The Charlotte News

Tuesday, May 24, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that at the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Paris regarding Germany, Russia called for restoration of four-power control of the entire country, including Berlin, plus establishment of a German state council with economic and administrative functions, subject to the authority of a resurrected Allied Control Council, defunct since the previous spring after Russia had walked out. It also wanted the industrial Ruhr to be placed under four-power control, with participation by the countries bordering Germany, the Benelux countries, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. A British source stated that the U.S. opposed these proposals.

U.S. Brigadier General Frank Howley, U.S. commandant in Berlin, gave an ultimatum to Soviet-employed railway police to withdraw from all American sector railway stations in Berlin, following a night of bloody rioting in West Berlin, resulting in two deaths. By four-power agreement, the Russians had control of all railway stations and so, initially at least, the French and British would not join in the ultimatum, despite the demand having originated with the Berlin city government and the anti-Communist railway union. The latter had struck on Saturday demanding payment in Western marks. British and French sector authorities said that they might, however, issue orders soon, consistent with the American ultimatum.

The Atomic Energy Commission reported to the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that its own security officers had taken two bars of uranium from the Hanford, Wash., plant and kept them for months without detection, to test security loopholes. The Commission had, according to chairman David Lilienthal, voted 4 to 1 to allow shipments of radioactive isotopes not usable for building atomic bombs to countries around the perimeter of Russia. No fissionable material, however, had been shipped abroad.

In Chapel Hill, UNC graduate student Hans Freistadt, member of the Communist Party who had received a scholarship from the Atomic Energy Commission to study the special theory of relativity, had his part-time position as a graduate instructor taken away as of June 1 by chancellor Robert House, who refused to renew it. University controller William D. Carmichael, Jr., said to the Board of Trustees that the University did not want Communists on the campus and that the administration would cooperate in avoidance of hiring Communists and Communist sympathizers to the faculty. A pledge in that regard was signed by Mr. Carmichael, chancellor House, and the chancellors of N.C. State and Woman's College at Greensboro. It also said that the administration was aware of several alleged Communist sympathizers or fellow travelers on the faculty, who had been hired in good faith and had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution. The University would not therefore undertake "witch hunts or spy hunts" to root them out.

Mr. Freistadt had been hired as a physics laboratory instructor on the same basis on which he got into graduate school, his demonstrated excellence in scholarship, without asking any questions regarding his political beliefs. Originally from Austria, he was a naturalized U.S. citizen and had served in the U.S. Army during the war.

And, of course, not asking about political beliefs on such academic applications, whether for teaching or student admission, is the way it always ought to be to assure academic freedom. The University, in kowtowing to a bunch of rednecks out in the sticks of the state, had its tail tucked between its legs and its head in a place reserved ordinarily for its seat on this one. In any event, within a few years, such new and repressive policies would find themselves on the outside looking in, having been briefly tested and found wanting, throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Lucas of Illinois said, after a White House conference, that it would not be possible for the Congress at this session to act on the President's national health program. The three remaining priority items on the agenda were extension of reciprocal trade agreements, repeal of Taft-Hartley, and ratification of NATO.

In the House, an effort was begun to speed up both labor and civil rights legislation in committee, the latter being the legislation to establish the Fair Employment Practices Commission.

In Kannapolis, N.C., a four-year old boy did not quite understand what had happened after his father had killed his mother with a rifle and then killed himself by pointing the gun at his head and instructing the boy to pull the trigger. The boy and his five-year old sister knew that something was wrong with their parents when they would no longer speak to them after the shootings. The children were not crying as the parents' corpses were carried from the house. "It was a big day for the little fellow. Bigger than he knew."

Guns, they sure do protect the family, now, don't they? But what would life be like without hunting? Daddy's gone a-hunting, never, ever to return.

The French Ministry of Justice said that a special dispensation for Rita Hayworth to marry Prince Aly Khan at the Prince's chateau had been refused, and so the marriage would take place in the city hall at Vallauris. Don't miss it. It's going to be so touching.

On the editorial page, "More Men Will Break" tells of James Forrestal joining John Winant of the State Department, former Ambassador to Great Britain from 1941-46, who also had killed himself in 1947 for being "too discouraged to live".

Mr. Forrestal was tired, it concludes, and his mind had snapped under the strain of trying to relax after so long in a difficult position of national service.

While some had characterized him, for his past as a partner in Dillon, Read, responsible for building up the German cartels which led to the war, as one of the "gluttons of privilege" of Wall Street, against whom the President railed during the campaign, the objective observers found Mr. Forrestal only to be a dedicated public servant.

But as the nation would mourn his death, other men would follow in other crises and more, it predicts, would break under the strain.

