Tuesday, August 13, 1946

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, August 13, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Haifa, British troops fired machineguns and rifles into a crowd of rioting Jews, attempting to storm British tanks, trucks, and soldiers in protest of the deportation to Cyprus of a thousand illegal Jewish immigrants who had been aboard ships in Haifa Harbor, prevented from disembarking. One girl was killed in the shooting. Several truckloads of youths were taken to police detention camps.

Hagana, the underground Jewish organization, had urged the Jews in a radio broadcast to "storm the streets" and violate an imposed curfew while the ship was being loaded for the Cyprus voyage.

Arabs had also freely violated the curfew but caused little disturbance.

Meanwhile, another ship arrived with approximately 650 illegal immigrants and was placed under watch outside the harbor. An unconfirmed report indicated that a second ship, with 600 immigrants, had arrived as well.

The thousand immigrants being deported taunted the British with cries of "Fascist" and "Nazi" as they forced them to disembark ship and enter the British deportation ship, equipped with barbed cages.

Once in Cyprus, the immigrants would be held in camps originally built for German prisoners of war.

Russia announced that it had proposed to Turkey that the Black Sea powers—Russia, Turkey, Rumania, and Bulgaria—take full authority in drafting a new treaty for governing the Dardanelles, providing for Turkey and Russia to organize defenses of the straits jointly. Russia stated that the ten-year old Montreux Convention, under which Turkey had been permitted to militarize the straits, did not guarantee the Black Sea powers against inimical use of the straits.

It wanted only military vessels of the Black Sea powers to have passage through the straits, except by special arrangement, while allowing passage to commercial vessels of all nations. Pursuant to Montreux, other nations which might achieve Black Sea power status by discussion every five years, over a 25-year period, were Britain, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Japan. The United States had indicated its general agreement to this policy the previous fall. Turkey and Britain wanted the United States to replace Japan on the list of potential additional Black Sea powers.

The Rumanian delegate became the first of the former Axis satellites to address the Paris Peace Conference, stating that Rumania believed that it was entitled to reparations from both Germany and Hungary.

A discharged War Assets Administration official, William Gilrein, admitted to the House Surplus Property Committee that he had probably been negligent in handling the sale of 539 rolls of wire screen, but insisted that he was not giving the buyer any preferential treatment. The order was intended for retailers to ease the materials shortage but was instead provided a war contracts broker. He had instructed a subordinate to follow old guidelines in filling the order, allowing large bidders to have a percentage of their order filled. The new system provided for filling small orders first and then the larger concerns would receive the rest.

In South Carolina, voters went to the polls in unprecedented numbers for the gubernatorial primary. The Barnwell ring which was said to control the state politically was being challenged, with Strom Thurmond, running for Governor, calling the ring names after two accusers from the ring stated that Mr. Thurmond had sought to purchase ring support. He denied the charge and promised to break the ring if elected.

Mr. Thurmond faced incumbent Governor Ransome Williams, who also opposed the ring. A third principal candidate, James McLeod, had remained neutral.

In fact, the piece points out, the Governor had little power to do anything about the Barnwell ring, as the Legislature had stripped the office of most of its real strength. Three members of the lower chamber of the General Assembly, however, had stated that they would challenge the current Speaker, a Barnwellian, for re-election.

In Wisconsin, 21-year Senate veteran Robert La Follette was locked in a contest with former Circuit Judge and Marine, Joseph R. McCarthy, for the Republican nomination for the Senate.

A mass meeting of veterans was scheduled for Monday in Alamo, Tenn., with the purpose of wiping out political machines. They intended to stress first Tennessee and Arkansas, and then spread their influence through the rest of the South. In Georgia, where a group of veterans had formed to challenge the unit-voting system, a fifth of the Legislature was comprised of veterans of the late war.

A new wave of strikes began to spread across the country, albeit not impacting major industries or large numbers of workers.

In London, writer H. G. Wells, in ill health from diabetes for some time, died at age 79. Known for his science fiction writing, such as The War of the Worlds and The Shape of Things to Come, he had most recently penned a controversial article asking whether the British monarchy had been involved in the payment of large sums of money by Mussolini to Sir Oswald Moseley to support his spread of Fascist propaganda during the war. Mr. Wells's most lucrative work at the time of his death was his Outline of History, over 500,000 copies of which had been sold in the United States.

