The Charlotte News
Monday, June 3, 1946
Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that, pursuant to the end the previous Thursday of the coal strike, the nation's 400,000 bituminous coal miners returned to work this date. It was estimated that it would take six to seven weeks for the industry, idle since April 1 save for the twelve-day truce, to reach full capacity.
In response, U.S. Steel ordered a gradual recall of its idled workers, also set to take several weeks to resume full capacity.
The 75,000 anthracite coal miners continued on strike.
The strike of Hudson & Manhattan Railroad workers in New Jersey, serving thousands of commuters to Manhattan, continued into its fourth day. Pickets marched on the Pennsylvania Railroad, which had augmented its commuter service to try to accommodate the 115,000 stranded commuters.
The AFL was split over whether to back the CIO-led maritime union strike, set to begin June 15.
Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley predicted quick passage of a one-year extension of the draft, with provision for induction of 18 and 19-year olds. He also stated that, after a conference with the President, he had no idea whether Mr. Truman would sign the Case labor-restriction bill.
In Italy, the vote on whether to retain the monarchy had been held the previous day, with both sides proclaiming victory. The results would not be known until June 7.
In Bombay, Hindus and "untouchables" threw soda water bottles at each other, as police sought to intervene.
Harold Ickes, in his column, asks whether the country was at peace or war in the post-war reconversion battle with labor, with the President asking for the equivalent of war powers to curtail strikes. He did not favor granting such powers in peacetime.
In 1894, he recounts, a strike had taken place by employees of the Pullman Company. The Federal Government deployed troops to Chicago, charged with the responsibility of seeing that the mail continued to run, interference with which carried heavy penalties. The mail cars initially had been hitched to the locomotives and the rest of the train unhitched. But the railroads then hitched the trains back to the locomotives and hitched the mail cars to the rear, enabling the entire trains to run on the premise of not interfering with the mail.
The President in the recent rail strike had resorted to a similar tactic. A nationwide rail strike was intolerable, but to resort to the war powers to resolve it was equally intolerable. The threat to draft workers into the Army and then make them work on the railroads was not a proposal which inspired pride in the country, especially when addressed to workers who had worked long and hard during the war.
The Supreme Court, in a 6 to 1 decision in Morgan v. Virginia, 328 US 373, delivered by Justice Stanley Reed, determined that the states could not impose Jim Crow segregation on interstate busses. Justice Harold Burton wrote a dissent, finding the majority result antithetical to diversity among the states, diversity not posing an undue burden on commerce.
The case arose when Irene Morgan, the relatively unknown predecessor to Rosa Parks and the resulting Montgomery bus boycott of 1956, had refused the order of a Greyhound bus driver to move and surrender her seat to a white passenger as the bus coursed through Virginia. She had been ejected from the bus and fined $10 in state court. The Court determined that the state law interfered with interstate commerce by imposing a non-uniform standard on passengers while traveling between states and thus outweighed any local police power interest, that is states' rights. Eighteen states prohibited separation of the races on motor carriers while ten required it.
Uniformity and practicability of application of standards to eliminate an undue burden on interstate commerce thus became the rationale for doing what was right under the Constitution and in any true democracy, priding itself on equal opportunity in fact, not simply in slogan.
The Court also unanimously upheld, in Prudential Ins. Co. v. Benjamin, 328 US 408, a three percent South Carolina tax on premiums collected in the state by out-of-state insurance companies. Prudential Insurance Co. had contested the validity of the tax based on a 1944 holding by the Court that insurance companies were considered to be operating within interstate commerce, thus subject to Federal regulation. But the Congress had subsequently passed the McCarran Act which stated that insurance companies should continue to be regulated by the states. The claim by Prudential that the South Carolina tax discriminated against foreign corporations in favor of local corporations by permitting the latter to escape the three percent tax, thus also a necessary limit on the extent of operation of the McCarran Act, was deeemed not applicable for the fact that there are no limits on the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce, except those specific limits imposed by the Constitution, and that the power included relegating regulation in a given area to the states.
The Court stated at page 434 of the decision, delivered by Justice Wiley Rutledge: "Its plenary scope enables Congress not only to promote but also to prohibit interstate commerce, as it has done frequently and for a great variety of reasons. That power does not run down a one-way street or one of narrowly fixed dimensions. Congress may keep the way open, confine it broadly or closely, or close it entirely, subject only to the restrictions placed upon its authority by other constitutional provisions and the requirement that it shall not invade the domains of action reserved exclusively for the states."
