The Charlotte News

Tuesday, March 2, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that South Carolina Democratic Representative L. Mendel Rivers yelled to Republicans on the floor of the House: "I tell you, you are shooting at the wrong bird. Harry Truman is a dead bird already." He referred to the Republican passage of anti-lynching legislation by the House Judiciary Committee, the verbal exception taken despite the legislation having several times previously been approved by Democratic Houses, only to falter in the face of Southern filibuster in the Senate. He interpreted the action as an effort by Republicans to harm the President politically, despite the President having urged the legislation as part of his recently enunciated civil rights legislation. The next step for the legislation was to go before the Rules Committee before debate could begin on the House floor.

Boss Ed Crump of Memphis said that the President, in his "scheming, cold-blooded effort" to attract the black vote, was attempting to "reduce the South to a country of crawling cowards." He said that he would vote for a Democrat in November but that it would not be Truman.

The South Carolina Democratic executive committee adopted a resolution opposing the Truman nomination and election.

The Mississippi Democratic executive committee asked the delegates to walk out of the convention unless the party reversed its position on civil rights.

Governor Ben Laney of Arkansas recommended that Southern Democrats repudiate the national party leadership.

In Nashville, Governor Jim McCord commuted the death sentence of a prisoner, set to be executed on Thursday, to life imprisonment. The commutation followed a plea by the prisoner's childhood sweetheart, a Sunday school teacher, who traveled from Pittsburgh to marry him in his cell if his sentence were not commuted. He and an accomplice had been convicted for robbery and murder of a pawnbroker in Memphis. The Governor said that he was convinced the accused did not know that a robbery would take place. The other man was implicated as the killer and his sentence of death was not disturbed.

It was okay 'cause neither of 'em were black.

Near Jerusalem, British troops battled beside Jews against Arab snipers dug in on the hillsides above the Jerusalem-Jaffa road. The British vowed to use their weapons henceforth in impartial manner against the side firing at the moment of any given outbreak of violence. The British also said that they were prepared to use weapons more powerful than those of either the Arabs or Jews to stem the violence. A three-mile stretch of the road had been made impassable by sniper fire for the previous several weeks.

The British Mandate Government charged the Jewish Agency with condoning terrorism, apparently in response to the Sunday mine explosions aboard three railway passenger cars in which 28 British troops were killed, that stated by the Stern Gang as being retaliatory for the Ben Yehuda Street bombing in Jerusalem which killed 54 Jews a week earlier, attributed to the British, though Arabs had taken credit for that bombing.

Mass demonstrations took place in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden in protest of the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia. Thousands of student demonstrators in Oslo shouted, "Down with Communism."

HUAC chairman J. Parnell Thomas subpoenaed the Commerce Department's loyalty board records associated with the head of the Bureau of Standards, Dr. Edward Condon, on the basis of an accusation by HUAC that he was the weakest link in atomic security, that he had associated, knowingly or unknowingly, with Communists.

—Yeah, Bob, I know. But we have to have something to keep the Committee in the headlines during the election year. Because the people have got to know that their President is running a Communist Government. I'm working right now on a matter involving a former high level State Department guy who is a traitor. You'll hear about it.

—Yeah, it involves a pumpkin, a farm, microfilm, secret agents, all kinds of intrigues. They may make a movie about this one, Bob, once they hear it.

—Oh, right. It's the ticket to the top, Bob. Yeah.

In Livermore, California, a private plane crashed into a home, demolishing the bedroom in which a family of three were sleeping, remaining nevertheless harmless from the crash. The two persons aboard the plane were killed when it bounced off the house, hit across the road and exploded.

The South Carolina State Highway Commissioner told a delegation from York County that the State did not yet have the money to build a proposed four-lane highway from Rock Hill to the new Celanese Corporation plant, three miles from town. But it might by mid-summer if Federal funds for highway construction were appropriated, in which case the highway could be started in 1949.

