The Charlotte News

Monday, March 15, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Hanoi that the French had parachuted reinforcements this date into the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu, as the Communist-led Vietminh pushed thousands of additional troops into the battle to try to drive the French out of northwest Indo-China. The Vietminh bombarded the fortress with artillery shells before launching their new series of attacks. A battalion of French and Vietnamese paratroopers had jumped onto the airstrip at Dien Bien Phu to reinforce the French Union garrison, and other reinforcements had been airlifted from Hanoi. The French high command in Saigon said that the French Union forces had the situation "well in hand" and were holding solidly against the "very violent" Vietminh attack. A French spokesman predicted that the fighting would last several days. A three-hour cease-fire interrupted the fighting the previous morning while both the Vietminh rebels and the French carried their dead and wounded from the battlefield. The French claimed at least 1,000 rebels killed in the initial assault Saturday night and early the previous day, but admitted that their own losses were "appreciable". The fighting had resumed at noon the previous day with a heavy rebel bombardment of the strongly fortified, French-held plain. Then repeated waves of screaming, bugle-blowing rebel troops surged forward against the barbed wire barricades ringing the French positions. French mobile artillery, tanks, mortars and heavy machine gun and rifle fire killed scores of Vietminh. Fighters and bombers flew overhead, killing more of the charging rebels. Ho Chi Minh, as leader of the rebels, appeared to be conducting an all-out effort to give the French a major setback before the Big Four and Communist China meeting in Geneva, set to start April 26, to finalize the peace in Korea and to try to obtain peace in Indo-China. The French hoped to decimate the ranks of the best rebel divisions and thus perhaps break the back of the Vietminh forces. The fighting had been described as the most savage yet in the war. The French had sought to maintain their hold on the hilly Thai country by means of the fortress at Dien Bien Phu since the previous fall, when they seized the plain and abandoned other towns in the northwest.

Republican leaders faced critical decisions this date on the strategy for ending the battle between Senator McCarthy and the Army and avoiding an outright break between the Senator and the Administration. The Senator and Republican leaders appeared to agree that a showdown at which the Senator and top Army officials would testify under oath would be an appropriate forum to get at the truth amid the welter of charges and counter-charges. It remained undecided where and when to stage the showdown and whether it would be public or in executive session. A major question was whether it should be entrusted to Senator McCarthy's own Investigations subcommittee. Following Vice-President Nixon's speech Saturday night, answering Governor Adlai Stevenson's address, criticizing McCarthyism, given in Miami Beach a week earlier before a Democratic gathering, the feeling had spread in Congress that a showdown had to come soon, with the Vice-President having stated, in passages obviously directed at Senator McCarthy, that "reckless talk and questionable methods" in fighting Communism played to the hands of opponents of the Administration and that the Administration insisted that procedures be used which were fair and proper in both the executive and legislative branches.

Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson provided to the Armed Services subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, considering the military budget, some details of the "new look" military, which included continued "rapid build-up of air strength" and an Army reduced by three of its 20 divisions. He said that the new military plans were geared toward improving the country's state of preparedness over an extended period of time and would provide for the rapid integration of new weapons as they were proven and became available. A high Government source had said on Saturday that a few days earlier, U.S. nuclear specialists had detonated on Eniwetok in the Pacific the largest hydrogen bomb to date.

The President was reported by Congressional leaders this date to believe that the personal income tax reductions being urged by Democrats would endanger the country's economic stability. The President would address the nation on taxes this night over major radio and television networks, and had discussed his tax plans with Republican legislative leaders for about an hour at the White House this date. Speaker of the House Joseph Martin, in talking to reporters afterward, said that tax cuts already made by the Administration during the year, plus those contemplated for the remainder of the year, totaled about seven billion dollars. He said that the President believed that to add another 2.5 billion dollar cut in revenue on top of that would strain the country too far. The House would take up on Wednesday a tax revision bill calling for about 1.3 billion dollars in tax reduction without any change to personal exemptions. House Democrats had proposed that exemptions be raised from $600 to $700 for each dependent. Mr. Martin said that to go beyond the current reductions in taxes would "endanger the dynamic, progressive program of the Administration and delay balancing of the budget several years."

Weekend tornadoes had killed eight persons in central and western Georgia and done more than 23 million dollars worth of damage to property. Three separate tornadoes had occurred on Saturday night, hitting Macon, where three died, and in a nearby rural area, killing three others, and then killing two more at Lawson Air Force Base, joining Fort Benning. Four of the dead had been children. Seventy persons were injured and 23 were hospitalized.

In Hogansburg, N.Y., eight children, ranging in age from one to fifteen, had died early this date when flames destroyed their home on the St. Regis Indian reservation. The parents had fled to safety, apparently from their second-floor bedroom. The police said that the parents apparently had been sleeping upstairs with their youngest child while the seven other children had been trapped downstairs.

