The Charlotte News

Tuesday, December 24, 1940



Site Ed. Note: The Holiday from newspaper work would be put to good advantage by Wilbur Joseph Cash and Mary Bagley Ross. This night, while visiting their friends, Frank and Laura McClenagen, in Charlotte, the thought would be put on the hearth to be wed in the Gretna Green of South Carolina, York. So, they slipped over the border just after midnight, sought out a justice of the peace and there were wed in the wee hours of Christmas morn. No one in Cash's family would know until later in the day. By Mary's later account, the marriage was a sound one, albeit all too brief... (Incidentally, we borrow the spelling of the friends' names not from Cash's biographers, but rather from an inscription on a book, published July 1, 1941, Father of the Blues, by W. C. Handy, presented at some subsequent time to Cash's sister, Bertie, presumably from Mary--so if this spelling is incorrect, our apologies.)

In "The Innocents", Cash plainly has on his mind the children of the future who would be born into the war slaughtering world which then pervaded. He would never have the opportunity to have any child of his own, but children of his teaching he would most definitely produce--and still to this day in 2003... Nazis may stop a heart from beating, and the harsh exigencies of the day may force the heart to ash, but such miscreants were, and will always be, impotent in the long run to vanquish the spirit which is humankind, that which impels each of us ultimately to be free from tyranny, whether of the body or of the mind or both at once. And lest we ever allow the same such set of misbegotten minds as reigned over Europe in 1940 to reign supreme that we might find our literal Armageddon one day, it shall be so for times infinite.

While on this notion, we hear sometimes some ask the question as to why the Jewish tradition refuses to recognize Christ as the saviour when Christ was a Jew, a rabbi, in fact. We also hear it proclaimed, especially among the hooded ones or descendents of same, by the venal, that it was a Jew who killed Christ and Jews who gave the thumbs down in the square before Pilate, so... We can respond to these overly simplistic inquiries of course by indicating that first, religious tradition is tradition to be respected by all, that finding it objectionable to maintain the tradition of the Old Testament with its prophecy of the coming of Emmanuel yet unfulfilled is to find the whole thing objectionable ultimately. For that unfulfilled Promise in the Jewish tradition is the quest of hope for the Promised Land, infinitely and always, a parable for all, young and old, to understand and by which to endure--that the myth of the fulfillment of the Promise in the physical, temporal world is to find excuse for all sorts of bad things on the convenient hinge that all is forgiven after the bad thing of which the person should have known better than to do to begin with. And that, after about age 13 or so, we should become of age enough to know the essential elements of what is wrong or right to do by our fellows, no stealing, no killing, no falseness against them, for starters. We could answer also that those who executed Christ as an heretic were secular automatons of Rome, were not religious at all, any more than the Nazis of the Second Rome were who executed six million Jews, dissidents and intellectuals thought dangerous to the Reich, without trial or without wrong alleged against them other than their religious and ethnic heritage or the books they read or wrote and professed to others. We could answer that the two stories side by side in the Bible, the Old and the New, serve a unified purpose to provide a framework for understanding human relations in our world, without taking it all so, quite so, literally as to become tied-in-knot fools over it--so much so that one would take up arms to promote it, as so many have.

(In fact, in reading the Kloran of the Invisible Empire of the State of Mississippi, set in granite on April 20, 1898--nine years to the day after Adolf Hitler, (whose illegitimate father was born Alois Schicklgruber, thence changed to Alois Hiedler, to match the name of his putative father, thence to "Hitler" by dent of error in the Viennese civil records (so much for Nostradamus' supposed Mister Hister), was born and baptized a Roman Catholic in the Austrian village of Braunau Am Inn, possibly of a Jewish grandfather named Frankenberger--we find that the Klavern in its Klonklave, by the Kludd Almighty, the Klokan and Klokann (KBI) thereof, the Klokard and the Klabee-Kleagle, and all its Terrors are required to subscribe to the notion that they would fight to the death to defend Jesus Christ, their "criterion of character", to "embrace the spirit of Christian militancy which is the basic philosophy of [that] order", and to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States "as originally written"--and we feel certain Jesus and Jefferson would be pleased to hear it... (To be fully understood, of course, it might help for starters to speak something other than Klinglish.))

The answer to these hurt and hurtful inquiries is simply to study and understand, we think. There, finally, comes Peace. A little of this, and a little of that... Balance. The Menorah represents light from too little oil, to illuminate the dark forbidding night full of trouble, or in other configurations, the days of creation in the month of Elul. The Nativity represents rebirth, the enduring limitless spirit against those who would, for their own unendurable guilt over murder or the like, try to kill that spirit for all time. All about understanding light and dark, time, the finite and the infinite, the changing of the seasons from planting to harvest and back again, sustenance in a hostile world full of greed seeking deprivation of provender from those perceived as powerless, while taking from them labor for increase, the way it seems sometimes of Nature itself.

