Friday, October 5, 1928

Shelby, N.C.

C. J. Mabry .. President

J. Nelson Callahan .. Business Manager

W. J. Cash .. Managing Editor

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Site Editor's Note: Here we find Cash in a rare mood, swashbuckling unevenly between kudos to an anonymous hero who gave his life for that of a child and snickering, back-handed jabs at the maundering Moral Squad active in Prohibition, (the references to "Poictesme" are to James Branch Cabell's fabled somewhere, presumed to be in the hidden valleys between the pastoral countryside of rural France and the blue-grey rolling hills of middle Virginia, which he developed in several of his notoriously libertine novels such as Jurgen), with intervening plunges into an early precursor of McCarthyism, then to a culled comment on the new use of loudspeakers and "talking films" to promote politicians here and abroad--something Herr Hitler would use to great effect a mere four years later--finally to proclaiming the greatness of Franklin Roosevelt before he had become a household name. (Note Cash's decidely non-prescient comment about Roosevelt having admirably sacrificed his role as a presidential aspirant by becoming a Democrat.) Once again, however, Cash chooses topics which would practically predict the rest of the century and beyond in the arenas of politics and attempts to legislate morality among the "snickering" who would inevitably abase it to nugatory nonsense. To study the base alloy of human nature, interaction and reaction, through history and write of it within the constructs of current events is always perhaps to be able to predict the outcome with some degree of accuracy. No crystal was necessary.

The "oath" of which Cash speaks was a purported document reprinted within the pages of James Vance's Fellowship Forum, being hand-circulated through North Carolina by the Klan; originating during the Inquisition, the oath was now being associated with the Knights of Columbus who allegedly were swearing loyalty to it. The purported sum and substance of the oath was the swearing of ultimate allegiance to the Pope, even to the point of violence toward Protestants. This latter-day version of the oath, like its distributors' kooky costumes of the night-rides, however, was constructed from whole-cloth. While, perhaps for the hoped preservation of his own hide, Cash rarely spoke directly of the Kluckers during his editorship in Shelby, unlike his less restrained former and later days at The News, in The Mercury and in the later book; he didn't need to. Folks about Cleveland County knew exactly who James Vance was and many considered him quite "honest"--a man of high, high char-ac-ter, my friend, and mau-ral, goodness. No doubt. Men in sheets riding in cars without plates are certainly char-ac-ters; and of their mau-rals, why, sir, no one could contest.

Things promise to pick up. William Allen White, sometime propagandist for the power trust at $500 the crack and incidentally an editor, is "hum again." He finds Al, as usual, "able and upright" but he's going to say something next week. It's time. The last time he failed.


A mother dies as a baby is born. And the man who paces the corridors of the hospital is told the infant must have blood or die. With too little for himself, he gives freely to the child, and dies. The infant thrives and grows.

He was a dirty foreigner. It is of no moment to the American world that he is gone. Perhaps, the infant shall die. Perhaps, it is all Futility. But in the manner of the man's going, in the matter of his spirit, is epitomized all that sheds glory upon humanity. Living is a sorry business mostly. We have our moments in the High Place, but they are few. On the whole we are no great credit to ourselves.

The business of dying is even sorrier for the most of us. We flinch and crawl before it, beg for an hour more, a minute. This man knew better, understood that "he who would save his life shall lose it", that "he who would lose his life shall save it". Any actual understanding of that is as rare as the proverbial blue moon.

A dirty foreigner. But if it be true that the shadows of the centuries watch us from Paradise, we hazard the guess that Dandy Phillip Sydney of the Black Deeds and the Noble Gesture greeted this one at salute as a greater than he.

* * * * * *

Horace Kennedy had done an excellent service to all those interested in the truth, regardless of politics, in calling the hand of James Vance, editor of a crawling sheet called the Fellowship Forum. This Vance has bellowed for many months that the forged oath ascribed to the Knights of Columbus is really a true one "because it appears in the Congressional Record." The fellow has maintained that, knowing that it was placed in the Congressional Record in a debate over a contested election in Washington State. One party to the election had distributed this spurious oath widely. That action was held by the courts to constitute fraud.

