The Charlotte News

Monday, April 28, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Secretary of State Marshall had stated at a Cabinet meeting with the President and Congressional leaders the previous night that the firm U.S. stand on the German and Austrian peace treaties could lead Russia to give ground. He counseled patience with the Soviets, that they might come to the next meeting in London in November with a different attitude. He thought it too early to take the unresolved issues to the U.N. for resolution. He found that the proposal of aid to Greece and Turkey had impacted greatly the Russians and that it might lead to a softening of their approach.

The Secretary would address the nation at 8:30 p.m. regarding the results of the just concluded 45-day Moscow Foreign Ministers Conference.

In New York, the U.N. General Assembly agreed to appoint a fourteen-nation steering committee to resolve the issue of Arab demands for immediate independence of Palestine. The immediate issue was the proposal by Britain to appoint a fact-finding committee to make a report to the Assembly in September. The five Arab members, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, had proposed the addition of the question of immediate independence from Britain's 25-year League of Nations Mandate over Palestine.

The Jewish Agency and the rival Hebrew Committee of National Liberation were both demanding to participate in the debates without a vote.

In Jerusalem, a child was slightly injured by the blast of a hand grenade within the older Jewish quarter on the Street of the Prophets. The source of the grenade had not been identified.

In Washington, there was new hope for resolution of the nationwide telephone strike, entering its fourth week.

OPA ordered 28 areas and portions of eleven others freed from rent control ceilings, its last order before its duties were to be transferred on May 4 to the Housing Expediter.

Near Ontario, California, 36 persons were injured when the Southern Pacific Argonaut passenger train, headed to New Orleans, struck a broken rail at Guasti, causing most of the eighteen cars to derail, while remaining upright. Only three of the passengers were in serious condition.

In San Francisco, three of four dangerous mental patients who had escaped from the Army's Letterman General Hospital had been caught. The patient still at large had been a paratrooper with the 11th Airborne Division during the war and had been convicted by a court martial for desertion under fire and escape twice from Army confinement. He had been sentenced to death, but President Truman had commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.

The escapes had been effected by the patients slugging four orderlies, taking the keys and opening a door, then slugging a guard and taking his gun.

In Milwaukee, Wisc., a fourteen-year old farm hand admitted slaying his employer because of criticism of his work, yelling at him for not milking correctly one of the farmer's cows. He had worked for the farmer for several years on weekends.

One has to pull the right udder first. But if the udder was first pulled, and the farmer did not like it, then, naturally, a .22 rifle bullet was the answer to the criticism.

But respect for udders is important.

Yet, guns are apparently even more important should you be one of the udders.

In Vero Beach, Fla., the local VFW adopted a resolution condemning former Vice-President Henry Wallace for his statements in England and France criticizing U.S foreign policy regarding unilateral aid to Greece and Turkey, bypassing the U.N. They thought that the sentiments should be expressed only at home.

In Rockingham, S.C., the owners of the Pee Dee Mill No. 1, one of the oldest textile mills in the region, announced that it would close, impacting 250 employees. The sale was being negotiated with a manufacturer which intended to absorb the labor force, some of whom might also be hired to work in Mill No. 2.

In Los Angeles, a divorce decree was granted to the wife of movie producer Louis B. Mayer for his having suddenly one day announced that he was leaving the family home and then promptly left without returning. Both Mr. Mayer and his former wife were in poor health.

On the editorial page, "Judge Bobbitt Hands Down a Verdict" tells of the most effective statement to date made against the alcohol referendum, having been published by both Charlotte newspapers on the previous Saturday, by Judge W. H. Bobbitt. He did not seek to defend prohibition and its previous failure, but rather premised his argument on the deleterious effects of alcohol on the individual and hence society. He favored strict enforcement of prohibition.

The Judge was of unquestioned integrity and his opinion thus carried great weight. But other Superior Court judges disagreed that enforcement was a realistic solution.

The piece disagrees with Judge Bobbitt, finding alcohol abuse to be the symptom of a problem, not its cause, one which would persist in the alcoholic even without the bottle. Education, it posits, was the only solution.

