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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-22-13 10:47 AM
Original message
My Third Truman Speech Post--Immigrants
My second Truman speech post was the third of the speeches Truman had made on June 4 from the rear platform of a train.

This is the another speech he made that same date. He made it at 9 p.m. in the Chicago stadium.

Address in Chicago Before the Swedish Pioneer Centennial Association

June 4, 1948

Mr. Chairman, Governor Green, the Mayor of Chicago, distinguished guests:

I am delighted to be here to welcome His Royal Highness Prince Bertil, the Most Reverend Bishop, and the representatives of the Swedish organizations who are here with us tonight as guests of the Swedish Pioneer Centennial Celebration.

We are meeting here in Chicago tonight to do honor to that group of American pioneers--the men, women, and children who came from Sweden 100 years ago and joined the great procession of pioneers that was moving out to the prairies of the Middle West.

The first of the Swedish people to seek a new future in this land of freedom and equality were religious leaders and scholars from the universities. But the main stream of Swedish migration to our shores consisted of men and women with a deep love of the soil. In the great American West they saw a chance for a future that was denied them in the Sweden of their day.

The America to which these Swedish settlers came was a land that needed the hardy qualities they brought. It was not a land that was particularly softhearted towards newcomers, but everyone believed that each should have a fair chance regardless of his origin.

The newcomers quickly learned their way about and soon felt at home. The Homestead Act of 1862 provided them, as well as many other pioneers, with an opportunity to acquire land and establish family farms. To the land-hungry immigrants, the tough prairie sod seemed a golden opportunity and they conquered it by hard work.

Before the Swedish migration slowed down, a million people had come from Sweden to the prairies of the United States. Today, more than a quarter of all people of Swedish decent in the world live in the United States of America. There is scarcely a family in Sweden which does not have relatives in this country. This is the kind of personal tie which strengthens friendly international relations. I am sure we can look forward to a continuation of the long period of friendship between our two countries.

This friendship is heightened by the fact that Sweden today is one of the most prosperous and progressive democracies in the world. We are very proud of our citizens of Swedish descent and the part they have played in building up the Middle West. We are all familiar with the development of the cooperative movement in Sweden and I am happy that the same movement which has brought such prosperity to Sweden has many adherents among Swedish-Americans in this country.

When I think of the great epics in our history, like the Swedish immigration of a century ago, I am reminded again of the source of our strength as a nation. Early settlers in the United States came here to escape harsh restrictions on personal liberties in their homelands, or to find economic opportunity. Here the people were proud to be democratic, and they looked on individual liberty as something sacred. The law recognized no aristocracy, and a man was respected according to his own merits. The rights of the little man were just as important as the rights of the big man.

And we must fight today to see that America stays that way.

Since the days of the first settlers, America has been a beacon of hope to the victims of oppression everywhere. The best fighters for freedom have brought to us their talents, their ideals, and their labors. They have helped this great country to grow and to become a world power both in strength and in moral leadership.

Today, persecution and oppression again cause a new group to seek homes in foreign lands. They are innocent victims of the war. They are the displaced persons in Europe.

Their present situation is a result of World War II. As the Nazis swept over Europe, they uprooted millions of people and sent them off to serve in a Nazi war machine or to suffer in concentration camps. Millions of these victims were killed. Many of those who remained when Europe was liberated have returned to their former homes.

But more than 3 years after V-E Day, there are still 800,000 displaced persons living in Germany, Austria, and Italy. These people are the heroes of democracy--and that is the reason they cannot go back home. They are anti-Communist. They hate totalitarian governments. Originally they came from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Ukraine, and Yugoslavia. All of us know only too well why anti-Communists cannot safely go back to those countries.

Look at the reward these people are getting for their opposition to communism! Most of them are living in camps under conditions that violate all the principles of freedom that are dear to them and to us. They have no homes. Few of them have jobs. Under present conditions, the future holds no hope for them or their children.

They are being given temporary shelter by the International Refugee Organization. The United States is, as it should be, the largest contributor to this organization. But the present arrangement offers no permanent solution. These people and their children cannot be regarded indefinitely as wards of international charity. We must help them to become self-supporting. We must not go on maintaining this barren, fruitless life for people who want to work and who are qualified to work. They are young. Most of them are skilled workers. Their skills are badly needed in every country, especially our own. They must be given an opportunity to settle in permanent homes and live like human beings, so they can make their full contribution to society as useful citizens.

This is not solely an American problem. It is a world problem. But we must do our part. Other nations have already provided homes for some of these displaced persons, but there is no prospect that all of them will be able to get a new start in life unless the United States accepts its fair share.

I have repeatedly asked the Congress to permit a substantial number of displaced persons to enter this country as immigrants. Some of the legislation for this purpose which the Congress is considering sets limits and quotas on countries and occupations. These are crippling amendments. They work unfair discrimination against groups which are already represented in this country and which have helped to make it great.

I hope that the Congress will soon enact displaced persons legislation, and enact it without any qualifications which would depart from our established American principles.

