The Charlotte News

Thursday, June 18, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports, via George A. McArthur, that the draft of a Korean truce had apparently been completed this date, but whether it would be signed might depend on South Korean President Syngman Rhee's continued defiance of the U.N. allies, the previous night, the President having released arbitrarily 25,000 U.N. prisoners who had expressed a desire not to return home, contrary to the terms of the agreed armistice. Small bands of American troops had sought in vain to stop the exodus, as South Korean guards in the four camps turned their backs while the prisoners fled into the morning darkness. A few hours later, a high South Korean military authority said that most of the prisoners released would be enlisted in the South Korean Army. An American officer said that many South Korean officers from the prison camps had fled with the released prisoners. The U.N. Command handed the Communists a letter at Panmunjom, indicating that the South Korean guards had been replaced by U.S. troops and that every effort would be made to recapture the 24,000 prisoners still at large. There was great speculation regarding whether the release might delay the return of some of the 13,000 U.N. prisoners held by the Communists. U.N. official sources in Tokyo said that they did not expect the move to wreck the armistice, but did anticipate that it would cause delay. Translators had gone to work on translating the truce document into English, Korean and Chinese, but there was no announcement as to when the top-level negotiators would return to Panmunjom to approve the text. There was a rumor that the document might first have to be sent to Washington for approval.

Secretary of State Dulles stated this date to journalists, after conferring with the President and the National Security Council, that the South Korean Government's release of the prisoners was a violation of the authority of the U.N. Command, and that the President was communicating with President Rhee regarding the act, having stated to him that the U.N. had been conducting negotiations for an armistice in good faith while acting also in good faith.

Fighting, after a lull the previous day following the announcement of agreement on the cease-fire line, resumed this date, with South Korean troops losing and then regaining two front-line positions on the east-central front, after 400 Chinese Communist troops had pushed the South Korean troops from a steep, high ridge near "Christmas Hill" in the early morning, retaken by around noon. The area had been the site of bloody fighting during the previous few days. Another 400 Chinese Communists battled hand-to-hand with South Korean troops at a front-line position south of "Finger Ridge" during the mid-morning, eventually pushing the South Korean troops back, before the position was eventually retaken by the South Koreans in additional close-range fighting. Allied artillery shot up 1,500 Communist reinforcements, attempting to move toward Communist-held "Finger Ridge" the previous night. Greek troops repulsed a strike by 3,000 Chinese and North Korean troops in an hours-long hand-to-hand battle at "Outpost Harry" on the central front.

The U.S. Eighth Army said that the latest casualty figures for the enemy showed 120 Chinese troops had been killed and 480 wounded early Tuesday in the two unsuccessful 2,000-man attacks at "Outpost Harry". The same spokesman said that allied casualties had been comparatively very low.

In the air war, U.S. Sabre jets destroyed five enemy MIG-15s and damaged four others in engagements along the Yalu River.

Four hundred anti-Communist North Korean prisoners had broken out of an allied prison camp near Inchon early this date after a bloody clash with U.S. Marine guards and U.S. Army soldiers. Camp authorities stated that ten prisoners had been killed and 93 wounded, with one Marine guard seriously wounded.

In the vicinity of Tokyo, a C-124 Globemaster crashed in flames, killing 129 Americans aboard, the worst air disaster to date in history. The passengers included 122 Army engineers and airmen being transported back to battle stations in Korea, and a crew of seven. The plane crashed just after takeoff at a U.S. airbase 25 miles west of Tokyo. An eyewitness said that the plane somersaulted like a bird and plummeted to the ground. Another eyewitness said that two of the four propellers were not turning on the plane, and it circled, crashed and exploded. The worst previous air disaster had been a crash of another Globemaster near Larson Air Force Base at Moses Lake, Wash., killing 86 persons the previous December 20.