It nevertheless expresses respect for the Judge's opinion on the matter.

"Henry Wallace's Press-Agent" finds the former Vice-President's enemies to be his best promoters for their intense effort to assure him martyrdom by trying to curtail his right to speak.

The management of the Hollywood Bowl, which had, prior to American entry into the war, rented the facility to Charles Lindbergh and the America Firsters for the purpose of supporting Nazism as a bulwark to Communism, had just denied Mr. Wallace and the Progressives a platform at the venue.

A South Carolina Congressman had suggested that the Congress "send that mendacious idiot back to Europe."

Not a bad idea for loud-mouthed South Carolina Congressmen—then or now.

Such a move, posits the editorial, gave Mr. Wallace an audience which he might otherwise not attract were he left to his own devices without interference.

"The Passing of Old Dobbin" tells of a report from Clemson College stating that since 1920, the horse had declined in numbers, from 297,000 to 191,000, while the number of tractors had increased, from 1,304 to 12,477.

While the sentimentalist might shed a tear for the passing of the horse, it was doubtful it was shared by the farmer. The tractor had opened up new sources of income. The automobile had enabled him to get to the city to spend it.

The horse had been a symbol of bondage.

A piece from the Hickory Daily Record, titled "Hickory's Good Men and True", remarks on the reported Charlotte queue of aspirants for the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, in the event the liquor referendum would pass.

The same might be true of Hickory, and the piece likewise urges that persons of high integrity be appointed, the only way the system would work.

We recommend, however, that Hickory should start by not referring to it, as does the piece, as the "Alcoholic Board of Control".

Drew Pearson quotes Republicans, including Senator Robert Taft, from the prior June, predicting that the removal of price controls would not produce inflation, that it was simply a scare tactic of OPA officials. They had been wrong.

General Mark Clark, impatient to get back to the United States to assume his new post at the Presidio in San Francisco, delayed by the extended Moscow Conference, had stated that his nine-year old cocker spaniel had gotten pregnant his nine-month old wire-haired terrier and that he would be thus midwife to a litter of mongrel pups on the way home, despite not being able to midwife in Moscow a treaty for Austria, in which he had been in charge of the U.S. occupation zone.

For the previous 28 years, every American President had been in favor of a Jewish homeland, as had both political parties. Either the British or the career diplomats at the State Department had managed to block the effort.

The U.N. General Assembly was now going to debate the issue. At stake would be the fate of 200,000 Jewish refugees. The British had reserved their right of veto on the Security Council of any proposed action which they could not support. The likelihood was the appointment of another commission to investigate Palestine, the reports of which in the past the British had never endorsed. The Russians favored an immediate solution. But in back of that lay the prospect of such a solution favoring the Arabs, who were proposing immediate end to the British Mandate.

He next tells of the relative lengths of the Congressional biographies, led by Senator Herbert O'Conor of Maryland, with 55 lines, two lines ahead of Congressman James Van Zandt of Pennsylvania. Congressman John Rankin of Mississippi, at 35 lines, was third. He tells of some of the things Senator O'Conor had modestly set forth regarding his own career.

Marquis Childs discusses the pending labor legislation, finding the Hartley bill passed by the House to be overly restrictive, to the point of eliminating effective collective bargaining, with its bans on industry-wide bargaining and the closed shop.

The Senate version emerging from committee was less restrictive, but Senator Robert Taft promised to introduce amendments from the floor which would make it nearly as restrictive as the House version. He was counting on a coalition of Southern Democrats, as in the House, to support the Republican measure.

Such legislation would only lead in the end to chaos. A more moderate bill, to make collective bargaining more equal and ending jurisdictional strikes, as favored, according to polls, by most Americans, including most of labor, would act to temper labor without producing the side effects surely to follow from a punitive bill.

A bill passed in New Jersey, for instance, which had sought to outlaw the telephone strike before it began, had not served to prevent the walk-out in that state once it had been called by the national union.

Congress should take a constructive step rather than its current course, designed to make political hay for 1948, and even if the President vetoed the final bill, the strategy behind delivering to his desk an omnibus measure rather than three separate bills.