Query, however, how this decision, not finding the McCarran Act to be an improper cession of Congressional power, squares with that in Schechter Poultry, finding the power to regulate a part of interstate commerce, the chicken pluckers, could not be ceded to the Executive Branch by way of the National Industrial RecoveryAct, leaving aside for the moment its concomitant finding that the Act also sought to regulate intrastate commerce, the exclusive province of the individual state.
Well, maybe there was more than one way to pluck a chicken, or, in this case
Associated Press correspondent Max Hall reports on another page that the effort by AFL and CIO to recruit a million new members each in the South was likely not to reach its goal.
In Dayton, Ohio, Lt. Henry Johnson attempted to break a world airspeed record for a sustained flight over a distance, set in 1937 by Italy at 326 mph. The national record was 306 mph, set in 1939. Lt. Johnson was to fly a jet-propelled P-80 Shooting Star from Dayton to St. Louis and back.
On the editorial page, "Notes on an Academic Argument" comments on the below piece by R. F. Beasley, which will speak for itself. The editorial notes that the discussion had strayed from the original intent of the March piece which had prompted the reply from Henry Wallace, which had prompted the printing of the abstract of Professor Carlton on the myth of Southern conservatism, the original topic of The News editorial having been the need for an active two-party system in North Carolina, the one-party system having grown up to protect against the very real abuses suffered from Black Republicanism of the Reconstruction era, but which had become suffused by overriding concerns of black rule and thus segregation and Jim Crow.
It opines that Mr. Beasley was correct in asserting that liberalism as defined by Secretary Wallace was different from that of the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian eras of the early to mid-Nineteenth century, that Mr. Wallace stood for Big Government, whereas the earlier antecedents of Democratic liberalism stood for small government.
Yet, consistent with The Age of Jackson by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., it was possible to trace Roosevelt liberalism to Andrew Jackson, Mr. Schlesinger finding striking parallels between the two formulations.
The piece might have also hearkened back, closer to home, to a book-page piece by W. J. Cash in 1938, "Country Gentlemen in the White House", comparing President Roosevelt to Andrew Jackson, stemming from a news story regarding the President's reading material of the time, liking well a book by Marquis James, Andrew Jackson: Portrait of a President, and another by David Cushman Coyle, Why Pay Taxes. (Incidentally, we correct our too hurriedly drafted footnote of 1999: the dispute as to Andrew Jackson's rightful state of birth is between North and South Carolina, not North Carolina and Tennessee, his later adopted home state.)
In any event, the piece suggests, accurately, that all of the various attempts to categorize the South as liberal or conservative involved little more than conjecture, pinned to particular issues and times. For the great body of the South at the time had not had a choice for five decades, except as between liberal and conservative Democrats, to express their political opinions, often based on personalities of candidates rather than ideology.
The earlier piece, it says, had based its judgment that, being freed from the fetters of voting restrictions and racial segregation, North Carolina might become a Republican stronghold, on the pattern of other so freed regions which were at base agrarian.
At present, liberalism was defined by attitudes toward organized labor, and the cities, with pro-union populations, were the centers for what had come to be called, for political purposes, the people's movement.
Did the piece foresee the coming of the party-switchers, such as Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms? We posit that, in part, it did, but in another part, perhaps not, that part being the tendency, once freed by Federal intervention from the fetters of institutionalized segregation, that a neo-segregationist movement would find accretion, cloaked as it was under the banner of "conservatism", in reaction to the Federal intervention, playing, as a fiddle, on the people's and their pols' traditional jealous protection of states' rights against Federal encroachment, stirring, in Machiavellian fashion, the known prejudices and pride of a significant enough portion of that people in their Confederate heritage, gathering with them some substantial portion of the urban populations premised on fiscal conservatism, trying stubbornly to resist by ploy and delay the operation of the Federal laws and decisions, indeed, attempting to turn the clock back to the days of Never-Never Land, with all its presumed hi-yeeing and happy-doodle dandy on the tobacco and cotton plantations, as seen in the movies, a page plucked from Thomas Nelson Page and brought forward by Tom Dixon, the plume and feather presumed to exist in the earlier antebellum era being coupled by him, post-war, with the instilling of irrational fears and relegation to hell and damnation for the irreverent who dared contest the established natural order, predicated as it was on economic necessity, that is, in brief, the 1870's taken over into the world of 1903, then 1915, then 1950 and 1970, money-grubbing televangelism conveniently coming along then via cable circa 1973 to giddy-up the giddy-uppers and shift the Dyna-Flow vehicle into high gear, heading on down the road toward the societally shape-shifting reeeavoooluuuution of 1978 and 1980, from which, we posit, the country has never fully recovered, perhaps, in some sense, become even worse in its intransigence to undermine and circumvent the plain text and plain meaning of the Constitution of the United States, a movement afoot, in one form or another, since the Founding.
