Friday, October 12, 1928

Shelby, N.C.

C. J. Mabry .. President

J. Nelson Callahan .. Business Manager

W. J. Cash .. Managing Editor

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Chuck Collins lost his pants but not the game to Maryland. And better pants lost than a job as, no doubt, M. Collins reflects.


A deacon, irate because some kids changed his Smith tag for a Hoover one, offers $5 reward if somebody snitches on the youngsters. Now he's going to force the parents to lick the brats under threat of calling in the Welfare officer. It must be horrible to be that important.

"Democrats Quit Wisconsin Race". And, such are the paradoxes of politics, the Democrats quit that race in order to win it.

"Cornish cats have no tails," reports an exchange. It is very strong liquor Cornishmen drink. And sometimes they even see those tails lost by the cats fighting it out in a sawdust pit over in Irish Killkenny, we've been told.

The state of Ohio has reason to blush. Seventeen prisoners are burned to death in a dormitory which was of frame construction.


A lot of Republicans are telling Mr. Hoover that New Jersey will be for him. We have an idea that what Mr. Hoover would like would be fewer such reports from Republicans and more from innocent bystanders.


* * * * * *

Apparently young Hickman will hang.

We hold no brief for capital punishment. It probably is no more barbaric than a great many of our prisons. It is probably less barbaric than the chain gang system which continues to disgrace North Carolina. If an individual may kill in self-defense, then, certainly, society may.

For all that, capital punishment must remain a blot on civilization, not because of what it does to the criminal, but because of the preferred psychological effect on the mass of us. The Snyder woman and her enamorata were put to death with the entire population--men, women, and children--as onlookers. A spectacle in a Human arena. None may forget. Each must count life a little cheaper. There remains the morbid fascination--the lure that leaves Maupassant's "The Coward" afraid that he will be afraid in the duel to suicide. The force of that idea working away in the consciousness of the weak is incalculable. It is freighted with explosive possibilities.

It is futile to blame newspapers. In these times they have become business institutions. It may be a sorry business, but the people demand to sit in on executions, demand the last harrowing detail. They will demand it again when Hickman goes. (And we think of none since the notorious Giles of Laval--a murderer of children preserved for posterity in the Bluebeard story--who better deserves the noose.)

The newspapers might refuse to report the thing. States might even pass laws barring such reports. We should merely have a new class of bootleggers. Such publicity is the inevitable concomitant of our closely knit society. All America lives in closer relation today than two villages in North Carolina 50 years ago. That is the reasonable argument against capital punishment. It is not sentimentality over scoundrels who deserve none. It is a consideration of reality, of the best interests of a world grown so compact that most of our traditions are useless for its control.

* * * * * *

About the first thing that the next Legislature ought to turn its attention to is the remedying of the absurd condition brought about by provision of the Turlington Prohibition Enforcement Act which makes it impossible for a physician to legally secure whiskey for his patients.

Opinions on Prohibition aside, there can be little doubt in the mind of anyone not a fanatic that whiskey is a valuable drug. There is the unanimous opinion of the American Medical Association to that effect. There is the recent work of Raymond Pearl at the Johns Hopkins which again deftly establishes that whiskey is an essential in the treatment of certain diseases, particularly those peculiar to aged men. And all these things merely reaffirm what the old physician long ago discovered.

In this State Dr. Andrew J. Crowell of Charlotte, a leading doctor of the South, has repeatedly called the attention of authorities to the matter without result. The other day another distinguished doctor of the State said to us, "I had to give my mother bootleg liquor because I could secure no other kind." It is literally true that there is no legal method by which a doctor in the State may secure whiskey for a patient. Indeed, Dr. Crowell has boldly stated that, finding himself in a position where he either had to break the law or ignore the best interests of his patients, he has bought bootleg liquor for them. And we do not hesitate to say that we honor him for that action.

The law is palpable nonsense. It may be quite true that prescription privileges have been abused in States which allow them. But no conceivable violation there would justify the denial of the needed medicine to a large body of the sick. It is just as though one, finding a hole in his trousers, proceeded to sew himself into a sack. Turlington has displayed fanaticism on too many occasions. He ought, therefore, never to have been charged with writing an enforcement act.

* * * * * *
(from The New York Times)

Nothing of Mrs. Willebrandt's case is more heartening than the swift condemnation which the leading Republican newspapers have given to her speeches. They of course have reasons of expediency as well as principle for attacking her; she is estranging many voters. But the appeal to principle is emphasized, and often with outraged vigor. Newspapers which try to defend her, like the Kansas City Star, are the exception.

The Chicago Tribune thinks that Mrs. Willebrandt's efforts "to promote a church war" are an instance of pernicious political activity hard to match and that "the only adequate squaring of this episode would be the removal of the offender from office." The Springfield Republican exclaims of her speech to the Methodist Conference: "How unwise and even dangerous that appeal was!" The Boston Transcript calls for her removal from the platform, and flatly contradicts her statement that Prohibition is a moral issue. "It is not that at all! It is a question of practical administration." The Ohio State Journal declares that her speeches "contribute to the repudiation of the great doctrine of the separation of church and state, one of the fundamental guarantees of American Liberty." The Chicago Daily News calls her appeals "reprehensible and foolish." Our neighbor the Evening Post deplores the fact that "she's still loose" and that Dr. Work has apparently "not a glimmer as to the essential wrongness of Mrs. Willebrandt's ideas."

When a great American principle is recklessly violated, partisanship does not interfere with the feeling of intelligent people on the subject. Few men, we think, can doubt what Theodore Roosevelt has said of Mrs. Willebrandt. --The New York Times.