In Boston, it was reported by an official of the American Optometric Association that one out of every six of the country's automobile drivers had eye defects without realizing it, and that Connecticut and Rhode Island, with the lowest death rates per mile in the country, had the highest driver vision standards.

Congressman Charles R. Jonas, nominated ten days earlier by the 10th District Republican convention in Charlotte as the Republican nominee for the seat he presently held, made his bid for re-election official this date by filing as a candidate in Raleigh. He had no opposition for the Republican nomination.

In New York, an 88-year old housewife from Red Springs, N.C., had entered the Mrs. America contest, the oldest woman ever to seek the title. She would first undergo the state competition in Raleigh on April 2. The contest stressed general homemaking ability as much as other talents, and included cooking, sewing and cleaning. The contestants would appear in bathing suits on the beach on one afternoon of the four-day contest. The woman from North Carolina had written on her application that she had been keeping house since her marriage at age 17.

On the editorial page, "A Look at Our Public Schools" indicates that both Collier's and the Saturday Evening Post were currently running articles which were not complimentary to modern public education.

On the page this date, News reporter Lucien Agniel presents the first in a series of five special articles, this one on the problems of freshmen at UNC coming out of North Carolina public schools, needing remedial reading, remedial mathematics, and remedial science, according to UNC professors.

It indicates that it was not the intent of the series to present all of the evidence or provide all of the answers but rather hopes that by presenting two sides of the story, parents and teachers in the state would be encouraged to take a closer look, not only at the basic philosophy of modern education, but also at the system of public education to see whether it could be improved and, if so, how it could be improved.

"Reds Can't Fool the Filipinos" indicates that 50 years earlier, few Americans knew anything about the Philippines. At the turn of the century, President William McKinley, looking at a globe, turned to a Cabinet member and said that he could not have told anyone where the Philippines were within 2,000 miles. Later, he admitted that his decision in favor of U.S. intervention had been revealed in a dream. In those earlier times, the approach to foreign affairs was to convert the heathen or subjugate them. Such a distinguished editor as William Allen White of Emporia, Kansas, had proclaimed in 1899 that "Only Anglo-Saxons can govern themselves." He went on to say that it was the Anglo-Saxon's manifest destiny to go forth as a world conqueror and take possession of all the islands of the sea, exterminating the people he could not subjugate.

Despite that type of attitude toward the Philippines at the time, relations between the U.S. and the Philippines improved steadily, and when the Republic of the Philippines was proclaimed on July 4, 1946, the two countries parted as best friends.

The Communist-dominated Huks posed thereafter a serious threat to the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia for a time, but that threat had largely diminished. The Philippines had become a free world leader in its part of the globe, thanks largely to the efforts of President Ramon Magsaysay. A few days earlier, the President, who had been a guerrilla leader against the Japanese and later secretary of defense, had achieved a typical victory for his country and the free world, defeating a move to freeze Filipino foreign policy in an "Asia for the Asians" mold, saying that the colonialism which threatened Asia presently was world Communism and that nations which had won their freedom faced the danger of losing it, that a good defense against the threat was healthy Asian nationalism as a rallying point for all free Asians against the forces of aggression and subversion. He was seeking closer ties with other free Asian countries, such as India and Indonesia, as well as with the West. He was respected by both Prime Minister Nehru of India, a neutralist, and by South Korean President Syngman Rhee, a nationalist, and was feared by the Communists. It concludes that the Filipinos were governing themselves well and were helping to lead the free world.

"A Suggestion for Gov. Umstead" indicates that former President Hoover had stated that his new commission to study the executive branch was getting started. It indicates that reforms, as made to the executive branch during the original Hoover Commission and by Congress after World War II, were fine but they were not carried through to lower levels of government. The Commission on Inter-Governmental Relations might still help do that job, but its chairman, Clarence Manion, had neglected the job and then been eased out, and that Commission had thus far accomplished little.

It left the job of pointing out the need for reform to private groups like newspapers, the American Municipal Association, and the American Political Science Association, the latter having issued a report on state legislatures, with most of its criticism directed at the North Carolina General Assembly.

It said that, generally, state legislatures had too many committees, the average being 25 in the upper house and 32 in the lower house, with North Carolina having 27 in the Senate and 46 in the lower house. It indicates that North Carolina legislators wasted time with roll calls or voted by voice without record of individual stands, when electric voting would save time. It was one of the most backward states regarding home rule, as city and county officials had to wait on the biennial General Assembly to obtain permission for a number of minor activities.

A recent article in Collier's had said that "54 million country slickers have 96 million city suckers" under their thumb because of rural-dominated legislatures. North Carolina's General Assembly had refused to redistrict the state in accordance with the decennial mandate of the State Constitution, based on each new census, but had brought forth a Constitutional amendment which, if passed, would assure that the state's growing metropolitan counties would continue to be under-represented.