"An Opportunity for the Baptists" comments on the suggestion by the Kannapolis Independent that the offer of an endowment to Wake Forest College by the Smith Reynolds Foundation would provide an opportunity, not only for Wake Forest, but for the entire Baptist State Convention to revitalize its educational system. The piece had advised Wake Forest to accept the endowment and move the college in the direction of becoming a full university.
It also advocated moving Meredith College in Raleigh to Winston-Salem and making the women's college part of Wake Forest. It also favored combining Wingate, Campbell, and Chowan School into a junior college which could be established on the old campus of Wake Forest. Mars Hill and Gardner-Webb would be left where they were.
None of the latter suggestions were ever adopted, though The News viewed them as having great merit. It also, however, recognizes that shifting of so many campuses would face practical difficulties, financial and otherwise.
"The Libel of a Lovely Lady" remarks on a picture appearing in the newspaper of the Annapolis Color Girl of the University of Maryland who was set to marry a midshipman of Charlotte. She was said to have knowledge of how to milk a cow and had majored in animal husbandry, knew her way "around all the departments of the barnyard"—which, we trust, did not extend to "barnyard morality" as W. J. Cash had described the practices of some of the lesser lights of the South.
It says that she was likely the only woman present at the Annapolis June Week authorized by dint of expertise to wear blue denim jeans, the current women's fashion.
The combination of attributes had made her a press agent's dream, having been photographed milking a cow in a barn, "her grip on the faucets...firm and practiced". But, one thing was missing, it continues, the pail beneath the udders.
Which somehow suggests the name for a very thrilling Hollywood movie, perhaps with a parenthetical subtitle: "Or How the Bright Flash Shone in Contrast to the Pale Dawn Rising to Catch Her Fancy".
"Hesitant as we are to recommend recourse to the courts, it seems obvious that Miss Hargrove, the Animal Husbandry Department of the University of Maryland, and perhaps even the cow, have at hand the makings of an open and shut damage suit. If we have ever seen libel, this was it."
A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "Mr. Justice Black's Limb", comments on rumors that Justice Hugo Black had threatened to quit the Court to which he had been appointed in 1937 as FDR's first Supreme Court appointment, should President Truman appoint a conservative, such as Secretary of War Robert Patterson, a Republican, to become the new Chief Justice to succeed the deceased Harlan Stone.
The piece finds Mr. Black to have overstepped the allowable boundaries limited by his own past membership in the Ku Klux Klan—albeit early in his political career for a short time in the early 1920's, a move which he later renounced as improvident but considered necessary to political advance in Alabama in the 1920's.
The piece says that he would no sooner resign under such circumstance as he would were he to have been asked "to sit between a papal legate and a vice president of the Association for the Advancement of Colored People and to hold the executive secretary of the United States Chamber of Commerce on his lap."
He had "clomb a limb" and nobody knew it better than him, concludes the editorial.
Perhaps so, perhaps not. The appointee would be Secretary of the Treasury Fred Vinson, a conservative Democrat, and Justice Black would not resign. Whether Mr. Vinson, however, fit or not his conception of the type of conservative who would prompt his resignation remains questionable, and likely was not the case.