"Stench from Illinois" tells of journalists, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Chicago Daily News, having been on the payroll of the Green machine, that of former Governor Dwight Green in Illinois. Few had done any real service for the salaries received from the State. The story was now enjoying wide dissemination and the journalists on the government payroll appropriately condemned.

The piece posits that to maintain a free press, newspapermen had to avoid entangling political alliances.

"Scott and the Press" responds to Governor Kerr Scott's attack on the Charlotte press, referring implicitly to The News, during his visit in Charlotte the previous day. It says that the newspaper had sought to present both sides of the argument regarding his better schools and better roads programs.

A piece from the Waterbury (Conn.) Republican, titled "North Carolina Leads", tells of the Legislature having raised teacher salaries in North Carolina from a range of $1,620 to $2,169 to a range of $2,081 to $2,787 per year, an increase of 28.51 percent, and had appropriated 25 million dollars to be conjoined with the proposed bond issue for the same amount for school construction. Its teacher salaries thus rose to the highest level of any Southeastern state.

Furthermore, there was no discrimination in State funding between black and white schools.

The piece therefore finds the state's record on education exemplary and suggests it as example for other states to follow.

Drew Pearson tells of an alert Congressman having spotted General Harry Vaughan's name on a list of 87 Army recipients of foreign decorations and medals just before the list was set for routine vote by the House Armed Services Committee to approve the awards. General Vaughan had been decorated by Argentina's dictator Juan Peron. The Committee voted to table the matter until it could be given greater consideration.

Mr. Pearson notes that the Army had indicated that it had "no information" on the medal conferred on General Vaughan.

Mr. Pearson's relentless criticism of this medal had caused the President in March, at a dinner for General Vaughan, to refer to a certain "s.o.b." in the press who continually criticized his military aide.

Ambassador to Britain Lewis Douglas might have become Secretary of State to replace General Marshall had it not been for a phone call to Mr. Douglas from now Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson who was then, prior to the election, chairman of the Truman campaign finance committee, in desperate need of funds. Mr. Douglas told Mr. Johnson that he had no money to spare.

Initially, the President had tapped Mr. Douglas to become the new Secretary of State, but then Mr. Johnson told the President of Mr. Douglas's refusal of money to the campaign, presented a letter on the subject written by Mr. Douglas, reprinted in the column, and that had nixed the appointment. The President knew that Mr. Douglas and his family were wealthy, not "poor", as he had contended in his letter. He had also sought to couch his position as "non-political" and that it thus would be "inappropriate" to contribute to the campaign. He agreed to make a modest contribution to the Democratic state committee in Arizona, which only arrived after the election.

Marquis Childs tells of liberal Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois proposing recently a cut of five to six percent in the number of Government employees, to reduce the budget rather than have to raise taxes to avoid deficit spending. In suggesting also how the cuts could be effected without damage to services, he demonstrated that liberals could be practical. He also proposed a 300 million dollar cut in the Rivers & Harbors bill, the biggest of all suppliers of pork barrel projects. The local chambers of commerce demanded economy in Government but then demanded the appropriation for the local river front.

Economy was also possible in the projects of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Reclamation Service. The Hoover Commission had demonstrated the appalling waste and duplication between the two rival agencies.

The Democrats had resisted successfully the Republican effort to effect a five percent across-the-board budget reduction. But if the cuts were not made somewhere domestically, they would likely come from foreign aid and defense. Nevertheless, a uniform slash of the blind type proposed by the Republicans could do great harm. Mr. Childs suggests that there were ways to trim the budget if done surgically rather than with a meat-axe.

Joseph Alsop relates of a parallel in British history to the tragic death of James Forrestal. Lord Castlereagh, the leading member of the British Cabinet which had brought peace to Europe by defeating Napoleon, died 127 years earlier under similar circumstances. When the Duke of Wellington noticed that Lord Castlereagh was talking strangely, he recommended that he see a doctor. He agreed but there were no psychiatric remedies available at the time for melancholia. Castlereagh's secretaries hid his razors and pistols. Nevertheless, one night he cut his own throat while at home, utilizing the little knife used for sharpening quill pens.

Mr. Alsop cites it as a reminder that the burdens of high office were often too great for even the stoutest constitutions. Some of the stresses on Mr. Forrestal, he suggests, might have been reduced by a wiser Congress, a more restrained press, and a more intelligent public attitude toward public servants.

The type of public service he had rendered, "disinterested, professional, imaginative", had the smallest reward possible. The best men in government were often treated as hacks while the second-raters escaped severe criticism. The tendency of Congress was to treat the people with ideas as guilty until proved innocent. The country took the good public servants for granted. The press seemed to operate with restraint in dealing with government functionaries they disliked.