In Stockholm, a 100-foot "ghost rocket" was observed exploding in a blinding flash over Sweden. Several such rockets had been observed in recent weeks, apparently being launched from an unknown source along the German Baltic coast.

Buz Sawyer, after exciting experiences in Greenland, was preparing for fresh adventures with his old Navy pal, Chili Harrison. You may read of them on the comics page.

Whether also might be referenced therein Pepper Sawyer, son of Buz and wife Christy, or Lucky, Buz's younger brother, a musician, you will have to discover for yourself.

On the editorial page, "A New GI Political Organization" discusses the the new "GI Democrats of North Carolina" formed on Sunday in Pinehurst to organize North Carolina's twelve Congressional districts politically to establish better, more progressive local and state government.

Its platform included planks to encourage world peace while maintaining adequate defense, the guarantee of rights for both labor and management, full economic and educational advantages for minorities, full participation of all citizens in elections, increase in pay for teachers and other public officials, improvement of secondary roads, and equalization of freight rates regionally. None of these stances were new or radical, but were sound.

It did not seek special rights for veterans, such as a state bonus payment, as other veterans groups had advocated.

Its aim would be the 1948 election in the Democratic primary.

The piece finds it potentially a salutary force in decreasing the apathy of North Carolina Democrats, bringing forth new and energetic candidates. Or it could degenerate into another political machine, depending on the action of the veterans themselves. There was every reason to believe, based on its current stands, that it would not devolve to violence as had the veterans of Athens, Tennessee, and would ultimately be a force of good within the state.

"How to Perpetuate a Legend" comments on a recent radio broadcast by Orson Welles in which he had contended that one Isaac Woodward, a black man, had been dragged from a bus by police officers in Aiken, S.C., and had his eyes gouged out. Aiken officials investigated and found no such incident to have occurred, demanded an apology from Mr. Welles. He responded by saying that the burden of proof that it did not happen was on Aiken, that the incident had occurred in a town between Augusta and Columbia.

The piece finds it "asinine arrogance" on the part of Mr. Welles to have placed the burden on Aiken to disprove a charge he had brought against the town.

But, the reaction of the Police Chief was equally asinine, as he had ordered a local movie house to cease showing a film in which Mr. Welles had a minor role, and also seized and ordered destroyed all posters advertising the movie, which then occurred in a bonfire on main street. Such a reaction was likely to cause outsiders to view Aiken as being possessed of the type of mentality which could have committed the act which Mr. Welles had attributed to it.

The story of Isaac Woodward had almost died away on its own, it concludes, before the Chief had given it new life by his absurd and quite illegal reaction.

It is unclear, parenthetically, what film was banned in Aiken. "Duel in the Sun", in which Mr. Welles only served as the narrator, apparently did not open until December 31. The other two films in which he appeared in 1946, "The Stranger" and "Tomorrow Is Forever", had him in featured roles, in the latter with a seven-year old Natalie Wood. Perhaps the editorial got its facts a bit garbled and this was the film in question, having been released in February, and the Chief in Aiken simply did not like child actors, believed it a violation of child labor laws, of which South Carolina had no history.

The incident in question, it would turn out, had actually occurred in Batesburg, S.C., not far from Aiken, on February 12, 1946. The man in question, whose name was actually Sgt. Isaac Woodard, had just been discharged from the Army, in which he had served for four years, including a stint in the Pacific. During the bus ride home to Goldsboro, N.C., from Augusta, Ga., he was removed forcibly from the bus by police officers after they had been contacted by the bus driver, alleging that Sgt. Woodard had created a disturbance by arguing in some manner with the driver. He was allegedly beaten with nightsticks and fists, eventually causing both eyes to hemorrhage and rupture, blinding him for life.

Mr. Welles initially misunderstood the story insofar as it having been the result of the actions of "Officer X" in Aiken, S.C., but not the gravity of the crime or that it was in fact the result of police beating, even if in another town nineteen miles away. Mr. Welles vowed to catch the officer if it took him the rest of his days to do it.