We'll look forward to that, an autobahn.

In Gastonia, N.C., in a probable cause hearing on a charge of bigamy, the court heard the testimony of two witnesses who described the defendant, a taxi driver, as living a double life, residing with one woman in the daytime and another at night. He told the nighttime wife that he had to work in the daytime and the daytime wife that he had to work in the nighttime driving his cab. It was not explained when he drove his taxi. He may have exculpatory meter records to combat this malicious attack on his character. The judge bound the defendant over for trial in Superior Court on the felony charge.

In Whiteville, N.C., the County adopted an ordinance requiring that milk be labeled.

Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan dodged questions as to whether he would accept the Republican nomination if drafted by the convention. He also requested that his name not be placed on the Nebraska primary ballot, as proposed.

The News straw poll found General Eisenhower still leading the field with 136 votes to Thomas Dewey's 120. Henry Wallace had fallen back to third place with 117. Senator Vandenberg had 88 votes, Senator Taft, 87, Senator Harry Byrd, 69, Harold Stassen, 57, and President Truman, falling back to eighth place, with 51.

When is that man going to give up? He's only getting 51 votes in a city of over 100,000 population. He must be dumb.

Radio critic John Crosby discusses the latest prize stunt on the radio, "The Walking Man", on page 2-A. News Reporter Tom Schlesinger claims to have solved the mystery, on page 11-A.

On the editorial page, "Cold Or Hot, We Lose a War" finds the cold war drawing to a close and the possibility of a hot war looming on the horizon, an inevitability in the minds of the so-called realists.

Congressman W. J. Bryan Dorn of South Carolina wanted to create an alliance of Western Europe, China, Japan, and Germany to stand against a Soviet offensive. But this plan would destroy the concept of the U.N.

The competition with Russia had led the U.S. into the cold war, in which one point after another had been lost, witness the recent takeover of Czechoslovakia by the Communists and the entreaties to Finland by Moscow. The Administration leaders appeared to have overestimated U.S. strength and that of the allies while underestimating that of Russia.

Mr. Dorn, with his emphasis on offense, was only seeking to cover up the failures. He advocated alliance with nations still recovering from the war, rife with their own internal problems. And even if America could win a hot war against Russia, it did not promise to solve anything on the world stage, would only serve to destroy America's remaining allies in the Eastern bloc and cause America to have to provide aid for yet another rebuilding effort.

The realists, it posits, should do some more thinking on such a strategy.

"Housing Is the Big Issue" finds that in the recent victory of American Labor Party candidate Leo Isacson in the Bronx special Congressional election, housing had been the major issue.

Senator Robert Wagner of New York had sent out a questionnaire to 500 local leaders around the country, and of the 257 respondents, all but 50 thought that private industry was incapable of doing the job of building sufficient units to house the country, especially low-income families. While a lot of new housing had been built since the war, it remained far short of the needed number of units per year, roughly supplying yearly 900,000 units when 1.5 million per year were needed.

Congress needed to act on the Wagner-Ellender-Taft long-term housing legislation which had languished for quite some time.

"'Donkey Without Head Or Tail'" uses the title quote from Senator Taft to suggest that it was an accurate description of the Democratic Party and that it was difficult to see how the donkey could be put back together again. The Southern revolt on the one side and the growing menace from the left on the other appeared to foredoom the President's chances in November. The Administration had chosen to concentrate on criticizing the Wallace campaign, indicating its increasing concern in the wake of the Bronx election. It was a way to dampen liberal defections and to use it as a device to put the quietus also on the Southern revolt by creating fear that Mr. Wallace might actually win the election.

It appeared plain that there would be a Southern defection at the convention if it could not nominate either Senator Harry F. Byrd or Senator Walter George and if it could not obtain a diluted civil rights plank in the platform. But if the South were to get its way, the liberals and labor would depart.

