The Charlotte News

Monday, December 2, 1940



Site Ed. Note: The negative opinion of the appeasement line of recently retired Ambassador to England Joseph P. Kennedy, as expressed in "In Order", appeared tempered by January 24, 1941 in "The Star Witness" wherein Cash made a point, while attacking Charles Lindbergh's myopia, of indicating that Kennedy, "who wanted peace too, had just told the [House Foreign Affairs] [C]ommittee reluctantly that a DECENT negotiated peace was impossible." Of course, even Kennedy's sons had respectfully disagreed with the Ambassador's former position of appeasement. (For an earlier editorial, laudatory of Kennedy's position, as head of the Maritime Commission, seeking Congressional approval for Coast Guard training of merchant seamen for the sake of safety and efficiency, see "Ships Without Men", March 6, 1938.)

On a topic related to "Flag Scorner", see "Salute", June 4, 1940.

"Good Start" is probably not by Cash. We include it for its interesting views, however, some good, some dated, and some plainly paternalistic and of the old orders. The good notion is that which was being set forth on the editorial pages of the News regularly, that murders against African-Americans by African-Americans or by whites should be as vigorously prosecuted as white on white or black on white murders. The dated part is the notion of the "good ones" and the "bad ones", of course--a notion which is so facile as to be stupid. There is no bad seed, (and we do not mean to suggest the editorial writer necessarily meant to convey approbation to any such opinion or that the Chief meant it thusly), nor any individual who with proper incentive and opportunity cannot become a viable member of society. There is only bad raising of individuals, bad social influence, cycles of poverty, inadequate education and inadequate job opportunities to match an individual's talents.

We will cite one prominent example of the time period, Huddie Ledbetter, "Leadbelly", who was released in 1934 at age 49 by commutation of a ten-year prison sentence for attempted murder, after four years at Angola State Prison in Louisiana, after serving seven years of a thirty-year sentence for murder in Texas during the twenties. Leadbelly's music and his Tin Pan Alley vibrato, falsetto voice provided us with the foundations for much of our modern music legacy, inspiring a whole generation of white and African-American folk, rock, and blues artists to this day, that is, after John Alan Lomax recorded him and others across the South during the Depression era and preserved their talent for subsequent generations. It was the intercession of Lomax with the Governor of Louisiana which gained the release of Leadbelly from his prison term and provided him thereafter a steady living from recording and performing. A life interspersed with violence and jail was thus turned to productivity--and freedom from crime until the death of Leadbelly from disease in 1949. The cynic might say it was just that Leadbelly got older, but it was more than that, we think. The removal of him from the cycle of poverty and racism in the Deep South to the North where his talent was appreciated and not thought the work of the Devil was the starting point. The South, though less so today than 40 years ago and more, has always been the most thoroughly venal region of the country when it comes to putting down anyone, especially African-Americans, thought to be transgressing the ruling orders, be it with some uppity statement or some uppity song or anything thought to be less than obeisant to the one true God--themselves--though these ruling orders, steeped in their self-serving myths of plantation aristocracy wrenched from their ancestors by the Yankee, were themselves no more than ignorant white trash for the most part, steeped in a religion more nearly resembling paganism than Christianity, as true faith was a cruel joke to these sorts in their family tradition after the Civil War. Their only resort, as the Constitution was an extreme document to be abjured as radicalism, thus was enforcement through violence and race-baiting or just plain baiting of anyone invoking the tenets of democracy, and ultimately jail or death for the steady recalcitrant if necessary, the one who insisted on his or her rights--all to maintain this precarious hypnotic paternalism over their masses, both black and white. And, of course, the police were the servants of these ruling orders, the carefully groomed caretakers of the tradition, doing the dirty work of the self-anointed aristocrats more often than truly enforcing the law in any real and equitable sense. In many places, the tradition still pervades, percolating just below the surface, though the rhetoric has changed gradually over time as the age of television cameras and personal video cameras called for more sophisticated forms of public relations to stem the outcry. But nevertheless, change has gradually developed as generations have grown up thinking differently and with more education to go with the stark brutality no longer able to hide behind the arras of dark night rides but broadcast in the living rooms of the whole nation during the 1960's and since, one of the good things which came with the age of television.

The new Chief's remarks below in 1940 provide example of this earlier heritage when he said "we may have to force" respect of the police by some "of the Negroes". Anyone of normal sensibilities today reading those remarks has to be a little chagrined for the old Chief, steeped in his own time and place though he was. First, everyone ought to know that no one can be forced to respect anyone, police or otherwise. Force, in fact, is a good way to encourage disrespect of any authority. And, of course, still some in authority fail that lesson miserably. In short, being respectful is the best way, the only way, to teach respect and to achieve it.

And, of course, would it were that there would be no need, still today, to refer to "the Negro sections" of any town... Until then, there will be no resolution to the racial divides which haunt our country--and our world--still today. Working around, going to school with people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds is a start, but only that. Chatting over the back fence with a person as one's neighbor is always the best way to achieve a true feeling of full humanity toward the other.

And as for the ruling orders and their paternalistic boot-kick, night stick, canine trick brand of enforcement...

"Irene, goodnight. Irene, goodnight. Goodnight, Irene. Goodnight, Irene. I'll see you in my dreams..."

Good Start*

Chief Joyner Raises Hopes By a Deed and a Word

Chief Joyner did one thing and said another, after being sworn in Saturday, that will meet with wholehearted approval. Both augur well for his success in a difficult job.

What he did was to constitute a board of examiners, made up of his ranking officers, to pass on promotions in the department. Thus at one crack did the Chief seek to steer clear of favoritism within and politics without, and put merit as the first of all qualifications.