But, the Daily News, we suggest, considered a liberal Southern newspaper, clomb out on a limb of its own by raising up the ugly specter of Justice Black's past Klan membership and suggestions of anti-Catholicism, in the face of his consistent stand for civil liberties during his nine years on the Court at this point, a stance he would maintain throughout his long and distinguished career through 1971, never once varying both from that stance and also that of his liberal brethren on the Court, that is never dissenting from an opinion upholding civil liberties for all, just as was the case for Justices William O. Douglas and Frank Murphy—at least with one notable exception, as to Justices Black and Douglas, the 1944 case of Korematsu v. U.S., upholding the authority of the President during extreme national emergency to intern Japanese-Americans, an opinion delivered by Justice Black and joined by Justice Douglas, which has to be viewed, however, in the light of executive authority under the Constitution as granted by Congress under such emergent circumstances for the sake of national security in time of world war, not simply on its superficial face of justifying invidious racial discrimination.
In any event, the Klan membership issue would have been better left off the table, given Justice Black's 180-degree opposite stance to that of the Klan during his Court years. Given that he was the first appointee of FDR and was a Southerner highly respected across the racial divide for his Court work at the time, he did have considerable ground on which to make his case to the President. The President had sought and obtained the advice of Republican Owen Roberts, retired from the Court the previous summer, and from Republican Charles Evans Hughes, 1941 retired predecessor to Chief Justice Stone, both considered conservative members of the Court. And so, it was completely fitting for the President to hear from a sitting member of the Court, considered liberal.
The beef of the Daily News was overstated, whether protesting too much, or in fact betraying some underlying desire for a more conservative Court, less willing to break the racial divide of the South than the current Court had shown its disposition to do, also remaining unclear. But it was the case that the KKK excuse was trumpeted by conservative organs to oppose the appointment of Justice Black in 1937, a hooded attempt to defeat or becloud and thus bedevil the appointment of a known New Deal supporter as Senator to the Court.
As we have stated previously, the notion of the liberal Southern newspaper is sometimes confused with what was essentially a moderate stance when posed against much of the rest of the nation, that is favoring legal progress in areas of equal opportunity, labor rights and voting rights, without social progress accomplished via integration of schools, neighborhoods, and other basic institutions of society, at least not so fast as a mere 80 years beyond the Civil War. We make no statement, however, as to the general editorial stance of the Daily News from one editorial.
Drew Pearson informs that members of the Ku Klux Klan had been sending him anonymous letters threatening bad things were he to continue to report on their activities. At the Stone Mountain cross-burning of May 9—put off many times for the wartime sheet shortage—they had manhandled all photographers except those sent from Life. Even John L. Lewis did not enjoy such selectivity in what would be written about his organization or who would do the writing. Mr. Pearson vows that as long as he had typewriter ribbon, he would expose the "cotton nightshirt boys", regardless of threats to bump him off for so doing.
He then relates of their recent activities: In Atlanta, the Klan had held its biggest meeting since the war following the Stone Mountain cross-burning, with 250 turning out. They were displeased with unfavorable publicity but bragged of signing up policemen and firemen to their membership rolls.
In Chattanooga, the Klan had recently burned a cross in front of a Jewish drug store, forcing the new owner to leave. J. B. Stoner, the head of the Klan in that locale, continued to distribute anti-Semitic literature.
In Knoxville, a Klan meeting had been held May 18 at the tabernacle of Evangelist T. Wesley Hills, with the principal speaker being Rev. A. A. Haggard of Maryville, Tenn. The meeting was whipped with the fervent belief that God, the Church, and the Klan all shared the same goals and ideas.
In Asheville, Klansmen whispered that it had been a Klan member who had cut the wires from the microphone as AFL president William Green announced to the labor conference meeting in that city the intention to organize labor in the South, with the implication that the Klan stood as a bastion against organized labor and Communism.
In Southern cities, the newspapers had strongly denounced the Klan, as had the Southern Baptist Convention. But they seemed to be making headway nonetheless.
He next informs that the President had, the week before, following resolution of the coal and rail strikes, nearly agreed to withdraw his proposal for emergency legislation which included drafting labor. Senators Joe O'Mahoney of Wyoming and Burton Wheeler of Montana had appealed to the President to withdraw it and he had greeted the suggestion receptively, buoying their spirits—until, upon leaving, they saw entering John W. Snyder and George Allen, two of the President's most influential and reactionary advisers on such issues. He did not withdraw the proposal, which was then defeated by the Senate.
Mr. Pearson notes that the fortuitous adjournment of the Senate the previous Monday out of respect for the death of Senator Carter Glass of Virginia had given the Senators just enough time to think about the proposed labor-draft legislation and defeat it.