One such positive measure was the proposed labor extension service which would, on modest funding, provide to labor education on labor problems should a union desire it—as, for instance, was already taking place annually at the Institute of Government at the University of North Carolina.

Stewart Alsop, still in Cairo, tells of Winston Churchill having come to Athens during the winter of 1944-45—not as the piece says, a year later—to negotiate with the Communists to prevent a Communist-led revolt, in the wake of the ouster of the Nazis. He stood firm on the Greek constitution.

During a parley with a Greek official, a bullet whizzed into the room, unfurnished but for a carpet. Mr. Churchill proposed to the Greek official that they then take refuge underneath the carpet and continue their conversation in sounder sanctuary. After they had done so, the Greek official explained that the Greek constitution was radically altered every year or so and ignored in the interval, was thus considered something of a joke by Greeks. He therefore stood puzzled at Mr. Churchill's suggestion. The Prime Minister, still smoking his cigar, then stated in response, "If that's the way things are, they damn well ought not to be."

It was a lesson for the Americans to bear in mind as they embarked into Near East and Middle East affairs. They would likely judge the politics and social systems of countries by comparison to the American paradigm. But with the possible exception of Greece, America would not be defending democracy because it did not exist in the region.

The sole basis for intervention was to stop Russian expansionism. The only way in the long run that effort would work would be to promote democracy and economic growth.

But things were not what they were or ought to be in the region, and the country should be mature enough, urges Mr. Alsop, to realize that it was not entering on a policy of furnishing aid to battle for a Middle Eastern version of democracy.

A letter from a Methodist pastor cites several Biblical verses as reasons not to support the liquor referendum, scheduled for June 14.

He quotes from Proverbs that it was not for kings or princes to drink wine, lest they might get drunk and forget the law.

Apparently the pastor forgets the policy of Jesus and his Disciples. But they were winos. So...

We do not advocate drink either, but we think it foolhardy to stand on Biblical verse or any other verse as the foundation for opposing it. The worst drunkards with whom we have ever been associated were devout church-going Christians, at least until they stopped drinking.

The best way, we have found through time, to cure a drunk is to laugh both with him and also, simultaneously, at his foibles, gently poking fun, without crossing the line into offense. He or she may not like you after they sober up, but they will be better in the long run for the effort. Punishment does not work, save transitorily; nor does ridicule. And certainly prohibition has never worked.

Quoting from the Bible to an alcoholic, for all its good intent, assumes that the alcoholic has some great measure of control over his or her drinking, when, by that point, it is a physiological addiction requiring treatment and education. Nagging and insistence on soul-searching is far less a weapon than is a good sense of humor, properly directed with the alcoholic.

Perhaps, you could begin by asking from which udder they were planning this night to suck, gin or bourbon. But make sure the .22 is somewhere out of reach.

Speaking of a drunk society, we note the case of the professional basketball team owner, having conversation with his girlfriend, a tape of which somehow leaked to the world, a world learning how to use and not to use the relatively new device of the internet for the betterment of mankind. We set aside for the moment personalities and try to look at the problem as if from another planet, sometimes not a bad way to view a problem, especially one so trivial, suddenly transmogrified out of all proportion of reality, emblematic of a drunken society, drunk on its wealth and its ability to make "news" fast.

In perspective, this regards a tape which, when heard, sounds as a soap opera re-run, scripted and poorly performed, rather than a discussion between two adults. But that aside, too, it is a private telephone conversation, intended originally to be private. You can easily access it on YouTube and we won't link to it, as it serves little purpose. The essence of it was a mild argument between the basketball team owner and his girlfriend, regarding his asking her not to post pictures to "Instagram", whatever that is, and thereby broadcast to the world her friendliness with black basketball players. She accused him then of being racist from being raised that way and apologized that she could not change her skin color. He responded that it had nothing to do with her skin color, that he loved all black people, all people in general, and did not care what she did in private with her black or white friends, including having intense corporeal conversation with them, whether with Big Bird or the Magic Man, but did not want her posting pictures with them having such conversation to "Instagram" for the world then to see.