What he said was even more hopeful, indicating that he has a realistic conception of the problems facing him. He was talking about the city's murder record (worst in the land), and he laid down the policies that he had in mind:

"I'm going to appeal to the good people among the Negroes (and they far outnumber the bad) to help us in law enforcement. We are going to police the Negro sections, and we are going to have the respect of the Negroes, some of whom we may have to force to respect us. And there aren't going to be any more white or Negro murders. Murder is going to be murder. And when a Negro is murdered, we are going to make as thorough an investigation and conduct as vigorous a prosecution as within our ability lies."

If the Chief and his men live up to that declaration, in all its particulars, they will earn stars for their police uniforms here and stars for their crowns up yonder.


China Shop

A Bull Can Play Hob in It Without Meaning To

Inspector Louis B. Nichols of the Federal Bureau of Investigation tells a New York audience that the FBI has uncovered an organized gang of saboteurs in this country, which has gone so far as to establish schools for the training of its operatives. The gang hadn't done anything yet, but was warming up for the job. Meantime the FBI has its eye on them.

Then he went on:

"Nothing would please the totalitarian powers more than knowing exactly the information we possess concerning their activities."

And added that subversive forces had tried to maneuver the FBI to a position where it would have to make public its information.

Which is interesting in view of the fact that FBI has been bitterly protesting that the activities of the Dies Committee were playing directly into the hands of the totalitarians and gumming up the works. And that Martin Dies last week stalked out of the White House and made plain that he had given the President to understand that he wouldn't yield the limelight to anybody and was going right ahead with his "investigations" and "revelations."

There may be something of prima donna jealousy on both sides in this dispute, for J. Edgar Hoover has before now shown himself fairly fond of the headlines. But there is no reasonable doubt as to which side has the best argument from the standpoint of the welfare of the nation.

The FBI is a capital sleuthing agency, by the record. But as for Martin Dies--nobody supposes that he would deliberately play to the Nazis and Fascists despite his former tenderness for them.

But he has shown over and over that he is totally incapable of distinguishing between a Fifth Columnist and somebody whose opinions he just doesn't like, that he is greatly given to going off half-cocked, that he is far too avid of the headlines, and that he is eager to believe anything that smacks of E. Phillips Oppenheim.

All these qualities make him the perfect subject for the Nazi-Fascist-Communist tactics of trying to direct attention away from their really dangerous activities and gumming up the FBI.


In Order

Kennedy's Views Made Him Misfit as Ambassador

The resignation of Joseph P. Kennedy as Ambassador to England was very much in order. For since his return to this country on the eve of the election he has been rapidly qualifying as America's No. 1 Appeaser.

He has maintained that the Boston interview was intended to be private, but his "private" views and remarks have been getting into the prints too regularly to make it likely that he has not intended just that. And he has not repudiated the opinions assigned him in the Boston report.

He believes that England is probably already whipped, and even if she does win she'll go Communistic after the war. Therefore he thinks the thing for her to do is to make "peace," which is to say to surrender to Adolf Hitler. And he thinks the United States should take the lead in such a peace (surrender).

And after that he apparently wants the United States to enter into active collaboration with Adolf Hitler for the "new order" in the world. That, he seems to think, is the only way to head off Russian Communism, with the fear of which he is obsessed.

He is entitled to his views and his wishes. They are not the views and wishes of the great majority of his countrymen. It is to be said for him that as Ambassador he has apparently cooperated fully with the English despite his views. But it was obviously out of keeping to have an appeaser as our envoy in London.


Gross Lapse

A Murder Record Is Dished Up Without Charlotte

J. Edgar Hoover is obviously a man with no proper regard for civic sensibilities.

As all patriotic Charlotteans should know by this time, Charlotte led the nation's cities for murder in 1939, on a basis of population. At least it led all those from 25,000 population on up. With 29 murders, it even out-topped its ancient rival for first honors, Atlanta, and snowed under such contenders as Nashville, Miami, and Chattanooga. As we recall it, the town was at least seven times as murderous as Chicago and ten times as murderous as New York.

And lest anybody should have any doubt about its genuine eminence in the field, the town has already by the first of November chalked up 40 murders for 1940.

Yet in a recapitulation of crime in 1939 for American cities of over 25,000 people, published in the third quarterly bulletin of the FBI for this year, we find neither hide nor hair of mention of Charlotte. We couldn't believe our eyes.

At first we thought that maybe the Charlotte cops had been so busy with the Littlejohn case, the Dale-Wishart case, and the pressing business of running down pint-peddlers that they had neglected the mere detail of reporting our murder honors to Washington. Or that the boys might suddenly be growing modest. But then we recall that the figure for Charlotte had appeared in the fourth quarterly FBI bulletin for 1939 as big as life.

So that leaves it pinned squarely on J. Edgar Hoover. The man not only has no feeling for the proper pride of a city, he has no sense of drama, either. Talk about presenting Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark!


Flag Scorner

Prison Terms Can't Make Real Respect for Nation

At Toms River, N. J., the firemen of the state held a parade last June 29. In the course of the event a girl, Helga Schleuter, twenty years old, apparently of German extraction, threw a United States flag to the ground by way showing contempt for it. For that she was arrested.

In the course of a trial in common plea court her attorney maintained that she was drunk on beer and not responsible for her action. But last week she was found guilty and Judge Percy Camp sentenced her to a term of from one to two years in the New Jersey reformatory for women. Said he:

"It takes such times as these to prove the importance of respect for the flag."

The case leaves us with some misgivings. The woman obviously had something coming to her for disturbing the peace. But the flag in itself is only a piece of bunting. All its real value lies in what it symbolizes--among other things, the right to hold damnable opinions and dislike our form of government. And it is more than doubtful that respect and love for what it symbolizes can be inculcated into anybody by outside force, by imprisoning a woman for a long period.

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