Saturday, May 18, 1946

The Charlotte News

Saturday, May 18, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen's unions had refused to cancel the strike set to begin at 4:00 p.m. this date, notwithstanding the President's order the previous day that the Office of Defense Transportation would take over running of the nation's railroads. The 250,000 railway workers involved in the strike were not expected to return to work and the running of the railroads would thus be left to ODT. Eighteen other railroad unions were not joining in the strike but without the engineers and trainmen, they could not operate the railroads.

ODT urged airlines, water traffic, bus companies and trucking companies to take up the slack. Mail was expected to be delivered via airplane. A limited embargo on the mails was also possible.

A box score on the page summarizes the picture, inclusive of the American League rushing its travel plans before the strike deadline to allow the double-header scheduled for Sunday between Cleveland and Washington to transpire.

Play ball!

There was no progress in the coal strike.

West Virginia was expected to be hard hit by the railroad strike as the coal being mined during the two-week truce called by John L. Lewis through May 25 would no longer be transported from the mine by train.

At Dachau, four German soldiers testified against Col. Joachim Peiper and his SS regiment in the war crimes trials for the atrocities against American soldiers and Belgian civilians at Malmedy, Stavelot, and La Gleize in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge in December, 1944. In all, 74 defendants were on trial. The four prosecution witnesses were not among the defendants. They testified that the counter-offensive was ordered by Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt and that the soldiers were to advance recklessly and without taking prisoners. According to the prosecution, that order led to more than 500 Americans and more than 90 Belgian civilians, all unarmed prisoners, being murdered in the process by the defendants on trial.

The prosecution was expected to conclude its portion of the case the following Monday. The next witnesses would be six American soldiers who had been left for dead at Malmedy.

The U.N. Security Council in New York faced again the issue of Iran, set to appear on its agenda the ensuing week, as a report by Iranian delegate Hussein Ala was scheduled to be delivered May 20 to determine the progress of Soviet evacuation of troops from Azerbaijan Province. The May 20 date was an extension of the May 6 deadline by which a report had been due from Moscow, but ignored by the Russians in their general boycott of the issue. It was expected that Andrei Gromyko would again absent himself from the proceedings when the issue came before the Council.

Secretary of State Byrnes returned from the foreign ministers conference in Paris and met with the President.

A law just passed by the Congress awaited signing by the President providing Federal workers with a 14 percent wage hike, not to exceed $10,000 and thus not embracing members of Congress, Federal judges, or the higher echelons of the Executive Branch. Three-quarters of the wage increase was to be borne by reduction of Federal employees by a third, from 2.4 million to 1.6 million. Postal employees had already been granted a raise of $400 per year and thus were not covered by the law.

The President would leave on Sunday to visit his mother in Missouri and receive there an honorary doctorate from William Jewell College in Liberty.

A photograph shows Mr. Magnum, "The Black Cat", an alleged burglar, suspected in more than 500 burglaries in New York during the previous four years, having been taken into custody by police after being shot by them in the right thigh during a chase in the Bronx.

We know what you're thinking, punk. Yes, he could have shot him again. But he refrained.

On page 6-B, sports editor Ray Howe tells of baseball umpires liking their work.

On the editorial page, "There Are Still Stray Schools" finds salutary the State Board of Education taking a blow against one and two-teacher high schools, virtually condemning them as inadequate.

The elementary and middle schools also were in need of overhaul to improve standards and quality of teachers. The small town of Oxford, for example, had thirteen black schools, in need of consolidation, as with all such small schools throughout the state.

Jethro was a graduate, we understand, though from West Virginia, attending on a special grant-in-aid.

Despite its progressive attitude toward education, North Carolina spent less per pupil than any other Southern State, save Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. And much of it was spent to little advantage, being necessarily siphoned off by these small schools. The state also had the nation's largest families and one of the largest child populations, and so it was imperative that every dollar count.