And Cash's take on the Nativity is, we think, therefore, rather outstanding. Our modern queries as to why courts ban scenes of the nativity on government lawns are silly, again, of course. Our government is framed to avoid the endorsement of a religion--and, even as originally written. Very simple. That is so simply because our Founders had seen, either directly or through their forebears, the results of the bitter conflict over religion, primarily in Germany, Ireland, Scotland and England, the conflict there being between tribal, clannish sects of Protestantism and between Protestantism and Catholicism, especially as it all at any time threatened the Divine authority of the Church of England and those in whom it invested Royal Divine Right. Beheadings, revolts, coups, the reign of the Chosen Divine Rightists, the deposing of same, and round and round again we went, chasing even the exiled, the colonists and their progeny, the dispossessed, who came, some voluntarily, some not, to the shores of America to seek (or in some cases to be chained to) a new life, by following them even to these shores with the Royal governors set up over the land of the heathens, the heretics who, it was thought by the Royals, hadn't the sense to govern themselves--until the Revolution finally ended all of that, at least more or less, as time advanced the argument. But lest we forget, the Loyalists, after the Revolution, still remained among us, of course, free to say and print as they wished--and still do.

(Did ye ever think on the notion, that it was, hidden away in the deep-shadowed, magnolia-entwined moonlight, some Brit or Loyalist thereto who prompted the recreant Southerner of Charleston to take up his gun against the Federal in Charleston Harbor the night afore that day in April, 1861? Why else would you think Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution of the Confederacy, promulgated in March, 1861, alike in most other respects to the United States Constitution as it then existed, would contain the clause: "The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same"? That way, there was no economic competition with the English colonization of Africa, you see, colonization for the exploitation of the locals to acquire mineral and plantation wealth while stopping the slave trade in 1833 in such places as Nigeria, Rhodesia, and South Africa, all being thusly transformed by the Brits to exploited colonies around the same time, in 1860-61. More the likely thereby, that is, by this clause, that the Brits might aid the Confederacy. But also, if the South had somehow won the thing, 'twouldn't have been long until the British armada took care of the newly formed Confederacy, then perhaps, too, the North--or so it was very possibly conceptualized as such a house of cards. Anyway, more on that some other day...)

But no one of the United States, no court, has ever banned a church or banned the representation of the Nativity on the lawn of a church--for that too is violative of the Constitution as the same First Amendment, as originally written even, also prohibits the government from interfering with the free exercise of religion. Hence, by logical inference, church and state are required to be separate. Simple. So...

So when we hear Mr. O'Really on television proclaim the other day that we are a Christian nation and that the Nativity indirectly led to the Founding of this nation, and hence shouldn't be prohibited on government lawns as it is merely a secular symbol, we have to stop, wonder a little, and then ask plaintively, "Oh really?" Many fled to this land because of religious persecution, to be sure. (Economic persecution, famines, disease, crowded conditions, and political persecution were, moreover, central ingredients to the Great Exile, too.) But often, more often than not, in the early days, if we fled primarily for religious reasons, we were members of Christian sects fleeing persecution by others claiming to be the font of all Christianity, the Divine Rightists. Later on, the Exile would include others of as many religions as the globe has yet devised among us. The Nativity, 'twould seem, thus had little to do with it. It was rather a failure to understand one another, a failure to accord the Other the right to be heard, the insistence that our way was the only way, that or else get thee out from our midst or be slaughtered physically or by reputation. Mr. O'Really had better study his history lessons a little better this Christmas. (We do like his position, however, that Robert F. Kennedy was a truly great American, embodying all that is good about this secular land of ours.)

And when we hear of the former Chief Justice of Alabama and his monument to the Ten Commandments in the lobby of the Alabama Supreme Court, we wonder yet more about it all. Of course, the Ten Commandments on public display on government property is unacceptable as an establishment, or tending to establish, the Judeo-Christian ethic as the Religion of the government. And of course, were it otherwise, it sets up itself then as a violation of one of the Commandments, as being itself a false idol to be placed before Him. And it should be, therefore, as it was, removed. Better to place it on the property of a proper church which wishes to accept it, golden calf and all.

