The Charlotte News
Wednesday, September 21, 1955
Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Buenos Aires that Argentina's rebel forces this date had achieved a peace agreement, apparently including unconditional surrender from the loyalist followers of deposed El Presidente Juan Peron. The rebels had established Maj. General Eduardo Lonardi as provisional President. A brief communiqué had not disclosed the fate of El Presidente, but the rebels, in their four-day revolt, had provided as one of their conditions for surrender that he be handed over to them. The last authoritative information had indicated that El Presidente was aboard a Paraguayan gunboat in Buenos Aires harbor. The communiqué, which had been read over State radio, said that the two sides had reached complete accord and that the loyalist forces had accepted the points stipulated by the rebels, which included unconditional surrender. The new President had formerly commanded Argentina's 1st army, until El Presidente had retired him in 1951 on suspicion of plotting against the Government. In 1952, General Lonardi had been mentioned as part of a group reported to be taken prisoner in an alleged plot against El Presidente.
In Raleigh, the task was underway of rebuilding hundreds of eastern North Carolina communities in the wake of Hurricane Ione, the most devastating of the three hurricanes which had hit the state since mid-August, including Hurricanes Connie and Diane. At least five persons were known dead as a result of the hurricane, all having drowned, and damage estimates ran as high as 100 million dollars or more, approaching the figure of Hurricane Hazel of mid-October, 1954 and more than the damage caused by Connie and Diane combined. Governor Luther Hodges would travel to New Bern on Thursday in an Air National Guard plane to inspect the damage there, the hardest hit of the communities, where four of the five fatalities had occurred. He and the North Carolina civil defense head would meet there with the manager of the Southeastern area Red Cross to discuss plans for helping victims of the hurricane who would require aid in home repairs, re-furnishing and other rehabilitation assistance. Afterward, the Governor would discuss plans with officials of the towns impacted by the storm, having asked them to prepare damage estimates as soon as possible, to be relayed to Washington for Federal civil defense officials, who had promised disaster relief. The President had declared the state a disaster area the previous day, the third such designation since Connie and Diane.
In San Francisco, it was reported that worried law enforcement officers in three counties were searching this date for a baby snatched from a hospital crib the previous Monday, presumably by a blonde who desperately sought motherhood. The chief of San Francisco's general police detail assigned to the case said that it was very possible that the woman had been spotted in San Jose, about 50 miles to the south, but that they were also searching San Francisco and to the north in Marin County. The baby was only three days old when kidnaped from its nursery at Mt. Zion Hospital and was the son of a doctor and his wife. A woman in San Jose had informed police that she had been met at her door the previous morning by a blonde woman who wanted to heat milk for a tiny, screaming infant, and the woman, who had not yet heard about the kidnaping, said that the person generally answered the description furnished subsequently by hospital attendants, that she was between the age of 35 and 40, about 5'6" in height and weighed 150 to 160 pounds. When the baby had refused the warm milk, the San Jose woman and the blonde who came to her door with the baby attempted to soothe it with olive oil in the belief that it had cramps. After the San Jose woman suggested a doctor for the baby, the blonde woman departed, walking toward downtown San Jose. The child's mother was in a state of collapse and her husband explained that her parents and her younger brother had died in a Nazi concentration camp gas chamber, that when she was 13 years old, she had been smuggled from Germany into Holland, then had made her way to England, and after the war, in 1948, met her husband in Philadelphia. He feared that the disappearance of their child might be too much for her. He discounted any motive that the woman who had snatched the infant wanted a ransom, indicating that he was not wealthy and that he knew of no one who could have acted on the basis of revenge.
In New York, fire swept through four frame rooming houses near Coney Island amusement park early this date, killing eight persons and injuring 15 others, several of whom had been rescued by firemen. The bodies of the dead were burned so badly that even the sex of only two of the victims could be established. They ranged in age from 33 to 80. The fire had taken place in a middle-class residential and rooming house area, heavily populated by persons of Italian descent. The winds which had blown across New York in the wake of Ione had made fighting the fire especially difficult and it had been feared for some time that the entire block might go up in flames. The blaze occurred only two hours after another fire had erupted in a bathhouse on the Coney Island boardwalk seven blocks away, with the coincidence arousing suspicions by authorities that arson might be involved. No one had been hurt in the latter fire.