I would remind the Members of Congress that it is not they who are waiting. It is not I who am waiting, but young people and little children whose hope for a life of freedom and equality is getting dimmer with every day that passes.

Freedom and equality are among the greatest of human aspirations. They are universal to all mankind, but they have their greatest fulfillment in our own country. To Americans, they will never be remote ideals, but something to work for and be close to every day.

Americans rightly expect that their Federal Government will be a friendly, vigilant protector of these ideals. This is a primary duty of government, which I, for one, accept gladly. To discharge this duty requires each of us to defend the integrity of our ideals against all who would alter or weaken them, whether from within the country or from without, whether the harm comes from willful destruction or from misguided enthusiasm.

The American people are rightly concerned these days about the attack on our ideals by international communism. There has been a great deal of discussion on this subject throughout the country, and recently we have been hearing some people say that the way to avoid the danger of communism in the United States is to pass a law--a law, for example, to check certain kinds of political activity. Some people think you can combat communism by outlawing the Communist Party.

It seems to me that such proposals miss the point entirely.

You cannot stop the spread of an idea by passing a law against it.

You cannot stamp out communism by driving it underground.

You can prevent communism by more and better democracy.

As far as the United States is concerned, the menace of communism is not the activities of a few foreign agents or the political activities of a few isolated individuals. The menace of communism lies primarily in those areas of American life where the promise of democracy remains unfulfilled.

If some of our people are living in slum housing, and nothing is done about it, that is an invitation to communism.

If some of our people are forced to work at substandard wages, and nothing is done about it, that is an invitation to communism.

If some of our people are arbitrarily denied the right to vote or deprived of other basic rights, and nothing is done about it, that is an invitation to communism.

If some of our people do not have proper medical care, or opportunities for a good education, or adequate assistance in time of sickness, or unemployment, or old age, and nothing is done about it, that is an invitation to communism.

And finally, if high prices are depriving some of our people of the necessities of life, and nothing is done about it, that is an invitation to communism.

Communism succeeds only when there is weakness, or misery, or despair. It cannot succeed in a strong and healthy society. The nations of Western Europe, with our help, have checked the spread of communism by working together to build up their economies, improve the welfare of their peoples, and so strengthen themselves. If they can meet and defeat communism on its own ground, certainly we can do it here.

Let us adopt legislation that will provide our citizens with the homes they need, the opportunity for universal good health and universal free schooling, the extension of social security, the full rights of citizenship, an equal chance for good jobs at fair wages, and a brake on inflation that will hold the purchasing power of these wages at a high level.

This is the method of democracy. These are the goals of abundance. A nation which reaches these goals will never succumb to 'the evils of communism.

I am confident that we will reach these goals. No foreign agents will succeed in slowing us down on our forward march. The record shows that we are thoroughly able to protect ourselves from foreign agents. During the recent war, they failed to interrupt vital production or to perform a single important act of sabotage. We have on the books good laws to deal with spies and saboteurs, and we have the machinery in our security forces to protect us from their activities.

I do not underestimate the challenge of communism. It is a challenge to everything we believe in. Communism exalts the state and degrades the individual; communism holds that the individual is only a means to an end; communism holds that the duty of the individual is to conform to the state's definition of what is good for him.

This we are against. We must resist it, and we must provide aid and hope to those in the world who resist it. But we cannot resist it with our full strength unless we all work for the success of our democracy continually and reaffirm our faith in that democracy.

We believe in human freedom and human equality, and it is that belief which makes us strong today. We inherit that belief from the pioneers--Swedish and others--who settled this great Nation. We also inherit from them the lesson that it takes hard work, and lots of it, if the practice of our daily lives is to live up to our principles.

Here on the prairies of the Middle West is a living example of the truth of this philosophy. The abundance we enjoy here was created out of the riches of the soil and out of the labor of the men who work it, and, above all, out of American faith. This faith has enabled people from many lands to come together, to live in peace, and to learn to respect each other as individuals.

We are a diverse people, and in this diversity we have great strength. We have room for differences and room for disagreement. Part of our respect for the dignity of the human being is the respect for his fight to be different. That means different in background, different in his beliefs, different in his customs, different in his name, and different in his religion.

That is true Americanism; that it true democracy. It is the source of our strength. It is the basis of our faith in the future.

It is our hope, and it is the hope of the world.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9 p.m. in the Chicago Stadium. In his opening words he referred to Vilas Johnson, General Chairman of the Chicago Swedish Pioneer Centennial, Dwight H. Green, Governor of Illinois, and Martin H. Kennelly, Mayor of Chicago. The address was carried on a nationwide radio broadcast.

I hsd no idea he (and his speechwriters?) was this good.

Ah, Democrats, when Democrats were still Democrats.

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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-22-13 05:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. Thanks.
Now that communism has surrendered, this nation no longer has to demonstrate the qualities of a higher standard of living and better democracy.

