The Charlotte News

Wednesday, June 15, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Attorney General Tom Clark denied a story appearing in the Washington Times-Herald this date that FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had resigned because of the FBI being forced to reveal its confidential reports as a result of a ruling by the Federal District Court in the Judith Coplon espionage trial. The alternative for the Government would have been to dismiss the charge. Mr. Clark had replied to the question whether Mr. Hoover had quit by succinctly saying, "Hell, no!" The White House also denied the rumor.

The Senate added to the new labor bill a provision that unions had to bargain in good faith with employers, complementing the provision already in the bill requiring employers to bargain in good faith with unions.

The Senate Banking Committee voted unanimously to approve Senator Willis Robertson's proposal to investigate the proposal to set up a "czar" or chief negotiator for the Northern coal industry, a proposal approved by John L. Lewis. Some coal operators, said Senator Robertson, feared that the move would set up an autocratic system similar to that already in existence.

In Birmingham, Ala., a robed and hooded group flogged a World War II veteran the previous midnight after dragging him from his home. He was lashed with a leather belt 20 times. The man was white, making it the third incident occurring in or around Birmingham in recent days involving white people as victims of robed and hooded men. The previous Friday night, a woman, whose home was invaded by such men, had been threatened with burning at the stake or hanging while made to observe a burning cross in her front yard, and a restaurant proprietor was warned to "keep the niggers down" by a band of men invading his restaurant while patrons, including a police officer, observed.

In Charlotte, two men were sentenced to prison, one for 5 to 7 years and the other 7 to 10 years, for the fire-bombing on April 18 of the Boar's Head Restaurant, following nolo contendere pleas to the court. A third man who had entered the same plea, had his charge of being an accessory after the fact dismissed. The two principals gave abbreviated testimony describing what had occurred.

Also in Charlotte, Max Evans, 15, won the Soap Box Derby race. Second place went to Jimmy Lowder, 11, three feet behind. Mr. Evans also won the prize for best designed car and won the special competition for cars sponsored by the armed services, his being sponsored by the Navy Recruiting Service. A list of the competitors and their sponsors is provided.

Tom Schlesinger, son of renowned Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger, reports on the race for the history books. An electric eye device borrowed from the City of Daytona Beach, Fla., used to clock the speed trials of Sir Malcolm Campbell, was used to time the race at the finish line. The winner won a trip to Akron, O., and the chance to compete in the national race, plus a Bulova watch and trophy. The national winner would receive a college scholarship. The runner-up won a Columbia "De Luxe" bicycle.

On the editorial page, "Streets and Roads" welcomes the appointment by Governor Kerr Scott of a commission to study the question of responsibility, local versus state, for maintenance and improvement of city streets. It was the first time such a study was being conducted in the state.

In Charlotte, there were 450 miles of streets, 75 of them belonging to the State system. Of the remaining 375 miles, 200 were not paved. Thus, the Governor's complaint that because they already had paved streets, many urban dwellers had voted against the rural roads bond measure, passed June 4, was not well taken.

Furthermore, since 1920, 99 percent of the State funding for roads had gone to county roads, despite about 50 percent of the tax revenue for the highway fund coming from urban dwellers.

It had been appropriately pointed out that city streets were complete utility systems, with curbs, gutters, and drainage, differing from rural roads. But, even with that difference, the piece believes that city streets were for the prime purpose of moving vehicles and the municipalities thus had every right to expect equal consideration from the State.

There was no clear division between urban and rural dwellers, as the Governor appeared to believe. But such a split could develop if the Governor and predominantly rural General Assembly continued the dichotomous treatment. It hopes that the new commission could effect a remedy to the unfair division in allocation of State funding.

"Academic Inquisition" tells of HUAC now launching a letter campaign to inquire into the nation's textbooks on the pretext of eliminating therefrom any hint of Communist influence. The president of Cornell, Edmund Ezra Day, had responded by letter that a witch-hunt was taking place in America and its target in this case was not Communism but rather academic freedom.

Dr. George F. Zook of the American Council on Education said that the inquiry raised "very grave issues" and that the Council was consulting with a lawyer on the subject.

Mildred McAfee Horton, retiring president of Wellesley College, suggested at commencement exercises that the HUAC inquiry must include the Bible in its list of literature containing dangerous ideas, for it had the injunction, "love your enemies". She added, "We are surrounded by Red-baiters and black-haters."

