The Charlotte News

Thursday, May 20, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Arabs were anticipating that the battle for Jerusalem would conclude in the ensuing 24 hours, as the fight between the Arab Legion and Haganah, supplemented by Irgun and Stern Gang members, continued inside and outside the walls of the city. Arab forces appeared to be winning, with Jewish sources reporting Arab shelling of Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, strong points of the Israeli Army. Arabs estimated Jewish strength at 8,000 in Jerusalem, but only 400 within the old city.

The water main into Jerusalem had been severed for eleven days and no food convoys had reached the city since April 13. Electricity had been cut off the previous Friday. Military headquarters in Tel Aviv said that a breakthrough by Haganah had permitted food and medical supplies to go to Jerusalem for 1,700 Jews.

Peace settlement on Jerusalem was discussed again between Arab and Jewish leaders, but no resolution was reached.

The Arabs held the Mount of Olives and most of Mount Scopus east of the old city, and most of Mount Zion to the south. But Jewish sources had reported that Jews had captured Mount Zion and broken through the Zion gate on Tuesday night.

Egyptian sources said that Egyptian troops had captured Beersheba and the fortified Jewish settlement of Deir Suneid, seven miles north of Arab Gaza, guarding the road to Tel Aviv.

In Beirut, Lebanon, 69 Jews were arrested en route to Palestine aboard the American ship Marine Carp, and sent to a concentration camp for being able to bear arms.

Senator Joseph Ball of Minnesota stated that a new Southern stalling tactic might end the chance for passage of the pending anti-lynching and anti-poll tax legislation. The Southerners were raising civil rights issues on other pieces of legislation, such as the draft, to prevent passage of the two bills prior to the recess for the conventions and elections. While these efforts to amend the other bills would be defeated, as had occurred with the draft legislation, they were consuming precious time.

The Senate refused, 51 to 20, to remove the Hawaii statehood bill from committee, virtually killing any chance for the bill, already passed by the House, to be passed in the 80th Congress.

The longest range plane in the world, the Navy P2V Neptune, had been successfully flown in the Coral Sea the previous month from an aircraft carrier, with the assistance of jet power. The range of the plane was established in 1946 at 11,235 miles. The longest flight by a bomber with a payload had been 8,000 miles, by a B-36.

In Waterloo, Iowa, a packinghouse union picket was killed by gunfire the previous night, prompting deployment of a thousand National Guardsmen.

In a suburb of Cleveland, O., a 12-year old boy left home with $6,000, possibly accompanied by three other boys.

Democratic leaders selected Senator Alben Barkley of Kentucky to deliver the keynote address to the convention in Philadelphia the following month. House Minority Leader Sam Rayburn was named permanent convention chairman. DNC chairman J. Howard McGrath stated that the selections were not intended to appease the revolting Southerners. Both selected men, he said, were liberals who supported the President and his program in every way.

The North Carolina Democratic convention, meeting in Raleigh, adopted a resolution whereby it pledged to submerge party differences over civil rights and support generally the principles of the Democratic Administration. It reaffirmed the party's devotion to "the rights of the several states of the Federal union". It also pledged, on the state level, to support reduced classroom sizes and higher pay for teachers. Party members were urged not to revolt against the national party regarding civil rights, and its accomplishments during the previous term were stressed.

The convention voted, however, to send an uninstructed delegation to the convention, meaning that it would not be necessarily pledged to the President.

Nancy Brame Dumbell of The News again reports of the "Shout Freedom!" pageant, opening this night in Charlotte to celebrate the 173rd anniversary of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Paul Green, author of "The Lost Colony", chancellor Robert B. House of UNC, and other dignitaries would be on hand for the premiere performance. Governor Gregg Cherry, and future Governors Kerr Scott and Senator William B. Umstead, as well as former Governor and future Senator J. Melville Broughton intended to attend performances the following week.

Whether P. C. Burkholder would be present to complement the attendance of Congressman Hamilton Jones, his political rival, remained unclear. We might expect his announcement any day in the "People's Platform", however, to provide the folks adequate opportunity to come out and see in person the man with all the opinions. Free buttermilk for everyone.

