The Charlotte News

Friday, July 30, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Ambassador to Moscow Walter Bedell Smith had reported that Soviet Foreign Commissar V. M. Molotov was on vacation and could not therefore receive the three ambassadors from France, Britain, and the U.S., seeking to communicate the latest proposal, formulated by Ambassador Smith, for ending the Berlin blockade. A State Department spokesman, however, said that he did not wish to comment on whether the absence was being perceived as a "brush-off". There was hope that the ambassadors might therefore be given audience by Premier Stalin.

In Berlin, a Soviet offer to feed West Berliners had drawn little response and the Russians blamed the City Government for frustrating their attempts to begin operations by preventing the unloading of grains from Russia. The American military government described the charge as "poppycock".

The President made a new demand on the special session of Congress for anti-inflation legislation, submitting his 115-page mid-year economic report, the core of which was a four percent rollback in prices on essential goods, with a goal of cutting back prices to those of November, 1947. Senator Taft claimed that the President actually did not want to cure inflation, to which Senator Alben Barkley, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, took exception, saying that Senator Taft was making a political speech.

Southern Senators resumed their filibuster of the anti-poll tax legislation, with Senator Tom Stewart of Tennessee leading off where he had ended the previous day. Senator Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska, who had brought the legislation to the floor in the form of a motion, said that he would ask at the conclusion of this day's business for a recess until Monday. No one rose to oppose the filibuster from either side of the aisle.

It was being anticipated that since the legislation was on the floor by motion, there would be no precedent for cloture of debate, thus probably forbidding a successful vote on cloture as being out of order. It was therefore unlikely that the actual bill would reach the floor for a vote.

Senator Taft stated that if the poll tax measure could be dispensed with by the following Wednesday, the special session might end by the following Friday.

Senator Clyde Hoey predicted that if the Dixiecrats and the Progressive Party qualified for the November ballot in North Carolina, Governor Dewey would carry the state with a plurality of the vote. The deadline was August 4 for submission of ballot petitions with signatures of 10,000 registered voters who had not voted in the party primaries.

South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond, presidential nominee of the Dixiecrats, was to speak the following day in Cherryville, N.C., his first campaign speech since accepting the nomination the previous Saturday.

South Carolina was contemplating imposition of a two-week ban of North Carolina children from entering the state because of fear of polio.

Why not ban Dixiecrats from entering North Carolina for fear of spread of racial prejudice, not to mention other communicable diseases?

Pollster Elmo Roper reports on page 7-A that support for the Progressive Party was flagging.

In Ludwigshafen, Germany, bodies continued to be recovered from the ruins of the I.G. Farben plant which had exploded two days earlier from an unknown cause. There were 133 known dead, 200-250 missing and possibly dead, and more than 2,300 injured. American soldiers had volunteered in the rescue effort taking place in the French occupation zone, but had been dismissed by the French as no longer needed. A German official said that the Americans had saved a thousand lives.

In Dayton, O., a strike at the Univis plant, which had been beset by troubles, appeared to have quieted down and City officials informed the Governor that no troops would be necessary to quell disturbances, that City police had matters under control.

New housing appeared to be on the verge, within a few years, of pricing itself out of the market, based on present trends. The average cost of a new house had jumped 20 percent during the previous year while average family income had increased only 8 percent. Mortgage debt on one to four-unit housing had risen by 65 percent since 1945, while income of urban dwellers had risen only 25 percent.

Donald MacDonald of The News reports that while flies were capable of carrying polio, they were not to blame for the North Carolina epidemic, according to the medical director of the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis, founded by FDR. Rather, a major cause was the failure of communities to undertake year-round insect control programs. Flies were not the culprit. Neither were insanitary toilets.

The State Board of Health reported the smallest number of new cases of polio in two weeks, 27, bringing the record total for the year to 1,064, with 649 in July.

Tom Fesperman of The News, continuing his series on Charlotte's sanitation problems, reports on the inaccessibility of sixteen neighborhoods in the city to garbage collection trucks. The houses were situated along railroad tracks or creek banks, and sometimes in the middle of blocks without streets other than seven-foot alleys. Fire trucks also could not reach these dwellings. Virtually all of them were considered slums. Garbage was dumped in yards or along the creek or even under some of the houses.