In Sumner, Miss., the trial continued of half-brothers Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam for the first-degree murder of Emmett Till, occurring in the early morning hours of August 28. This date, the prosecution presented the testimony of its first witness, Mose Wright, the uncle of Emmett, whom the latter was visiting for the two weeks prior to his murder. As indicated in the note accompanying yesterday's story, Mr. Wright generally testified about the abduction by the two defendants, stating that he recognized at the time Mr. Milam, but not Mr. Bryant, though he was able during his testimony positively to identify both of them as the abductors. He said that Mr. Bryant had identified himself by name initially when the two men came to his door at between 2:00 and 2:30 a.m. on the 28th, demanding to see the "two boys from Chicago", both of whom were visiting nephews of Mr. Wright, including Emmett. After they had gone room to room in the house, with Mr. Milam having a pistol, they eventually located Emmett, who fit their description of the boy who had "done the talking" at their general store the prior Wednesday evening, having allegedly, according to the wife of Mr. Bryant, gone into the store alone with her and made inappropriate remarks and placed his hands on her waist, and then, after exiting the store, had wolf-whistled at her when she went to a vehicle owned by her sister-in-law outside to retrieve a pistol, saying that she had become afraid of Emmett because of his alleged behavior in the store. As indicated, her testimony would be ruled inadmissible under Mississippi law when the defense would seek to introduce it later in the case. Mr. Wright testified that the two men, and possibly a third man who had remained outside of the house and appeared possibly to be a black man whom Mr. Wright could not identify, then took Emmett out of the house, against the protests of both Mr. Wright and his wife, who had offered to pay the men not to take him. They went to an awaiting vehicle, which Mr. Wright could not identify in the darkness, and asked an occupant of that vehicle whether Emmett was the person who had been doing the talking at the store, and a voice, which appeared to Mr. Wright to be "lighter" than a male voice, possibly a female voice, but he could not be certain, had stated that he was the boy. The vehicle then drove away. He testified on cross-examination by the defense, at pages 57-59 of the trial transcript, that about an hour later, he and his wife got in their car and drove to a service station to fill up with gas, and then drove around for about five hours, until around 8:00 a.m. The defense did not ask Mr. Wright the purpose of the drive, and the prosecution did not follow up on that questioning, but undoubtedly, they had gone out looking for Emmett. Mr. Milam had warned Mr. Wright and his wife not to identify them or do anything in response to the kidnaping, or they would not live very much longer, saying that if he and his accomplice determined that Emmett was not the boy in question, they would bring him back within a few hours. The next time Mr. Wright saw Emmett, he was dead, his body having been found by a teenager while fishing at the Tallahatchie River the following Wednesday morning, the body having been then identified by Mr. Wright as that of his nephew, and bearing a ring which had belonged to Emmett's deceased father and bore the initials "L. T.", consistent with Emmett's father's name, Louis Till. The defense was reliant primarily on the hope that it could convince the jury that the prosecution could not show beyond a reasonable doubt the identity of the corpse as that of Emmett, based on a preposterous theory introduced to the case during the investigation by the local Sheriff of Tallahatchie County, H. C. Strider, which he had freely shared with the press, that the body, with such obliterated facial characteristics as to be unrecognizable, might have been placed in the river by some group or organization, such as the NAACP, out to create controversy from "outside agitation". During the State's case, a deputy from neighboring LeFlore County, John Ed Cothran, where Mr. Wright lived and in which therefore Emmett was kidnaped, testified that he was called to the scene after the body had been found and witnessed the identification by Mr. Wright, which he said had been positive, and that the ring in question had been pulled from the finger of the corpse. Mr. Cothran had earlier stated to the press, in response to questioning about the theory advanced by Sheriff Strider of the neighboring county, that he disagreed with that assessment, and that there was no doubt in his mind that the corpse was that of Emmett Till. Emmett's mother, Mamie Bradley, would testify for the State that she was positive that the corpse was that of her son. The lead prosecutor in the case, the district attorney for Tallahatchie County, informed the press this date that he had six new witnesses who would place the defendants with Emmett several hours after he had been taken from Mr. Wright's home and would also place the accused men in the area where the body was found in the river. There was no testimony at the trial, however, which placed the men in the latter area, but there was testimony by young Willie Reed which placed Mr. Milam outside a shed or barn from which were emanating at the time screams of pain, along with other sounds indicative of someone being whipped, an observation which the witness said had followed his having seen a short time earlier, at around 8:00 a.m. on the 28th, a green and white 1955 Chevrolet pickup truck with four white men, whom the witness could not identify, in the cab, and three black men, whom the witness also could not identify, in the rear bed of the pickup truck, with another black male sitting down in the bed, who appeared to him to resemble the pictures subsequently published in the newspaper of Emmett Till, though he did not know Emmett and had never seen him before. The prosecution never introduced any evidence to connect the Chevrolet pickup truck to anyone connected with the two defendants, but they would later admit that they had used the pickup truck in the abduction of Emmett, as they admitted the murder to reporter William Bradford Huie in an article appearing in Look Magazine, published the following January. The half-brothers had already admitted the kidnaping of Emmett, when they made statements on the afternoon after Emmett had been reported missing by his uncle on the 28th, to the Sheriff of LeFlore County, George Smith, and Deputy Cothran, which statements came into evidence through the sheriff and deputy, though the brothers, themselves, did not testify.
In Cherry Point, N.C., hit hard by the 107 mph winds of Hurricane Ione, 16 babies had been born in the Navy hospital at the Marine Air Station during and immediately after the hurricane, with 15 of the newborns having been girls. The nursery was designed for only 22 babies, and by the time the storm had passed, there were 25, requiring that a nurse bed down the extra three in a bureau drawer temporarily until more cribs would become available. (Did those latter three later become part of the Bureau?) One of the newborns was of a civilian who had been unable to reach the hospital at Morehead City because of flooding. The story indicates that none of the babies had been named Ione—probably because of the ambiguity in pronunciation, though it would have, in our early reading years, presented no problem at all, following the same obvious rules we used then to derive the subliminal articulation of "Penelope", consistent with the established pronunciation of "envelope", it having been all Greek to us.
In Charlotte, a 750-pound Hereford steer jumped from a truck at an abattoir off South Boulevard and led local police on a helter-skelter chase through parts of the Dilworth section and the fringes of the Myers Park section of town, with no one being injured before the frightened steer was finally shot by a policeman's bullet. The animal had charged several of a dozen police officers who had joined the round-up, with the chase having begun in mid-afternoon. If you wish to read more of the exciting chase, turn to page 4-A.