In a pair of subsequent broadcasts, titled "Welles Film Banned", airing August 18, and "The Place Was Batesburg", broadcast a week later, he corrected the error ascribing the maiming of Isaac Woodard to the Aiken police, remarking that Aiken had threatened to sue him for several million dollars. During the latter broadcast, he also read several rationalizing letters he had received regarding the original broadcast and responded to same over the air.

On September 26, 1946, after prompting a week earlier from executive secretary of the NAACP Walter White regarding the reluctance of the South Carolina authorities to act on the case of Sgt. Woodard, an angered President Truman instructed Attorney General Tom Clark to begin an investigation. On October 2, the Batesburg Police Chief, Linwood Shull, and several of his officers were indicted on Federal charges of assault, Federal jurisdiction being based on the incident having occurred at an interstate busstop and while Sgt. Woodard was in the uniform of the United States Army. During the trial, Chief Shull admitted that he struck Sgt. Woodard several times about the eyes but was nevertheless acquitted after a half hour of jury deliberation. He contended that Sgt. Woodard had been drinking when he first approached him and that he had reached for Chief Shull's billyclub, allegations which Sgt. Woodard denied.

In determining culpability for a criminal assault, it would not ordinarily matter under the law of self-defense or defense of others whether in fact the victim of the alleged assault had been drinking or had in some way been the initial aggressor. That, standing alone, would not absolve the accused assailant, as the salient legal issue is whether more force ultimately was used than was reasonably necessary to subdue the person or whether the person allegedly assaulted gave up the aggressive effort and plainly communicated such retreat by words or action.

Sgt. Woodard contended that he was restrained by the officers the entire time he was beaten and had offered no resistance whatever.

Federal juries, it must always be remembered, are gathered from the same local stock as state court juries, even if coming from a larger segment of a state's population than that of a single county.

Isaac Woodard died in 1992 and his assailant, five years later.

In the August 18 broadcast, Mr. Welles, incidentally, included a segment on Philip E. Fox of Dallas, who had been convicted in Atlanta in 1923 of murder of an attorney for a faction of the Ku Klux Klan, for a rival faction of which Mr. Fox had served as the publicity director at the time. He presently was acting as an adviser and aide to ultimately successful Texas gubernatorial candidate Beauford Jester, in a Democratic primary runoff with Dr. Homer Rainey, former president of the University of Texas, ousted from that position by "the big money boys", as Mr. Welles puts it, for his liberal views. Dr. Rainey had invited W. J. Cash to speak on June 2, 1941 at the University commencement exercises.

"Welcome to the Carolinas, Comrades" comments on the Columbia State having editorialized that Communism was definitely upon the country's doorstep, based on proposals of common ownership of mines, mills, factories, and banks, "a government of the people led by the working class". It prompted the conclusion by the newspaper that free speech, while necessary, had its limits.

The editorial disagrees with the newspaper's analysis of the "Red Terror", prime among which was that contrary to suppressing the Communist doctrine, the more it was aired, the better the chance would be that it would not be acceptable to the average American. In theory, the notion of the oppressed workers arising en masse to rid themselves of the shackles of capitalism had appeal, but in practice, it did not lend itself to bring to fruition its lofty aims.

The American Communist Party likely had the highest turnover rate of any political organization in the country. Reading of long, dull tracts and standing on picket lines for long hours to try to indoctrinate others were part of the price of membership. Its members also had to hue the line dictated in Moscow. Moreover, the chameleon-like quality of the doctrine espoused, one moment pacifist, another militant interventionist, another in alignment with the Allies against the Fascists, had in time driven away the intellectually honest. Its shifts from left to right were notorious and had driven away from its membership many writers, artists, professors, and intellectuals.

The piece therefore welcomes Communists to the public forum of the Carolinas and hopes that they would broadcast their views far and wide. The best anti-Communist propaganda was that which they purveyed themselves, and the most effective pro-Communist propaganda was to react hysterically to it as had The State.

A piece from the Salisbury Evening Post, titled "Notes on Southern Womanhood", praises Southern women, ranking them ahead of the Scotch collie, the duck-billed platypus, the lemmings of Sweden, and Joan of Arc.