"The House Pushes Its Luck" posits that it would be wise for the House Military Committee to treat with kid gloves General Jacob Devers, head of the Army Ground Forces, regarding his allegedly calling the Congress cowards, the charge which he denied and which the Atlanta Constitution reporter who originated the story from a press conference in Atlanta with the General the previous week also confirmed as only paraphrasing his impressions of what the General meant, not what he said. For, if the committee pushed the General too hard, they would not like what they would in all likelihood hear. And it might set a precedent which would cause great embarrassment to the Congress.

The House would not withstand much scrutiny in the public eye on its recent record, the skimpy draft bill being only a beginning, extending also to the original temporary housing bill which stripped away subsidies, only finally to be amended, and the long-range housing bill still hanging fire. The delay in facing the coal strike, the issue of price control and emasculation of OPA while extending its life for nine months, and the failure to take up the President's call for national health insurance, were other areas which would be hard put to accept with scrutability the spotlight for long.

The ad hoc coalitions formed between Southern Democrats and Republicans to halt progressive programs would act to cast Congress in a poor light before the public. Many of its own members had joined the chorus of condemnation.

Thus, the fact that General Devers insinuated that they might be cowards in not facing up to the need for extension of the full draft to meet occupation responsibilities and preserve the peace would be better left out of the limelight, notwithstanding Army regulations prohibiting obloquy toward members of Congress.

"Probe, Write, File, Forget" comments on the many surveys undertaken in Mecklenburg County through the years, surveys which were filed away and promptly forgotten without action.

For a long time, the community had understood, for instance, the glaring shortage of hospital care for its 50,000 blacks. The previous week, a survey conducted by the Rotary Club had determined the need for black medical facilities.

Years earlier, a probe of the Domestic and Juvenile Courts had shown inadequacies but only in recent weeks had movement begun toward undertaking some of the remedies.

In 1941, the County Commissioners discussed a Grand Jury recommendation that alarm systems be installed in the jail to prevent escapes, but no action had been taken, the recent spate of escapes, together with inefficiency of the Sheriff, being the result.

Recently, at the conclusion of a murder case, a juror rose and complained of the conduct of the case and that there had been plain perjury on both sides. Yet, no action had been taken to investigate.

Such apathy prevailed in most towns and communities throughout the world, but, for its familiarity, the piece says that it would claim the inaction title for Charlotte.

A piece from the Charleston News & Courier, "Why Run for Governor?" finds the current crop of gubernatorial candidates in South Carolina to be exceptionally good and asks the question posed by the editorial's title. Unless the Governor had a working majority in both houses of the Legislature, he was merely a figurehead, who might abuse the sole power reserved to him, the power of pardon.

It remarks that not since 1919, at the retirement of Governor Richard I. Manning, had there been any Governor with marked and lasting impact on the state. Though possessed of the veto power—unlike North Carolina's Governors at the time—, Governors had not used it to great advantage.

Unless a candidate could organize a party with a program, he would, as Governor, have little power, would be no more than a strutter at the ball full of admiring yokels.

Drew Pearson discusses the "somersaults" performed by the locomotive engineers and trainmen's unions from their positions in December, 1943, when they were bending over backwards to accommodate FDR and the Government in not going on strike, when other railroad unions at the time were threatening to do so. Now, it was just the opposite stance as the 18 other unions were not on strike. President Roosevelt had returned from the Tehran and Cairo Conferences in December, 1943 shocked to find talk of a rail strike during wartime. He said that he would veto a bill proposed by Senator Harry Truman at the time to approve an eight-cent per hour increase for railroad employees. FDR called the proposal "government by blackmail".

Mr. Pearson then provides a brief biography of lone-wolf A.F. Whitney, originally of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, head of the trainmen's union.

He next tells of the Surgeon-General, Maj. General Norman Kirk, notwithstanding his reputation for hoarding manpower, letting many doctors obtain release back into civilian life, allowing that all medical officers who had 30 months of service could obtain release on June 30. But, without clear reason, dentists, he points out, were required to serve 39 months. Younger dentists, deemed essential to civilian practice, were being released while older dentists who had left behind active practices to join the service, could not obtain discharge. Meanwhile, the ratio of doctors and dentists to men in the Army was slightly higher than it was at the end of the war because of the higher rate of discharge of regular personnel.