Julian Scheer of The News continues the never-ending saga of Vicki, the escaped baby elephant, which had been on the lam from the Airport Park Zoo since the Sunday a week earlier, having escaped to a nearby wooded area behind a trucking terminal and occasionally being spotted since, but also occasionally disappearing, though now having its whereabouts determined, to a degree, this date, though chances of an early round-up did not, according to Mr. Scheer, appear bright during its 11th day on the run. The elephant's owner, and experts brought in from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, as well as a professional animal trainer and veterinarian, had not thus far been able to trap or cajole the elephant into surrender. Mr. Scheer compares the hunt to losing a bass fiddle in a telephone booth. The veterinarian had indicated that the elephant could travel at 50 mph and was now rested, able to eat plenty of green grass and consume water, that whenever anyone got close to it, it would take off. The previous day, two local residents had come upon the elephant while it was asleep, but Vicki had again disappeared before the alarm could go out. The area where the elephant was holed up was partly high, dry ground and partly low swampland, and whenever Vicki wanted to leave the open area and go into the jungle, it could do so and could not be pursued. The hunters now had a jeep, and had been able to confine the elephant to the area of about a square mile, but it could remain in that location for quite some time, and it was unlikely that it would leave the area, which was surrounded by activity.
We note that nearly half of the front page this date is consumed by the two stories regarding Vicki and the wayward steer, and pictures accompanying them. A few more days of this type of coverage, and The News should probably change its name to the Zoological Digest. It may be good for circulation, but this is no way to run a serious newspaper. No wonder Mr. Scheer would eventually depart for NASA in 1962, and that newly hired UNC graduate the prior spring, reporter Charles Kuralt, from Charlotte, who had also been assigned to the non-story, taking turns with Emery Wister, whose normal beat was Hollywood, would leave within a couple of years for CBS. Mr. Robinson, it is time to adjust your eyes again to the dark.
On the editorial page, "There Is No Age Limit on Ability" indicates that too many workers in Charlotte were being denied jobs because they were over 40 years of age, a primary fact of economic life which had been recognized by one unemployed bookkeeper, Ethel Sloop. She had no background in social welfare but had organized 130 people into a club, (probably called the "John B."), all over 40, and for the previous three months had been seeking to convince Charlotte employers that ability had no arbitrary age limit. The group had found 40 jobs, but for every personnel manager who had listened to their argument and given it a try, a dozen more had politely refused. (Well, when your members drink all night...)
It indicates that sooner or later, business and industry would have to accept the premise of Mrs. Sloop and her group, as half of Charlotte's adult population would be 40 or older by 1975. The attitude which she was fighting had been rooted in the hiring habits formed when a strong back was the greatest requirement for an employee (onboard sailing ships), but the nature of jobs had changed, with the premium now on qualities peculiar to the older worker, including dependability, judgment, skill and breadth of experience. Most of the members of the group had proven occupational qualifications and most were tried and trusted employees in the past, all of them wanting to work. While membership in the group had increased and the Monday morning lines at the State employment office had filled with capable older workers, employers still turned to the younger, less experienced person to fill vacancies.
It indicates that either the older people would be able to find work to support themselves or the younger residents of the community would have to be saddled with taking care of them, and Mrs. Sloop, operating from indignation at the way competent older workers were being overlooked, had struggled through the prior summer with that problem. It indicates that she and her club had struggled alone for long enough, and that the rest of the community, including civic clubs, official agencies and employers ought join her in giving the older citizens the attention they deserved.
"Is the Whole South on Trial?" addresses, for the first time within the newspaper's editorial column, the murder of Emmett Till, indicating that such a brutal crime against a "crippled Negro teenager from Chicago" represented ineradicable horror, but that the South as a whole was not to blame for the murder, finds it "preposterous sentimentality" to suggest it, as some "southern liberal editors" were doing as the trial of the two accused half-brothers was proceeding. It finds it akin to saying that "'society'" was to blame when a child misbehaved or that actors were no good because John Wilkes Booth had assassinated President Lincoln. It finds it "the same sort of spurious identification that many of these same editors attack with such relish in others."
It indicates that the South, as with any other section of the country, was comprised of many different people with many different attitudes, that it had many voices, some of which were strident and some calm, and was not "some hulking amorphous monster endowed with a special kind of original sin that is broad enough to cradle the misdeeds of all southerners." It finds that such a vision of the South might appeal to some Americans, but was utterly false and that thinking citizens would dig beneath the surface of contemporary confusion to find the truth.
It suggests that there were many Southerners who could not but abhor what had befallen 14-year old Emmett Till and were speaking out against such madness, not condoning the murder of children, whether black or white. "If the responsibility for this monstrous deed is not fixed and if the proper punishment is not meted out, it will not be their fault."
While we agree with the basic thrust of this editorial opinion on the one hand, we find it also overly querulous, in juxtaposition to a front page which had, for over a week, carried local elephant stories, in lieu of far more serious issues to be examined on the front page by readers, most prevalent of which being the issue of dealing with segregation in the public schools, in a state which was, when its responsive program was boiled down to its essence, defying the Supreme Court ruling of May, 1954 and the implementing decision a year later in Brown v. Board of Education, seeking to distinguish and parse the language of the decision in a way which defied reality, with Governor Luther Hodges having urged citizens of the state to continue voluntary segregation of the public schools, at least for the time being, while his statewide study committee and local study committees across the state in the various school districts sought to formulate remedies for integration consistent with Brown, while in practice seeking only methods of circumvention and delay. The newspaper had expressed full support for what it deemed in that regard to be a reasonable approach.