He also repeatedly expressed his hurt that she would bring up the issue and wondered several times why she was insisting on doing so. He stated that she was "supposed" to be a light-skinned Latina or white girl, not black, as far as the world was concerned. She stated that she was of mixed blood. She repeatedly called him "honey", and they both expressed sorrow that the problem was occurring. He wound up saying that the two of them had a "big problem" and that he did not feel like going to Europe with her at that point.

He did not say, as has been misrepresented, that "black people are the enemy". He said, in reference to his girlfriend, that "it's like talking to an enemy...because you're an enemy to me". Translated, we take it to mean that his girlfriend was behaving as an enemy by disrespecting his request. It had nothing per se to do with minorities, which he said in the same context are "great" and that nothing was wrong with privately associating with anyone.

It all had to do with boyfriend-girlfriend junk. Since the time of the Garden, we all, sooner or later, go through this phase when young and carefree. Cf. Othello. The real question then becomes who is cast as Iago in this soap opera re-write of the play. Is it not the onlooking public injuriously intrigued with the scene and demanding blood sacrifice for perceived betrayal of the public interest to have basketball games which all friends of the girlfriend may attend without discrimination, freely?

Basically, it was a silly-sounding, trivial private conversation, as most such conversations between two people who are mildly irritated with one another would sound.

Her lawyer claims the tape was made consensually because the basketball team owner is forgetful and needed reminding of what he had said.

Meanwhile, the wife of the team owner is suing the girlfriend for return of 1.8 million dollars in gifts alleged to have been provided the girlfriend by the owner out of the couple's community property, half of which belonged to the wife.

What is behind this sudden revelation of the tape is still not disclosed. But we can guess, having been down this road of National Enquirer "investigative journalism" many times in the past two or three decades, since the advent of 24-hour news networks and then the internet, compounding the desire "to know" what public or semi-public people are doing in their private, intimate moments, making of us a nation of Peeping Toms and Tomasinas discussing trash in trash talk.

This tape has nothing to do with race or racism. It is a woman of mixed-race heritage taking some offense at a request made by her white older boyfriend to stop posting on "Instagram" pictures of herself with black basketball players, and, sounding out of frustration, an incidental comment by him asking her to refrain from bringing black friends to the professional basketball team's games, to which she replied that she had not done so.

It is a tempest in a teapot.

Had he said publicly, for instance, that his team would not allow African-Americans to attend the team's games, obviously that is a serious issue with serious ramifications to society, requiring action. But the instant remarks are not that or anything close to it. We suspect that the tirade over it is from misunderstanding, without bothering actually to listen to his words dispassionately with a sense of detachment, appreciating the while the context of those words, considering honestly one's own informal talk with friends and acquaintances through time, without prejudice. The reaction has instead taken on a form remindful of the mentality of a lynch mob following the jailing of a black man accused of leering at a white woman in 1920's Alabama—or, as we shall shortly become aware next month, of the attempted lynching in 1947 North Carolina of a black man jailed for such an offense in Jackson, coincident with the announcement of the acquittals of all 28 defendants in the heinous and brutal lynching of Willie Earle in Pickens, S.C., the previous February 16.

If we still value freedom of speech in this country, which obviously some do not, then no one should be chastised for stating something in private, intended to be private, which, of itself, is not an unlawful statement. While the First Amendment applies, strictly speaking, only to Government restriction of speech, the press, religious belief, the rights of petition and assembly or association, the principle involves all of us. Else, it is merely a technical rule, which we brandish, as would the King, when it suits, not for the protection of everyone to hold sacred free discussion privately or publicly of opinions they hold, making for a better society, but rather only for the protection of privilege and the privileged, moneyed classes.

When you condemn this gentleman for his statements, be aware that you condemn and restrict your own free speech, and ultimately your own rights, and thus serve the will of Massa of the Plantation. Disagree all you wish. But do not condemn or seek his punishment for mere statement of opinion, especially that stated privately, intended to be private.

In the present instance, the team owner in question is a billionaire. His chief critics are also quite wealthy, all making their wealth on the plantations of professional sports, picking cotton and peaches for Massa, even if Massa now pays very well the cottonpickers and peachpickers. Should Massa actually sometimes be a racist should come, however, as no shock.