Finally, he addresses the incongruent situations of members of Congress freely using Bethesda Naval Hospital while orphans of Navy veterans could not obtain medical care from any of the Navy hospitals in the country.
Marquis Childs discusses the confusion within labor, stemming from a lack of focus as to what their goal was. John L. Lewis professed to be in favor of the capitalist system and rejected any notion of nationalization of the coal mines. A few trade unionists, mostly in the clothing industry, were Socialists, in the mold of the British Labor Party, believing in collective ownership by Fabian process of natural resources but also in democracy. Others on the left of labor believed that unions existed to further Marxian revolution, with wage and working conditions only being secondary among their goals. Yet, the average member of a union had no political goals at all. Thus, a minority of zealots could exploit this confused labor movement at will.
The threatened maritime strike posed an example, as the seven maritime unions were dominated by zealots who would seek to involve the entire industry in a strike which, in its essence, would be political by cutting across the relief life line to the nations abroad when it was most critical to prevent starvation. The Navy stood ready to ship the food, by directive of the President, if the strike occurred, leaving it to the unions then to condemn the Government for strike-breaking and focus the concerns of labor against the Government.
By contrast, the British trade unions had steadfastly resisted any affiliation with the Communist Party. The Labor Party was nationalizing the mines but it did not imply a proletarian dictatorship.
Confusion and conflict within the American labor movement posed, Mr. Childs opines, a grave danger to the entire nation. The cure could come only through unification of leadership around a democratic goal.
Samuel Grafton, in Los Angeles, says the city's realism was quite as evident as any other city he had visited while in the South. At least, he says, the fantasies of Los Angeles were conscious. In Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, where he had also visited during the previous couple of weeks, he had encountered people who contended that there was no race problem, found them quite unconcerned about the impending prospect of inflation. On the MGM lot in Los Angeles, he had encountered actors and actresses dressed in period costume. He saw little difference. At least in the latter context, the movie industry was concerned about making a movie as a business venture, without illusion.
The country was dreaming of an instant land of plenty in a world characterized by want. Hollywood, it seemed, was trying to use such fantasies, while the people of the country were being used by their own fantasies. Perhaps the Hollywood world was silly, with its vast pretensions in denial of daily realities, but it at least was an industry which understood where the dream ended.
In Jackson, Miss., he had encountered a man who stated that he did not too much believe in the positions of Senator Bilbo but, as a rebuke to Walter Winchell for too much radio talk against the state, he intended nevertheless to vote for him. The fact that the man had lost a relative in the war, which, at base, was a war against racism, only added to the tragedy of his circumstance, bound as it was in illusion.
"Here then, they make the dreams, for others who believe in them: and perhaps the workers in a dream-factory are more realistic than the customers. The world outside seems here a little spooky: a strange place, without studio cops, to be sure, but one in which there really are men who believe that we need only curb labor, be tough with Russia, and let prices go up, to have peace and prosperity abounding, fine as apple pie."
R. F. Beasley of the Monroe Journal, from his Farm & Home Weekly, as indicated in the editorial column, comments on the article from the Virginia Quarterly by William Carlton, professor of political science at the University of Florida, an abstract of which had been re-printed in The News following its recommendation by Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace as part of his responsive letter to an earlier piece of March appearing in The News.
As The News had published the abstract on the myth of Southern conservatism without comment, Mr. Beasley offers his own observations of it, suggesting that liberalism and conservatism meant different things to different people, and that the liberalism of Henry Wallace and Mr. Carlton was different from that of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.
In the earlier days of the republic, he offers, liberalism meant opposition to too much government, while that of 1946 meant the opposite. Jefferson's conception did not lack of the humanitarian role of government which characterized modern liberalism.
When liberalism was applied to the South by Mr. Carlton, it took into account many characteristics which were neither liberal nor conservative and which characterized much of the nation, such as the agrarian uprising of the 1890's, which had begun in the West with the free silver campaign. The South split for a time from the Democrats because the interests of Grover Cleveland, opposed to free silver, controlled the party machinery, shifting to Populism and William Jennings Bryan.
Mr. Beasley states that it was no new phase in American politics, but one which had existed for many years, had been the basis for the Jacksonian period, a revolt against Eastern capital.
