APRIL 30, 1945
NEW YORK, Sunday—Representative Mary Norton of New Jersey is making a magnificent fight for the passage of the Fair Employment Practices bill. This bill would give us a permanent group in the government whose function it would be to see that, as far as employment goes throughout this country, there is complete equality of opportunity and treatment for all.
Many people have come to think of this bill as being of value only to certain minority groups. I think it is important for the public in general to understand clearly that the bill, while it may be of value to these groups, is equally vital to each and every one of us who are citizens of the United States. If we do not see that equal opportunity, equal justice and equal treatment are meted out to every citizen, the very basis on which this country can hope to survive with liberty and justice for all will be wiped away.
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Are we learning nothing from the horrible pictures of the concentration camps which have been appearing in our papers day after day? Are our memories so short that we do not recall how in Germany this unparalleled barbarism started by discrimination directed against the Jewish people? It has ended in brutality and cruelty meted out to all people, even to our own boys who have been taken prisoner. This bestiality could not exist if the Germans had not allowed themselves to believe in a master race which could do anything it wished to all other human beings not of their particular racial strain.
There is nothing, given certain kinds of leadership, which could prevent our falling a prey to this same kind of insanity, much as it shocks us now. The idea of superiority of one race over another must not continue within our own country, nor must it grow up in our dealings with the rest of the world. It is self-evident that there are people in certain parts of the world who, because of different opportunities and environment, have not progressed as far as other people in what we call civilization. That does not mean, however, that they will forever be inferior in our type of civilization. Given the same kind of opportunities, they may do better than we have done.
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Looking at the war-torn world of today, we cannot say that our civilization has been perfect. We can only say that we have created greater material comfort for human beings and that we are struggling to find a way of living together peacefully and cooperatively in the future.
That is a great step forward, and we are taking it internationally; but we must also take it within our own borders. We cannot complain that the Germans starved and maltreated our boys if we at home do not take every step—both through our government and as individuals—to see not only that fairness exists in all employment practices, but that throughout our nation all people are equal citizens. Where the theory of a master race is accepted, there is danger to all progress in civilization.