The Charlotte News
WEDNESDAY, JULY 24, 1940
Site ed. note: It is not at all clear that Cash actually wrote "Suicide Surge". It was an unascribed editorial which Professor Morrison assumed, with the input of former News colleagues of Cash, was by Cash and so included it in the Reader section of Southern Prophet. The phraseology is not, however, characteristic of Cash's writing; Cash had primary editorial duties during this period, however, as J. E. Dowd was on vacation and thus style seemed sometimes to be substituted for space-fillers. If it is by Cash, it would be the only time we have found thus far that he serves the housepainter the respect, even ironically, of "Mr.", at least without a definite dose of sarcasm attached somewhere else in the same piece. It may simply be that the seeming irony haunting this article, of which Morrison makes comment in his headnote, was too pointed to pass up and so it wound up ascribed to Cash, or at least regarded as being more significant than it ought. In fact, of course, it matters little, as it is no more than slight comment on statistics. And that little moment is shorn the more when coupled with the companion article of the same date on the homicide rate in Charlotte, one of the murder capitals of the country then. So again, the question: Caso de Homicidio or Felo de Se?
And as to the article on Willkie and his unfortunate campaign finance chairman smacking of fat bucks, in the face of campaign finance legislation limiting contributions to 5,000 smacks, the Hatch act--why, whoever heard of such a thing? Fat cats being limited upon that which they may disgorge for the betterment of all us thin-kittens and our trickled-upon little peewit catchers? Well, well, well. What say you to that? We never. One question: Was that limit on hard or soft money? And so merrily to the well we once again go in 2001. And in so doing, it might be wise to remember not to forget that an Ominously stern vox of the Zeitgeist of 1804, we think, did not invade their candle-lit living rooms in between quiz shows and comedians, saying something like: "And remember, Tommy got you all that Louisiana Territory and maybe, just maybe, west Florida, from the French--and all for a mere song. [A fellow named Newman sings in background, "Louisiana..." meandering languidly into "Rednecks"] One day, one day, America, you can bet on it, they will carve this man's likeness on a rock west of the Mississippi River and you will be even prouder than ever to be an American. Vote Tommy "the Wheel" Jefferson this November... [say this next part real, reel, real fast]--Paid for by CREET, the Committee to Re-elect Tom. You've Got A Friend at the Potomac" [Fade out: "Political Science"] But, who knows? Or was that Charlie Pinckney's ad?--or rather, Friends of Charlie. Ah well, maybe, just maybe, this time.
Query: If it's paid for, is it political speech--or is it commercial?And speaking of Tommy, we see where he cut and pasted the Bible to suit himself. Now, doesn't that violate the inviolable part toward the end there where it talks about he who adds or subtracts to this Book? Best get about removing all those corrupt revolutionary documents from the schools, because that there radical Declaration this anti-Christian fellow wrote was no doubt about "one nation" under some other than the one True God--prob'ly the anti-Christ--of whom only we of the South know, of course. That's for dang, I mean, darn, sure. That's why we are getting ready, in North Carolina, at least, to put the Ten Commandments in schools prominently displayed in the History case where they belong, by Go-sh. Let the teachers and the kids figure out the context of it all. They can and will do it. Let's start with "Thou shalt not kill" and then pro-gress to "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Simple. Yessir. Go-sh darn it. Never mind that Jesus amended them before the gospels got finished. We don't believe that old tale anyway. And all those Old Testament Narratives they used to teach--they were too long and complex. And of course never mind that our system of laws came not from the Ten Commandments but rather from English Common Law, with dashes of Spanish in the west and French here and there along the Bayou--and most of that, in turn, was based on the Roman law, which after all controlled England for many years once upon a time. (That's where all that feudal--futile?--stuff come in, weren't it?) Not to mention the Greeks. But I'm sure I must have read somewhere in those Commandments about us here in a Democracy deciding collectively to exact the Death Penalty for whatever we of good and righteous conscience choose--because We are a Democracy and We Vote for what we want. And that sure do square in our book with "Thou shalt not kill (except of course when we'uns decide it collectively in a Democracy)." Yessir. Now if that don't beat all. But the one that has us most purplects, we admit, is where it says there, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth". Well, now, if we can read at all, we should reckon that all of that art in them museums, except maybe the dadaists, cubists, Jackson Pollock, and a few curly-cuists of various stripes, must perforce be removed, especially that da Vinci feller--not to mention every photo ever taken, Matthew Brady on down, even in your family album and newspaper, and also drawings, sketches, emblems, trinkets, plastic-this-and-that, what have you, of anything bearing likeness to anything in heaven, earth, or of them fishes--all gone, out of sight, out of mind. Else we break that Commandment, or we'll be switched. In fact, sell 'em on Saturday or Sunday, with a coin for payment bearing "In God We Trust", and like as not you done broke three at once, provided o' course you didn't break a fourth or fifth by over-charging or bearing false witness on the worth of the thing. And We of the South know what We are about and what We want, who's who and what's what, and We are doing it and We shall rise again! alright, by Go-sh. That's what He done, weren't it? And didn't the Second Commandment say, after all, "Thou shalt not take our guns away in order that we may have a well-regulated militia"?--by Go-sh. Wait a minute. Let me check that one again. Was that--? Oh. But, so help us, We sure don't cotton to that part in Isaiah warning against them confederacies. Wonder what Tommy thought about that.
Unions Must Keep Contracts, An Arbitrator Decides
One morning last Winter a great many people in upper Manhattan found no milk bottles at their doors. Reason was a strike called by Unit No. 3 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. AFL union had called a snap strike against the Sheffield Farms Co. as the result of the discharge of three men on a loading platform.