But at the same time, it remarks: "'Southern womanhood' as a fetish is exactly the same sort of flim-flam as 'cancer cure.'"

For it included such manifestations as "prostitutes, gun-molls, unwed mothers, and prohibition leaders", plus "female liars, cheats, gossips, perjurers, arsonists, thieves, butterflies, exhibitionists, nymphomaniacs, alcoholics, kleptomaniacs, and 'good women.'"


A Southern woman could be as admirable as any other woman, but to assume that she was somehow endowed by a remarkable quality because of being Southern was to insult "every daughter of Eve on earth."

Drew Pearson studies the impact which General Mark Clark had been able to effect with regard to Russian dominance of Austria, after Russia had initially completely dominated the occupation of the country and sought through the Red Army, with a force four times larger than the American occupation complement, to establish its economic capital on the Danube.

The foreign ministers had agreed at Moscow that Austria would be governed initially by an Allied Council bearing in mind the principle that Austria was subjected to the Reich without the consent of the people, the favorable plebiscite for Anschluss with Nazi Germany having been obtained through a rigged process. But Russia had not followed this precept to which it had subscribed at the conference.

The Russians had wrecked the economy of Austria, as well as engaging in acts of murder and sabotage with respect to the American occupation forces. Russia had demanded of Austria such exorbitant occupation costs as to bankrupt the country. When General Clark demanded that the Russians reduce their costs to a more reasonable sum, they threatened to leave the Allied Council. He then vetoed their demand for money and they did walk out.

But two weeks later, they returned and acquiesced to the demand of General Clark for a reduced sum. General Clark, however, stated that it was too late, reducing the allowable amount again, to one-third of the military budget. Once again, the Russians departed, returned again to accept the final offer, but coupled with a demand for what they claimed was an amount which they had contributed to the Austrian treasury just after the armistice in May, 1945.

General Clark then put in a demand for the amount contributed by the U. S., which was over three times that of the Russians, knowing that both amounts could not be reimbursed.

Marquis Childs reminds readers that, with all the news of graft out of Washington, it remained the fact that only a handful of the members of Congress were not dedicated public servants. It was simply that the grafters and demagogues received all the notoriety while those who served the good of the people moved in quiet streams.

He cites two examples: Congresswoman Frances Bolton of Ohio and Congressman Jerry Voorhis of California. Ms. Bolton, wealthy, believed in the concept of noblesse oblige and that conservatism meant, not obstructionism, but rather conserving while not opposing progress. She was considered a radical to many fellow Republicans for her stands against States' rights. Of late, that included her attempt to obtain Federal aid to ameliorate the proliferation of organized vice and juvenile delinquency.

Unlike colleague Clare Boothe Luce, Ms. Bolton did not dilute her idealism with wisecracks but approached her objectives with dedication to cause. One of her goals had been to improve D. C. Hospitals, an area about which she had acquired expertise beyond that of most who were not involved in hospital administration.

As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, she had, the previous year, toured Russia, Poland, and the Balkans, as well as the Near East. In the latter region, she was only one of two members of the Congressional delegation who went to every country. In Saudi Arabia, she became the first woman to visit King Ibn Saud as well as his harem.

Representative Voorhis was a progressive Democrat and, while not agreeing on many issues with Ms. Bolton, shared with her a sense of the responsibility of the office. He had been called the hardest working member of Congress, spending long hours pursuing a range of interests, specializing in seeking improvement for education.

The La Follette-Monroney bill just passed to streamline the committees and subcommittees of Congress would eliminate some of the opportunities for obstructionism and corruption to take place in the Congress, and perhaps thus curtail the newsprint expended on those who were given to demagoguery.

Well, then, as we know, would come the replacement for Mr. Voorhis after the fall election, and the newsprint would suddenly become fuller than ever with the stories of demagoguery and graft of his successor, enough to fill many newspapers for many years to come.

Ms. Bolton would remain in Congress until being defeated by Democrat Charles Vanik, already an incumbent of another district, in the election of 1968.

