January 28, 1941

Letter to the Editor: Propoganda Ministry Decried

To the Editor of the New York Times:

The creation of a national propoganda ministry urged by Dr. Harwood L. Childs, associate Professor of Politics at Princeton University, as reported in The New York Times of Jan. 25, is so dangerous a proposal that I take public issue with his statement lest it go unanswered.

As an associate of the United States Committee of Public Information in the last war and active in the public opinion field since then, I consider the proposal totalitarian in character, threatening freedom of _expression, of the press and of speech in peacetime and altogether dangerous. That such a ministry has not been appointed despite the efforts of ill-advised proponents of the idea would indicate that our government itself is aware of the dangers inherent in the proposal.

Propoganda for democracy in peacetime must come from the people themselves in a democratic way, not through a state propoganda ministry. In peacetime, while our great national decisions are being made, the flow of public opinion must remain completely free. In wartime such a ministry would serve a useful purpose. It would appear that our government is alive to that contingency.

There is a great difference between a propoganda ministry and men in government availing themselves of the advice and research of qualified experts in the field of morale, sociologists, pyschologists, adult educators, communication and public opinion technicians, so that their actions may be both efficient and democratic to strengthen national morale. But this should be done on a scientific basis from independent sources in the same way that the government now seeks the advice of experts in the physical sciences and not through any government propoganda ministry in peacetime.

That proposal is undemocratic and dangerous and should be squelched now.

New York, Jan. 25, 1941.