The conservative South had misunderstood the significance of the movement. The South proceeded slowly on matters which were inimical to free enterprise, while moving with alacrity on matters supposed to improve it, such as in the areas of prohibition and free silver, on which the South favored a "liberal" approach, with complete Government control.
The South had been the first section to become liberal when the term meant opposition to the dominance of big business, characterizing the post-Civil War period to the first part of the Twentieth century, opposing monopolies, unfair freight rates and other such handmaidens of oligopoly.
But the South had always been conservative on labor issues, fair employment practices and rights to organize. Such opposition had grown from the natural conditions within the South, with smaller industrial enterprises than in the North.
He offers no argument that the South was liberal in the sense meant by Messrs. Carlton and Wallace, but rather contends that the South was liberal on some issues, conservative on others, very much like the rest of the nation. The predominance of the Democratic Party in the South, he argues, was no more Bourbon than the predominance of the Republican Party in other sections.
"The South unfortunately is the earthworm which seems subject for dissection by every so-called economist or politician or uplifter who can never see the mote because of the beam in their eyes."
He cites W. J. Cash as having tried in The Mind of the South to make the case that the race problem in the South was based on "the determination of Southern leaders to keep the poor white man down". He concludes that it was "from such books as that that so many people base their conclusions that the South is benighted in every respect."
"Just now we are belabored on account of the Ku Klux Klan which found its most successful field in Indiana and other states and which now in the South is no more important than any other assembly of crackpots which arise here and there."
Mr. Beasley's conception of Cash's argument regarding origins of "the race problem" is considerably misstated by oversimplification. Cash's view, which rings true in any attempt to envision the process at once historically and intuitively, found the origins of extreme Southern violence to have been inherent from the honing of those instincts necessary to cope in the frontier which was the early South, not within the class complex set up during and after the plantation era.
In the social situation which I outline here, we have a factor of the first importance for the entire Southern pattern—one which, as we shall see, reached out and wove itself into the Southern mind at many points, and which gave rise, and continues to this day to give rise, to the most striking consequences.
But nowhere was its effect more marked than in the field of that individualism which, as the reader may have forgotten by this time, is the point with which we were immediately engaged. For not only did it do the obvious thing of expanding and extending that individualism in mere quantitative fashion, not only did it provide the perfect ground for the growth of the fundamental Jeffersonian philosophy far beyond anything the rest of the nation was to see—it did even more. In focusing the old backcountry pride upon the ideas of superiority to the Negro and the peerage of white men, and thereby (fully in the masses, and in some basic manner even in the planters) divorcing it from the necessity for achievement, it inevitably shifted emphasis back upon and lent new impulsion to the purely personal and puerile attitude which distinguishes the frontier outlook everywhere.
And when to that was added the natural effect on the planters of virtually unlimited sway over their bondsmen, and the natural effect on the common whites of the example of these planters, it eventuated in this: that the individualism of the plantation world would be one which, like that of the backcountry before it, would be far too much concerned with bald, immediate, unsupported assertion of the ego, which placed too great stress on the inviolability of personal whim, and which was full of the chip-on-shoulder swagger and brag of a boy—one, in brief, of which the essence was the boast, voiced or not, on the part of every Southerner, that he would knock hell out of whoever dared to cross him.
This character is of the utmost significance. For its corollary was the perpetuation and acceleration of the tendency to violence which had grown up in the Southern backwoods as it naturally grows up on all frontiers. Other factors, some of which we shall glance at later on, played their part in perpetuating and elaborating this pattern, too. But none was more decisive than this one. However careful they might be to walk softly, such men as these of the South were bound to come often into conflict. And being what they were—simple, direct, and immensely personal—and their world being what it was—conflict with them could only mean immediate physical clashing, could only mean fisticuffs, the gouging ring, and knife and gun play.
Nor was it only private violence that was thus perpetuated. The Southerner's fundamental approach carried over into the realm of public offenses as well. What the direct willfulness of his individualism demanded, when confronted by a crime that aroused his anger, was immediate satisfaction for itself—catharsis for personal passion in the spectacle of a body dancing at the end of a rope or writhing in the fire—now, within the hour—and not some ponderous abstract justice in a problematic tomorrow. And so, in this world of ineffective social control, the tradition of vigilante action, which normally lives and dies with the frontier, not only survived but grew so steadily that already long before the Civil War and long before hatred for the black man had begun to play any direct part in the pattern (of more than three hundred persons said to have been hanged or burned by mobs between 1840 and 1860, less than ten per cent were Negroes) the South had become peculiarly the home of lynching.
