The Charlotte News

Sunday, July 9, 1939

FOUR EDITORIALS

 

Site Editor's Note: Jessie Daniel Ames, to whom Cash refers in the first editorial of this date, would write to him several times in praise of The Mind of the South in March and April, 1941.

And, as to the last editorial, my, my, my--what would Cash say today of the many more perquisites received by members of Congress than the relatively scant ones of which this editorial makes mention? But to a newspaperman in late Depression-era North Carolina earning $50 a week, working 52 weeks per year, come bending vapors, slip, or deluge, and the services of a communally shared typist, the idea of $10,000 annual income, a staff, and time off for the humid Washington summer, was as a king's living, no doubt.

A Distinction

Some Lynchings Are In Fact Private Murders

In a letter which we reproduce in the letter column to our right [see below], Jessie Daniel Ames, executive director of the Association of Southern Women For the Prevention of Lynching says:

"I haven't evidence enough to sustain my conclusions, but the indications are that there is a disposition on the part of the statistical agencies which give out the number of lynchings annually and semi-annually to include the violent death of the Negro at the hands of one white man as a lynching."

In support of that she points out that one of the four "lynchings" reported for the first six months of this year were certainly committed by one man, that in another the body of the victim was found in a swamp and the evidence of mob work is not clear, and that in the third a man was snatched from a freight train and hanged, apparently by no more than three or four men.

We suspect that she is right--had, indeed, already suggested as much on this page. At least two of the six "lynchings" reported for 1938 appear to have been the work of individuals or small groups which could not correctly be called mobs--were murders rather than lynchings in the strict sense.

We have no desire at all to minimize the criminality and shamefulness of the lynching record in the South. And it is certainly true that the community which fails adequately to punish the murderer or murderers of the Negro is in somewise an active participant in the crime--may justly be charged with fostering the lynching spirit. Nevertheless, the distinction between private murder and mob murderer ought to be carefully made by way of keeping the record straight. It serves no good cause needlessly to confuse terms.

Dear Sir:

You will be interested in certain statistics which seem to be developing as a report of the decreasing number of lynchings during the past 18 months. [Quoted text above.]

Even though the number of lynchings under this interpretation may remain fairly uniform with that of past numbers, nevertheless, we of the Association believe that the gradual elimination of mobs in this type of "lynching" deals such progress in our educational program that our Southern courts' support and public opinion will, with increasing frequency, convict white men for the murder of a Negro.

For your information I am enclosing a record of lynchings and previous lynchings for the first six months of 1939. This record in a way makes these statistics much more personal since one is able to check the rank of your own state and possibly your own county.

Jessie Daniel Ames

Executive Director, Association of Southern Women For the Prevention of Lynching, Atlanta

 

Away Beyond Oblivion

Messr. Brines Covers The Mongolian Front And Finds It Noisy And Dangerous

It is somewhat the other side of oblivion, that region around Lake Bor or Buir where the Japanese and Russo-Mongol forces are waging a great battle. Tanks and heavy artillery in that scene are as incongruous as they would be at the South Pole. For this is the country of the Great Gobi Desert--as nearly a wasteland as exists on earth. In all the vast sweep of Mongolia, 750,000 square miles, less than 5,000,000 people live. And the Lake Bor Region is perhaps the most desolate corner of the whole.

Long ago, perhaps, it was a fertile and blooming country, for many remains of prehistoric man have been found here. But now there is only sand and rock and an occasional sink hole of brackish water, such as Lake Bor is. Seven hundred miles southward, as the crow flies, stands Peiping. But there are no towns or even caravan stops about Bor. The nearest trading post, is Kerulin, a hundred and fifty miles northwestward on the Kulun River.

Northward a hundred miles or so is Siberia, with the Trans-Siberian Railway snaking along the border. A hundred miles or so to the east is the Manchurian Railway. Westward two hundred miles is the caravan trail across the Great Gobi from China to Siberian Irkutsk, and a hundred miles west of that the Chinese post "road" to the same place.

A dizzily high plateau, all the Mongolian country is bitterly cold for most of the year. But in Summer, it turns overpoweringly hot for a brief period, the sudden rains fill every depression with quickly receding pools, mosquitoes swarm in clouds, and the grass sprouts thinly up to die almost immediately. And in that period there trickle into the Lake Bor region the few camel-keeping nomads, still living almost exactly as they lived six hundred years ago when Marco Polo encountered them on his way to Cathay and the court of Kublai Khan--himself a child of Mongolia. But for the rest of the year, the country is almost completely uninhabited.

A strange wild place for a modern battle to be waging-- a strange wild place for men to struggle over its possession at all. But what Japan wants with it, of course, is to flank Siberia and the Trans-Siberia Railroad.

Stranger even than the battle here, however, is that we know about it even as it goes on. Twenty years ago, we should have heard of it only as rumor and not two weeks after it happened. But in these days the coverage of the news reporting agencies and particularly the Associated Press, has become so thorough and complete that you can pick up your paper daily and read an account of the event as rapidly as it transpires--not at secondhand but direct from the AP's Russell Brines who is himself actually there on the scene--who writes while Soviet-Mongol shells whiz over his head and the Mongol artillery men train their guns on his automobile.

Oasis Dries Up

South Carolina Eschews Bootleg Liquor Trade

The South Carolina Legislature seems to have taken a leaf out of North Carolina's book (and the wind out of Mecklenburg bootleggers' sales) by exerting centralized control over the State's liquor system. The immediate result has been gravely to jeopardize Mecklenburg's liquor supply.

When first it went wet (in a Democratic primary) South Carolina assayed the license system. Some discretion was used in granting licenses, but in the main business of dispensing liquor was left to thousands of retailers, mostly small. Buying was a private transaction between retailers and wholesalers, neither of whose prices were regulated. Nor was there much regulation of any kind.

All that has been changed, as have other undesirable features of the law. The sale of more than five gallons to an individual is forbidden if the seller has reason to believe that his customer is buying for re-sale. If the customer is caught re-selling, his purchase of more than five gallons is prima facie evidence against the dealer, for whose restraint stiff penalties are laid down. Retail prices and brands are covered in a trade agreement which the State Tax Commission must approve, and prices must be posted. And higher taxes, to be sure--$1.28 a gallon, which, with the Federal tax of $2.25 a gallon, figures out to 88 a quurt.

Altogether, the new system is hardly calculated to retain the Mecklenburg market. This proud County may yet be compelled to supply its own demand.

Less Than Moving

They Wanna Go Home, These Well-Paid Lads

Senator Borah is considerably exercised over the fact that settlement of the neutrality issue promises to keep Congress in session for sometime, when the boys want badly to adjourn and go home.

"If the majority of the committee (Senate Foreign Relations Committee) decides to support repeal of the embargo," he laments, "we will be here until August."

But the argument is somewhat less than convincing. So far as the country goes, it would be a relief to have the eternal squabble between President and Congress at an end for awhile. But the fact that the Congressmen themselves want to take a vacation of months cuts little ice. These men are paid ten thousand dollars a year, plus clerk hire, to attend the national business. And surely, the question of the neutrality bill is an important piece of such business. One way or the other, the matter plainly ought to be settled--and Congressmen have no more right to run out on it than any of the millions of little men employed by private business have a right to run out and leave their desks cluttered for months.

Washington is not precisely a Summer resort, we know very well. But neither is Charlotte, or most other places in the United States. And Congressmen suffering from the heat ought to be able to relax a good deal merely by thinking of that ten thousand smackers a year, with a secretary and two pretty stenographers thrown in for good measure.

 


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