups, you must of necessity be a radical. We live in a country in which our proud boast for many years has been that we could hold to any ideas that we choose to believe in. Our boast has been that we could speak our minds on any subject and in any way we chose, and we would be protected in our right to hold to our beliefs or to express ourselves as we pleased.
The war has changed this somewhat, but never enough to intimidate great numbers of people. A few people in Washington who hold minor positions have been troubled by investigation into their private lives or into their political views and activities. That perhaps is almost inevitable in wartime, though I have wondered sometimes why one group seemed to be so much more the object of investigation than certain other groups. Nevertheless, I think we can pride ourselves on having kept our own sense of security fairly intact even during the period of war. This security is the basis for all free beliefs and expression.
Before long we will emerge from this period of war, and then we will face our real test. Have we been permanently influenced by a war psychology or will we return to the complete confidence we had in ourselves in the past? Will we be sure that the majority of our people are sane men and women of goodwill, with convictions and intentions which will make it quite possible for this country to govern itself by the will of the majority? Will we be sure that we can remain unharmed by the influence and expressions of those who may either be too radical or too conservative for our taste, or who may have some particular "phobias" which we do not share as a people?
There are ways, of course, in which we are not very mature as a nation. Many peoples have shown through their art and literature that they have gone beyond the particular point in civilization which we have attained, but there is a virility and a spontaneous youth about this country which ought to contribute much to the rebuilding of the destruction in every field in the wake of this war. To do it, however, we must again have confidence in the character and good sense of the majority of our people.