* * * * * *

Herbert Hoover is nominated to the collection of American myths. He is nominated by that loyal soul, the Hon. James J. Davis, Secretary of Labor. That collection of myths is probably the finest and most extensive ever gathered by any nation, not excluding Great Britain's which includes such shining glories as Warren Hastings and the Duke of Marlboro.

Our collection is both ancient and modern, as the age of the Republic goes. There is the ineffable prig fashioned by Parson Weems to represent Washington. There is the boy prodigy Lincoln. But it is in the modern era that we have developed myth-making into a great art. We have a passion for quantity, for Bigger and Better Myths. And so, instead of the hit-and-miss methods of the old days, we have the 44,000-volt, high tension, $50,000-a-year publicity man. Our myths are made to order--or without order.

So, solemnly--without a snicker for his buffoonery or a blush for his effrontery--The Hon. Davis arises and proclaims Lord Hoover "the greatest humanitarian since Jesus Christ". Which, as the Hon. Alfred Emanuel Smith would lucidly express it, is saying a mouthful. Davis is in execrable taste. To speak of Jesus in the same breath with Herbert Hoover--or Smith or any other contemporary political figure for that matter--is to insult the sensibilities of every man who possesses any perspective, regardless of whether he calls himself Christian or no. The comparison is inescapable if not expressed.

But quite apart from that, the statement is--to borrow another pungent expression from the Brown Doiby--so much baloney. It is historically untrue. There are a thousand figures--St. Francis or Florence Nightingale come to mind. Indeed, there is little basis for the claim that Hoover is properly a humanitarian. Mr. Hoover is a noted engineer. He is an excellent businessman. He is an organizer. As such he may be eminently qualified for being President. Certainly, it was because he was those things that he was chosen to direct relief work in Belgium. The humanitarian credit properly belongs to those millions who contributed the vast sums which Mr. Hoover directed. The man's personality, his private acts, do not bear out the claim that he is a humanitarian. Failure to make that distinction is merely sloppy thinking. The next generation will probably be solemnly shown Exhibit 7,189,231 as Herbert Hoover the Great Humanitarian.


"We are no more than a moving row
of fantastic shapes that come and go."


What is Patriotism?

For instance, I sometimes say that I consider the rape of Nicaragua by the present Administration of the United States a crime quite comparable to England's worst in India or Africa. Even those who privately agree with me look shocked, edge away just as though I had blasphemed God. And those who disagree-- ah, well, I'm a traitor who deserves a white wall and a firing squad in a shivering dawn.

Sometimes, too, I sit in a movie and forget to applaud when the flag is thrown on the screen and some bozo turns and glares and shifts his gum and, without saying so, has me to understand that I am a low fellow and probably a spy in the pay of the Terrible Hun.

And once on a morning when the wind came rain-freighted from an olive sea, I lounged in front of the Municipal Casino in Nice and watched a parade and laughed. I laugh at parades rather often. They inevitably remind me of the delicious Song of the Bandar-Log:

"Here we go in a flung festoon

half-way up to the jealous moon.
Don't you envy our pranceful bands?
Wouldn't you like if you had double
Wouldn't you like if your tails were
Curved in the shape of a Cupid's bow?
Wouldn't you like--but--never mind--
Brothers, thy tails hang down behind!"

And this was really a funny parade. There were some Americans in it and most of them were completely squiffed, if you know what I mean. But there were so many Frenchmen with bayonets--beside cardinal and mayor and an ambassador--that it seemed delightfully preposterous to me that it should be called an American Parade--doubly so when you consider that most of the Americans couldn't walk straight. There was a female there beside me with whom I had been chatting. She was from Chicago. When she saw my grin, she proceeded to go through Mr. Roget's Thesaurus in an effort to impress upon my lost soul the depth of my degradation. Then the flag came by and I took off my hat. Whereupon, the woman proceeded to chortle on the theory that my laughter had only been a pose and that I really admired my staggering countrymen. Oh well--.


Flag waving is a childish pastime. If one desires to engage in it, I know of no objection. But it isn't, never was, Patriotism. My question usually brings forth the triumphant pointing to Stephen Decatur's "My country, may she ever be right, but right or wrong, my country!"

That sounds well. It is calculated to choke the throat and burn the eye. For Stephen Decatur, sailor and soldier in the service of the United States, it was the obvious and only creed. Without that attitude, military discipline would be impossible. But I doubt that it is a reasonable credo for an intelligent civilian.

The idea of Patriotism is the extension of natural attachment to the home, the family group, and of local pride. National feeling nowhere existed in the medieval world. It ought to be a thing controlled, not controlling.


Consider. A member of a family commits robbery, flees to his home, barricades himself, and all other members of the family trot out their guns to defend him. Does society defend that? Of course not. Yet that is merely "my family, may it ever be right, but right or wrong, my family!" And there is no earthly excuse why there should be one morality for a single family and another for a great group of families which we call a nation. I know of no good reason why the imperialistic snatching of the mahogany forests of Nicaragua is not as much thievery as purse-grabbing. And I think the Government which engages in imperialism deserves the merciless contempt that is the portion of a school bully.

I take off my hat to the flag in France, in other lands, in my own if I don't forget, not because it is a flag of a nation with great force, with battlefleets and ambitious magnates, but because it means to me all those generations before, all the Jeffersons, the Adamses, the Lincolns, all the simple folk who have made the nation great. And because that is true, it seems to me that it becomes me to see that my country is right, to demand proof that she is right before I allow myself to be betrayed into whoops and bellows for something that may blot the flag rather than honor it. I think that every man who is a really good American has the duty to question the morality of Government with at least as much relentless care as he scrutinizes his own. To be jealous of the decency and the honor of the nation, it seems to me, is actually to be patriotic.

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