Sunday, January 31, 2021

Quoting Eleanor Roosevelt --- on "liberal"

I found a lovely Eleanor Roosevelt quote this morning that seemed appropriate to the day, then decided to check its source. (Source-check is a grave mistake --- unless one wants to be taken seriously, values accuracy and would prefer not to expose  one's self as a fool.)

That led to the discovery that the quote was "attributed" to Mrs. Roosevelt (1884-1962), but that no one had managed to demonstrate that she actually said or wrote it --- even though it's brief and pithy enough to to have graced a thousand coffee mugs.

So I found another that can be tracked precisely --- to Mrs. Roosevelt's last (and arguably most important) book, "Tomorrow is Now," published posthumously during 1963 and still available. Here it is:

"Long ago, there was a noble word, 'liberal,' which derives from the word 'free.' Now a strange thing happened to that word. A man named Hitler made it a term of abuse, a matter of suspicion, because those who were not with him were against him, and liberals had no use for Hitler. And then another man named McCarthy cast the same opprobrium on the word. Indeed, there was a time — a short but dismaying time — when many Americans began to distrust the word which derived from 'free.' One thing we must all do. We must cherish and honor the word 'free' or it will cease to apply to us. And that would be an inconceivable situation."

A little meditation upon a simple word to begin the week.

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