But if I show you Southern individualism as eventuating in violence, if I imply that the pride which was its root was in some sense puerile, I am very far from suggesting that it ought to be held in contempt. For it reached its ultimate incarnation in the Confederate soldier.
—from Book One, Chapter III, "Of an Ideal and Conflict", Section 6, pp. 43-45, 1969 ed.
Thus, only incidentally was there involved the notion suggested by Mr. Beasley, the affability and ironic status accorded the "common white" by the planter class, such that he acquired a feeling of superiority over blacks, causing then extreme reaction when one of the perceived inferior beings, consistently reinforced as such by the societal structure and every institution within it, made even slight gestures which suggested deviation from the carefully maintained norms of caste to present himself in the slightest manner of pretention as an equal to the common white, thus to be punished by a method so cruel as to serve as brutal example to deter all blacks of the community from repeating the transgression. Thus it went with Emmett Till, for instance, in August, 1955.
But the underlying reason for this pattern of violence preceded the cotton plantation era and the cotton gin and consequent use of slavery. It was the frontier mold which gave it shape, the plantation era only enabling it easy vent on the creature before them, deemed chattel, a stock animal, yet aspiring curiously to some version of humanity, unable to fight back or defend himself, save in deception and malingering, lest the consequence be dire, gaining greater virility and animus following the humiliation of the Civil War, enabling easy cast of the freed slaves and black Republicans in the role of scapegoat for all the ills impacting the region.
While it is perhaps a bit unfair to Mr. Beasley to use 20-20 hindsight to inform better his traditional myopia, it was—and sometimes to this day remains the case—equally unfair to take the words of a dead man, W. J. Cash, and engrave them in fixed stone as if informed by the subsequent tumult of events which followed his completion of The Mind of the South, events which alternately confirmed, or, as the argument may turn, proved the contrary to that which he had posited in 1940 at the time he finished the book. Undoubtedly, his own theories would have been altered somewhat, as well as confirmed, by the passage of time had he lived to see, understand, and write of later events.
We do not have to be the least daring, in any event, to say that Cash, based on hindsight, had the better of the argument versus Mr. Beasley when it came to the need for positive, assertive action on the part of the South to enter an era of progress with respect to labor and especially race, lest an era of violence ensue—as it would. Cash assuredly would have seen the re-emergence of the Klan as a very real danger signal coming out of the war, an indicator at the grass roots of pent-up frustrations collected during the war and exacerbated by the labor problems and housing shortages attendant with the return home of veterans and displaced labor, whites and blacks, having migrated from the Midwest and Southern farm belts to obtain high-paying jobs in war industries, chafing with one another during the war in Midwestern and Northern cities, the 1943 summer riots of Detroit and Harlem and Watts having portended the riots of the steamy summers of the mid-Sixties, racial feelings compounding feelings of bitterness in many veterans, that life in the United States had not so markedly changed as at the fighting fronts, where battles and strength of arms had proved the rule to win the day, lines not so easily drawn on charts and diagrams back home as the case had been in the trenches.
But to warn of impending danger of violence, as Cash did in the latter paragraphs of his book, without such homegrown affirmative action, was not to suggest a perception of a benighted South, as Mr. Beasley finds at least the reaction to the book to have caused. Indeed, Cash had coupled that warning with the South's best traits, as he saw them: "Proud, brave, honorable by its lights, courteous, personally generous, loyal, swift to act, often too swift, but signally effective, sometimes terrible, in its action." He did so without the least hint of condescension; nor was it intended.
Mr. Beasley portrays, perhaps unwittingly, that very notion of "Southern defensiveness" of which Cash also wrote as being one of its primary characteristics and sore spots through time, stemming from the positive trait of frontier individualism, which caused the South to retreat into unreality, obscurantism, to dodge reality, a trait of any defeated people following war—much as Samuel Grafton found it still to be doing after the war, just as that part of the South which he toured would still be doing, leading to the worst of the racial violence, throughout the 1950's and 1960's, until the blood of leaders consequent of that extreme violence so profoundly touched the conscience of the nation as to dispel and finally defuse and disable its worst formulation out of the mouths of its loudest and most visible exponents and symbols of that later time, Lester Maddox and George Wallace.