Peter Edson continues to discuss the report card on the Potsdam agreement a year after its execution. He states that the Paris Peace Conference was three months beyond its scheduled occurrence, having been set in December by the Foreign Ministers Council to start no later than May 1. But the meeting of the foreign ministers in January convinced them that the task to form the basic treaties to be approved in Paris was more complicated than originally assumed.

The treaties being considered by the 21-nation conference were not yet completed documents. Representatives of the five former Axis partners about which the treaties were concerned were also present.

While the process was circuitous, it was designed to avoid the pitfalls of Versailles which had convened without prior commitments among the principal Allies, producing hopeless conflicts which had caused the conference to drag on for months.

It was hoped in Paris that the present conference could resolve within two months the remaining differences in the five treaties before it and that they could be signed by September 23. When the treaties would be signed, the five former Axis partners could apply for U. N. membership.

After that would come another round of talks by the Big Four foreign ministers regarding the treaties with Germany and Austria, which would be the most problematic. It was hoped that these meetings would begin before the end of the year.

The Russians had rejected a proposed 25-year occupation treaty among the Big Four, proposed by Secretary Byrnes, albeit, as reported July 10, on the ground that a longer term commitment, of at least 40 years, was desirable. The Russians had also opposed the proposal by Mr. Byrnes for economic unification of the four German occupation zones. But Mr. Molotov had not closed the door permanently on either proposal. To the positive side, he had agreed that Germany had to be disarmed permanently and converted to a unified democracy with its own agriculture, industry, and foreign commerce.

A letter finds the Republican Party in North Carolina to be ineffective in establishing its credentials for leadership in the state, to dilute or eliminate the one-party system as advocated by The News. It would, he opines, be better served were it to spend less time focusing on Federal offices and more on seeking local offices, thereby establishing a leadership base with organization.

A letter complains that the seven-man SBI, short on funds, was unable to investigate many forms of corruption in the state, gambling, liquor running, and graft, while having time to investigate the alleged divorce mill of Ward Blanton in Charlotte. Mr. Blanton was an avowed enemy of the state Democratic machine and, the letter writer believes, such was the reason for the focus by the SBI on his activities.

After two years of investigation, the SBI had found a few allegations of conspiracy to suborn perjury, which the writer believes to be slim evidence of wrongdoing. No charges of perjury had been brought against the witnesses who testified to the Grand Jury regarding the subornation on which Mr. Blanton and one attorney were indicted. But, meanwhile, thousands of South Carolinians had come over the border to obtain divorces.

He states that honest citizens of the state resented use of State resources to hush the charges of political corruption brought by Mr. Blanton by singling him out him for prosecution.

The editors respond that the State had permitted Mr. Blanton complete freedom to discuss his claim that he was the victim of a vast Federal-State conspiracy and his claim had been provided widespread publicity. His allegations were vague as to details and frequently libelous. It thus disagrees with the writer that there was any conspiracy to hush him up.

The editors fail, however, in their analysis to realize the concept of chilling of free speech by damning those who engage in it with any degree of probity—though we have no particular knowledge of the details of this case other than what has been presented by The News, which has not been much thus far.

The fact, however, that HUAC had come to North Carolina to investigate this matter, as The News had found highly out of the ordinary, suggests that, indeed, a conspiracy did exist to chill Mr. Blanton in his exercise of free speech. Labeling it "libelous" only begs the question of whether there was merit to his charges.

For it seems in the abstract rather silly to have expended limited State resources on charges of subornation of perjury regarding obtaining divorces through apparently the common practice of the time of use in divorce suits of boilerplate language, such as "mental cruelty", as a basis for obtaining divorce under that archaic system, now abandoned in favor of no-fault divorces in all 50 states. Perhaps, Mr. Blanton was in fact the object of selective prosecution to shut him up, even if, technically, following a standard procedure of allowing open suborning of perjury to obtain divorce. It was for that very reason that no-fault divorces became the norm, as the old system had degenerated to one which encouraged perjurious charges and counter-charges to end a marriage or establish rights to alimony. That he may have streamlined the procedure informally only placed him as someone who foresaw the tide and acted on it.

Whether he did so exclusively to line his own pockets with kickbacks from an attorney is another issue which, if the true root cause of the indictment, lends to it a credible basis. But he does not appear to have been charged with receiving or soliciting bribes.


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