But, in this instance, where the team owner was expressing things in private to his girlfriend, we think nonsensical the notion of branding him a "racist" for making mild statements requesting certain things from his girlfriend—which she was obviously free to do or not do, or tell him to get lost, albeit perhaps a difficult thing for her to do, in light of the 1.8 million dollars of gifts he apparently had provided her to be his girlfriend and call him "honey" as she made a tape recording which then mysteriously came into the public forum.

That national leaders whom we respect have chosen to make this an issue, in our opinion, disserves and trivializes what ought be a serious debate on the subject of racism when it in fact arises. Racism is a concern for all people of any complexion, not just those of a minority in a particular society.

We can hear the racists of the world cackling, in fact, heartily at the stupid "liberal" Americans for being so tender of feeling as to become upset to the point of demanding punishment of the speaker in not only a case of exercise of free expression of candid opinion, but private conversation which was simply a trivial interchange between a boyfriend and girlfriend regarding little or nothing of import to the world.

Again, it reminds of a soap opera dialogue, written out by the usual morons who write such tripe. But then, probably, most such conversation would so sound if tape recorded and then, in unseemly fashion, made public.

Have we lost our minds as a society? That is the more salient question.

Now, this basketball team owner has been banned for life and fined 2.5 million dollars by the NBA, suggesting how dumb and petty and power-mongering professional sports organizations have become. He cannot attend in the future any NBA games, including his team's games, a condition quite illegal to try to impose, if challenged. Everyone, save where actual trespassory offense is committed, including a breach of the peace at an event, has the right, if they can afford any generally charged cost of admission, to enter a facility otherwise open to the public. Maybe the NBA would like to read through Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and realize that it applies to everyone. It essentially says that there shall be no discrimination. The reason that it specifies race, color, religion, or national origin as prohibited bases of discrimination was because of the historical trend in that direction in some parts of the nation, continuing to that time. Everyone is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause, on which the Act is premised. The NBA is not Caesar, standing above the law of the land.

The reason we take up print on this matter is not because of its importance in the abstract. It is trivial and silly. But it has become suddenly a major issue in our society in the last few days. It is remindful of the same sort of thing which occurred with Jimmy "the Greek" in 1988 when he made a comment on television about black people having superior athletic skills based on breeding during the period of slavery, a comment which was stupid and offensive in fact and made publicly while he was being paid well to be a color man for NFL games. It is remindful also of the comments made in 2007 on a popular radio show following the women's basketball championship between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Tennessee Volunteers, in which one team was said by an announcer on the show to resemble Santa Clauses because of their coal tattoos, or something like that.

Yet, those incidents, also protected by rights of free speech, are distinguishable as involving public statements, known at the time they were made to be public.

We hope that young people will not become confused as a result of these silly trivial pursuits of some well-heeled and well-recognized personages in our culture, confused into believing that sports controversies determine the standards for exercise of free speech and suggest the proper sanctions for such violations. It is not so. People have fought and died in wars to give us free speech. The least we can do as citizens is both exercise it and enjoy it, and protect the right in others, when, as here, it is plainly infringed in principle by private action.

Each of us has the right freely to express our opinions, especially if those opinions are contrary to accepted notions. It is the only way, through reasonable discussion of those opinions, to advance as a society. And we do need to advance.

If, in contrast, we take an easy approach, seeking to harm people for mere exercise of speech, especially private speech, intended to be private, then we have lost our way, shredded the Constitution, and made of it a joke, as surely, as the Greek official said to Winston Churchill in 1944, the Greeks regularly did with their constitution, ignoring it in between regular amendment. It is why they voted, even after Nazi occupation, to restore a Fascist King to the throne. We are not a kingdom and do not wish to be. Nor do we wish to live on anyone's plantation and serve Massa in exchange for pats on the head.

Yesterday, we were at the market, waiting in line to purchase take-out food. A gentleman approached and began telling us of having been beaten up by two or three black youths on a train platform late the previous night as he came home from work. His face was swollen and bruised on one side and so obviously he was telling the truth. We listened, as he was obviously upset over the incident. During the story, he described his assailants as "niggas", then immediately apologized for use of that language. We stated that we understood, and continued to listen. The man eventually thanked us for listening and walked away. We hope that the authorities can locate his assailants, who remained uncaught as of yesterday. The man, incidentally, happened to be black.

