The Charlotte News

Wednesday, March 17, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that President Truman, in a personal address beginning at 12:32 p.m., urged the Congress to reinstitute the draft to meet the effort of Russia to subjugate Europe. He also urged quick action on universal military training and on ERP, to maintain the peace through strength. He stated that Russia had actively sought to prevent the peace and obstruct the U.N. through abuse of the Security Council veto, exercising the privilege 21 times. He also spoke of the "tragic death of Czechoslovakia" and the persistent effort of Russia and its agents to destroy the independence and democratic character of a series of nations in Eastern and Central Europe.

The President wore a grey business suit and a green St. Patrick's Day tie for the occasion of the speech.

The rebel yell which traditionally came to a Democratic President from the Southern members of the Congress failed to materialize on this occasion.

Some Republicans, as Senator Edward Thye of Minnesota, reacted to the speech by saying that the President was creating a crisis, but most members said they wanted more time to study the proposals on the draft and UMT. Senator Homer Ferguson complained that the President had done nothing to spell out the Administration's foreign policy, to provide a goal for which to fight. Other Republicans, as Senator Owen Brewster of Maine and Senator Charles Tobey of New Hampshire, appeared in favor of assuring military strength through UMT, but felt that the draft proposal was premature, that such steps as mobilizing the National Guard would be more sensible.

Senator Glen Taylor of Idaho, running mate of Henry Wallace, said that he opposed renewal of the draft as Russia was demobilizing.

House Republicans called for passage of ERP by April 1 but left details of the program to the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Secretary of Defense James Forrestal told the Senate Small Business Committee that events of recent weeks might force the country to change plans to boost production of Middle Eastern oil. He hoped that by the end of the week he would be able to provide a definitive determination on whether it was more advisable to continue to build a pipeline or to utilize tankers to ship oil from Saudi Arabia to the Mediterranean.

The Secretary stated in response to a question posed by Senator Taylor that he was not qualified to answer whether the flow of oil could be maintained from the Middle East to Western Europe in the event of war with Russia.

In Brussels, the five-power pact between France, Britain, and the Benelux countries was signed this date, forming a 50-year Western European Union for military, economic, and political alliance.

The nation's bituminous coal production came to a virtual standstill from the strike of miners, now in its third day, regarding pension benefits demanded by UMW, thought too expensive by the operators. Some 339,000 of the 400,000 miners were off the job. All or nearly all mines were down in 12 of 28 coal-producing states.

On the editorial page, "Our Stake in Italian Elections" predicts that the April 18 Italian elections would determine the initial effectiveness of the Marshall Plan as both sides were using it in the campaign, the Communists promoting it as American imperialism while the opposition characterized it as aid to reconstruction.

A victory for the Communists would be devastating to all of Europe and American security, as it would provide the Communists a foothold in the Mediterranean and thus enable access to the Middle East. But a defeat would place a major crimp in the Soviet timetable for world revolution.

Thus, it posits, the elections in Italy were a fateful turning point in the cold war.

"Curfew and the Bob Cat" commends Police Chief Frank Littlejohn for his Department's swift work in catching the two juvenile culprits who opened the valve gate with chisel and hammer and drained the lake at Freedom Park the previous Thursday night, killing most of the bream fingerlings recently stocked at a cost of $5,000. It also thanks him for the lecture he provided to parents who were too lax in supervision of their children.

But it finds his suggestion of an 11:00 p.m. curfew to be of little use.

It cites from Hartsville, S.C., the report from Thomas Coker anent the bobcat which had wandered from its den late at night and been hit by a car somers betwixt Cheraw and Society Hill, was no more. Mr. Coker concluded: "Stay home. Don't roam."

It draws from it the moral that there were too many Bob Cats, old and young, around Charlotte who had not the sense to stay home late at night. A curfew would not have any impact on them but would only increase their determination to go out on the prowl. The home was the place where the remedy had to be found. A curfew would only burden police and enable parents to shirk their responsibilities, painting the town in the vein of the nineteenth century.

What's the big deal? Those 13 and 14-year old vandals just wanted to be superannuated Cub Scouts. They had missed out, thought that draining the lake and drowning the bream was an initiation rite. Because bear, after all, eat fish.

"Flaw in Taft-Hartley Law" comments on the dismissal of the indictment against Philip Murray, president of CIO, for violation of the provision of Taft-Hartley banning unions from conducting political activity, after CIO had deliberately violated the law by publishing in its own organ an ad favoring a candidate in a Congressional election in Baltimore County. The Federal judge found the provision to infringe free speech.

