After World War II, the National Conference of Christians and Jews started a campaign to fight bigotry in the United States.
President Harry Truman wrote a letter supporting this initiative in 1947:
THE WHITE HOUSE
September 25, 1947
Dear Dr. Clinchy:
As never before the world needs brotherhood. The family of nations must practice brotherhood now if it is to have peace in the future. Pacts and treaties must be firmly grounded in the willingness of nations to grant to other nations every right and dignity they claim for themselves—which is the essence of brotherhood. The attainment of peace is thus an achievement of the human spirit.
Similarly, national unity and strength depend upon the willingness of men of all creeds, races, and national origins in America to respect one another’s rights and to cooperate as citizens in all areas of common conviction, concern, and responsibility. Mutual understanding and impartial justice among Protestants, Catholics, and Jews are essential to the perpetuation of our nation’s influence and well-being. Intolerance is a cancer in the body politic. We must maintain respect for the rights of every individual, inherent in his relation to God.
Convinced of these truths, I gladly accept the honorary chairmanship of national Brotherhood Week, February 22-29, 1948, and join the American Brotherhood of the National Conference of Christians and Jews in inviting our people to use this occasion to think deeply about these principles and to promote their application to all human relationships everywhere throughout the year. I commend the cooperation of all agencies of religion, education, and community life, and of all media of communication, in making brotherhood a living reality in every corner of our country.
Very sincerely yours,
This letter was written by the chairman of the 1948 Brotherhood Week initiative:
The General Chairman of Brotherhood Week, 1948, is the Hon. Robert P. Patterson. Judge Patterson served as Under-Secretary of War during the war. He wrote:
I saw the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau a few days after the liberation. No one who saw those places and the helpless survivors of them will ever forget the experience. Buchenwald and Dachau could not be understood, except as they bore witness to the depths that men can sink to when they accept and put into practice a doctrine of hate against those who diifer with them in opinion, religion, or race. The world will see more Buchenwalds, more Dachaus, if the time should come again when the rule of hate prevails over the spirit of brotherhood.
We Americans are committed to the cause of world peace. Words will not win world peace. We will not reach it unless we have a strong, united nation here at home. And a strong united nation is an unattainable ideal unless we keep brotherhood as the guiding rule of our daily lives. Intolerance is bound to produce a divided people, a weak nation. We may be sure that we will never achieve a lasting peace on such terms.
The unity we had in the war years, when we saw the losses and sorrows of war being borne by Americans without distinction as to race or religion, when it was plain to all of us that our spiritual aims and purposes were far more powerful than our differences, is still available as the vital force for peace. The understanding and goodwill found in the bond of brotherhood will bring us to realize that unity. I know of nothing else that can.
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