Manchester Boddy, Editor
Scroll for courage
A few evenings ago approximately 700 citizens, representing almost every racial and religious group in the community and a
considerable variance in political thinking, met at dinner to honor Councilman Edward R. Roybal.
These citizens signed a scroll coveying their compliments to the councilman and listened to talks by a half dozen or so prominent
citizens. The quality in Roybal which brought him that testimonial was his courage. Intellectual courage and honesty are virtually
synonymous and Roybal certainly has displayed them.
Although it was Roybal's refusal to vote for an ordinance requiring Communists to register that precipitated the action it
was not that alone that brought him praise. Certainly those who organized and spoke at the dinner are not Communists nor sympathetic
with them. Neither is Roybal. In fact he despises communism.
It was the way the councilman conducted himself—what he gave as his reasons for opposing the ordinance that brought such spontaneous
acclaim from the community. Here, said the people who honored him, is a man who has convictions and is not afraid to express
them in public and against great opposition and at great risk to his political future.
Roybal is a devoutly religious man and he believes that it is an important part of his Christianity to fight for the rights
of the people. This, of course, is not a belief confined to the Christian religion or any other. Judge Isaac Pacht, who spoke
at the dinner on behalf of some 300,000 Jews in this community, expressed a similar sentiment.
Rt. Rev. Thomas J. O'Dwyer, a noted Catholic clergyman, was among the speakers.
What the meeting pointed up to many of those who attended it was that here is the answer to the technique of the Senator McCarthys
and other smear artists. It is so easy to blame somebody. When the hue and cry start any hoodlum can join in the outcry and
hound the accused. It requires neither courage nor intelligence to call names.
It has been amply demonstrated that the antidote for name calling is not more name calling. That puts accusers and attacked
on the same level. The answer to name calling is for people to arise and pay homage and tribute to good public officials who
show bravery before they can be attacked by the smear artists.
There is no question but that Councilman Roybal would have come in for criticism by some who are chauvinistic, or worse, in
their attitude. He may yet suffer. But he is less likely to suffer because the individuals who delight to smear are usually
a little on the timid side if they do not feel they have public opinion with them and they are even more timid where they
are sure it is against them.
Consequently the moral importance of honoring a courageous councilman was not just that it bolstered one honest public official
in his forthright attitude, which is good, but that it sets a precedent which it would pay us to follow in America.
We have been reading "The Truman Merry-Go-Round," a nonfiction best seller, lately and find in it a great deal of praise and
blame of public officials distributed in a discriminating and careful way. Right or wrong the authors of this book have adopted
a wholesome and helpful method of appraising public officials.
They give a great deal of praise, for instance, to ability and dignity of Secretary of State Dean Acheson. It is heartening
in the light of the kind of billingsgate that has been thrown at him by some who would not be qualified to run errands for
It is too bad that some of those who have known all along what a fine gentleman Acheson is and how well equipped he is to
perform his duties have not acted to give him the sort of testimonial we have accorded locally to Councilman Roybal.
Besides, those who blame are obligated also to praise when praise is due.
Sometimes we think Americans need a refresher course in the fine art of honorable mention.—L.E.C.