The Charlotte News

Sunday, June 9, 1940


Site Ed. Note: "Church" calls to mind that Cash once declared to Alfred Knopf in a letter that when he had visited France in 1927, he was moved to tears by the sight of the Cathedral at Chartres.

And as to "Technique", no matter how many things may change, virtually all remains the same, or so it would seem.


These Are Graver Peril Than Fifth Columnists

At Union, S.C., Tuesday, 700 men met in mass meeting, organized themselves into a group "to fight Fifth Columnists," named themselves "The Pioneers."

The same thing has been going on widely in the rest of the country.

It is pure vigilantism, and constitutes a threat to America which makes the Fifth Column look like a matter of no moment. For such organizations are without commission from and responsibility to the state--are simply trying to take over the police function without any authority. And if they continue to flourish, they may well end by destroying civil liberties in this country. The Brown Shirts of Hitler were originally precisely such organizations as these.

We have seen before how the words "Communist" and "Nazi" can be abused. For years anybody with liberal notions has been loudly called a Red by reactionaries, just as everybody whose opinions were considered too conservative has been called a Nazi by the other side. So long as the country was calm, that did no particular harm beyond needlessly confusing the argument.

But take it, add the hysteria which is sweeping us, channel all that into these rising vigilante groups, and before long a Fifth Columnist is going to be anybody and everybody whom the membership of these groups doesn't happen to like--somebody to be beaten up and manhandled at will.

The Fifth Column danger in this country can be handled quite satisfactorily by the authorities set and trained to handle it--by the FBI, by local police working with the FBI at the latter's request only, and the Army and Navy intelligence services. The Kluckers aren't needed or wanted, will only gum up the works, and if we have any sense we'll see that they don't get going.


A Note Inspired by a Beautiful New One

Out on East Morehead Street a new church has just been completed--that of the First Church of Christ, Scientist.

It is one of the most beautiful we have seen in a long time.

None of the arts has fared over well in the United States until recent years. But none of them has been as grossly mauled as architecture. And badly as the architecture of houses and public buildings has been abused, the architecture of churches has suffered worst of all.

It is literally the truth that you can ride all day through most sections of the United States without ever once seeing a beautiful church, that you can ride in the country anywhere without ever seeing more than a few. Yet it is obvious that churches, which are supposed to incarnate the aspirations of man, should be of all buildings the most beautiful.

Moreover, many of the early American churches were beautiful. The new church on Morehead is proof of that. For the Christian Scientists have gone for their inspiration to the old early American meeting house. To the style in which Christopher Wren built a good many churches in England, which furnish the model for such churches as St. Michael's at Charleston, and which was widely imitated in towns and villages all over America. With classical facade and a soaring spire superimposed on a lantern, it is in fact a style we usually mean by Colonial--the most authentically American style. Simple and dignified.

It is a pity that it is not used more often. A country set entirely with such churches might be a little monotonous, but it would nonetheless be a lovely one.


Labor Sacrifices Call For Some From Others

The shipyard strike in New Jersey gave labor-baiting Representative Hoffman of Michigan the chance to introduce a bill into the House which would require employees in all shipyards and essential war industries to sign an ironclad contract not to strike. It is worth observing that they might easily be made to cover virtually all industries--particularly in case of a declaration of war or state of national emergency. For in the last war, the War Industries Board decreed that all but a tiny fraction of American industries were "essential war industries."

Nevertheless, if war comes, there is little in the proposal to which Labor can legitimately take exception--provided these provisions are set into correct perspective as a part of general legislation. Strikes at such times as these are intolerable, as the New Jersey strikers tacitly confessed when, having taken one good look at their position, they hastily called the thing off.

But such legislation must be accompanied by definite limits and guarantees. Moreover, when Labor gives out the right to strike in these industries it has every right to demand two things. One of them is that the wage level shall be fixed to the index of living costs and shall rise as these rise. Another is that profits shall be rigidly held to low levels. And not always merely to the "average profits of peace times."

In the airplane industry, for example, a heavy bomber which cost us $350,000 cost Hitler $80,000. There is a wide spread between the production costs of the two countries, of course. But it is by no means as wide as that. The margin of profit here may confidently be supposed to be very large. So long as airplane building was an "enterprise of great risk," that was fair enough. But airplane building is one of the safest risks for capital in the country right now. And the same applies to the other industries which will be needed for war preparation.

Labor may justly complain if sacrifices demanded of it are not balanced out by fully adequate sacrifices from the other side of the fence.


Some More Light on How We Are Misgoverned

By a vote of exactly two to one, the House passes a series of amendments to the Wagner Act. Of that action, the Associated Press reports:

The same coalition of Republicans and Democrats which had held the upper hand for three days of preliminary fighting rolled up a 258 to 129 vote for the revisions, despite the fact that all factions agreed that they would wind up in a pigeon-hole in the Senate.

"Despite the fact" is a masterpiece of understatement. Actually, what we see in operation here is what has got to be a standard technique in Congress--a sort of Hindenberg-Weygand "spring cushioned" system for excusing the evasion of responsibility.

The boys in the House, let us say, have some bills for which a large and powerful contingent of their constituents are clamoring, but which other large and powerful contingents are bitterly set against. The boys remember that it is an election year for all of them. But they remember also that it is an election year for only a third of the Senate. So they pass the bills, thus taking credit to themselves with their clients who want these bills.

And in the Senate, the third who have got to stand for election may roar for or against the bill in comparative safety. For their colleagues know well that the people never remember anything for so long as two to four years, calmly let this unpleasant hot potato grow cold in a committee room. And back home both sides will be more or less satisfied. The pros will remember only that John Smith, the candidate for re-election, voted as they asked. The antis, having suffered no real damage, will not be likely to harbor resentment.

The Senate, of course, does not consent to be made use of in this fashion without exacting payment. There are many cases of legislation for which it does not wish to take responsibility--in which the vote of a relatively conspicuous Senator would make them a target for strong resentment but which may be smothered in the vast and nearly anonymous House with comparative safety to all concerned.

But in both instances, the purpose is the avoidance of the responsibility proper to the Congress and its member statesmen.

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