The strike lasted one day. Then the milk company demanded damages from the union on the ground that the union had agreed to call no strikes for a period of two years under a contract signed shortly before the strike. Case went to Arthur S. Meyer, chairman of the milk industry in New York, under an agreement between the parties.
Monday, Mr. Meyer handed down his decision. For the first time in the history of labor unions in this country, an arbitrator decreed that the union must pay damages to an employer. He disallowed over half the claims asserted by the company and recommended that, in the interest of amicable labor relations, it settle for half the $10,000 formally allowed. Obviously, his main purpose was to assert a principle.
With that principle nobody can have a legitimate quarrel. For it simply says that a contract by a union is binding like another, and that it cannot be brushed aside as a scrap of paper just because of some emotional outbursts over the sort of incident which is bound to arise in labor relations.
But South Carolina Seems To Take Things Serenely
More than twice as many persons committed suicide in the United States in 1938 as in 1920, according to figures just released by the census bureau.
Why that should be so the Bureau does not say, but it is easy to see that it is directly related to the difficulty of the times. In 1920 there was a slight depression but the dizzy days of the great boom were just around the corner and everybody was confidently counting on acquiring a yacht next year.
But in 1932, at the nadir of the great depression, the suicide rate was the highest on record17.4 per 100,000 population. It fell after that until the year when Hitler really heaved up on the American horizon, 1938the year of Munich. It was back to 15.2 per 1oo,ooo that year.
Among the states Nevada has the highest rate35.6 per 1oo,ooo. Maybe the mountains and the price they get for all that silver makes 'em dizzy. And as for the lowest rate, that belongs to South Carolina.
The large Negro population explains a good deal of it, of course; Negroes rarely commit suicide. But it obviously doesn't explain all of it, since other states have an even larger proportion of Negroes than South Carolina. And considering cotton prices, Cotton Ed Smith and other tribulations, all cannot be complete joy in South Carolina.
Maybe it's just that they don't pay any attention to Mr. Hitler down there. They never were a people to scare easily. Or better still, maybe they are saving up to have a poke at him. Pacifism and its resultant frustrations have not, we suspect, very much caught on in South Carolina yet.
Nazi Germany Might Do Well Not To Burn All Bridges
The Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a Nazi stooge journal, is full of that moral indignation which is heavily on tap in Germany these days.
It has discovered that even religious journals in England are urging the English people to fight off the Nazi invaders "from street to street and from house to house." And that stirs Deutsche Allgemaine Zeitung to cry aloud that everybody knows that it is against international law for civilians to take up arms in active fighting, and to warn that Nazi Germany will shoot everybody who does it as a sniper.
Nazi Germany, if you have forgotten, is the country which bombs and machine guns women and children as they flee along roads and through streets. Nazi Germany is the country which has her submarines sink merchant and passenger ships on the high seas without warning, drowning their crews and passengers without compunction--in flat defiance of The Hague Convention.
Nazi Germany is the country which forces the conquered to do infamous things like handing over navies to be turned against allies under threat of beating the women and families of the conquered to death in concentration camps. Nazi Germany is the country which is presently deliberately starving a thousand Poles to death every day, according to the findings of Mr. Herbert Hoover himself. Nazi Germany is the country that makes war on nations which have done it no harm without the formality of declaring war.
But Nazi Germany is greatly exercised about the legality of poor English householders defending their homes against the brutal invader!
Rate in Charlotte Seems Tied to the Thermometer
Until last week Charlotte had no homicides in July, though last year it had ten in the month. Then in rapid succession there were two. Saturday a Negro was beaten to death. Sunday a white man was stabbed to death with an ice pick wielded by another white man.
All of which reminds us that last July, with its ten murders, was continuously an extremely hot month. But until the last week, this July has been unseasonably cool.
There is no doubt that the hot weather is directly connected with the homicide rate. The national rate for the Summer months is nearly twice that for the Winter months. And it has been noted before that the death rate drops during cool spells in the normally hot months.
Why it should be so is a mystery. Perhaps it is simply that hot weather, especially continued hot weather, runs the nerves ragged. But it is also possible that hot weather brings about direct changes in the body and mind over and beyond the mere wearing effect on the nerves.
There is certainly a curious relationship between heat and the behavior of lower forms of life. The rate at which ants move about, for instance, goes up in exact ratio to the heat. Double the heat and you double the speed at which they rush about their tasks. That certainly doesn't apply to human creatures, who in fact move always more slowly as the heat goes up--cease practically to move at all when the thermometer climbs to the high nineties. Nevertheless, the connection may be there.
However, let nobody hope that it constitutes an easy out for Charlotte's eminence in murder. It may be hard to believe as you mop your brow, but there are in fact a great many places hotter than Charlotte this side of Satan's seat.
Weir Hardly Fits With Willkie Campaign Plan
Republicans have something of a quandary on their hands in the case of Mr. Ernest Weir.
Weir was originally selected for the job of finance chairman by the party moguls because he was supposed to be the sort who would most effectively appeal to the fat cats for contributions to the campaign chest. But Mr. Willkie's own order and the new Hatch law both fixed $5,000 as the maximum contribution from any one supporter. And under that set up, the fat cats aren't going to count for so much.
On the other hand, there is no reconciling Weir's finance chairman and Willkie as candidate.
Weir is exactly the sort of hard-boiled business man that the New Deal made its excuse for the wholesale attack on business.
Willkie is another kind of business man, one who recognizes the conditions of the world in which we live and proposes adjustment and conciliation instead of bitter-end class warfare. And what he proposes to do in this campaign is to convince the American people that the New Deal's version of business as a whole is grossly unfair, that business as a whole can be counted on to follow the course he himself favors. And that effort is going to be greatly handicapped if Ernest Weir is the man standing behind him and looking over his shoulder.
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