While, after more than 50 years of segregated public schools, combined with the overall attitudes which had prevailed in not only the South but the country as a whole vis-à-vis its minority populations, that is, among too many, the notion of white superiority and the attitude of stereotyping minority groups to keep them down economically and socially, separate in an insidious institution of apartheid, the adjustment, without violent upheavals, was necessary to be done in an organized and systematic manner, the prevailing mode of behavior, as represented by the likes of I. Beverly Lake, former State Assistant Attorney General who had orally argued on behalf of of the state before the Supreme Court in the spring regarding the implementing decision, and who personally favored establishment of a private school system to supplant the public schools, was to delay and avoid the reality, not to educate the populace to the necessity of the adjustment and to the reality of the 14th Amendment and its requirements for equal protection of the laws for all citizens, that the history of the separate-but-equal doctrine under Plessy v. Ferguson had been a dodge not at all sanctioned by the 14th Amendment or its framers and the Congress in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. Instead of engaging in that consistent education, by presenting, for instance, a series of articles on the front page by one of the many available lawyers for the NAACP, to explain their position, The News, with all of that space in the newspaper available to it, was devoting a lot of wasted ink to Vicki, the escaped elephant, and a wild steer which needed to be dispatched this date. While perhaps funny and entertaining to the populace and readers for a day or two, the Vicki story had dragged on for over a week and had become utterly ridiculous.
Now, with the ongoing trial of the two half-brothers accused of the murder of Emmett Till, who were in fact guilty and, of course, nevertheless would be acquitted the following Friday, two days hence, by a jury comprised primarily of local farmers who had grown up and lived their lives under that system of apartheid, had never been challenged very much in all likelihood to question that system or its concomitants, the idea of paternalistic protection of "our Negro population", a similar attitude shown toward domesticated pets or zoo animals, such as elephants, the newspaper finally had gotten around, after three weeks since the story had first hit the wires on September 1, to writing a short editorial on it, after presenting no coverage of the story between September 1 and the previous day's start of the trial—during which interim, the much smaller Robesonian of Lumberton, for instance, had presented on its front page several follow-up stories—, that editorial primarily taking a defensive attitude toward blaming the South for the murder, not utilizing its good education to enlighten readers positively to some of the possible ultimate reasons for the murder, regardless of who was responsible specifically, as would have been far more salutary.
It was a practiced attitude, which denied the ultimate humanity of the black population, which gave a condescending nod on occasion to the idea that "brutality" toward that population was wrong morally, while also giving the same nod to the animal population, especially regarding domesticated pets, not coming to grips with the notion that those classified as "Negroes" within the population, with all manner of varying shades of hue in their skin pigment, were every bit as human and entitled to the same rights, socially, educationally and in every other manner, as the white population or any subset of it, which, obviously, as witness the two half-brothers in Mississippi, had among it those who could not adapt to modern civilized society with facility and had abandoned, when convenient for release of their own id-driven impulses, all concordance with societal norms governing and repressing those instincts, not channeling them into industry and creative activity, not realizing that all people, at base, have those instinctive drives left over from primitive times, which, if not properly so channeled, can come to the fore with the most violent manifestations necessary for survival in the old hunter-gatherer days.
The practice of that paternalistic attitude in denying that commonality of humanity to all human beings, regardless of size, skin color, language, education, nationality, religion, sex or any other particular characteristic by which are classified people for purely statistical purposes, permitted the J. W. Milams and Roy Bryants of the world, the latter, it would appear, at least, having been wholly, if recklessly, dependent upon his older half-brother for direction in the particular case at hand, to have vent to those primordial instincts when it suited their purposes, for want of societal education of that common humanity, from its basic instincts to its higher appreciation of art and culture and the finer points of a reasoned analysis of any subject, from farming to nuclear physics, or anything across the manifold spectrum of understanding of positive human endeavor.
Thus, in that greater sense, having read for years, day to day, the editorial column of this particular newspaper, dating back to the mid-Thirties, we find ourselves in profound disagreement with the tone of the above editorial, which, while certainly not in any way excusing the actions of these two reprobates in Mississippi, also not recognizing fully the humanity of young Emmett Till, as revealed in its opening sentence regarding him as a "crippled Negro teenager from Chicago", betraying its reliance on reports which had not been founded on any factual matter, but had relied for inaccurate inferences on statements by Emmett's uncle that he was "not right", for the fact that he stammered. Emmett's uncle had later clarified in news reports that he had only intended to make that argument to the two men on August 28, when they stood in his home with a gun implicitly threatening all present with murder if they did not allow them to have their way in taking Emmett for having "done the talking" at the family general store the prior Wednesday, August 24. There was nothing to suggest that Emmett was "crippled", either mentally or physically, or morally.
