The Charlotte News

Monday August 26, 1940


Site Ed. Note: You probably wouldn't believe us if we claimed that we hadn't read "A Miscue" when we wrote the note accompanying the editorials of August 4, but 'tis true anyway. Maybe just a circular tale we tell, at times...

A Miscue

Mr. Burgess Sees a Dry Argument Where None Is

Mr. Cale Burgess, president of the United Dry Forces in North Carolina, is greatly pleased with the partial prohibition ordered in France and holds it up as a shining light to Tar Heels. Says he:

"The beautiful France of Lafayette, crushed by liquor and immorality, realizes today that she drank herself to defeat."

Which is about as wrong as a man can ever get to be in this world. In point of fact, "the beautiful France of Lafayette" was noteworthy, among other things, for its hard drinking. Travelers who were in France on the eve of the Revolution reported that drunkenness among the miserable and sodden masses was something to see. And the Marquis de Lafayette was no more of prohibitionist than George Washington.

On the other hand, all competent observers agree that modern France is and has been the least drunken nation in the world. Everybody in France drinks wine with his meals, but the notion that drunkenness is usual is as ridiculous as the notion that "immorality" has been common among the body of the French people--one of the most sober-sided and strait-laced on earth.

The prohibition ordered in France has been ordered at the instance of the Nazis. And its purpose has nothing to do with morality but only with the husbanding of grain and other foodstuffs for the feeding of Nazis this Winter. The proof of that lies in the drinks selected for prohibition. Wine can be had usual. So can champagne, a heady wine. And so can cognac--a brandy a good deal more powerful than whiskey.

Mr. Burgess, as usual, is talking through his beaver.

Shoot A Nickel*

Mayor Tom Says It All Depends on Who Fades You

For several weeks Mayor Tom Taggart of Atlantic City, disgusted with the apathy of his police force, has been going around at night raiding gambling joints with a six-shooter in his hand. And yet Mayor Tom says he's not opposed to gambling "for people who like it and can afford it."

He'd like nothing better than to have a racetrack with pari-mutuel betting as an added Atlantic City attraction. Yet he has forced booky joints to close down.

As city recorder, he once lit into the cops for raiding an apartment where nine women had a game going, with $22.95 in the pot. Yet not long ago he descended, gun in hand, on a bingo palace and held 300 customers in the place for two hours before he let them go and arrested the proprietors.

The fellow's actions are contradictory. Obviously, his explanation, that he's not opposed to gambling for people who like it and can afford it, doesn't cover his behavior.

What he's probably driving at is this: that gambling, per se, isn't necessarily harmful, but that a system which creates proprietors of gambling is harmful. Gambling, being an illegitimate enterprise, usually winds up in the hands of the worst crowd and is a prolific source of corruption and fraud.

It need not taint its participants but it assuredly infects police departments and municipal governments. Eh, Mayor Tom?

Weak Penalty

Major Acts of Sabotage Deserve Capital Punishment

One of the weaknesses of democracies which has been clearly revealed in the last ten years is that they are too much inclined to gentleness and indecisiveneness even in dealing with their deadliest enemies. If the German Republic had hanged Adolf Hitler after his first bloody attempt at revolution instead of weakly letting him off with a few months in jail, it might be standing yet.

And if France had adopted the death penalty for treason in time, the Fifth Column might not have been so effective for her doom.

All of which is preface to observing that Secretary Stimson, in asking Congress to extend the sabotage laws to times of emergency like these, asks only for a maximum penalty of ten years in jail and a fine of $10,000.

That is obviously high enough for those guilty of minor or isolated acts of sabotage--perhaps even for such acts as throwing scrap metal into the engines of a battleship and putting her out of action for six months, but plainly would not be adequate in case of actual war.

But how about the sort of animal who blows up a vital munitions factory, which cannot be replaced for years, endangering hundreds of lives of the workers employed there? If he actually kills anybody, he can of course be tried for murder and dispatched. But if he fails, it is surely no fault of his intention.

And considering the peril to the nation, ten years seems a small enough penalty. Negroes sometimes get that much simply for breaking into a grocery store.

The way to stop this sort of thing is to head it off in the beginning. And the best way to do that is to hang the first man who tries it. The good Confederate formula, "Hell, hanging and calomel," still has its uses.

Odd Defense

Wheeler & Co. Use Strange Device To This Purpose

It is a somewhat ironic position in which Burt Wheeler & Co. have got themselves.

Their story is that they are fighting to preserve democracy and head off dictatorship in this country--by blocking the draft.

But their zeal for democracy exhibits itself in the use of the filibuster. And the filibuster is the antithesis of democracy, for it is essentially a device designed to the end of enabling a minority to defeat the will of the majority.

Burt Wheeler denies, indeed, that what is in progress is a filibuster. The draft, he says, is a very grave step and ought not to be taken without the fullest discussion and examination. Granted. But the fact is that about American people have been discussing and examining the draft idea ever since Hitler began his invasion of the Lowlands. Six months ago they were dead against it. Today, according to the public opinion polls, they are two-to-one in favor of it.

Moreover, the Burke-Wadsworth Bill itself has been before Congress for over two months, and everything on earth that can be said about it, pro and con, has been said. Is Burt Wheeler and his gang daily offering some new and cogent argument? Far from it. They long ago ceased to argue and are now using up valuable time in doing nothing but denouncing better men than themselves as "traitors." They are talking, not to prove anything, but to kill time to prevent a vote. And that is precisely what a filibuster is, whether you call it by its right name or not.

The plain fact is that Wheeler & Co. are out to defeat the will of the majority, willy-nilly, and leave this country wide-open to the incursions of Hitlerism. That is certainly the strangest way to defend democracy which has ever been hatched up in this republic.

A Monopoly

But There Are Many Parts To This Combine

One of the boys in the Associated Press office turns in the following suggestion:

"Perhaps Uncle Sam can indict the Ku Klux Klan and the German-American Bund under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act--monopoly on Un-Americanism."

However, we are not so sure. The Communists would plainly have to be indicted in the combine, too. And from our own gallery we could name some others who certainly would be open to suspicion, but discreetly refrain.


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