Yet, we have to remember also forgiveness. And the Justice, we think, was treated, and is being treated, too harshly for his state-sponsored expression, ill-advised though it was. Yes, he violated a federal court order, at least in a sense, by not removing the monument himself. But the thing was too heavy, after all, for him to do it alone anyway, it being of solid granite or marble, we hear. So, removing it, charging him for the removal costs, simply that, might have been a better and more just solution than removing him from the bench entirely, we think--and certainly than from removing him entirely from the Bar. While we think the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center during the last thirty years or so to be exemplary of upholding our rights under the Constitution, on this one, we disagree with the extent to which the Justice is being pursued. It is difficult to teach salutary lessons from too much harshness of discipline and punishment on either side, we think. At least the Alabama Chief Justice did not seek to block the workmen from doing their task by blocking the courthouse door. Nor was the argument this time set along racial divides. Time passes and we learn, at least some of it. Just a thought...

And by the way, a thorough exegesis of the Ten versus the thoughts of Christ as set down in the New one, (see, e.g., Matthew 5, Mark 10, John 15), counsels that amendments from too harsh precepts are permitted as we learn from harsh experience, as time goes by. Nothing, really, is as it was originally written; otherwise it would not have progressed much beyond "al-pha, ga-ga".

"Listen, my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride..."

Merry Christmas.

Oh look, here comes Santa Claus.


"No Paper Tomorrow" Good News To 800 News Workers

In keeping with an old custom and the spirit of the season, The News will publish no paper tomorrow. This is done that the men, women and boys who, 364 days in the year (365 in this leap year), unfailingly perform their appointed duties may on this one day be released from any duty to The News.

Instead, they are to be free to spend it with their families, their relatives, or their friends, comforted by the knowledge that the day belongs exclusively to them.

An astonishing large number of persons will thus benefit. Altogether, including workers in the plant, men in the field, carrier boys and out of town and street sales boys, there are some 800 or 900 of them. It is, you see, a large organization, and accordingly the boon of no task to do on Christmas Day is a large one.

It will be strange to have no paper to read in the afternoon and stranger still to have no paper to put out. But, for a change, it will be exceedingly pleasant, and our wish for these loyal servitors of The News is that from this one Holiday of the year they shall draw the unique satisfaction which they deserve.


The Innocents

A Passage Which Recalls The Events of This Year

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, go in search diligently for the young child; and when you have found him, bring the word again, that I may come and worship him also.

When they had heard the king, they departed; and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went over them, till it came instead over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him; and when they had opened their treasure, they presented him gifts; gold and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt; and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him...

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.


Jesus Is Born

The Time of His Coming Was Not Unlike Ours

The times in which the Child was born were not unlike our own. An era had just closed or was closing. A new political colossus, the Roman Empire, had arisen, and the first of its emperors, Augustus, was on the throne. Enslaved nations stirred restlessly but impotently under the iron yoke, and none stirred more restlessly and impotently than the land of the Jews.

A sort of earlier Poland, it had been enslaved for centuries and had constantly clung to the dream of freedom, had revolted often against all its conquerors. Freedom, any freedom, was dying in the world, but the Jews still held to their dream, would in a few more generations throw themselves on the spears of destruction in a last vain effort to grasp it.

Herod had reason to be uneasy. For up from the land hourly went prayers to Heaven to send them the Messiah to strike down this early Nazism.

From Gaul and Spain to Armenia, from the German marches to the Persian Gulf, war raged incessantly. The first Storm Troopers of the West, the Roman legionnaires, were everywhere masters. Save in Germany. There in the dark forest the hordes beat their shields about their altars red with the blood of human sacrifice. Already they had swept up the country a number of times before. In about the time the Child would be old enough to be teaching the elders in the Temple, they would come again--to annihilate the favorite legions of Augustus--an ominous herald of what the coming centuries would bring.

In every land there was hunger, and in every land terrifying economic dislocation and change. The fields of Italy itself were already turning back to wasteland as the farmers, unable to compete with the new granary of Egypt, fled to join the breadlines in Rome.

The Augustan Age, they call it. And the name calls up golden visions of prosperity. But it was golden and prosperous mainly for a handful of early Nazis in Rome and for their literary satellites. For the mass of Western mankind, it was an age of misery, announcing ages of greater misery to come.

A terrifying world, on the whole, for a child to be born into. A terrifying world for him to set out in alone to conquer brutality single-handed. Thinking on it, you might well have said that it was a world in which it was better not to be born at all.

But we may be sure that neither Mary nor Joseph, watching over Him, was troubled by thoughts like that, wholly apart from His divinity. The mother never is troubled by thoughts like that, and only rarely, if at all, the father. The child is his own justification, everywhere and always. He represents the return of life upon its source, the beginning again "with sweet renewal of lost innocence." An earnest that if evil triumphs, it will not always triumph. And the summation of the faith and hope of strained and troubled humanity, torn between its two natures, that somehow, somewhere it shall prove itself but little lower than the angels.

And that is why, of course, our tenderest sentiments have gathered around the story of the Nativity and why Christmas is the dearest of all the holy days.


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