Vance admits that he has no iota of proof for the oath. He hastened to add no one can prove it who was not a member of the order. Exactly. Nor disprove it. But do you convict a man against whom no evidence is offered? Do you convict in the face of his denial? Do you convict if you know that he has been about his business as an honest citizen, that you deal with him every day, know his wife, children, couldn't imagine them engaged in murder and rapine? Snarled an angered prosecutor to the Emperor Justian who had freed an accused man: "If to deny is to go free, what man may we convict?" Responded the Emperor: "And if the charge is to convict, what man among you is safe?"

There is the word of the Knights of Columbus that the oath is base forgery. There is the fact that the language of the forgery is that of the Inquisition, of the Jesuits in the 16th and 17th centuries. There is the statement of leaders of the Masonic fraternity that the falsity of the oath has been established to their satisfaction. There is the fact that thousands of members of the order have died under the flag. There is the fact that the order's membership constitutes, as a matter of record, one of the best bodies of citizenship to be found in the nation. Against that is nothing save admitted falsehood and the creeping coward who couldn't stand by his guns. Which do you choose?

Once more, and note this. The man Vance admits that he has no proof for the oath, no proof for his claims. He asserts that he cannot possibly have proof. And in a breath he hastens to tell Mr. Kennedy where copies of the oath may be secured for distribution. What kind of man is this who is eager to spread what he doesn't know to be true, can't--by his own confession--know to be true? What kind of man would have you believe that a great body of American citizens who pay taxes to this Government, who tomorrow may have to die for it, are rape-fiends and murderers? What kind of man does that when he has no proof, admits he has none? You answer. Will you follow him?

* * * * * *
(from The Philadeplphia Ledger)

Americans campaign strategy is being closely studied by Europeans. In England, Conservatives, Liberals and Laborites are watching the growing use of radio and talking films as a means of contact between candidate and voter. Undoubtedly both these contributions to the machinery of politics will be widely used when the nationwide campaign for the forthcoming British general election gets into its full swing.

Sweden has already employed such modern devices in pre-election activities. During a recent campaign, six automobiles, equipped with loudspeakers, toured much of the country, broadcasting speeches delivered by candidates into a headquarters microphone. This method has been suggested, and possibly used, in certain thinly populated American areas and is under consideration in England.

Whether or not such devices affect the outcome of campaigns nobody knows. There can be no doubt, however, that they intensify public interest in the candidates and policies of rival parties. Millions of persons have heard the voices of Hoover and Smith within the last few weeks and have been aroused thereby to a new enthusiasm.--Philadelphia Ledger.

* * * * * *

The Democrats of the nation are due to congratulate themselves upon Franklin Roosevelt's decision to run for Governor of New York. Congratulations are in order for New York also.

No more splendid figure may be found in American politics. A Roosevelt, he might have aspired to the presidency had he chosen to remain a Republican. He paid the price of following his own convictions. Few men are capable of doing that.

A Roosevelt, he is the only one of the breed since Quentin who has been worthy of the name of the President. That is said with a full understanding of all the weaknesses, all the political bunk which were a part of "Teddy." For all that, he was a remarkable President. And Franklin Roosevelt is of the calibre of his kinsman.

What contrast is furnished by Theodore the Little. And if any man ever deserved that "the Little," the younger Theodore does.

* * * * * *

(C.G. in the New Bedford Standard)

There is a man, let us say, who is terribly down on someone because he is a Roman Catholic, or a Methodist, or a Jew or an atheist. What is the obligation of the good citizen with regard to this man? To set him an example of tolerance, for one thing. That would be admitted. But has he an obligation to proceed against this man to make him tolerant, or to organize a society for that purpose? Undoubtedly he has the right to do this, but even then how is he to go about the task? How is $150,000 to be made to yield results in the scotching of intolerance? Suppose you were given $1,000 to expend in making Senator Heflin tolerant toward Catholics, or Mr. Mencken tolerant toward Methodists. What would you do? Perhaps Ralph Adams Cram, the reputed head of the newly formed Anti-Bigotry society, will reveal to the world the technique of unbigoting bigots. Perhaps he won't.