By way of further comparison of the death of Mr. Forrestal, he quotes, in edited form, Percy Bysshe Shelley's lines on Lord Castlereagh from "The Masque of Anarchy":

I met murder on the way;
He had a mask like Castlereagh,
Very smooth he looked yet grim,
Seven bloodhounds followed him, by one, and two by two
He threw them human hearts to chew
Which from his wide cloak he drew.

He tells of Mr. Forrestal's energy having waned during the last year. But he remained serious about public service and gave it his complete attention to the end when he resigned as Secretary of Defense in March.

He posits that Mr. Forrestal deserved a memorial and that perhaps it should take the form of a new American habit of treating the better government officials with the respect they deserved, to encourage more of them.

Incidentally, through extraordinary research, in the basement-dusted files of a library upon an isle, the identity of which we are not at liberty to reveal, our bond being such that it cannot be reviled, we have discovered the "secret" water-logged manuscript, left inchoate, tragically concealed, of the so-called "added lines", not heretofore reconciled, until now thought to be only apocryphal legend, to Mr. Shelley's poem. These lines go:

Castlereagh, it is said by some,
Died pitifully in undue glum,
His death-head's place secured and fixed,
His hound's paws steady and true as brick.
Yet, 'twas so strange when they uncovered,
The true reason for death: Murder by another;
Another, unearthly, one-eyed and narrow,
Pallid, amorphous, and full of ancient sorrow.
It flew away in a ship to another land afar,
Another strand of sea and shapeless, shifted...

Then, it is said by a reliable account, Mr. Shelley leaned over in his boat and died, and with him, the Truth, perhaps, forever concealed in those unwritten words and lines which might have followed. Or were they unwritten? Did it exist even then, in 1822?

Only the Towermen know for sure.

Paul Yost, by way of assessing the Supreme Court decision in Terminiello v. City of Chicago the previous week, quotes Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes's well-known test of the limits of freedom of speech from Schenck v. U.S., 249 U.S. 47, decided in 1919: shouting fire in a crowded theater, that is creating a clear and present danger that a serious substantive evil would result which Congress had the right to prevent. "It is a question of proximity and degree."

The Schenck case upheld convictions for inciting resistance to the draft in World War I. Terminiello stuck down a conviction for disorderly conduct for engaging in reactionary speech against Jews and Communists because the city ordinance on which the conviction was premised violated the First Amendment in that it proscribed speech which "stirred people to anger, invited public distrust or brought about a condition of unrest". And conviction on any one of those grounds, concluded the five-Justice majority, could not stand.

The Court heard evidence that the crowd in the Chicago Auditorium where the speech had taken place started throwing brickbats, bottles, and stink bombs. A crowd outside was surging and howling, seeking to tear the clothes off of those trying to enter the hall. Justice Robert Jackson, in a stinging dissent, found such reaction to evidence the clear and present danger occasioned by the speech. He suggested that the majority had abandoned the old test and substituted "an unexpressed but more stringent test".

The majority, consisting of Justices Douglas, Black, Rutledge, Reed, and Murphy, stated that the clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil had to rise "far above public inconvenience, annoyance or unrest" to be subject to legal restriction.

Mr. Yost points out that shortly after Schenck was decided, the Court held 7 to 2 in Abrams v. U.S., 250 U.S. 616, that convictions of five Russians for distributing leaflets in New York quoting the Communist Manifesto were valid. Justice Holmes had dissented from that decision on the basis that only "opinions and exhortations" were being distributed.

In 1942, the Court had stated unanimously in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, the Jehovah's Witnesses case, that the First Amendment did not protect "fighting words", "those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace."

He relates of several other cases on free speech during the previous decade, but offers no conclusion.

We suggest that when the Supreme Court started down this road of trying to parse speech, it also chilled speech, as no one could determine any longer, with predictive clarity, what the First Amendment actually meant. The clear tendency in more recent decades, therefore, except in times of national emergency and actual war, has been to allow speech without restriction other than by time, place, and manner, that is the requirement of licenses to engage in excessively loud, bullhorn amplification of speech and marches which disrupt traffic and the like. Conduct is a different matter, and speech which is coupled with illegal conduct, such as trespass or threats of actual physical violence coupled with the clear intent and means to carry them out, loses its purity as speech. Commercial speech, such as advertising, also deservedly enjoys less protection than ordinary speech, can be regulated against false claims and the like, as it seeks to sell a product. And defamation, that is false statements which impugn the character or integrity of another or falsely ascribe actions to that person and thereby cause damage, is also not protected speech under the common law, though with variations on the theme, affording more latitude for expressions with respect to public figures and government functionaries.

But in a Trumped-up United States, who the hell knows what might happen to free speech, or what remains of it for all but the privileged few with money enough to buy it? Judging by the Trumped-up rallies, all forms of protest, no matter how mild, would be squelched with jack-booted thugs removing the protesters amid kicks, punches and loud insults and threats of death.

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