Emmett, like so many young adolescents then or now, was simply learning how to grow up, and, while the wolf-whistle was inappropriate to direct at a young woman of 21 years of age, he only needed a short lecture and remonstration regarding appropriate conduct for a young boy still learning how to become a dignified gentleman, especially in a dour, hot, somewhat humorless time and place as August in Mississippi. There are those of us who would reflect back to a time when we were 14 and find it not within our experience to have engaged in any sort of similar conduct, but that does not mean that we could sit in judgment of such conduct or regard it as anything more than a young boy still grappling, without a father, to find a proper role model for informing his conduct in conformance with the norms of society. Had Emmett lived beyond August 28, 1955, and come of age to be a man, undoubtedly, he would have found his way, as did his fellow cousins. We have known "cut-ups" such as Emmett and understand that they really mean no harm, are simply trying to find their way in the world amid tragic personal familial circumstances, eventually finding it necessary to jettison certain kinds of unacceptable behavior along the way, as we all do, at different ages, some of those lucky enough, with the help of an understanding parent or two. Perhaps Emmett's stammer explained some of his difficulty in adjustment and his need for a certain type of braggadocio to his peers, that he had "been with white women" before, seeking to impress his young cousins with his worldly escapades in the big city of Chicago to the north. It did not mean that he was "crippled".
But, obviously, none of that matters after the fact of his murder at the hands of these sadistic, atavistic reprobates, who should have been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, instead of being set free by a jury, who by that nullification of obvious justice, shared to some degree in the half-brothers' guilt, as there was no ground for any reasonable belief from the evidence presented at trial that the body which came from the Tallahatchie River was not that of Emmett Till, as properly identified by his own mother and his uncle and the ring which was on the finger of the body, nor was there certainly any justifiable or reasonable belief that the NAACP or any other organization could have planted a body, or that any other preposterous, backward reaching theory could have been conjured to excuse this act of ultimate torture and murder, which, obvious to anyone with the least objectivity in viewing the evidence, had been perpetrated by the last two people who had admitted to law enforcement having seen Emmett alive after they admittedly had kidnaped him at gunpoint, Messrs. Milam and Bryant.
As we have indicated previously, while there was no justice for Emmett Till in the courtroom in these days of September, 1955, there was justice in the notion that his death and its particularly brutal manner did have the effect of stimulating the Montgomery bus boycott the following December, initiated by Rosa Parks refusing to surrender her seat at the direction of the bus driver, bringing to the fore shortly thereafter the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and providing the impetus for the modern civil rights movement on a peaceful plane of nonviolent resistance to the conventions of segregation throughout the country. In that regard, Emmett did, eventually, receive justice, despite the nullification of the jury by its hour-long decision to perpetuate what they regarded as a traditional "way of life", informed only by ignorance. But if a person is not only ignorant but makes no effort to strive beyond that ignorance to learn anything from others, they remain, for generations, mired in ignorance. It is a form of a curse, and one can only hope that the offspring of those guilty in the matter learned from the tragedy and, most importantly, learned to strive to learn from it a better way of approaching their fellow members of society than through violence.
As for the editorial, perhaps the writer should have dug back into the archives of The News, into the writings of the former associate editor, W. J. Cash, of whom everyone who worked at The News was well aware was one of its most preeminent alumni, and come across this editorial specially indited for the Baltimore Evening Sun in 1935, as would Joseph Morrison, professor of journalism at UNC, when he dug into Cash's life for his biography published in 1967, as that bit of research would have been quite consistent with the recent editorial in the column regarding the 75th birthday of H. L. Mencken of The Sun.
The previous editorial appearing in the Charlotte Observer on September 9, probably written by Pete McKnight, new editor of the Observer, formerly editor of The News, captured much better and in a much more enlightened manner the import of the murder and the prospective trial of the accused, not seeking in the process to apologize for the system which ultimately produced the complex, and which can never be allowed to gain a foothold again in any society, but rather simply presenting it for what it was, an ineffably brutal crime with no conceivable rationalization or explanation, other than that rooted in primordial instincts which society has sought for thousands of years to funnel into productive and creative pursuits, with understanding of those instincts being the first step for each individual to deal with them properly before they cascade into some mutual tragedy for all concerned, victim and perpetrator alike. There was no need to defend the South, any more than there was need to condemn the South.
Was the whole South on trial? as the editorial asks. Perhaps, it was at the end of the day in the minds of many, and the jury verdict effectively found it guilty. But out of that process came, ultimately, such individual, regional and national self-examination, after much more violence would transpire over the course of the ensuing 13 years, that a much better South, and understanding of humanity as a whole throughout the society, emerged from it, certainly not achieving anything close to perfection, as there will always be people in the society who resist reality, but much better than things were in 1955.
If there was anything serving more than entertainment in the story of Vicki, it might have been the persistence of the animal in wishing to remain in the jungle swampland rather than return to captivity in the zoo, perhaps an allegory for the South at this point in time, although with another alternative on the human landscape, an escape into freedom through understanding of the antecedents, their limitations enforced by the reality of earlier times, and the need to advance from that complex.
"Liberty Did Not Die under Peron's Heel" tells of the people having won a great victory in Argentina, but that until the former dictator Juan Peron was either in total eclipse or in a coffin, they would not have begun to win control of their destinies. Sr. Peron's resignation had not dissolved the forces which had kept him in power or stemmed their desire to return him to the throne. Thousands of military, civil and pseudo-labor leaders had grown fat with ease and luxury under his regime and well understood his theories of ruling by dividing and repressing people. "These parasites will not give up their privileges willingly, and as long as Peron is around to organize and direct them, the people cannot have a long-term lease of freedom."