On the editorial page, "Clues to Peace Talk Puzzle" comments on the talk of Russian expert Walter Duranty before the Executives Club of Charlotte earlier in the week, inclining toward the view that Russia wanted no war, could not make war, and was genuinely desirous of peace.

The Administration and the Congress viewed all peace tenders from Russia with suspicion, as a Trojan horse. The editorial cites a passage from columnist DeWitt MacKenzie as being typical of the attitude. But even he had conceded that American diplomatic observers believed Russia incapable of waging war effectively and needed a break in the cold war.

There was a reasonable basis to assume that the current overtures by Russia genuinely sought a settlement, at least on Russia's favorable terms, indicative of its exhaustion with the cold war.

"'Shout Freedom' Mecklenburg" finds in the pageant to begin this night in Charlotte an expression of the explosive effect which freedom has on a populace. The forces of independence had daunted Royal Governor William Tryon of North Carolina, Lord Cornwallis, and King George III.

The pageant by LeGette Blythe of Charlotte reminded of how far freedom had advanced since May 20, 1775, the putative—if doubtful—date of the Declaration.

Charlotte cherished the memories of John McKnitt Alexander, Thomas Polk, Captain Jack and others whose personages were depicted in the symphonic drama.

In hindsight, it also reminds of how far freedom had not come, not just in Charlotte but generally abroad the nation. But they had a nice parade apparently.

"Stay That Way, Charleston" begins with a quote anent the uniqueness of Charleston from Two on a Continent by Lili Foldes from 1947. It finds the old charm of the city a remarkable preservation of the Old South's ways amid the trappings of modernity, similar to that observed in Savannah, New Orleans, and, to a lesser extent, Wilmington. It recommends a visit to Charleston.

It does not mention that, not coincidentally, each of the cities were major slave ports and trading markets in the antebellum era, infused with the cotton wealth which enabled the "peculiar institution" to thrive, especially after 1830 until the Civil War, slavery's heyday. It is always a thought best kept uppermost in mind when visiting any of the charm produced by the three cities mentioned, excluding Wilmington.

The charm is "firm and good".

A piece from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, titled "UN—Not a Bust", tells of the UN, as it approached its third birthday, not having fulfilled its lofty goals, but also not being a complete bust. It had at least given emphasis to the world's problems and purposes, as that of Russia in Eastern Europe and its refusal to cooperate in control of atomic energy and ending of its expansion program, as pointed out by James Reston in Look.

In addition, the Western democracies had been drawn together more tightly, with fewer nationalistic concerns interfering with amicable relations.

The problems at the U.N., especially with the Security Council veto, had drawn into high relief the drawbacks to its organization, causing clamor for revision.

It afforded a forum for amelioration of relations with the Kremlin when the time would come. It remained the generation's greatest contribution to future peace.

Drew Pearson tells of CBS correspondent George Polk, whose body had been found four days earlier in Salonika Bay in Greece, shot once in the back of the head, having written to Mr. Pearson recently regarding his troubles with the Greek Government. He concludes from the letter and other evidence that the rightist forces in Greece, not the Communists, as the Government had insisted, were responsible for Mr. Polk's death. Only the Greek Government had access to his broadcasts and so only they knew how critical he had been of the rightist attempts to sabotage the American reconstruction program by diverting the aid into the hands of the few. The guerrillas, by contrast, had everything to gain from the interview Mr. Polk had planned with General Markos, the guerrilla leader with whom he was scheduled to meet at the time of his death. The Greek Government had sought the ouster of Mr. Polk.

He provides portions of Mr. Polk's letter, in which he told of the problems he had in trying for four days to arrange through the Government passage to Salonika. He believed that he was being deliberately frustrated in making the trip by a morass of red tape.

During the war, Mr. Polk had served in the Navy as a pilot in the battle of Guadalcanal in 1942, breaking his back in a crash-landing. He returned home to fight for unification of the Army and Navy. He recalled with bitterness an incident in which an Army pilot who had crashed was sinking in the water as the Navy stood by, refusing to aid his rescue until the Army gave authorization.

