The Charlotte News

Tuesday, March 9, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1, in McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, an opinion delivered by Justice Hugo Black, that religious teaching could not take place in public schools. Justice Stanley Reed dissented. The case was brought by an atheist, whose child was in the Champaign, Ill., public schools, which had periods for religious instruction, though not mandatory. But the boy's mother claimed that her son suffered embarrassment and thus subtle coercion to participate.

The Court ruled that the instruction by religious sects in the public schools violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The majority stated, "...[T]he First Amendment has erected a wall between Church and State which must be kept high and impregnable."

In the concurring opinion by Justice Felix Frankfurter, joined by Justices Robert Jackson, Wiley Rutledge, and Harold Burton, it was stated:

"The Champaign arrangement thus presents powerful elements of inherent pressure by the school system in the interest of religious sects. The fact that this power has not been used to discriminate is beside the point. Separation is a requirement to abstain from fusing functions of Government and of religious sects, not merely to treat them all equally. That a child is offered an alternative may reduce the constraint; it does not eliminate the operation of influence by the school in matters sacred to conscience and outside the school's domain. The law of imitation operates, and nonconformity is not an outstanding characteristic of children. The result is an obvious pressure upon children to attend."

In 1963, Justice Tom Clark would deliver the opinion striking down the practice of reading from the Bible in the public schools, an entirely predictable result, given this case.

Nancy Brame of The News reports the impact of the McCollum case on North Carolina schools, finds that the State Attorney General had indicated that it would likely affect Bible teaching in the schools, but wanted to read the opinion before saying anything further. He said that there would be no move to discontinue Bible teaching, however, until someone brought a proper legal action to enforce the decision.

The head of the North Carolina Council of Churches took the same very responsible position, contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States.

They did not say in their polished politesse that to bring such a suit to enforce the law would subject the parent to being run out of town on a rail. It was the responsibility of the Attorney General to enforce the laws of the land and to counsel the school boards accordingly, not to make a joke of the Federal law, forcing individuals of limited means to bring suit.

Once again we remind of the logic of the Establishment Clause, that if the Congress and the states, via the Fourteenth Amendment, are prohibited from establishing a religion, as the First Amendment plainly says, there is, ipso facto, a requirement of separation of Church and State. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either a liar or dumb, possibly both. It does not require legal training to figure it out.

A high Soviet source said that the U.S. appeared to favor reopening of the partition plan on Palestine at the U.N. The unnamed source said that Russia favored implementation of the plan.

General MacArthur announced from Tokyo that while he would not actively court a presidential nomination, he would be available for it. He mentioned no party.

Just hours earlier, President Truman had announced officially, to no one's surprise, that he would accept the Democratic Party nomination.

The New Hampshire primary took place this date, the first of 1948, with Governor Dewey vying against former Governor Harold Stassen of Minnesota, the only two candidates in the field with full delegate slates. General MacArthur would be on the ballot of the next major primary, in Wisconsin, in a month.

Commodities prices dropped for the second day in a row.

In Mobile, Ala., a 20-year old white mechanic had confessed to beating to death on the previous Sunday night a black man during an argument regarding the President's civil rights program. He said that he did not know that he had killed the man until the next day when he read it in the newspaper. The argument started when the black man greeted the white man familiarly and asked him to have a drink, saying that blacks were equal to whites, and that the President was giving blacks equal rights. That talk made the white man mad and he hit the black man, who then fell down. When the white man saw him reach into his pocket, he thought he was reaching for a knife or gun and and kicked him several times, leaving him on the ground. The man surrendered to police voluntarily. Both men were civilian employees at Brookley Air Force Base.

North Carolina taxpayers, according to John Daly of The News, were concerned as to why they could not deduct paid Federal income tax from their state taxes.

In Mecklenburg County, the ABC liquor revenue received since the system had gone into operation the previous September, after voter approval the previous June, had enabled the property tax rate to be reduced in the county, probably to 90 cents per hundred dollars. The present rate was 95 cents, with 20 cents added for schools to the taxes of residents living outside Charlotte. The ABC stores had made a net profit of $477,000 by the end of 1947.

Tom Schlesinger of The News tells of Southern Bell experts predicting that Charlotte would have a population of 237,000 by 1966 and 220,000 by 1961, a forecast increased from 190,000 since 1941.

Despite the intervening baby boom years, the 1941 prediction would prove the more accurate, as the 1960 Census showed Charlotte's population at 201,564.