Senator Taft had predicted that Mr. Wallace would capture ten percent of the Democratic vote and, suggests the editorial, if things continued as they were going, that estimate would need be increased.

Drew Pearson tells of President Truman, at the start of his Presidency, having been content with finishing FDR's term and returning to his old life as a Senator. Bess Truman felt the same way. But the party leaders initially believed that the Democrats could win with President Truman and so had encouraged him to run in 1948. But now, things were the reverse, with many party leaders, as former DNC chairman Robert Hannegan and Bronx boss Ed Flynn, convinced that he could not win and wanting him to bow out.

Southern Democrats had moved quietly behind the scenes to suggest Senator Alben Barkley as the alternative candidate. Senator Barkley would be nominated in July as the vice-presidential candidate.

He next discusses, as do the Alsops, the upcoming Italian election of April 18 and the prospective attempt of the Communists to take over Italy at that time. A secret Red battalion of about 250,000 men had moved into Northern Italy and the Red Army was mobilized along the Yugoslav border, as it had been on the Czech border before the takeover there. The Russians were funneling money into Italy as never before, to undo the beneficial results of the Friendship Train. Meanwhile, the U.S. Information Service remained without adequate funding from the slashing of its budget in half by Congress the previous year. Italian leaders in American labor who could help the effort in Italy were not being asked to do so by the State Department.

The report of the Congressional Aviation Committee had almost leaked atomic secrets in its publication of a detailed plan for placing nuclear warheads on V-2 rockets. The reports were quickly withdrawn after complaint by the Atomic Energy Commission, but three copies had not been located. No newspaper printed the secrets.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop suggest that the Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia and that which was incipient in Finland could also take place in Italy in the ensuing months. They posit that if Italy were to become dominated by Communists, then it would upset the East-West balance in a way that the other two nations did not. The Italian election was scheduled for April 19—so either the 18th or 19th, depending on whether they or Drew Pearson proved correct. The Communist-run people's bloc was likely to poll well. The Communists had, since the previous fall, assumed the mantle of true democrats and Moscow had been aiding the Italian Communists in diplomatic efforts.

The West had little available to use to woo the Italians. The Soviets could renounce a portion of their substantial reparations due from Italy per the treaty. It was believed that the Communists could do well enough to prevent the formation of a non-Communist government, enabling the Socialists to achieve power and, through them, the Communists. It would cause the Western position in the Near and Middle East to be outflanked and the balance of power in Europe significantly altered. At that point, the world would be close to war.

Samuel Grafton tells of the Communists in Europe tiring of being cast as being under the domination of Moscow and so had begun to propagandize against the Western European countries in a similar vein vis-à-vis the U.S. The more the U.S. talked of need to check Soviet expansion, the more such talk by the Eastern bloc nations accumulated to counter it.

He suggests that had relations been reasonably friendly between the U.S. and Russia, it would have been more difficult for the Communists to take over Czechoslovakia and would have, at very least, taken longer. The U.S. was not to blame for the fact of the takeover but there had been no successes thus far in the containment policy.

Meanwhile, the U.S. was backing an authoritarian regime in Greece, which had imposed the death penalty for labor strikes, not to mention its recently enunciated policy that no prisoners would any longer be taken among the guerrillas, that they would be executed on the spot. Barging into a thirty-year old civil war in China on the side of the Nationalists would not endear the local populations in China to America.

So the negative propaganda was accumulating faster than any positive effect on containment. He suggests that the way out of the dilemma was to propose peace plans and demand peace pledges while withdrawing from competitive arms shipments abroad, instead demanding mutual evacuations of military personnel. That process needed to be begun at once.

A letter writer responds to a letter of February 19 disfavoring Universal Military Training. The author, a veteran, urges reading of the report of the President's Advisory Committee on the subject, recommending UMT as a necessity for preparedness and as a deterrent to war. He says that UMT would not be a harsh program which would lead the country into a military state, as the previous writer had suggested.

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