The decision was not surprising as many of the Congressmen who voted for the law had stated that it was likely unconstitutional.

The joint Congressional watchdog committee on the law had issued a report at the same time of the issuance of the decision, praising the effectiveness of the law since its enactment over Presidential veto the previous July. But such only strengthened the idea that too much partisanship had gone into drafting of Taft-Hartley.

A piece from the Christian Science Monitor, titled "Russia and the Bible", tells of the American Bible Society declaring the U.S. to be the arsenal of both the atomic bomb and Bibles. Russians were also seeking the Bible, as one Russian shipping firm had agreed to pay the freight on 400,000 Bibles and 200,000 New Testaments.

The Bible, it opines, was stronger than stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

Drew Pearson tells of General MacArthur's administration of Japan as a sign of how he might govern the United States if he were elected President. He informs that Japan was the only country of the world outside the Soviet bloc which had news censorship, violations of which subjected journalists to military court martial. He reprints a letter of protest from journalists Tom Lambert of the A.P., Burton Crane of the New York Times, George Thomas Foster of NBC, Joseph Fromm of World Report, and Carl Mydans of Time and Life, to the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

The letter tells of the intent of the censorship being to withhold from the Japanese citizenry news of a political, economic and social character, to allow only the news which the military occupation government wanted the people to hear. One journalist who had written stories which rankled occupation officials found his home ransacked by the Army CID, then was subjected to interrogation and threats. Wartime security measures prevailed despite hostilities having officially been declared by the President the previous year to be ended.

Marquis Childs tells of the urgent need for the House to pass ERP now that the Senate had acted on the Plan. But it would likely be at least April 10, the target date, before House passage could transpire given the complications by amendments, adding to ERP the provisions for aid to China, Greece, and Turkey in the House version. Then the final bill would need be reconciled with the Senate version.

Meanwhile, the Italian elections were set to take place on April 18 and the Communists were active in mustering support. It was unknown to what degree Moscow was aiding the effort but some suggested that a large part of the funding, placed at two billion lira, was in Soviet gold.

A month earlier, the Russians had come out in favor of Italian trusteeship for the colonies in Africa which Italy lost at the end of the war. They were supposed to await the U.N. report per an agreement by the Big Four before issuing such a policy statement. The U.S. had favored the Russian position two years earlier but had made no recent statement on the matter, seeking to abide by the terms of the agreement to await U.N. decision. The Russian stance was plainly timed to aid the Communists in the coming election.

Since the war, the American task had been to win the Socialists away from the Communists in Europe. But the U.S. foreign service was not geared to the task as too often at home, Socialists were lumped together with Communists as the enemy.

Military power could not win the battle against Moscow propaganda, as pointed out in How to Stop the Russians—Without War, by Fritz Sternberg. The thrust of American policy, suggested the short book, ought be toward showing that Russia was in favor of the forces of reaction worldwide while the U.S. stood for dynamic democracy, supporting the forces of progress.

Samuel Grafton comments on the movement suddenly seizing the country to think in militaristic terms vis-à-vis Russia, following the statement of Secretary of State Marshall that a "very, very serious" situation was extant and that of former Secretary James Byrnes advocating action rather than mere objection in response to Soviet aggression. Many of the welkin-ringings at home were contrary to the calm deliberation favored by Secretary Marshall. But it was his statement which had inflamed the passions.

It was not logical to suppose that such internal jabbing would stop Russia, any more than a Russian warning of war in the event of implementation of ERP would stop the U.S. from putting the Plan forward. Thus, the noise in America would likely only confirm the hardliners in Russia.

Nor was it likely that the rhetoric would affect the Italian elections, as the deeper the rift between the West and Russia became, the greater would be the pressure in Italy for a showdown. Only an easing of the international situation might impact those elections.

He favors demanding a conference with Moscow to work out the problems and ease the tensions. It was the only way to discontinue the increscent harshness of the East-West conversation.

A letter writer from a sales organization addresses an open letter to Mayor Herbert Baxter of Charlotte, objecting to a plan to collect a municipal tax from hotels on use of their rooms. Such a tax in New York and Atlantic City had been very unpopular. It would deter conventions from coming to Charlotte.

A letter favors Henry Wallace's plan to allow the nations of Europe to decide for themselves the form of their governments and economies, finds it superior to the Truman-Marshall plan of giving aid with the condition attached that the recipient country follow a democratic form.

A letter writer, while not liking Drew Pearson's style, finds him a necessary gadfly to the power brokers of society.

A letter writer from Philadelphia seeks information on a named Army buddy with whom he was stationed at Camp Davis in 1943. If you know him, be sure and write to the address provided.

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