Williamstown, Mass (Aug. 27)
Without mentioning Germany by name, but unmistakably referring to the Nazi situation, Governor Herbert H. Lehman tonight declared, “America gasps with horror when it sees great groups of our people persecuted solely because of race or religion.”
Speaking at the third session of the Williamstown Institute of Human Relations at Williams College here, Governor Lehman said:
“Whole people have been marked out for economic, religious and political destruction, ruthlessly and without mercy. They have been deprived of the means of livelihood, of the privilege of worship in accordance with their conscience and of the primary rights of citizenship.”
The address marked Governor Lehman’s first official statement on recent persecutions in Germany.
“No longer can we discern a broad road stretching forth unbroken towards the light of good-will and freedom and of fellowship,” he asserted. “The world seems unable to see the light. It seems bent on following will-o’-the-wisps. Almost overnight the work of centuries has been undone.
“In this country I have no fear that liberty will be destroyed, that tyranny can ever take the place of democracy, that intolerance will again assume power.
“The pioneer spirit of liberty still lives here. The traditional policy of civil and religious liberty still animates our people. Our nation is more than a geographical unity under a single government. Our nation is composed of people of many stocks and of many religions, but we are united by an intense love of liberty.
“We are a nation born of a great ideal,” Governor Lehman continued, “and as long as the nation survives, that ideal must and will be cherished and preserved.
“Other nations may reject that ideal and temporarily turn back to the darkness of the Middle Ages. All the more is the need that we hold the torch of liberty aloft so that others may see its light.
“Equality before the law, civil and religious liberty are inalienable rights guaranteed by our constitution to all, yet even here Jefferson’s admonition must be heeded that freedom by law is freedom in practice only where the law is not nullified by public opinion.
“Fanaticism and intolerance are not yet dead even here. They can be destroyed only by increased good-will and understanding. We who love our country must labor to develop that good-will and understanding among all.
“No, the traditional policy of America, of civil and religious liberty will not be abandoned here, and I am confident will triumph even where now it is derided.
“Against foreign propaganda or example and against internal assault it will find strong defense in the American spirit. American ideals will triumph because American ideals are founded on right and justice.”