Emery Wister of The News reports that the Southern States Fair would be held between October 5 and 9 at the fairgrounds on Concord Road. Approximately $12,000 worth of prizes would be awarded for the agricultural contests and exhibits. Preen your chickens and groom your cows. You don't want to miss out on that kind of loot. Also, a new contest was to be held, giving away $1,000 for the top corn yield above 200 bushels per acre. That would be in addition to the winners in the 100-Bushel Corn Club, whose membership was limited to those farmers who could grow 100 bushels per acre. Shuck those ears.

The James E. Strates Shows would replace the World of Mirth, the fair attraction for many years. The Strates Shows had the same high rating as the World of Mirth.

We'll look forward to October, then.

On the editorial page, "All Together in Clean-Up" tells of the City Council action to make the housing ordinance immediately enforceable having met with universal praise. Only one dissenter stood up to protest, regarding taxes, and was received in silence. There were no new laws being passed or taxes being assessed, merely a determination to enforce the ordinance on the books for three years to get rid of the substandard housing in the city, of which Tom Fesperman of The News had written during the week and on which the Jaycees, following an inspection tour, had recently filed a report to the City Council. The effective date of the ordinance had been postponed because of scarcity of building materials during and after the war. Supplies were now available.

First thing you know, though, you will have privy salesmen on every corner and the City will need an ordinance to limit that activity.

"'Low Political Expediency'" finds the point of Senator John Stennis of Mississippi well taken, that the President and the Republicans were playing political games with the civil rights legislation. The Republicans had placed the anti-poll tax measure at the head of the special session agenda, knowing that it would trigger a filibuster. The filibuster, led initially by Senator Stennis, could go on for weeks, causing nothing else to be done in the special session and enabling the GOP to call a halt to it, blaming recalcitrant Democrats for obstructionism.

The question remained who, if anyone, would be the beneficiary of the special session. The public would be the chief loser. Presently, the President appeared to have the advantage. The GOP, it posits, may have committed a serious error in triggering a filibuster, as they would need to bring a vote of cloture to avoid losing those groups favoring the legislation. If they did effect cloture, they would deflect Southern anger from the President onto themselves. Their cry that the President was engaging in cheap politics was weakened by the fact that they were doing likewise. They were also conspiring to produce inaction, playing into the hands of the President.

Of course, it might also have been pointed out that the Southern reprobates might have refrained from such a disgraceful show and not filibustered a bill which only was seeking free exercise for all citizens of the right to vote in Federal elections, provided in the wake of the Civil War in the Fifteenth Amendment.

A piece from the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, titled "World Front against Polio", tells of the first international conference on polio held in New York the previous week, bringing together scientists trying to find a cure to the crippling disease. Mortality was only about one percent. Remedial treatment had outrun the study of the cause of the disease, about which little was known.

FDR, a victim of the disease, had founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis at Warm Springs, Ga., then headed by his former law partner, Basil O'Connor. The Foundation provided research grants of 1.188 million dollars the previous year. The Foundation had provided 14.5 million in grants since 1938.

Treatments were so successful than only about 1.5 percent of those stricken were permanently crippled.

It posits that criticism for too much effort being exerted on eradication of the disease was unfounded, given its devastating impact through time.

Drew Pearson indicates that with the new draft starting, he was going to concentrate on the brass-hats' privileges. He focuses on a case involving the probable murder of Lt. Charles Vetter in Kokura, Japan, following the uncovering of black marketeering by high-ranking officers in Kokura. The provost marshal and the assistant chief of staff were caught selling Army supplies on the black market. Lt. Vetter had turned them in and was to be a star witness against them. Then he was killed while traveling by jeep with a driver to Moji. Lt. Vetter stopped and ran an errand and when the driver returned, the jeep and the lieutenant were missing. Later, his body was found on the railroad tracks, so badly mutilated that the doctors could not ascertain whether there had been foul play.

A court-martial imposed fines on four officers for the black market operation. A private was sentenced to three years at hard labor plus a dishonorable discharge despite having taken his orders from one of the four officers.

The trial did not mention the death of Lt. Vetter, and high-ranking officers spread the word that he might have been killed by Japanese. No effort, however, was made to investigate further.

A closed-door caucus by Southern Senators heard Senator Richard Russell of Georgia propose an appropriation of 3.5 billion dollars to fund a voluntary relocation program for blacks and poor whites, to enable migration of blacks from the South to other regions and poor whites to the South. Other Southern Senators favored the idea.