The Committee had not yet responded to the "fox-to-hound" retort, instead had turned the previous day to old ground, harassing Dr. Edward Condon, head of the Bureau of Standards.

If the Committee could stir up suspicion over the schools, it would satisfy many in the country who wished to suppress its own history. And HUAC was "notoriously eager to make friends with reaction." But, eventually, the Committee would come to realize that no pressure group could "subvert the pursuit of truth and freedom of belief."

"Journalistic Chess Game" tells of the newspapers playing a favorite summer pastime to take up space—tossing around a relatively innocuous topic. The Raleigh News & Observer had started the ball rolling with the notion that the center of the Greater University ought be moved from Chapel Hill to avoid the appearance of favoritism to that campus. It suggested Raleigh as the ideal center.

The Greensboro Daily News then responded that the administration ought remain in Chapel Hill, but that if there were any serious consideration to be given to moving it, it ought go to Greensboro.

The Twin City Sentinel in Winston-Salem then suggested that, to avoid any suggestion of favoritism to either N.C. State or Woman's College in Greensboro, it ought go to Winston-Salem or Durham—so that, presumably, the name, in time, could be changed to UNT, the University of North Tobaccoville.

The piece speculates that remaining alternative locales were Siler City, Pittsboro or Sanford—or Charlotte.

The piece decides, however, that Chapel Hill was the best location for the administrative offices.

The third in the series of articles from Fortune anent the Hoover Commission report on reorganization of the Government to eliminate waste and duplication of services, examines the methods for attracting and retaining able personnel in the Government. Every year about half a million employees quit Government jobs. Recruiting was slow and cumbersome and little effort was made to recruit promising young men and women and train them for higher professional and administrative jobs. On the other hand, red tape, in place to prevent political firings, made it difficult to get rid of incompetent or superfluous workers.

An inexperienced college graduate entering Government service was paid $2,975, just $7,500 less than the maximum earnings for Federal executives and professionals with 30 or more years of experience. In one bureau, 24 subordinates received as much as their chief.

The Commission had recommended decentralization of the personnel system, vigorous recruiting and training, and promotion of better workers, a single, comprehensive pay policy, that the three-member Civil Service Commission have a single chief who would report to the President, and that the President should be empowered to issue and enforce rules rewarding departmental and agency heads for reduction of staffs.

Drew Pearson tells of Secretary of State Acheson keeping the President apprised of every detail of the Paris Foreign Ministers Council meeting. It was in contrast to former Secretary of State Byrnes when he had been in Moscow in fall 1946 for the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, an experience from which Mr. Acheson, then serving as Acting Secretary in the absence of Mr. Byrnes, had learned. The President had been quite irked by the lack of communication from Mr. Byrnes and it had led in a chain to his resignation at the end of 1946. Mr. Pearson recounts that chain in some detail, which he had done before.

Stewart Alsop, in Saigon, tells of the difference between China and Indochina being that of an atmosphere of disaster characterized by despair versus, in the latter, an atmosphere of light-hearted charm amid a threatened disaster of loss of the rest of Asia to the Russians. The French in Indochina knew how to live but knew little of how to govern. The French colonial authorities had arranged for themselves every manner of comfort, but the final effect was that of a "charming concentration camp".

Anyone wandering beyond Saigon risked death from the Communist guerrillas led by Ho Chi Minh, waging his campaign against French rule since the end of the war. Even within the city, nightfall was punctuated by sounds of mortar fire and grenades which Ho Chi Minh's followers, the Viet Minh, tossed into restaurants and theaters.

During the day, the French held the larger towns, Saigon, Hanoi, and Haiphong, along with at least the attempt to hold main routes of communication against their convoys and trains regularly being blown up. They also held the racially distinct interior provinces of Cambodia and Laos, along with certain key points along the coast. But as to the remainder, Viet Nam, the important coastal part of the country belonged to Ho Chi Minh.

The French in Indochina blamed the French for the fact that the Viet Minh were now controlled by the Communists, even though the minions of Ho were not, themselves, Marxists. The French, according to the French in the country, should have, some time previously, provided the Viet Minh political autonomy under a nationalist, non-Communist leadership. The French could have then maintained only the outer trappings of colonial rule while retaining important cultural, commercial, and political ties in the country. The French were now attempting to do so, but it was too late.

The French were proposing an independent government of Viet Nam under the former Annamite monarch, Bao Dai, offering him more internal sovereignty than Ho had ever demanded. The French intended by this move to attract all except the hardcore Stalinist followers from Ho.