Without this alternative of the communist system as a counterbalance, the United States of America has gone straight down hill. We are watching these results transform our once great nation. It ain't pretty.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-22-13 10:31 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. OMG, I had never looked at it that way. You are right.
Edited on Fri Feb-22-13 10:40 PM by No Elephants
Joseph Kennedy Sr. helped write the securities laws. He did so because he feared that the American public had caught on to what had been done to them. He said something like 'I would gladly give up half of everything I have for the ability to keep the other half in peace." Something to that effect, anyway.

I came across the quote totally out of context. It is possible that he said that to help FDR sell the New Deal to rich folks. But, whatever Joe's motives in saying that may have been, the fear of what people who no longer had any money or any hope might do once they caught on had to have been very real .

In 1929, the memory of the Russian Revolution was still very fresh. Fear of that happening in the US, before all those Swiss accounts and Bahamian holding companies was very real. They would be either poor or dead and they would have a hard time choosing between those two.

By 2008, despite the bailout, they were no longer afraid of much more than name calling and maybe some vandalism. They knew that, push come to shove, the entire military force of the U.S. down to most armed building security guards would be right there, restoring "law an order" for them, John D. Rockefeller and the miners in spades.

"Occupy, shmaccupy. Let the little shits have my girlffriend's park until temperatures drop and they go home. Big deal."

Your comment put a whole new light on a whole bunch of things. It is so profound that I may have to re-think the rest of my life. Again.

Thanks (I think).

And here I thought it just was not possible for me to get more cynical. I also thought I put that speech on the board because Truman got the whole immigrant thing. Shows what I know.
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-23-13 08:11 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. This is something that only dawned on me recently.
Since the crash of 2008 it appears that the government has no qualms about betraying the interests of the common man. There are several reasons for that.

We are now so far removed from what used to be a socialist alternative. An alternative they, the powerful wealthy, rightfully feared. Now we can see the truly one-sided future economic reality in store for us. Or, we see a small sample of the economic reality in store for the common man. We are certainly headed back to that 19th century economic reality. It's not a place I want to go.

But how many people are even aware of the progressive changes that have taken place since 1900? They don't know how it was before, so they do not realize what it can become once again. The people do not recognize the 20th Century as the historic aberration that it was. They assume the United States of America was always like that. But before the labor movement this wonderful American middle class simply did not exist. If we have to rely on the citizenry remembering history, we are fucked.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-23-13 10:31 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. History books aren't going to help much. The Texas school board controls them and
Edited on Sat Feb-23-13 10:46 AM by No Elephants
keeps making the publishers revise them to make them more conservative.

Texas gets to do that because it is the biggest buyer in the country.

I heard only recently that they complained about the portrayal of Joe Mcarthy, giving the explanation that he had been vindicated--=he was really correct about all those people being Communists.

Well, he was correct about some, because J. Edgar was feeding him names based on intelligence gathered during WWII. But, were they advocating violent overthrow of the U.S. government, or had they only been attracted to certain ideals that the Communist Party in the U.S. was selling? And it was not against the law to be a Communist anyway.

Eisenhower's response was to play ostrich--but to expand executive privilege greatly so that Joe couldn't question anyone in the President's circle.

In any event, I think they succeeded as to one of the darkest times of our history. No wonder libertarians have been pushing their peeps to get on school boards.

If shool boards in several blue states had banded together, they could have insisted on input into textbooks, too. They are either oblivious or willing to let Texas control. Idiots.

And private authors are revisionist, too.

It really is like Orwell's 1984.

Whatever happened in the past is down the memory tube if someone today doesn't want it to be remembered as it actually happened.

BTW, your insight is very plausible to me in light of what Joe Kennedy said.

It also is consistent with something else I read--that savvy people were very surprised by what Franklin did once he got into office because he had been relatively conservative fiscally. It would also explain why he "caved" to deficit hawks too soon to really give the New Deal a chance to work.

That might have been the same kind of "cave" Obama pulled in December of 2010, when he and Mitchell agreed on one extension of unemployment benefits and Obama agreed to the Obama tax cuts of 2010. Or, however, they sorted it out between them. Obama did not even give Congress a chance to to end the cuts. He went over the heads of everyone in the Senate and dealt with Mitch directly.

But, if this is a game that even Truman and FDR played, Wow. I wonder how far back it goes?
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-23-13 06:14 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. I was looking for the recommend button
for your post. It really is like 1984. We even tell them our innermost thoughts right on the internet. When they come to round us up it will be easy. Maybe they'll just send us an e-mail telling us to go out the front door and wait and leave our possessions at home.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-24-13 12:27 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Yep. We be sheeple and they got that when we did nothing in 1929 or 2008.
We also let them send our kids to die and be maimed physically, spiritually and mentally whenever they want.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-23-13 07:04 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. kicking in hopes rpannier will see and read replies
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-23-13 07:06 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Snowden, is that you?
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-27-13 04:01 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. If we only look at the nature of today's surveillance state
we can see how far we have strayed from the ideals outlined in Truman's speech.
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