They also agreed that they would not join the Dixiecrats and that if cloture were voted on debate on civil rights legislation, they would each speak for an hour against it.

The President was still not willing to engage in better trade relations with Yugoslavia despite Marshal Tito's apparent split with the Cominform. The President told Democratic Congressional leaders that he did not mention foreign relations the previous Tuesday in his address to the Congress because matters were better than they had been three months earlier.

The Soviets held their largest maneuvers since the end of the war, however, the following day.

A South Carolina delegate to the Republican convention had warned by telegram that tomatoes would greet Senator Glen Taylor, Progressive Party vice-presidential nominee, should he venture into that state to campaign.

Government statistician Louis Bean had a potential best-seller in his book, How to Predict Elections. Mr. Bean, an official in the Department of Agriculture, earned a reputation by being the only prominent political analyst who predicted the victory of President Truman in 1948.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop tell of Senator Taft having consulted with Governor Dewey on strategy to be used in the special session, that Governor Dewey had counseled a short session in which the proposed legislation would be considered in committees. House leaders, Speaker Joe Martin and others, had not wanted even committee hearings but immediate adjournment. A small minority of the GOP wanted to take some action on the proposals, especially housing. The Dewey compromise between the two extremes would likely be followed.

Mr. Dewey had counseled wisely, for quick adjournment without paying at least lip service to the bills would be unpopular with the people, suggesting GOP ignorance of the problems of inflation and the housing shortage. To have a prolonged session, however, would damage the GOP campaign by having a battle between the President and the Congress, shifting focus from the election.

The GOP would argue that no legislation could be passed in such a session, led by a weak Administration. The White House would counter that Mr. Dewey termed the special session a "frightful imposition" on Congress, in the face of the housing shortage, especially for veterans, and high prices to the consumer.

The Alsops conclude that the latter argument would attract votes to the Democrats, especially in the big cities. But they also opine that the special session was unlikely to beat the Dewey ticket. It might enable, however, Mr. Dewey to effect tight control of a Republican Congress in the winter. The special session might prevent an unmanageable Republican majority—or, perhaps, prevent a Republican majority.

But that would be too much to expect just a bit over 90 days before election day. All of these pundits had their fingers on the pulse of the electorate and sensed precisely what the American people would do in the fall.

HUAC, no doubt, resuming the following day its examination of allegations of espionage within the Government, would seal the deal.

Barnet Nover suggests that the high-level diplomatic talks transpiring in London, Berlin and Washington had served to cool the prospects of conflict between the U.S. and Russia regarding the Berlin blockade. The President, having announced that the prospects for peace were excellent, had quelled much of the tension abounding since June.

Marshal Vassily Sokolovsky, Russian occupation commander in Germany, had made a conciliatory remark to a U.P. correspondent. General Lucius Clay, American military occupation commander in Germany, had also suggested conciliation to be in the wind.

But there was no reason for the assumption in the first place that war had been close or that the crisis had passed. The situation, in fact, had remained unchanged for weeks. Neither the Western airlift nor the stopping of trains to and from Russia to the West had produced any change in Russian policy. If anything, the blockade was getting tighter.

The Western allies had made it clear at The Hague that they did not want the matter brought to a military showdown, that diplomatic efforts had to continue indefinitely. The U.S. was publicly committed to this position.

Rumors had circulated regarding the possibility of a four-power conference and there was much favoring such a meeting, to air differences and find out points of agreement. The Russians, desirous of propaganda, wanted it, but the Western powers were of the view thus far that it could occur only after the end of the blockade.

Samuel Grafton, no longer carried by The News, finds the tempers of many GOP Congressmen short because the situation in Congress was out of control. They were not accustomed to being under the intense glare of the spotlight which the special session had shone on them. It made the Congress itself the issue.

The Republicans had assumed that they were about to win an election nearly by default. Now, the President had put the ball in their court and the focus was on issues. Some wanted to adjourn immediately. Others wanted to pass part of the President's program but not all of it, while another portion did want to pass all of it.

The Republicans were not yet aware of how deeply issues had been injected to the campaign, while the primary issue remained the Congress, an issue which had not arisen during the New Deal years. FDR had always been the center of attention during his tenure. Even when he tried to purge conservative Democrats in 1938 and obtain a more liberal Congress, the public did not support him, resulting only in trouble within the party for the President. President Truman's weakness had shifted focus to the Congress. It was unlikely that a strong presidency would emerge from the campaign.