It was the last effort by the French to avoid Ho and his followers linking with the Chinese Communists, sweeping down from the north in China once they reached the borders with Indochina. Much would depend on Bao Dai.

A future column would concern Bao Dai and his strength to resist the guerrillas and the Chinese Communists.

Marquis Childs tells of Anne V. Alling, who had consented for him to use the details of her case, having been suspended by a loyalty board from her job as a stenographer at the Veterans Administration. She had limited vision and was part of a pool of blind or nearly blind stenographers who typed from dictaphone records. In her case, the records dealt with veterans' insurance, nothing sensitive or secret.

She and her husband, wounded in World War I, had moved to France for its lower cost of living in 1929, where she became interested in Communism. She was influenced by the Communist views on pacifism, having grown up with a religious background. The couple then returned to their home in Atlanta where she took up the cause of civil rights for blacks. In 1934, the Atlanta police raided her home and arrested seven people, one of whom was black, as a part of a "currents events" meeting. Ms. Alling remained in jail for three weeks without bail, charged with "inciting to insurrection", a law subsequently declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

She denied under oath to the loyalty board that she was ever a member of the Communist Party. At one point during the examination, she had been asked whether she had told a Communist in 1942 that she was knitting for Russian war relief and had volunteered to teach Communists how to knit. She answered that she did not recall even knitting for Russian war relief but may have knitted a sweater generally for war relief. The questioner then said that the inquiry was aimed at why she was interested only in Russia, to which she again responded that she was not.

At one point, three FBI men were assigned to investigate her case. Mr. Childs thus wonders how the country had become so preoccupied with fear that such a woman posed a threat to security. He thinks it time to address searching questions regarding the present state of near hysteria anent Communism, and promises another column on the topic.

Samuel Grafton, in an excerpt from his piece, criticizes the anti-Communist effort as inept, consisting of constructing armaments and engaging in tests of loyalty incapable of ferreting out real spies. He posits that perhaps Communism so aroused anger in the anti-Communists that thought was checked and, in its stead, action forced along familiar patterns. The problem, he suggests, four years after the war, was not whether the country would be as strong as Russia but whether it would be the first nation in history to think clearly and economically about the Communist problem, "a tougher test than merely being strong, tougher and more trying."

This excerpt marks the end of the available pieces from Mr. Grafton, whose column had ceased to be carried by The News a year earlier. And so we bid adieu again, for the last time. It should have ended with one of his pieces on betel nuts instead of one on those who eventually would drive themselves nuts over the supposed adverse effects on youth from the Beatles and some of their contemporaries of the singer-songwriter world. But such were the times in 1949.

Because this date's entry was only a small slice, we skipped Mr. Grafton's penultimate piece appearing the previous Monday. In it, he finds that the press was spending half its time saying that because of the naive publication of the Smyth report of 1945, shortly after the war, there were no remaining atomic secrets, while the other half was spent suggesting that the Atomic Energy Commission was not protecting the secret of atomic energy well enough. This latter assertion was premised on the provision of an AEC scholarship to a UNC graduate student, Hans Freistadt, a Communist, and the disappearance of a quantity of U-235 from an atomic laboratory at the University of Chicago, an amount initially described in press accounts as being three-quarters of a pound, eventually determined to be only an ounce, six-sevenths of which had been discovered among waste, which was probably where the remaining missing seventh of an ounce rested. By seeking to promote democratic ideals through preservation of freedom of scientific inquiry, as in the provision of radio-isotopes to foreign countries such as Norway to conduct medical research, the AEC had only inflamed its critics the more.

From secrecy developed the conundrum of a free press stumbling around the issue as a blind person playing pin the tail on the donkey. The paradox likewise extended to Congress, wanting more information from an agency charged with not being careful enough about maintenance of secrecy. Senator Brien McMahon, chairman of the Senate-House Atomic Energy Committee, had assrted that the public needed more information about the number of atomic bombs in the nation's arsenal, thus suggesting that what was needed was less and not more secrecy.

"Such is life, in a society with a secret. Somehow one feels that this cannot be the final human condition, that there must be something better than this ahead, for us, for the world, for everybody."

A letter writer hopes that the recently passed bond measures for rural roads and school construction would be fairly administered and not become the basis for pork-barreling. He also questions why the Governor had not developed a program to fight unemployment and eliminate the anti-closed shop law, as desired by labor.

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