In his "Capital Chaff", he reports that candy made in Fascist Argentina was now being sold in the House of Representatives restaurant.

The Soviets were permitting the State Department to increase circulation in Russia from 10,000 to 50,000 of its publication, "America", reportedly hot as pancakes with the Russians, every copy circulating among twenty or more people, eager to discover facts about the United States.

The President had personally appealed to Prime Minister Stalin to get Russia to sell wheat to UNRRA. Russia had sold wheat directly to France.

General Lucius Clay had ordered a halt to dismantling of German industrial plants in the American occupation zone because of declining relations with the Russians. Some speculated that the plants might be used in a war with Russia.

Marquis Childs discusses Year 1 of the atomic era, shortly to reach its first anniversary on July 16 when the Trinity blast had occurred at Alamogordo, N.M. Since then, the theme of "one world or none" had been insistently refrained to the public. Yet, despite many preludes during the year, no progress had been made toward achieving one world and the atomic menace was no less than it had been the previous July.

The U.N. Atomic Energy Commission had been formed, set tentatively to have its first meeting on May 27, but likely to be postponed for the fact that U.S. atomic policy had not been formulated. Bernard Baruch was named head of this Commission.

State Department consultants, chaired by David Lilienthal of TVA, had prepared a report issued by Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson, advocating international control of atomic energy, with provisions for a large force of inspectors worldwide to patrol peaceful use. The report stressed that it was only a suggested starting point and not a final plan.

Mr. Baruch had indicated, however, that he would not use the State Department report as a basis for his recommendations. He had named a group of men from big business to prepare a report for him on atomic energy. Though these were able men, they would have to start from scratch. Mr. Childs hoped that the panel would draw on all available resources in the country to reach its conclusions.

At stake was the test of humanity to determine whether it could cooperate for mutual survival on the planet.

Bertram Benedict reports of the substitute Senate bill for the House-passed Case bill, restricting labor union activities. The Senate Education and Labor Committee, considered pro-union, had re-drafted the bill in its entirety, rendering a less stringent alternative.

A Southern Democrat-Republican coalition had passed the Case bill in the House, though a majority of Democrats opposed it.

The House bill would create a mediation board composed of members from management, labor, and the public, and would provide for a 30-day cooling-off period after a labor dispute would be certified to that board for resolution, during which no strike would be called or lockout by employers. The board would then attempt to mediate the dispute, failing which, it would try to get the parties to accept arbitration. If those attempts failed to resolve the dispute, then the rights to strike and lockout would resume.

The bill also prohibited secondary boycotts and provided for injunctions against improper interference with shipments in interstate commerce of perishable goods, including poultry and livestock.

It also provided for damages in the courts for breaches of collective bargaining agreements and injunctions to enforce them.

The Senate bill out of committee eliminated the bulk of these provisions, provided only for a mediation service within the Labor Department and prevented unions from taking fees from farmers delivering perishable goods to market.

A letter comments on a report in The News of May 14 that three cases of subornation of perjury had been brought in divorce cases in Charlotte, and that the Solicitor was prepared to prosecute them no matter who was shown to be involved.

The letter points out that divorce court often saw pre-arranged evidence between husband and wife to obtain a divorce under the strict divorce laws of the state. The lawyers participated in the schemes. So the Solicitor would be taking many of the most prominent attorneys in the city to task were he to pursue this course.

The letter suggests that there was more important work for the Solicitor, such as the report by both the judge and jury foreperson that perjury appeared likely on both sides in a recent murder case involving accused police officers.

Incidentally, the old divorce laws of most states of the nation required a specific showing of ground for divorce. For many decades, since the beginning of the 1970's, those divorce laws have been abrogated in favor of no-fault divorces in every state, requiring only the allegation of "irreconcilable differences" or similar boilerplate language to obtain divorce. Thus the letter points up one of the many pitfalls of the old system, which included spying on spouses to obtain grounds for divorce, the hiring of J.J. Gittes.

