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Chapter Fourteen Fair Deal The domestic reform programs of many American presidents are forgotten almost as soon as announced, but this did not happen in the case of Truman's program. Many Americans, even today, remember Roosevelt's New Deal, and the similarity of the words Truman chose, Fair Deal, helped make his program memorable. But there was something beyond that-probably the way in which he communicated to the American people how deeply he felt about the need for social justice, and how apart from politics he felt that need was or, at the least, should be. As it happened, the proposals that Truman sent to Congress usually died in their pertinent committees. He tried to see them through, but Congress would not respond. For a while the reason was the disinterest of the Eightieth Congress. But even the Democratic Congress that followed was not much interested in reform. Popular attention turned elsewhere: in February 1950, to the first anticommunist pronouncements of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin; in June, to the Korean War. Even after Truman left office, the heightening of the cold war during the Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy administrations obsessed the country. A dozen years passed before President Lyndon B. Johnson again took up a program of economic and social change. Under Truman civil rights for black Americans did receive considerable support, and it is possible to say that during his presidency the black revolution , the attainment of rights long denied, really began. Truman announced his program in 1947 with the report entitled "To Secure These Rights." By executive order the president began desegregation of the armed services, to which the Korean War gave much encouragement. The army discovered that it could not afford the inefficiency of segregation. During the Truman era, however, Congress was not very receptive to civil rights. In final analysis the president had to turn to the third branch of government, the judiciary. He instructed Attorney General Tom Clark to prepare amicus curiae briefs in support of crucial cases involving segregation, briefs arguipg among other 285 286 / Harry S. Truman things that Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) was unconstitutional. When the court heard this argument, all that remained was to announce the fact a few years later in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Civil liberties, unlike rights, did not fare well during Truman's presidency . It was not that he was insensitive to them, but rather that the times were out of joint as the concern over communism was increasing. Two years after World War II, the president instituted a loyalty program, a saddening innovation for the government of a democratic republic. Senator McCarthy began campaigning for internal security, and the outbreak of war vastly assisted the senator's work. Truman did what he could to stand against the times, but it was impossible, considering the fear of communism. The discovery of spying within the government, which took place during and after World War II and included several serious cases, unnerved everyone. Apart from a few instances of German sabotage before American entry into World War I, and a slight German activity in 1941-1942, this was the first time in American history that such efforts had taken place. For years afterward subversion constituted a major concern of administrations, resulting in expenditure of billions for protection that was difficult to assess. Last, during his White House years Truman sought to arrange a fair deal for world Jewry, which during World War II had been subject to horrors hitherto unknown in Western civilization. Like his fellow Americans he was outraged by what had happened. In equity, he believed, Jews deserved a refuge, and he beheld British-mandated Palestine (Britain had received the mandate a generation earlier, under the League of Nations) as the best place for them to go. He did not advance his program for the Jews because he thought it would help him in the election of 1948. "We have the Zionist Jews in the office every day," the publicity director of the Democratic national committee, Jack Redding, told the president, "and the pressure is building up a terrific head of steam." To Redding's surprise the answer was: "It's no use putting pressure on the committee. The Palestine issue will be handled here, and there'll be no politics involved."l Truman recognized the new Jewish state, Israel, immediately after its creation because, he thought, it promised a fair solution to the world Jewish problem. 1 The...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780826260451
Related ISBN
9780826210500
MARC Record
OCLC
533178060
Pages
519
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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