It indicates that the rebel forces recognized that threat, recalling the dictator's arrest in 1945 by a military clique, only to be pushed back into power by the machinations of the Federation of Labor, which used a general strike as a political weapon to enable that return to power. Many times also, El Presidente had offered to "resign", only to have his doubts of indispensability erased by the well-publicized pleadings of his carefully coached henchmen. It suggests that it was required, therefore, that there be a cleansing of Argentina of Peron and Peronism through establishment of another powerful government, with the rebels having the power to arrest, convict and discharge, with the caveat that the danger existed that in exercise of such powers, the insurgents would be reluctant to yield to a freely elected government, assuming there was enough leadership and citizen resources available, after years of dictatorship, to build such a popular government.
It thus concludes that the resignation of El Presidente had not enthroned liberty in Argentina but had demonstrated that the spirit of liberty had flourished and grown under his dictatorship, a demonstration which at least furnished hope for the people and a warning for El Presidente's successors.
"Let 'Em Eat Sand" indicates that in July, a blue heron was said to be showing off during mating season as it landed in Charlotte, and in August, a bird had started flying at children on Heath Drive, shot down by County police, and then Vicki had gone wandering and "put the fear of elephant into certain jungle jims trying to catch her." The previous day, a bull had run wild in the Dilworth section, until it had been shot with a pistol. It concludes that the evidence was conclusive, that somebody was stirring up the animals, and that the populace ought to cease in feeding them, that the ants did not like it and although the "doodlebugs do, think how it makes them GROW!"
Maybe it is the newspaper which ought cease feeding them with the consistent coverage of these yawners.
A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "Charlotte: The Jungle City", indicates that Charlotte's elephant problem was growing in scope and intensity, with an official having said that it was no longer a local problem, that people all over the country were wondering what kind of a city and county they had in Charlotte, to be stymied so long by an elephant.
It indicates that Vicki had been amusing "herself" by charging photographers, reporters, hunters and trainers who had first charged her, and supposedly was settled in a snake-infested jungle. It finds it hard to believe that Charlotte was a one-elephant town and suspects that if the jungle were thoroughly explored, it would turn up other elephants, lions, tigers, alligators, gorillas, boa constrictors, rhinoceri, hippopotami, and a tax dodger or two.
It posits that it would take unusual courage, ingenuity and determination to get Vicki out of the jungle, that with other means having failed, the only thing left to do was for a company of Descendants of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, "DOMDOI", to go into the jungle and bring Vicki back alive. It trusts that the city would not allow the elephant to be lost through escape, deportation or sudden death, as Vicki was too valuable as a public relations agent to be lost. A week earlier, Charlotte had been unknown to fame, and now it was nationally and internationally known as the "Jungle City of the South".
It adds a p. s., that a newsflash had informed that Vicki had broken out and was headed for parts unknown, advises that Charlotte should get her back, "even if it has to press Richard Milhous Nixon into service as a mahout."
He, you will find, is too busy
Drew Pearson indicates that correspondence regarding arms was continuing between the Egyptian Embassy and the Phoenix International Co., as he had indicated in his column the previous day, with the company offering the sale of Israeli ammunition so that the Egyptians could fire it back at the Israelis with arms supplied by the company, including, in some instances, the U.S. Government. He says that the column had asked the State Department why the public was not permitted to know what arms were being sold by private brokers, when those arms would be used to incite war in the Middle East. Robert Margrave, deputy director of the State Department's Office of Munitions Control, had stated that the last time information had been made available to the public on such matters had been in 1941, that since that time, the figures were treated as classified. When Mr. Pearson asked what was meant by "treated" as classified, whether they were classified or just so treated, Mr. Margrave had provided a complicated explanation about the necessity of protecting private companies, finally indicating that the State Department's Office of Munitions Control reported to Congress, and Congress could publish the figures if it wished to do so. He contended that there had been no change in that policy since around 1790, that the Government had always regarded shipments of arms to be fraught with political significance, indicating that the classification policy had been in effect since 1935.
Mr. Pearson notes that the suppression of information regarding arms shipments had begun during the Spanish Civil War in 1935, when shipments were being made to revolutionaries, namely those under Generalissimo Francisco Franco, seeking to overthrow the Spanish Government. At the time the State Department had sided with Franco and did not want news of the arms shipments made public.
It had now been several weeks since
the comptroller general had ruled that Secretary of Agriculture Ezra
Taft Benson's cheese deal was illegal. The Agriculture Department,
however, had taken no action to recover the 2.5 million dollars lost
by the Government to the big cheese
Walter Lippmann tells of the silliness of the State Department, during the vacation of Secretary Dulles, to have issued a statement that the Russians had abandoned their "bankrupt German policy", a statement which Mr. Lippmann indicates had no truth to it whatsoever and ran the risk of the Russians, to save face, reinforcing their German policy by inviting East German President Otto Grotewohl to Moscow on the heels of the recently concluded discussions with West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, resulting in West Germany and Russia agreeing to establish diplomatic relations.
In fact, President Grotewohl had been invited to Moscow in July, prior to the State Department faux pas, and was now visiting Moscow in the wake of the conference with Chancellor Adenauer. The State Department had asserted, again falsely, that the invitation to the Chancellor had been "over the head of the Moscow satellite government in East Germany."