A letter from Detroit thanks The News for its May 11 editorial warning of the rebirth of the Klan and urging that it should be stopped aborning.

A letter from Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace comments on the News editorial of March 21, saying that he did not respond to misrepresentations of his viewpoint by the press even when it was plainly the case, was interested by the statement in the editorial that the South was inherently conservative. He found it to be inherently liberal and asks whether the editors had read "The Conservative South—A Political Myth", appearing in the spring issue of The Virginia Quarterly.

The editors note that the editorial had questioned Mr. Wallace's attempted purge of the Democratic Party of disloyal members and had expressed the hope that the South would one day free itself from voting for personalities and vote instead on the basis of either the liberal or conservative ideology of the candidates.

The piece which Mr. Wallace recommended, incidentally, was cited in 1953 as footnote 29 in the Appellants' Brief in Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ultimately ordered the desegregation of public schools "with all deliberate speed", striking down the doctrine of "separate-but-equal" as not having fulfilled its intended function as enunciated in 1896 in Plessy v. Ferguson:

As late as 1910, E. H. Randle in his Characteristics of the Southern Negro declared that "the first important thing to remember in judging the Negro was that his mental capacity was inferior to that of the white man."

Such was the real philosophy behind the late 19th Century segregation laws—an essential part of the whole racist complex. Controlling economic and political interests in the South were convinced that the Negro's subjugation was essential to their survival, and the Court in Plessy v. Ferguson had ruled that such subjugation through public authority was sanctioned by the Constitution. This is the overriding vice of Plessy v. Ferguson. For without the sanction of Plessy v. Ferguson, archaic and provincial notions of racial superiority could not have injured and disfigured an entire region for so long a time. The full force and effect of the protection afforded by the Fourteenth Amendment was effectively blunted by the vigorous efforts of the proponents of the concept that the Negro was inferior. This nullification was effectuated in all aspects of Negro life in the South, particularly in the field of education, by the exercise of state power.

As the invention of the cotton gin stilled the voices of Southern Abolitionists, Plessy v. Ferguson chilled the development in the South of opinion conducive to the acceptance of Negroes on the basis of equality because those of the white South desiring to afford Negroes the equalitarian status which the Civil War Amendments had hoped to achieve were barred by state law from acting in accordance with their beliefs. In this connection, it is significant that the Populist movement flourished for a short period during the 1890's and threatened to take over political control of the South through a coalition of the poor Negro and poor white farmers.29 This movement was completely smashed and since Plessy v. Ferguson no similar phenomenon has taken hold.

Without the "constitutional" sanction which Plessy v. Ferguson affords, racial segregation could not have become entrenched in the South, and individuals and local communities would have been free to maintain public school systems in conformity with the underlying purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment by providing education without racial distinctions. The doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson was essential to the successful maintenance of a racial caste system in the United States. Efforts toward the elimination of race discrimination are jeopardized as long as the separate but equal doctrine endures. But for this doctrine we could more confidently assert that ours is a democratic society based upon a belief in individual equality.

A letter from the temporary secretary of the Carolina Spastic Association indicates that the organization for spastic children would hold a public meeting on May 20 at the Chamber of Commerce and invites the newspaper to attend.

Whether, incidentally, this letter was editorially positioned deliberately following the letter from former Vice-President Wallace, we leave to Inez Flow to discern. We leave likewise for her to determine whether it was an accident that the initials for the organization were C.S.A., or that their meeting was held on the putative anniversary of the Mecklenburg Resolves of 1775.

A letter from Representative Sam J. Ervin thanks The News for an editorial on May 10 by Associate Editor Harry Ashmore regarding Mr. Ervin's views on the coal strike and labor. He states that the problem with the Wagner Act was that it failed to take into account the interests of all sides, including management and the public, but swayed too much toward labor. New legislation was needed to balance these interests.


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