In East Berlin, a Russian firing squad executed a German accused by the Soviet Army Command of organizing the anti-Communist riots the previous day in the city, currently under martial law. The man, Willi Goettling, was described as a resident of West Berlin who worked on orders of a foreign intelligence service.

A former FBI agent, who had posed as a Communist to infiltrate Communist meetings, claimed that at one such meeting in Pittsburgh, he had heard a threat against Senator Joseph McCarthy expressed by Lou Bortz of Pittsburgh, a man whom the former FBI agent described as a leader of "goon squads" of the Communists in that city. Mr. Bortz, according to the former agent, told the seven or eight persons present that he would accept the assignment when the time came and would carry it out. The story does not indicate to whom the statements by the former FBI agent were made, but presumably he had been testifying before a Congressional committee. Mr. Bortz subsequently refused to testify on the grounds it might incriminate him.

Though few would dare say it, no doubt, there were many people in the nation who would have quietly congratulated Mr. Bortz had he done so, to put that evil, Machiavellian son of a bitch out of his drunken misery. Eventually, the alcohol would do the job for him, and spare him the trouble.

Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who had issued a stay of execution in the Rosenberg case the previous day, said that the action was routine when "substantial new questions" arose which had never been previously decided in a capital case, indicating that there were probably a half dozen such cases each year in which executions were postponed by a single justice because of new questions. The Justice was heading west by automobile, when he heard that the Chief Justice had called a special session of the full Court to review the granting of the stay, and so he turned around and flew back to Washington. He joked with photographers and stated he had no comment regarding a move by Representative William Wheeler of Georgia to impeach him.

As indicated, the following day, the Supreme Court would overturn the stay on the basis that the question presented by the lawyers, who had actually not been retained by the Rosenbergs, did not present a substantial issue for the Court, alleging that the 1946 Atomic Energy Act penalty provisions superseded the penalty provisions of the 1917 Espionage Act under which the Rosenbergs had been convicted and sentenced, holding that the facts alleged as the basis for the convictions in the Rosenberg case had occurred in 1944-45, prior to the enactment of the Atomic Energy Act, and, in any event, that Act had not been intended by Congress to supersede in any manner the Espionage Act.

Oral arguments on the matter were heard this date before the full Court, in which the Government stated that had it made such an argument, they would have been laughed out of court. It was the first time in the Court's history that it had been convened in special session for the purpose of determining whether to continue or overturn a stay of an execution date. The courtroom was packed to its capacity of 300 persons, as about 1,000 persons lined the corridors outside. Each side was provided 90 minutes to present their arguments—only 17 minutes of which, however, was taken by the lawyer on behalf of the team which had filed the petition for the stay as "next friend" of the Rosenbergs, the rest reserved by the retained counsel for the couple, Emanuel Bloch, who continued to believe that it was disastrous to try to argue the point raised by the outside counsel as it had no merit. (Justice Douglas later expressed the belief in the third of his three-part Autobiography, The Court Years, that Mr. Bloch, whom he questioned during oral argument as to why he would not support the points raised by the petition for the stay, actually may have wanted his clients to be executed, to supply martyrs for the cause of Communism.)

On the editorial page, "Definitive Bible Course Ruling Needed" commends to the attention of readers the excerpt on the page this date from a paper prepared by local attorney P. C. Whitlock, providing a synopsis of two recent cases by the Supreme Court regarding the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. It finds that the Charlotte Bible program, to which 26 Baptist ministers had objected in a petition to the County and City School Boards, asking them to end the program as being violative of the doctrine of separation of church and state, was somewhere in between the two decisions distinguished by Mr. Whitlock, as further detailed below.

It opines that regardless of whether the program was discontinued or remained, there would be those who would be dissatisfied with the result, and recommends that a friendly test case be initiated and carried to the Supreme Court to obtain a definitive ruling.