The prediction was made to determine the necessary future equipment and lines of telephone service for the community. Fifty-eight percent of the Charlotte population had telephones, compared to 7.5 percent in 1924 and 41.5 percent in 1941. It was anticipated that by 1966, 85 percent would have telephone service.

But how many would have Princess telephones in a nice pink or blue motif, and, by 1967, perhaps adorned with psychedelic doo-dads?

On the editorial page, "'Our Road Is a Difficult One'" quotes Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia regarding the decision-making process of Southern Democrats on what to do about the President and his civil rights program as the convention approached in July. Senator Byrd had apparently decided to try to stop the revolt in the hope that something would transpire in the meantime to eliminate the civil rights program.

At the convention there would be an attempt, under a strategy to revive the traditional two-thirds rule, to insert the planks which the South wanted and to have a vice-presidential candidate suitable to the South. Even if the Southerners were to fail in that effort, they would go along with the party so that they could obtain control of the organizational machinery in 1952. If they were to succeed, the Northern liberals would depart.

The dilemma represented a failure of leadership. The party, opines the editorial, needed a new man at the top. If the Southerners could not organize sufficiently to do it, the Northerners and Westerners would. If neither could, there was no point in the Southerners seeking control of the machinery for 1952, as there would be little left by then to salvage out of the split party.

"A Disgraceful Fight on 'Rights'" comments on the Drew Pearson column of the previous day reporting that the President had used in the past racial epithets, expressing his consternation with "those damned Jews", "the damned niggers" and "the damned labor leaders" at different times. It states that the President had to respond as it involved the integrity of the office of the President.

Another news item had it that the Republicans were proceeding coldly to exploit the division in the Democratic Party in the South by pushing forward with the President's civil rights program.

This editorial, we posit, is precisely that to which we responded at length yesterday. Whoever wrote it is an incredible hypocrite on race. On the one hand, it wants a statement from the White House regarding alleged private, racially charged statements of the President. On the other, as the stance had already been made by the column several times, it disfavors the civil rights program enunciated by the President as unnecessary, that states' rights would enable progress—despite over eighty years since the Civil War with only grudging advancement by this point, as amply demonstrated by the disgraceful acquittals in Greenville, S.C., the previous year of the 28 lynchers of Willie Earle, and the failure to indict the attempted lynchers of Buddy Bush in Jackson, N.C., an incident occurring in the immediate wake of the Earle case acquittals.

We find in our experience that it is usually just such people as this editorialist, whoever it was, who become most "offended" at the suggestion of any white person using a racially offensive term, despite that person, in this instance, taking the boldest stand on civil rights in the history of the country since Abraham Lincoln. That did not matter to the editorialist because the editorial is obviously racist. The editorial could have easily been written by Strom Thurmond or George Wallace.

We choose not to dignify this nonsense further, as it goes on about "low political morality in Washington" and that "the only evil is coming from this fight over civil rights", rhetoric which was and is always the refuge of such pretenders. Someone at The News had a distinct problem on the race issue. It does serve, however, as a perfect example of the type of person who gets tremendously upset at an utterance of an epithet and then proceeds to rail against the speaker for expressing "racism" when they, themselves, are, in fact, more closely aligned with the racist line, supporting sloth antithetical to progress in race relations, the very reason they call attention to the epithet as the signal attribute of racism, to take the onus and focus off of themselves for maintaining the status quo in race relations, not venturing any risks politically, but rather taking that long, slow moderate course to nowhere.

The piece concludes that the Americans who should be most disturbed by the civil rights program were "the sincere advocates of racial tolerance, who can now see that the effort to legislate change in social customs is simply discrediting a good cause and demoralizing our political life."

In effect, it is asking plaintively, "Why can't they all be like the good ones, the ones who smile and step and fetch it, and dance and sing and jump and run and are pleased to tip their hats to Mr. White in the sun, and are all very content to remain in their places, patient, as credits to their race, don't fight, until God, in his miraculous wisdom and Heaven, might decree otherwise?"

"Proof That 'Hitler Still Lives'" quotes the fuehrer of German women, Gertrud Scholz-Klink Heissmeyer, after her arrest with her husband recently in Wuerttemberg, where they had been living since the end of the war under an assumed name. It came at a time when there was concern that a Nazi revival might be occurring in Germany and that in an East-West conflict, Nazis would inevitably be fighting on both sides. Indeed, their credo would be in favor of such a conflict, in the hope that the Nazis might emerge victorious out of the fray, after all.