The change was one to make the Congress thoughtful and one which made democracy rewarding to those who maintained a watch on it.

A letter writer responds to a letter of Katherine Grantham Rogers regarding her alma mater, Women's College of Greensboro, subsequently UNC-G, and its funding solicitation techniques, depriving the large donors of freedom to give as they saw fit to particular departments, rather conditioning gifts on support of business and technical education.

To the contrary, despite knowing Ms. Rogers, he sings the praises of the foundations which were collecting money for education in their various fields of interest and were not depriving anyone of the freedom to give in other areas.

As previously indicated, Ms. Rogers, a former writer for The News, had been a good friend to W. J. Cash during his lifteime.

A letter writer, a "Charlotte Youth", writes of democracy and the need to spread it abroad the world by working together through the U.N. and, to that end, providing the organization with popular support, including that of youth.

A letter writer counsels more religion to prevent lynchings rather than anti-lynching laws, which he believes, at the Federal level, would only encourage more lynchings than ever before. He says that such a law would not deter or prevent Southerners from engaging in the activity.

He misunderstands the full intent of the law, which, in part, was also to make it more difficult for law enforcement and jailers to turn over defendants to mobs by making the personnel accountable criminally for doing so. In that lay a source of a great number of the lynchings, when law enforcement not only allowed the prisoner to be turned over to the mob but, in many instances, had conspired with impunity with the mob to do so.

The primary Federal laws, incidentally, under which was just indicted the confessed killer of the nine worshippers in Charleston in June of this year, are 18 USC 247 (a)(2), (d)(1) and (d)(3), and 249(a)(1). Only under section 247, involving obstruction by force or threat of force of free exercise of religion, is the defendant subject, when a death results, to the death penalty. But, under subsection (b) of that statute, the Government must prove that the act was in or affects interstate commerce, not always an easy task. The reason for the requirement is that jurisdiction for passing the 1988 law was under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The Congress has only the jurisdiction to pass laws which arise under its specifically enumerated powers in Article I of the Constitution, one of which is to pass laws regarding matters arising in or affecting commerce between the states, or pertaining to acts which involve state action, such as action by a police officer, prison guard or other government functionary, under the Fourteenth Amendment. Congress cannot, beyond the District of Columbia and crimes committed on Federal property, simply pass laws as it deems necessary for the public safety, health, morals and welfare, those police powers belonging to the states.

Under section 249, which became law in 2009, the defendant in the Charleston case is charged in Federal Court with causing bodily harm to persons because of their color, race, or religion. That statute carries a maximum life sentence. Query, however, whether it is Constitutional. We would like it to be so, but is it in fact? When there is not state action involved and no act in or affecting interstate commerce, where is the Constitutional authority for it beyond emotion? which is not a legal basis for action and is every bit as dangerous as a basis for legal action as the hate which generates such crimes. Thus far, the Constitutionality of that statute has not been tested in the courts. Distinguish, for instance, the Constitutional rationale for 18 U.S.C. 241, the "anti-lynching" law, which prohibits under Federal law a conspiracy of two or more persons to deprive a person of the exercise of protected Constitutional rights, regardless of whether racially or ethnically motivated.

The question is not whether hate was involved in the crime of murder or willful infliction of bodily injury not involving self-defense or defense of others. Always, it is, with the possible exception of genuine euthanasia, when the question becomes instead whether the act of homicide was murder. "Malice aforethought", as distinguished from premeditation, is always a requirement for murder, whether implied, as under the felony-murder rule, or expressed. Malice aforethought is the equivalent of hate, though in the context at issue, it is hate directed to a protected group, as defined by the statute. The question is whether adding "hate" to the definition of murder, when it involves certain protected groups, adds anything substantive to the dialogue regarding crime and punishment. Or does it fuel reactionary hatred the more? Are the murder laws in the states, in this time and age, sufficient? Life sentences or death for murder may only be imposed once. Does adding "hate" to the elements of the crime, whether at the state or Federal level, do anything constructive for prevention of future such acts? Plainly, it adds nothing to punishment, except in the case of sentence enhancements, not at issue in a murder case.

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