Similarly, in Greece, he fought the grafters and right wing extremists. He had told Mr. Pearson of how reactionaries in the Government had sought to discredit American journalists who were critical, specifically naming Royalist "Ethmos", under the direction of Constantine Tsaldaris, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. The Greek Ambassador, as related by Marquis Childs the previous day, had written to CBS president Frank Stanton complaining of Mr. Polk's Harper's story in the December, 1947 issue. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had likewise complained to the Christian Science Monitor about Constantine Argyris, and rightwing politicians had sought to smear Ray Daniell of the New York Times, each of whom were critical of the Government. He told of other reporters receiving similar treatment.

He also mentioned that the rightwing warned that "somebody is likely to get hurt" in consequence of the spate of critical stories.

Mr. Pearson promises to publish other stories regarding the corruption in Greece.

Marquis Childs discusses the Mundt-Nixon bill, finding it to be a piece of legislation the likes of which the American public had never before seen. It would provide the Attorney General with powers to determine which groups were sufficiently defined by the legislation, subjecting them to its requirements for registration and provision of membership lists, the penalty for failure of which would then be potential fine and imprisonment. The bill had passed the House handily, receiving support from the Congressmen who talked loudest against regimentation and big government.

The bill addressed the debate between freedom and security, as placed under the lamp by the nationally broadcast debate in Oregon between Harold Stassen and Thomas Dewey the previous Monday. Most Americans, however, remained in the dark on the subject, for the fact of having to be concerned about daily survival in an inflationary economy.

The bill sought to address the evil of conspiratorial sedition by making it illegal. But Mr. Childs believes it to be a threat to freedom, as all independent thought in the country, not merely Communism, could fall within its ambit.

Effectively, the bill outlawed the Communist Party as an attempt to establish a totalitarian regime in the country, under the domination or control of a foreign government. The definition of "Communist-front organization" was the more troubling aspect of the bill, providing four definitional tests, including whether the positions taken by the alleged front organization bore on matters of policy and were consistent with the positions of the Communist Party, as determined by the Attorney General. One of the suspect methods listed for such organizations was the incitement of "racial strife and conflict".

The latter aspect, in the opinion of Mr. Childs, was the point at which the bill got into trouble by potentially condemning organizations which merely sought social or economic reform not popular with the majority or powerful minority interests. Judicial review would come only after the organization had been publicly branded as a front.

Observers believed that no amount of amendment of the bill could eradicate its danger to freedom.

Samuel Grafton finds the acceptance by Josef Stalin of the peace plan offered by Henry Wallace to be a major political coup. The reason that peace plans were arising from private citizens was that the Government was neither offering nor entertaining any.

The peace plan could not be dismissed for it involving two controversial figures. Any peace plan would necessarily involve Josef Stalin. The continual ignoring of peace pleas of Russia would lead to the perception that Russia was acting as peacemaker to obstructionist America. The abdication by the Government from the effort turned peace over to the left, at home and abroad.

The present program, which did not allow even discussion of peace tenders by the Soviets, was an odd one.

A piece from the Congressional Quarterly looks at the Social Security Act of 1935, explaining its provisions and intent. By 1947, fewer than half of all retirees over 65 were receiving benefits under the plan, about 1.9 million total, including 700,000 under the separate railroad retirement plan. The average payment was $24.90 per month, plus another $12.45 for a non-working spouse. The minimum benefit was $10 per month. Only 60 percent of workers paid into the fund. Some 22 million workers did not pay and were not covered by the Act, and of those, eighteen million were not covered by either the Act or the railroad retirement system.

In contrast, a person receiving old-age relief got $37.42 per month on average, comprising 2.2 million beneficiaries.

Thus, the Social Security fund was meeting with only limited success in its goal to keep retired persons off relief. A committee had been formed, chaired by former Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, to examine the system and report on its deficiencies.

The primary problem consisted of the gaps in coverage, which included the self-employed and farm workers. The secondary problem was the inadequacy of payments.

The states where relief benefits were lower than Social Security benefits were, in all cases save Delaware, predominantly rural, all in the South.

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