He indicates that diplomatic relations had been established with West Germany by the Soviets alongside those with East Germany, and not in their stead. The oral agreement that the Soviets would release German prisoners of war from World War II did not constitute an abandonment of its policy toward Germany. To the contrary, the Soviets had reaffirmed that its policy was still to approach reunification through both German governments and that it regarded the provisional frontier established at Potsdam in July, 1945 to be permanent. So, he indicates, the State Department should not have engaged in jubilation but rather reserve at the results of the conference.
He finds that it was interesting that both West Germany and the Soviet Union thought it useful to establish diplomatic relations while at the same time declaring publicly their positions, which, as they were aware, were irreconcilable. He believes that it entailed an implicit agreement that for some time to come, they could coexist, engaging in mutual trade and talks, despite the major issues remaining unsettled. He concludes that the two governments had negotiated what amounted to a modus vivendi, a territorial settlement at the expense of the postwar Polish state. Though both governments looked beyond that modus vivendi to a final settlement, neither was acting as if it expected to see such a settlement at any time in the near future. The terms sought by Chancellor Adenauer included not only the surrender of East Germany but also for a security arrangement which, effectively, would undermine the Western military system in NATO. By the same token, the demands of Moscow could not be arranged.
The existing modus vivendi was provisional, and serious negotiations for a permanent settlement would eventually occur, most probably triggered by the rise of a strong nationalist feeling in both sides of Germany. When that would occur in East Germany, the Soviets would have difficulty retaining their grip, and by the same token, it would be difficult for the West German Government to refuse to allow its military connections with NATO to be used in bargaining over the withdrawal of Communist troops from East Germany. But at present, there was no such strong nationalist feeling within Germany—and, he might have commented, during the four-power Allied occupation after the war, the policies of each government had been to educate away from any such strong nationalism, to avoid any possible resurgence of the Nazi Party or its functional equivalent. Mr. Lippmann continues that there was certainly a strong feeling for reunification but few Germans were willing to risk a war over that, after having endured World War II and World War I, not willing to risk their existing prosperity, at least in West Germany. Thus the issue of reunification, while a political talking point, was not a hot issue and so it was feasible to set terms which were known to be impossible of accomplishment at present.
There were some signs in England of a desire to find out whether Chancellor Adenauer's terms could be modified to make them negotiable, it having been suggested, for instance, that incorporation of an armed Germany within NATO was less important than Germany's political alignment with the West, such that one might be given up to gain the other. But no one knew whether such a compromise would induce the Soviets to negotiate seriously and the only way to find out was to discuss it with them privately, which, no doubt, the Germans would undertake when diplomatic relations were reestablished per their recent agreement.
He posits that it was too early for the U.S. to modify its unqualified endorsement of terms known to be not negotiable, that there would be advantages in waiting to see whether an agreement could be reached with the Soviets on the early-warning plans. Such an agreement would ratify the basic agreement reached at the Geneva Big Four summit conference in July, that war could not be contemplated any longer as a solution to international problems. It would then be self-evident that negotiation through a quid pro quo process was the only method to settle the German question of reunification. He suggests that if it was now expedient to begin trading for a German settlement, it should be without creation of a mythology about Germany whereby the U.S. viewed itself as so strong that a settlement could be had on its own terms. The time was coming, perhaps at the October Big Four foreign ministers meeting in Geneva, when the U.S. would have to choose between negotiating a compromise and peaceful coexistence within the extant situation.
He concludes that it would prevent confusion, disappointment and resentment for the Administration to cease talking as if the Soviets were in retreat and about to surrender unconditionally to the public relations experts of the State Department. "For what will be needed in the time to come is not an exalted and bedazzled mood, but a cool and businesslike one."
Robert C. Ruark, still in Palamos, Spain, writes the first of three columns on the unrest brewing among the colonial peoples of Africa, where Mr. Ruark had spent much time, believing that a potential blow-up was in store. He says that colonial powers had to face a difficulty at some point, that they could get inside the native's head and essentially become a native or keep their distance, maintaining control of the natives, forcing them into subservient obedience, through death if necessary. The only other option was to allow the natives to maintain their ancient customs and have minimum contact with them.
He suggests that the West had trouble everywhere at present between the colonizers and the colonized, in North Africa, the Sudan, South Africa, Central Africa, Indo-China and India, even though the latter was now no longer colonized by Britain but still remaining uneasy in its independent status. He says that the only solid colony which was not causing problems at present was the Belgian Congo, first founded by the most brutal discipline ever recorded in colonization, as the natives did not dare break the established rules of behavior laid down by their Belgian masters.
He posits that there was no way to prevent a violent upheaval soon in South Africa, and those favoring apartheid had driven "in the last nail when they recently classified the coloreds—more or less mulattoes—as natives." He indicates that there was one tribe, notably Griqua, which had been proud of its other name, "Bastaard" in Afrikaans. They did not want to be natives again, with the consequent loss of pay, opportunity and social status.
He indicates that there was no such thing as coequal colonization, that the colony was first founded on force and later on benevolent condescension, backed by force. He cites as example of a particularly brutal chapter of history, that of the U.S. vis-à-vis the American Indian, indicating that the pureblood or semi-pure American Indian was a prisoner in his own land at present, nearly a century after the imported African slaves had been freed, 90 years before the Supreme Court "got around to saying that segregation was a bad thing." The American Indians had been colonized because of whiskey and tuberculosis, infected blankets and special laws, with the Army having enforced the colonization every time the Apache or the Navajo got out of hand. The land was taken from the Cherokee and Seminole, who were driven onto what were called "'reservations'", actually, he posits, "'concentration camps'". "We did a marvelous job of protecting the aborigine from himself—and still do."
