Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eleanor Roosevelt (October 11, 1884)

As this Israeli stamp says, Eleanor Roosevelt was a defender of human rights. She was often ahead of her husband in championing badly-treated groups, especially Blacks, when they really needed respect and recognition from national leaders.

A review of a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt points out that early in her life, she was antisemitic, in keeping with her upper-class American background. She gradually changed her attitudes, as she did towards many minorities:
"By the time of the New Deal, she was coming around, risking criticism to meet with Jewish groups, supporting an array of Jewish causes and writing articles urging tolerance. 'It is the secret fear that the Jewish people are stronger or more able than those who still wield superior physical power over them, which brings about oppression,' she wrote in Liberty magazine. 'I believe that those nations which do not persecute are saved only by confidence in themselves and a feeling that they can still defend themselves and their own place in the world. Therefore, I am forced to the conclusion that the Jewish people though they may be in part responsible for the present situation are not as responsible as the other races who need to examine themselves and grapple with their own fears.'''

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