That would be a waste of time and court resources, as the two cases make it quite clear that the distinction rests on whether the non-compulsory, privately funded religious instruction during normal school hours occurs on school property or on church or other non-public property. Thus, to be compliant, the schools would have to allow the "release time" only for instruction off public property, which the Charlotte program did not do. Stick to the Old Testament Narratives and leave religious instruction to church and Sunday schools where it belongs. Teach the Constitution, meanwhile, also, utilizing volunteer lawyers from the community, as a compulsory, non-elective course to have better instructed citizens on how things work in the country, avoiding thereby the contrary third-world and totalitarian practice, prompting idiots to riot in the streets because they don't get it and nobody ever bothered to explain it to them in terms they could understand.

"A Tradition of American Justice Is Upheld" indicates that the stay issued by Justice Douglas the previous day in the Rosenberg case, delaying for the time being the scheduled execution, originally set for this night, exemplified the "most fundamental, and the most praiseworthy, characteristic of the American system of justice, i.e., that the full protection of the law is extended to every American citizen, no matter how powerful the crush of popular opinion or how heinous the crime."

Chief Justice Fred Vinson, acting on the request of the Justice Department to have the full Court hold an immediate hearing on the stay, had called the Court into special session this date to rule on it.

It finds that regardless of the decision, the American people should remember that the law was not written only to provide the grievous offender their day in court, but also to protect the upright citizen who might be falsely accused. That system of justice and the conscience of the American people set the nation apart from the totalitarian countries, and those values had been preserved in the Rosenberg case.

"Syngman Rhee Jeopardizes Armistice Plan" indicates that the issue of repatriation of prisoners had been the stumbling block for an armistice for more than a year and the U.N. Command had maintained its firm position against forcible repatriation of prisoners, while the Chinese Communists had demanded the return of all Chinese and North Korean prisoners to their homelands, regardless of their desires against repatriation. Finally, the negotiations had come to a conclusion with an agreement on a plan for a five-nation commission to screen the prisoners and free those who expressed a desire not to return home.

But the previous night, South Korean President Syngman Rhee had ordered his guards to open the gates at prison compounds and release about 25,000 North Korean prisoners, who faded into the night, finding shelter among South Koreans who had been urged by the President to give them shelter. In the process, President Rhee had embarrassed the U.N. Command and jeopardized the truce negotiations at a crucial stage, when an armistice was about to be signed. It regards it as a "high-handed and arbitrary act, openly defiant of the United Nations and more particularly of President Eisenhower, who had asked Rhee repeatedly not to do anything precipitously that might endanger the armistice."

The question in Korea appeared to be, "What now?" a question which was ironic in its implications as the American people had borne the heavy burden of the three-year war, now only to have peace gravely endangered by the nation which the U.S. had saved from conquest by the Communists.

"A Time To Tighten the Screws" indicates that there was a theory that there were strains within the Soviet Empire greater than those within the democracies, but the people of the democracies rarely heard about internal troubles in the Communist world. Recent events in Europe had provided credence to that theory, as the previous day, tens of thousands of angry East Germans had torn down Communist flags, stormed the Communist Government's headquarters and shouted, "Ivan, go home." Earlier, there had been news of similar results in Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and the Ukraine.

It posits that these were hopeful signs for the democracies, though not necessarily suggesting that there were imminent revolutions on the horizon behind the Iron Curtain. Nor did it mean that a Western liberation would be successful at present. But the events did suggest that the Communists had major domestic problems, and therefore would be less likely to engage in aggression in the near future. It also suggested that it might be the Communist world which disintegrated from within because of its shortcomings, not the free world, as the Communists had predicted. It finds that it was a good time to "tighten the screws on the Reds", exploiting their embarrassment by every means of propaganda which could be made available to their "unwilling subjects".

A piece from the Sanford (N.C.) Herald, titled "Square Houses under the Sun", tracks through the heat patterns into a house, to the "22-inch patch of grayish light in the farthest corner of the room", the thing which "counts in the square house beneath the heat patterns."

"Along rocky ridges sag old farm houses, slender, two-storied and with pointed roofs reaching into the upper branches of the bent oaks and heavy-skirted cedars about them. Their windows are but narrow slits. They are old-fashioned and prim.

