“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” — Harry S Truman, August 8, 1950, Special Message to Congress on the Internal Security of the United States
Today is the anniversary of the birth of the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S Truman in 1884. Born to a farming family in Lamar, Missouri, the ‘S’ was bestowed on him in honor of his grandfathers, but does not stand for any specific name. When I was a kid, I found the use only of a letter in lieu of a middle name as very strange. Admittedly, as an adult I still find it strange, but…
Anyway… it’s always worthwhile to keep these words of Truman’s in mind. Although quotes are often used outside of the context in which they were originally delivered, that does not necessarily change the intent (although, it often does). In this particular case, the meaning is much what the words say. The address that Truman made to congress was about the perceived dangers of communism, and how to best protect the nation – while still maintaining individual freedoms. The speech is relatively long, but I found it interesting – the times were interesting (if you’re inclined to read it, the full text of the speech can be found here). There was a great deal of paranoia in the days of the “Red Scare”.
It’s worth remembering that paranoia by our congress and executive branch does not make for a healthy country.
Photo of Truman borrowed from biography.com