Document 17: Lila M. Houston to Editor, Mountain Lakes News, undated, Papers of Edwin Doak Mead and Lucia Ames Mead, Swarthmore College Peace Collection (Scholarly Resources Microfilm, reel 10, box 17).
This letter was written by Lila M. Houston in response to an article by Mrs. Baldwin, which appeared in the Boonton Times, a New Jersey newspaper. The article had advocated the "red" labelling of certain organizations that she thought expressed communist sympathies. Ms. Houston protested against Mrs. Baldwin's depiction of her views as those of the Parsippany Chapter of the DAR.
Houston ridiculed the red fever that declared the most unlikely figures radicals and communists, using the elderly Lucia Ames Mead as her example. She shared the view of Carrie Chapman Catt that the accusations would be laughable if they were not so damaging. In expressing her opposition to the "red hysteria" that permeated the DAR organization, Lila M. Houston joined fellow DAR members, Mrs. Bailie and Eleanor St. Omer Roy. These individual protests from the membership proved that not all conservatives advocated the red hunt.
To the Editor:
In a letter published in the Mountain Lakes News last week, the writer expressed the wish that some member of the Parsippany Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution should answer a letter written by Mrs. Baldwin in the issue of the preceding week. I can assure the readers of the News that all members of our chapter are not in sympathy with the sentiments expressed by Mrs. Baldwin, and we deeply regret that the name of the chapter should be used as a seeming endorsement of those views.
The Daughters of the American Revolution is like every other organization, it has members of many opinions. We cannot all be responsible for what individual members think. However, it would seem at the present time, I regret very much to say, that the red hysteria is rather active in our ranks.
This, I am sure, is deplored by many members who feel that a policy of construction, encouragement and idealism is a nobler aim than incriminations, denunciations and suspicions.
As an organization we have been exceedingly proud of our ancestors, and I think it behooves us to consider whether our ancestors would be very proud of their descendants.
It is certainly sad in these days of peace, when the whole world is talking of international friendship and good will, to hear of American women and mothers blocking every move for peace, and pointing a finger of scorn at every high-minded man and woman who dares lift a voice against war.
This "red hysteria" reminds me of the days of religious persecution and witchcraft in our colonial period. Then every man or woman who dared to think was called a heretic, and every unfortunate, nervous person who twitched a muscle was called a witch. Today every one who exercises our prized right, given to us by our Constitution, of freedom of speech, and dares to suggest a possibility of the realization of the policy about which the angels sang nineteen hundred years ago--peace on earth and good will to men--is called a "red".
If the Daughters of the American Revolution decides to turn its great power against real Bolshevists and Russian Communists, feeling that they are enemies of our government, that is one thing, but to turn against our noblest, most broad minded citizens and call them "reds and dangerous," is another. It only makes society ridiculous.
We are told that the Federal Council of Churches is rose, along with the American Association of University Women--that is rose also. These are two great organizations, representing thousands of intelligent Christians, thinking men and women, they are called "rose" because they are nearly "red". It would be tragic were it not childish and laughable.
I am told there is a black list, and on it are these so-called "reds," near reds, and "pinks" and people of other hues--they all turn black when they get on the list. On this black list there are names so honorable that to be on it is a compliment to any man or woman. Many of us crave to be among the chosen.
Who after all are the real Americans upholding the high ideals of our beloved nation? Is it those who seek to put America first in friendship and service or is it those who spend their days and nights denouncing, calling names and stirring up suspicions and hatreds?
I heard Mrs. Mead speak. It was a fine, sensible address made by a broad-minded, sensible woman, I could not see that she was even radical. She is using her influence to bring about what all Christian men and women are praying for--a peaceful way of settling international disputes. The Daughters of the American Revolution should stand back of such an endeavor.
Our ancestors were radicals and revolutionists. They broke from the post, they fought and died for a better world, and today, I believe, those patriots, could they come back to us would be the first to step forward the new order of things-towards a better world.
Our patriotism surely can find a better way to express itself than by screaming "red" at our fellow citizens. If there are those who cannot see the vision of world friendship let us hope they may at least see the value of our own citizens standing together to uphold ideas for which our ancestors fought.
Lila M. Houston,
Member of Parsippany Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.
A. This letter can be approximately dated to mid-January 1928, because it was a reponse to a letter published in the Boonton Times on 10 January 1928.
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