"But how cool they look!"

Someone has been indulging in the party wine.

Drew Pearson tells of Senator Homer Ferguson having urged the previous year General Hoyt Vandenberg, Air Force chief of staff, to run for the Senate seat of interim Senator Blair Moody, appointed by Democratic Governor Mennen Williams as a Democrat to replace General Vandenberg's popular uncle, Senator Arthur Vandenberg, a Republican, when the latter had died in 1951. General Vandenberg had declined, but now, planning to retire from the Air Force in August, would be in a good position to run for the Senate seat of Senator Ferguson in 1954. That was the reason, according to sources, why the Senator had grilled the General at a recent hearing regarding the General's objection to the Administration's proposed five-billion dollar budget cut to the Air Force, stating that not reaching the Truman Administration goal of 143 air groups by the end of 1954 would seriously compromise national security, as that goal was the minimum necessary to assure defense of the country while supplying adequate air strength to NATO.

Secretary of Interior Douglas McKay, when he had responded by letter to Mr. Pearson recently, denying allegations in Mr. Pearson's column regarding the Secretary supposedly having allowed the private utilities to control access to power from the Government-built Bonneville Dam, had said that the privately owned public utilities would have no right to decide who obtained the power from any Federal dams, except that which each of them individually resold. But shortly after making the statement, 12 large manufacturing groups, including some of the biggest companies in the nation, issued a statement saying that the proposed utility contract with the private utilities regarding Bonneville power would not allow Bonneville to enter into an agreement to supply power to an industrial customer without the consent of the private utilities. That statement nearly tracked exactly the statements in Mr. Pearson's earlier column, which he again re-quotes. He notes that the companies who signed the protest included Alcoa, Reynolds Metals, Kaiser Aluminum, American Carborundum Co., Electro-Metallurgical Co., Pacific Carbide, and various others.

The mild, damp winter had left the South's cotton crop infested with boll weevils, which only a prolonged hot, dry spell would eliminate and save the cotton crop from serious damage.

Moonshiners were moving down from the mountains into the cities, where illegal stills were even harder to find.

The Swiss Government had intervened in the negotiations over General Aniline and Film Corp., GAF, the largest company left over from the war-seized German assets. The Swiss had entered on the side of Inter-handel, a Swiss holding company which was trying to regain control of the corporation. But the State Department had refused to deal with the matter on a government-to-government basis.

The Navy had bought 300 copies of Bonner Feller's pro-Air Force book, Wings for Victory, apparently to obtain tips on Army thinking.

The Canadian Government had protested to the U.S. regarding standby import controls designed to keep Canadian butter out of the country. With the huge surplus of butter, the Agriculture Department did not want any more from Canada.

Capitol police officer Harold Fisher had unexpectedly found his name in headlines after he went out of his way to find out who had lost $240 in a telephone booth.

Russia was building pipelines and refineries at the Taimyr Lena basin in northern Siberia, while the U.S. was closing down its oil exploration in northern Alaska to save money.

A Philadelphia firm was building giant, plastic truck trailers so tough that an ordinary road collision would not dent them, yet so light that they cut down on weight, saving gas.

New York Giants manager Leo Durocher could cite the Congressional Record next time he had an objection to an umpire. Congressman Billy Matthews of Florida had recently stated in the Record that he could not make the House Democratic baseball team because he could not see well enough to play, but, he believed, it qualified him to be an umpire.

Air Force Sergeant Donald O'Toole, son of the former Congressman from New York, had been awarded the Silver Cross for bravery in Korea.

P. C. Whitlock, a local attorney in Charlotte, provides, as indicated in the above editorial, a synopsis of the two most recent Supreme Court cases on the First Amendment Establishment Clause, McCollum v. Board of Education from 1948 and Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, a 6 to 3 decision from 1952, as part of a paper which he had read at the Charlotte Philosophy Discussion the previous month. We have previously related of McCollum and so it will suffice to distinguish its facts from Zorach, not previously covered.

