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Mission to Moscow


America has done a great deal to sell herself abroad. She has entered monstrous exhibits at trade fairs, spent millions of dollars on information services, sponsored trips of prominent Negroes to talk on America's progress in civil rights, and constantly affirmed her desire for peace. In some areas these programs have shown successful results, but behind the Iron Curtain, where there is a burning curiosity among the people to find out about America, our propagandists are either non-existent or useless.

The Communist youth, among whom this curiosity is most evident and least satisfied, will be meeting in Moscow for a "festival" in July. America's representatives will, on the whole, be other Communists or fellow travelers. The same situation existed at a similar conference in Prague in 1948, when the American delegates put up a small exhibit proclaiming an incredible number of lynchings in the United States since 1938. Instead of a conference devoted to exploring the mentality of students from all over the world, the young people at Prague talked Marx until they were bored to death. As affairs stand now, this summer's gathering will probably prove equally unproductive.

Again the United States delegates will be generally Communist inclined, and again the picture presented by Americans of America will fit the Kremlin image of decadent capitalism. The fault for this condition is on the whole attributable to an unrelentingly unrealistic attitude in the State Department towards conferences sponsored by Communist bloc organizations. The Department fears, in a sense justifiably, that American participation will be exploited for propaganda purposes.

There are still many in Russia who not only harbor misconceptions about America, but also are unaware of the events in Hungary. This situation cannot be remedied simply by ignoring a conclave of Communist youth. Constructive steps by the organizational representatives of enlightened capitalism and by students, as individuals, are the only answers to the problem.

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