The Charlotte News
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 1940
What The Position Of Two Statesmen Adds Up To
The Hon. Robert Rice Reynolds is very indignant against Great Britain for her stopping of our merchant ships and mails. And the Hon.Maas, a member of the House, wants to send warships along to see that the ships aren't stopped and the mail isn't searched. That is, he is willing, if necessary, to fight Britain. in order to protect our "rights."
As a matter of fact, these "rights" happen to be immensely dubious. Under international law Britain has a perfect right to search both our ships and our mails for contraband.. Moreover, she has a right to keep letters and messages of all sorts which might be of aid to the enemy from reaching him. Strictly, she has-no right under the old agreements to take ships into port for search. Actually, it is impossible to search a modern ship in any other fashion. Nor does she have any right to seize innocent-letters or unnecessarily detain our ships in order to favor her own or Italian commerce. Both have been charged against her, both she has denied, and neither has been proved.
What is really remarkable about the attitude of these eminent statesmen, however, is that both of them have been very eager and willing to have us withdraw our ships from the European war zone for fear a German submarine might sink some of them and get us into war. But now--it is quite clear that such an attack on our ships by submarines would be the grossest possible violation of our Tights. In short, the position of these great leaders adds up to this: they are perfectly willing to abandon our rights as against Germany lest insistence on them get us into war, but they are determined to vindicate our "rights" as against Britain even if it does mean war.
The Machines Are Always Likely To Bounce Back
Boss Pendergast's machine took a beating in an election in Kansas City Tuesday. Reform forces carried a new charter provision which will reduce the terms of incumbent City Hall officials, including the City Council, from four years to two. These officials are almost entirely Pendergast men.
But the reform forces are none the less gloomy, say privately that unless they can get out a far greater vote than they got out this time, the machine will sweep the field in the general election in April.
It is an old story. Pendergast has been shown up for a crook. And you'd expect that that would spell the end of his machine. But in practice it rarely ever happens so. The machines always come back--or change their names and come back in even worse form. It has happened so over and over with the Tammany machine in New York, with the Republican machine in Philadelphia, with both the Republican and Democratic machines in Chicago, with the Democratic machines in St. Louis and New Orleans.
Nor is the reason hard to find. Machines build their power by several obvious devices. One of them is finding jobs for the faithful, either in the public service or in private service of employers who belong to the gang. Another is to provide easy spots as ward heelers for all sorts of dubious little men who don't like to work--habitues of the pool halls, the honkey-tonks and the gambling shops. Still another is to provide protection for those engaged in illegal or shady trades--in return for a price.
In short, it makes adherence to the machine directly profitable to a vast host of little or vicious people. And these, in the nature of their viewpoint preferring their own small good to public decency, take care to vote when called upon while the rest of the population for the main sits indifferently at home.
Maryland Shows How To Prevent Lynching
Maryland demonstrates it again: you can prevent lynching if the community at large wants it prevented.
An atrocious crime had been committed near Snow Hill, in the Eastern Shore. Three Negroes had shot to death a farmer, gravely wounded his wife. Two Negro women were held for questioning. There is no indication that they were principals to the crime, but the mob, as usual, was not bothered with such details. It wanted victims--any black victims. For hours its warmed about the jail, then whipped its nerve to the point of smashing a window, ripping a cell door from hinges, and seizing the two women.
But it reckoned without its host. As it prepared for the crime four Maryland State troopers came upon the scene. The mob numbered more than a thousand. But the four coppers had no doubt about what their duty was and no hesitancy about doing it. They swarmed in, cracked heads, had some of their own cracked, but emerged with the women, hurried them away to Delaware and safety.
It destroys the whole legend that cops cannot deal with mobs which greatly outnumber them. Mobs are invariably cowardly, and often one determined man is quite enough to subdue a thousand lynchers, who know in their hearts that they are simply so many murderous criminals, whose lives are bought and paid for if they attempt to shoot it out, who fear the hot seat if they kill a cop.
And if the four Maryland cops were determined, you may be sure it was because they knew that public opinion in Maryland demanded and expected it, for cops are perfect barometers of public opinion. Maryland has had only one lynching in a good many years, plainly doesn't intend to have any more if vigilance can prevent it--as it almost invariably can.
A Daring Fellow Who Took His Precautions
Governor Earl Long explains about the oil operations of Mayor Maestri of New Orleans,the best-heeled henchman of the late illustrious rascal, Huey Long: ". . . just took a gamble . . .lucky enough to win . . "
But on the whole it seems to be a little less sweet and simple than that
Technically, the claim of the Mayor that "I have been thoroughly within every legal right in investing my money in an oil corporation," seems to be true, so far as the Federal law goes. It appears clear enough that Maestri dealt in hot oil--which is to say in oil bootlegged out of the state in violation of the quota limit. But the Federal law has some unfortunate loopholes, and Mr. Maestri seems to have cannily informed himself concerning them before launching into the business.
But there was also the fact that Mr. Maestri was a State Conservation Commissioner under the Kingfish and his successors--a job which barred him from holding oil stocks, under Louisiana law as written. Nevertheless, it appears that he made his investments while in the post, which enabled him to know precisely what State oil lands were richest and best and most certain to pay the "investor." Moreover, the job and his connection with the Long gang made it easy for him to work out and cover up his hot oil deals.
Maybe Mr. Maestri did gamble. But with dice that were always practically certain to fall seven and eleven.
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