Whereas McCollum held that there was a violation of the Establishment Clause because of "release time" for students from regular studies for non-compulsory religious classes taught by a rabbi, a Catholic priest and a Protestant minister, maintained, crucially, on school property, Zorach, announced by Justice William O. Douglas, held that there was no violation for similar "release time" for non-compulsory religious studies not maintained on school property but rather on church property, with the churches keeping track of those students who had left school to attend the religious classes. There were three separate dissents to the majority opinion, by Justices Felix Frankfurter, Hugo Black and Robert Jackson, with Justice Jackson's dissent being heavily quoted by Mr. Whitlock, indicating that there was social pressure being exerted on the students to attend the religious classes, even though technically voluntary, and so, to that extent, there was an impermissible crossing of the boundary separating church and state.

As partially quoted by Mr. Whitlock, Justice Jackson had stated:

"As one whose children, as a matter of free choice, have been sent to privately supported Church schools, I may challenge the Court's suggestion that opposition to this plan can only be antireligious, atheistic, or agnostic. My evangelistic brethren confuse an objection to compulsion with an objection to religion. It is possible to hold a faith with enough confidence to believe that what should be rendered to God does not need to be decided and collected by Caesar.

"The day that this country ceases to be free for irreligion it will cease to be free for religion—except for the sect that can win political power. The same epithetical jurisprudence used by the Court today to beat down those who oppose pressuring children into some religion can devise as good epithets tomorrow against those who object to pressuring them into a favored religion. And, after all, if we concede to the State power and wisdom to single out 'duly constituted religious' bodies as exclusive alternatives for compulsory secular instruction, it would be logical to also uphold the power and wisdom to choose the true faith among those 'duly constituted.' We start down a rough road when we begin to mix compulsory public education with compulsory godliness."

A letter writer indicates that the Caldwell Memorial Presbyterian Church had recently passed an unanimous motion favoring the continuation of the Bible study program in the City schools.

A letter writer finds that the prior editorial of Saturday on the local Bible study program hit "just the right note".

A letter writer from Rock Hill, S.C., thanks those Christians who had supported Bible teaching in the City schools, and he feels that the "Devil and his angels" were rejoicing because of the stand taken by the Baptist ministers objecting to the program. He says that his friends who had died on the battlefield in New Guinea would not have taken the Bible out of the City schools.

A letter from a physician indicates that the two most important foundation stones of American democracy were the principles of religious freedom and separation of church and state, necessary to avoid the pitfalls of having the state identified with a religious viewpoint, endangering all religious liberty. He thinks that to utilize the letter of the law to evade the spirit of the law was "unethical and productive of intolerance" and disrespect for the rights of others, recommends considered, impartial judgment by the City Board of Education regarding the matter.

A letter writer compliments the "courageous stand" of the Baptist ministers opposing the Bible study program. He recognizes, however, as a former student of Central High School, where the program was taught, that it had been quite valuable, which he attributes to a particular teacher. He indicates that the class had done innumerable good things for him while he was confined to a wheelchair for four years. He believes that it would be a "tragic mistake" to remove God from public instruction in the city, that perhaps it was suitable for New York where there was no particular religious majority. He thanks the State for the small part it played in providing facilities for any student who elected to take the Bible instruction.

A letter writer from Pittsboro indicates his agreement that there should be complete separation of church and state, but suggests that in the instance described in Charlotte, it did not appear to pose a problem. Rather, he believes that the appropriate issue was the fear of indoctrination in the Bible, as he believes it could not be taught in schools without a doctrinal bias. Thus, he favors prohibiting religious teaching in the public schools.

A letter from the president and secretary of the Christian Men's Club officially endorses the teaching of the Bible in the public schools as presently practiced, finding that because it was voluntary and privately funded, the program did not infringe the Constitution.

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