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


Bulgaria solemnly promulgates a law that her flappers must wear long skirts and sleeves that reach to the wrist.

There was a king in England called Canute. One day, to impress his courtiers, he promulgated a solemn law ordering "dot old debbil sea" to quit pounding at his sandy beach with its waves. The sea presented him with an excellent imitation of the horse-laugh and allowed the waves to continue to play. Whereupon the king blushed and said somewhat lamely that he really hadn't expected the sea to obey, that it was his idea of a joke. In fact, he said, growing solemn, it was a moral lesson he wanted to point. It isn't in the story, as written, that the courtiers snickered up their sleeves. But that is because it was almost as dangerous in those days to snicker at kings as it is to snicker at cabbages in America today. You may be sure that the boys and girls of the beach party really did chortle behind their hands.


There was a czar in Russia called Peter--Peter, the Great, if you like to roll those sonorous phrases under your tongue. Peter had been a traveling man. Not that he exactly sold soap. In fact he had been buying soap. But Peter had been around. He had been reading the shaving soap ads and he had met a king who bathed every summer. Peter had figured it out that it had been exactly 5,500 years since the vogue of bathtubs, save as heirlooms, in Russia. And it was even longer than that, he thought, since anyone had shaved. Peter came home with razors and soap. He solemnly promulgated a law. Gentlemen would cut off their beards or Peter would cut off their heads. The result was that Peter presently had a fine collection of choice heads. Indeed, if Peter had only gone in for head shrinking, the museums of Leningrad might today boast more shrunken hands than even the British Museum. Peter died, old and sad. And the upshot of it was that Russia still looks like a perpetual convention of the Smith brothers--and plumbers starve to death.


There was a land called--shall we say?--Poictesme of the Frenzied Free. And its people were Fire-Drinkers. The fire came in bottles and bore funny names like "Green River" and "Three-Star Hennessey" and "Black and White" and "Gilby's Best". It was really very lamentable.

So the land solemnly promulgated a law. There was to be no more Fire-Drinking. In fact, there was to be no more Fire. And that was going to abolish Poverty and Sin. All the girls were going to be nice girls. And all the Boys. But there were descendants of Canute's courtiers among the folk of the Land of Poictesme of the Frenzied Free who had inherited the disgraceful tendency to snickering. And there were stupid, stubborn people, as stupid and stubborn, say, as those impossible Russians who insisted on unsanitary beards. So they made a religion of Fire-Drinking. They paid worship at the Shrine of Johnny Walker, a noted British deity. There was a great noise of necking in the land.

There was no escaping the evangels of the new faith. To refuse its rites was to confer mortal insult, to brand one's self as non-social as a barbarian, as outre, declasse. It was just as though one did not play bridge or, playing, confessed brazenly that he didn't really care for it. And the upshot was that many people, who would prefer to go on drinking Chablis or Medoc or Graves--as becomes a philosopher--or even a chemical combination of two parts of hydrogen gas and one of oxygen found themselves drinking Fire when they really didn't want it.


I am sorry for Bulgaria. It is a very unenlightened land. I am quite sure it never heard the stories of King Canute, of Peter, the Great, of the Land of Poictesme of the Frenzied Free. But I admire Bulgaria, too. It is a land of surpassing audacity. King Canute only defied the Sea. Peter only Beards. Poictesme only Fire. Bulgaria would master the Unmasterable, the genus Feminine. Truly, that is like ringing one's lance against the walls of Paradise.

In sorrow, I suggest to the Bulgarians the immediate necessity of forming a Law and Order League, of enrolling in the militia all the cemeteries, for where else may be found men who may be trusted in this hour of national crisis? It won't, I think, do any good. But one must do something. And these girls, it is written--so I am told by my faithful Astrologers--will be snickering, will be defying, will even risk decapitation--or what would you call it if they hacked off a pair of kneecaps?--will descend to--would you call it bootlegging?

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