Today we are living once more in a period that is psychologically susceptible to witch hanging and mob baiting. And each of us, if not alert, may find himself the unconscious carrier of the germ that will destroy our freedom. For each of us has within himself the inheritances of age-long hatreds, of racial and religious differences, and everyone has a tendency to find the cause for his own failures in some conspiracy of evil. It is, therefore, essential that we guard our own thinking and not be among those who cry out against prejudices applicable to themselves, while busy spawning intolerances for others.
In addition, as citizens, we must fight in their incipient stages all movements by government or party or pressure groups that seek to limit the legitimate liberties of any of our fellow citizens. For government, which should be the very guardian of these liberties, is frequently, through excess zeal or desire for quick accomplishment of a purpose, the oppressor. And political parties, overanxious for vote catching, become tolerant to intolerant groups.
I have noticed, with much distress, the excessive wartime activity of the investigating bureaus of Congress and the administration, with their impertinent and indecent searching out of the private lives and the past political beliefs of individuals. Such methods, of course, are employed with the excuse of protecting the nation from subversive activities. So are those of the Gestapo. I have been appalled at the callous indifference of high officers of the navy to the obvious and undemocratic discrimination against Negroes, and disturbed to find similar discrimination too often in the ranks of industry and labor. I have been shocked to read that the Department of Justice seeks to revoke the citizenship of naturalized citizens suspected of foreign allegiance, rather than forthrightly to prosecute such persons for whatever crime they may be guilty of.
The course it is pursuing casts doubt on the rights of all naturalized citizens to the same treatment before the law as is enjoyed by their fellows who were born here. I have been sickened to see political parties flirting with remnants of anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klanism and hesitating to denounce the anti-Semitism of Coughlinites and others.
For now more than ever, we must keep in the forefront of our minds the fact that whenever we take away the liberties of those we hate, we are opening the way to loss of liberty for those we love. Our way of living together in America is a strong but delicate fabric. It is made up of many threads. It has been woven over many centuries by the patience and sacrifice of countless liberty-loving men and women. It serves as a cloak for the protection of poor and rich, of black and white, of Jew and gentile, of foreign - and native-born. For God's sake, let us not tear it asunder. For no man knows, once it is destroyed, where or when man will find its protective warmth again.
Source: Spartacus Educational (UK). The above was part of the research I did for the Quote of the Day for November 17, 2012. This one was pretty tough because Google Books, normally a very good resource, wasn't much help. The one source I could find had the wrong publication date. (Surprisingly, getting the publication date wrong for periodicals happens quite a lot.) I was actually very lucky to have found it at this UK website and I wanted to post it here so that there was at least one other place on the web where this missive could live online.