WASHINGTON (Nov. 24)
President Eisenhower’s address last night at the dinner of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League, in which he denounced “character assassination” and emphasized the right of each American “to go to church, or synagogue, or even the mosque” of his own choosing, was hailed here today by various groups interested in the protection of civil rights in this country.
“In this country,” President Eisenhower said, “if someone dislikes you or accuses you, he must come up in front. He cannot hide behind the shadows, he cannot assassinate you or your character from behind without suffering the penalties an outraged citizenry will inflict.”
Emphasizing that Americans must respect the Habeas Corpus Act, the President declared: “If we are going to continue to be proud that we are Americans there must be no weakening of the codes by which we have lived; by the right to meet your accuser face to face, if you have one; by your right to go to the church or the synagogue or even the mosque of your own choosing; by your right to speak your mind and be protected in it.” President Eisenhower’s address lasted nine minutes and was telecast and broadcast nationally.
Americans for Democratic Action, in which such personalities as Sen. Herbert H. Lehman play a leading role, today wired Mr. Eisenhower asking him not to let the “fine sentiments” expressed in his speech “fade out and become another half retracted ‘book burning’ statement.”
The ADA asked that the President apply the principle he espoused before the ADL to his own security programs, to the practice of his Attorney General “in pronouncing unilateral findings of guilt predicated on half-disclosed reports from confidential sources, and to “Congressional investigations where men’s reputations are besmirched or destroyed without opportunity to confront and answer the accusers.”