Should we seek to find out where he works and call his employer and complain that he said to a complete stranger, in informal conversation at the market, that he was attacked by "niggas", demand thus that he be fired and have his life ruined? We think not.

We each have the right to express ourselves, or our democracy is lost. We do not care whether the basketball team owner is a billionaire or a pauper, or of income somewhere in between; he has the right, as all of us, to express himself. His critics have the right to express themselves. What we should not be doing is seeking punitive action against him for expressing an opinion, especially one stated in private. That demand for and rapid exaction of punitive action are the loudest statements being made out of this trivial pursuit.

We hope that the basketball team owner will sue the Devil out of the NBA for taking the action it has. In California, there is a State Constitutional private right of due process, giving rise, for instance, to a civil cause of action for black-listing by private organizations and companies. Article I, Section 2(a) of the California Constitution says: "Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press." We hope that the team owner will take advantage of this private due process right, that is one extending to private organizations denying liberties as well as to public entities, and use his wealth to teach the state and the country a more positive lesson in exercise of free speech, especially that conducted under ostensibly private circumstances and not otherwise violating any laws. In fact, though he did not choose the fight, by the principle of noblesse oblige, it now effectively becomes his responsibility, given the benefit of that wealth afforded him by society, to do so, and to pursue it all the way, if necessary, to the Supreme Court.

The right, for instance, to have counsel appointed in all criminal cases, including misdemeanors, developed out of a trivial pursuit. The right to be free from laws forbidding the teaching of evolution in public schools, though initially lost in the courts, developed out of such a trivial pursuit. So, too, the right to picket peacefully businesses denying access or employment based on race and color.

It is outrageous in 2014, hearkening back to the Middle Ages or at least to the McCarthy era, to punish people for speech of any sort, absent actual threats to safety, plainly spoken and intended to be such, especially that uttered privately, not intended for a public forum. It sends a chill through the process of debate and free exchange of ideas between persons, leaving conversation vapid and insincere, without the ability to reach any form of understanding or truth. For one cannot talk without fear of being taped for ulterior and sinister purposes, usually for financial or political gain, or having a tape consensually made used improperly, in a way not intended by the person giving the consent, thus effectively, in any fair and intelligent view of the matter, vitiating the consent after the fact. And these "standards of conduct" eventually trickle down to affect all of us, not just the billionaire basketball team owner, or the radio or tv announcers.

The swift and summary action in the instant case by the NBA brands that organization as Fascist, controlled by Fascist dictators, out to lunch, unable to form a thought if it bit them in their hind quarters, blinded by the threat of loss of millions of dollars in revenue, paying no heed whatsoever to the impact on the society which enables to flourish professional sports to make millions of dollars out of the pockets of suckers.

We enjoy the college game, though it has been rifled increasingly through the last four decades by the professional version of the sport, to the point where it has become something other than the sport we first began following closely in 1963. But we still insist on following the college game, for the sake of old times. And, it is still, for all of its warts, a college game, without pay provided to the athletes, certainly the way it ought remain, lest it also go the route of Fascism.

The President, in the case under the microscope, may have diplomatically expressed it best when saying that the matter showed that the ignorant, when left to speak long enough, will show their ignorance, without saying precisely who was ignorant or the more so in the trivial pursuit. It may be that the press reaction and the public reaction generally, motivating the kowtowing reaction of the NBA, are that which will display the greater ignorance, judging by what has been thus far stated in the mob rush to judgment, typical of such episodes.

We title the episode, "Days of Our Lives II, The Boomerang Telephone Sequel Re Rubber Cloth Shoes Costing More Than Leather".

And if we should happen to step on toes of Spartan Blue Suede Shoes in so saying such as we have on this subject, so be it. We have them, too. We do not like them being stepped on any more than you do.

It's called the Golden Udder Rule of the Ultima Thule.

Thank ye very much.

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