It concludes that the spirit of Hitler was still driving the world toward unreasoning fear and hatred.

A piece from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, titled "Sagging in North Carolina", tells of a Raleigh News & Observer editorial, titled "A Sagging State", having caught the eye of the Times-Dispatch editor. The editorial told of the woeful state of education in North Carolina, as recently commented upon by the Governor. It also was upset regarding the highway system, causing school closings in rural areas, found that the roads did not even compare to those of Virginia, long urged to look to its southern neighbor as an example in that department.

The News & Observer had advocated action so that progress in the state would be a "fact and not a memory", much as it had earlier coined the phrase that Virginia was "the cradle and grave of democracy". The piece thus concludes: "'Cradle and Grave,' meet 'The Memory.'"

Drew Pearson tells of proposed changes in tax laws having some potential for bad effect on commodities speculators. The proposals by the IRB included changes to the capital gains tax, preventing speculators from taking gains or losses from fluctuations in price and preventing conversion of short-term capital gains into long-term capital gains. He lists seven additional proposed changes as well.

He next provides a transcript of a telephone call between a speculator believed to be acting on behalf of Senator Elmer Thomas of Oklahoma and the legal counsel for the National Grange, the former trying to urge the Grange to issue a statement to get prices back up and the Grange representative accusing the caller of being more for himself than the farmers.

Secretary of State Marshall was worried of the potential of Communist takeover in the coming elections in Italy.

The wife of Congressman John Lodge of Connecticut had received a letter from an old friend from her native Italy in which the friend told of the people looking to the miracle of the statue of the Madonna in Assisi on the top of Santa Maria Degli Angeli. The Madonna's head was said to be moving back and forth despite the statue being made of solid bronze, and the people interpreted the movement as a sign that their prayers would be answered.

The movement was upon her shoulders.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop remark on the coming DNC Executive Committee meeting of March 11, which would lay some things on the line to the President, primarily that he was suffering from "Presidentitis", that is the failure any longer to heed advice except from a few yes-men such as military aide, Brig. General Harry Vaughan, and John R. Steelman. The Committee would tell the President that he had lost the South, probably irretrievably, save for the prospect of naming a Southerner on the ticket as the vice-presidential nominee and re-adopting the 1944 watered-down civil rights plank for the platform. They would also inform him that he was losing the North and that he could only win it back through strong leadership.

But the truth was that most Democratic leaders believed that there was nothing much he could do to redeem himself. He could win back the North only by putting through his proposed legislation, which would mean getting around a Southern filibuster and alienating the South in the process.

Many Democratic leaders wanted him to step aside in favor of General Eisenhower. To what extent this was more than a mirage, only time would tell. And it did not mean that the General would be inclined to run if drafted by the Democrats, any more than he was on the Republican ticket. Nor did it mean that the President therefore would be the nominee. There was trouble ahead.

Samuel Grafton asks whether the country could enlist the support of European labor when the Republican conservatives were so anti-labor, and whether the people of color across the world would follow America's leadership when the South was misbehaving so badly over a mere proposal for a basic civil rights program. He wants to know how there could be world unity when America was not presenting a face of anything but division. The ruckus at home presumably was supposed to go unnoticed on the world stage.

In the Wallace third-party movement and in the Southern revolt could be found elements of that which was taking place in Greece, in Italy, and in France.

The prospect of the Republicans finding victory out of this schism in the Democratic Party was only appealing to the most partisan in the country. Still would be extant the problem of unity left out of such a victory. The country could not afford an uncreative election.

He advocates therefore the President stepping aside and making way for a candidate who could unite the country, to assure leadership on the world stage.

A letter writer submits a part of the history of his native Waterbury, Connecticut, which showed that a planter from Mecklenburg had a son who became prominent in Waterbury and eventually became Lieutenant Governor of the State, dying in 1874. His grandson was Mayor of Waterbury and the letter writer knew him well.

He also had known a former captain of the Confederate Army who came from Alabama and settled in Waterbury and eventually became a judge of probate court in 1888.

A letter writer wonders what the dogs at the City Dog Pound thought of the human race in light of the fact that they had no water.

We shall ask them.

They spoke with surprising eloquence, given the situation, quite seriously:

One after one, by the star-dogged Moon,
Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.

A letter from the president of the National Conference of Christians & Jews thanks the newspaper for its presentation of three articles in commemoration of Brotherhood Week, in the issue of February 24.

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