He indicates that the French had established their colonization of North Africa with the rifles of German mercenaries. The Boers had shot their way through the kraals of the Zulu, meeting the assegai with snaphaans, and then turned to rend the English, "who were also being pretty noble about saving the Bantu stock from the dirty hands of the Dutch voortrekkers. A few handy-making grapes of Good Hope and some odd diamond mines scattered here and there, plus a lush agricultural infinity, didn't particularly intermingle the mutual aims with nobility, insofar as the locals were concerned."
He suggests that required reading for an account of the jackals quarreling over the corpse of a simple lion was contained in Turning Wheels and Hill of Doves by Stuart Cloete, while returning to the novels of P. C. Wren could inform more about what France had done to settle the Sahara country than any French premier who might accidentally keep his job for a week.
He concludes that the recent atrocities in Morocco and Algeria could inform of a few simple truths, that the indigenous populations did not appreciate being patronized, either politically or with guns, and that when they shrugged off the first fears of instilled submission, were apt to become nasty, Mr. Ruark fearing that there would be more of the same, as he knew a bit about it.
Frederick C. Othman indicates that Representative Thomas Lane of Massachusetts had introduced a bill to outlaw liquor on U.S. commercial plane flights. He was going to hold hearings on the subject, and the dry forces were rallying around the subject, some imagining horrid possibilities of drunks at 20,000 feet.
He says that the only time he had ever seen such a person during a flight was one time out of Columbus, O., aboard a plane which served nothing but ice water in paper cups, and the passenger had brought his own whiskey, continuing to drink from it while the stewardess had eyed him warily. But there was no reason for her to worry as, he suggests, there was something about the combination of altitude and alcohol which did strange things to the human mind, and the man proceeded to get sick after the third drink and then passed out. The stewardess wrapped him up and forgot about him.
He indicates that he had flown several hundred thousand miles during the previous few years and had never once seen an unruly passenger, and not because the passengers were prohibitionists. He says that it was dull sitting in a seat for several hours during a plane flight, with nothing to see but land or water below, and therefore when the stewardess came around with a tray of highballs, there was something to do, and the majority of passengers partook. If they were experienced travelers, they usually stopped after one drink, for if they took two or more, given the altitude, they felt like they had been hit between the eyes with a hammer. They then went to sleep and awakened later "feeling like an albatross that tangled with a jet." He says the hangover experienced at such an altitude was indescribable, and so stewardesses everywhere cut off service after two drinks. Statistics showed that no serious incidents had occurred from drinking on airplanes, and while airline executives were chary about making public comment, they urged that if liquor was prohibited from being served on planes, it should also be banned from trains.
Mr. Othman concludes that he did not care about the outcome, as long earlier he had learned to go easy on liquor when flying, but that if the airlines wanted to pamper him with a small bottle of champagne to go along with his filet mignon, he considered it to be their right and did not want Representative Lane denying it. "If he wants soda pop, he can have it. I'll take the bubbly charge."
The problem, of course, is not the individual passenger's hangover from one too many at a high altitude, but the attitude displayed at high altitude by the drunken lout. The same goes for dope on an airplane—which is different from airplane dope, with which, as we have candidly admitted before, we had some truck for awhile when in the fifth grade, with the hippest lingo on the street at the time being that "you gotta paint the balsa wood and tissue paper with the dope, like, man, to strengthen the paper, ye know?" We recall once flying to New Orleans for Mardi Gras on an airline—which was a good deal while it lasted but is long defunct, People Express, which enabled, for instance, flying to Brussels from the U.S. round trip for $100 in the mid-1980's, until unscrupulous people from the other jealous airlines reportedly began overbooking the flights, which had no limit to the bookings and operated on a first come, first serve basis at flight time, running the airline, together with its too fast expansion, eventually out of business. Our fellow passengers that night going to New Orleans decided to have a pot party in the aisles. It was particularly repugnant, as we had been flying already for several hours during the day, plus a prolonged layover in the hub of the airline in Newark, and were not in the mood for a bunch of potheads flying around inside the flight, floating as they went by. It would have done no good to protest to the stewards and stewardesses, as they were participants in the party, including apparently, taking a toke or two along the way, but in any event, laughing it up with the tokers. We tried our best to sleep through it, as it was well past midnight, but the tokers were oblivious to anyone or anything but their fellow tokers and their toking. It is not a pretty thing to see, any more than the elaborately drunken fool on an airplane, making life difficult for everyone else for the sake of his or her own vanity, the notion that, hell, they are on vacation and, damnit, they deserve to have a good time, and the rest be damned and go to hell. Fine, save it for your motel room, where the neighbors can then call the police and have your carcass locked up, where it belongs until you sober up. Everyone has a right to live, but not to the obnoxious exclusion of the rights of everyone else. And there is no better way to pass the time on a flight than by either reading a book or laboring on a paper project of some description, our opinion of the drinkers aboard being that they do not know how to pass the time of day reading and writing, perhaps because they never learned how to do so, maybe because they were among those unfortunates who were bent on tasting the paste in the first grade.
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