But with that said, society sometimes goes too far in the other direction, bending its ear too close to the ground to try to hear rumblings of racism or ethnicism or sexism, to the point where the most precious liberty of all, freedom of speech, is chilled or even denied, on penalty of loss of status. And in that, there is nothing short of despotism and fascism lurking within the shadows of someone's cynical conception of "liberalism", an untrained ear, an untrained eye, an untrained mind which seeks, as Sherlock Holmes in a movie, to find the clues to the Tell-Tale Heart, without standing back to see the whole picture and realize that everyone is full of interpersonal prejudices and making better human relations is not a game of catching people in what they say and then using it adversely to impact them, but rather how they behave and actually act in society which matters. It is otherwise only chasing shadows within a benighted world.
As to Mr. Beasley's dichotomy between liberalism and conservatism, we find it without definition and thus fairly without utility. Liberalism is, in its base form, merely dynamism exerted toward progressive ends, that is liberty, its etymological root, while conservatism is defined by preservation of the status quo, as that is marked by structured class lines and perpetuation of ownership of capital within the upper portions of that class structure while the working portion and middle portion remain virtually enslaved, in order to eat, to the ownership class, with the "opportunity" extended to "share in the wealth", but the practical reality being more usually something completely different—not unlike that which Mr. Grafton explored by comparing Hollywood dreaminess to Southern dreaminess in 1946.
Did Mr. Grafton, also when viewed with that precious and unfair 20-20 hindsight, fail to account for the notion of cross-over between the two realms? that is to say that the Southern dreaminess which came naturally from the soil and the slower lifestyle of agrarian heritage, the lassitude of the seasons in between planting and harvest, influenced and directed the movie industry via Kentuckian D. W. Griffith and his heavy initial effect on Hollywood storytelling for having its first great success, in turn, with its offer of the sterile, dreamy, neat bouquets, posed an alternative to the mundane of life, life inevitably lived and endured daily behind the illusion by the very producers, directors, and acting personnel who created the attractive facsimile, all in a mutually massaging medium message, to borrow from Marshall McLuhan
And that, we posit, despite decades of attempt to educate the mass of viewers bent on casual, child-like viewing rather than active viewing—that is viewing while thinking, both in and out of the perspective which the object leads the viewer to adopt, objectifying, criticizing, understanding, not just plots and acting motifs or even directorial motifs, but rather a higher meaning on a higher plane, the symbolic representation of what is being displayed in its whole form, not just in snippets and scenes and cute or weighty lines of comedy and pathos, not viewing merely to escape—still goes on, at least judging by the most usually inane comments we find on a valuable medium such as Youtube, comments which are nevertheless instructive and perhaps informative in their greater effect as a whole than in their parts, of the problem we experience with effective and enlightened culture, the chafing between advance and the inevitable undertow of resistance to progress, consciously and unconsciously, finally motivated by fear of change from the status quo, losing grip upon the sandy ocean bottom which keeps one from having to swim to avoid drowning, that which always outruns in technological advance the ability of the collective human mind to grasp save in stutter steps, as a child learns to crawl and walk.
Much of society, we suggest, does not know the first thing about media, how to watch critically a movie or a television presentation. Change that perspective, we further challenge, and less violence in the country will be the trend, regardless of the violence within movies or on television, hardly the source of its manifestations in reality, merely posited as a convenient scapegoat for our systemic ills. Better education and literacy, beyond mere rote recitation, beyond mere reading and writing, but rather to comprehension and to critical thought, not censorship, is always the answer to ills besetting a democracy.
Regardless of anything else, Mr. Beasley this date prompted much thought. It is very good to have a home Garden
Incidentally, for some, perhaps, limited insight to our own perspective, one must factor in these photographs showing quite inadequately scenes from our hometown occuring but three weeks prior to both our hearing, for the first time, the phrase "semolina pilchard" and also preparation and submission of our first term paper, prepared for biology, our chosen subject being the neuro-chemical processes responsible for memory, which we have never forgotten. W.J. Cash: Southern Prophet, by Joseph L. Morrison, also came out at about the same time.
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