The APSA had termed the modernization of state legislatures as "the most important piece of unfinished business in the area of governmental reform." The piece indicates that one way to undertake that task would be for Governor William B. Umstead to appoint a group to make a detailed study of the General Assembly and recommend ways of improving it. The Winston-Salem Journal had recently so suggested and the piece seconds the motion.

"Economixup" indicates that Pogo's friend Albert the Alligator, the swamp economist, could define economic situations better than some Ph.D's, with his "profits an' economixup", which came into play when "DEEflation is INflated the dollar so the sovereignty on the fundaments is ENtire in escrow", and provided that "even if you gives a thing away you still gotta git PAID for it." It finds that appraisal more comprehensible than what they had been reading regarding "rolling readjustments", "plateaus", "recession deluxe" and "correction". It suggests that Dr. R. Buford Brandis, research economist for the National Chamber of Commerce, could take a seat next to Pogo's at the head of the class. General agreement had been reached, according to Dr. Brandis, that "a 'recession' is when your neighbor loses his job; a 'depression' is when you lose yours."

Lucien Agniel of The News, as indicated above, had talked to some professors at UNC and found that one out of every four freshmen failed to pass college mathematics placement examinations and that one of every three could not satisfactorily complete an English test of second year high school level. Many of the current freshmen could not read with either speed or comprehension, making it necessary to establish a reading clinic at the University, with one professor indicating that it was not just a matter of slow reading, but that some of the students literally could not read and had to be taught afresh. By the end of the first semester in college, if the student could pass high school sophomore English, they were enrolled in college freshman English, though it meant they missed an entire semester at the outset.

The professor also said that they could not think, that his students would ask what they were supposed to know about a particular subject and so he would tell them what they ought to remember. At the time of the examination, he would give them questions which required them to think, allowing them to have their books open, useless, however, in providing the answers. That approach troubled the students, and they asked to return to the old system with tests on what they needed to know.

The professor said that the state ranked 47th in the country in the number of lawyers turned out annually but eighth in per capita income for lawyers. He said that high schools had placed too much emphasis on teaching how to make a living rather than teaching basic subjects. At UNC, 161 North Carolina high schools had a hand in producing the several hundreds of students who had to take the review courses as a result of poor scores on one or more of the placement tests the previous fall, demonstrating that the condition was not confined to any narrow area of the state. He said that there was a "C complex" at the University, with many students happy with the grade of C because they had been told by certain educators that they should not try to enter the University because it was in the "fast league", and so when they got there and achieved C's, they felt good about it. He said that even those who had the mental equipment to understand, frequently resisted efforts to encourage them to study, as they had little or no homework during high school and so expected the same treatment in college.

The professor believed that the quality of instruction ought be improved in the elementary and secondary schools and that the schools should get back to basics, reading, writing and arithmetic, that the fringe subjects and activities should be de-emphasized. He believed that a relaxation of the state's rigid certification standards for teachers would be a good start, because certification had driven a lot of talent away from teaching and left schools with a shortage, especially among elementary school teachers. He said that the tasks given by selective service in the colleges had shown conclusively that students in the school of education had less mental aptitude than those in other fields, and he believed that certification was largely responsible for that result, thus at least indirectly responsible for the need for remedial reading at the University and the poor scores on basic subjects by entering freshmen. He believed there was too much emphasis on teaching teachers how to teach instead of teaching them what to teach. A student who wanted a good liberal arts education refused to take all of the restrictive courses required for the teaching profession, resulting in the teacher shortage.

The next article in the series would suggest possible solutions to the teacher shortage.

If you are wondering, incidentally, why Mr. Agniel or the editors chose to include a photograph of South Building on the UNC campus, it was not, presumably, for any symbolic reference to the Old South, as UNC, for at least the prior 25 years or so, had become the symbol, educationally, of the progressive New South, but rather for the fact that "Old South", as we called it, to distinguish it from New East and New West, situated in time and place in contradistinction, as they were, to Old East and Old West, to Old South's northern side, was the University administration building.

As we have suggested before for the secondary schools, a good, year-long introductory course in philosophy, not a survey of the history of philosophy, but rather, perhaps under the guidance of the philosophy department of the state university of a given state, selection of one good, short work of philosophy, to be studied the entire year at a slow pace and required of all seniors entering college, would be a valuable addition to the curriculum, ensuring that entering freshmen would be prepared to begin to think logically and analytically. Another valuable course, to be required of all students, regardless of aspiration to college, would be one anent understanding media, radio, television, newspapers, motion pictures, magazines, recorded music, all forms of media, both in the present and historically, with stress on the impact of them on the human mind, perhaps divided into two parts, one an historical survey and the other stressing the more contemporary scene, with a well-written essay required at the end for high school graduation. That latter course could profitably start, perhaps, with a week of listening to Marshall McLuhan's lectures and another week of reading his essays on media, with class discussion aplenty afterward, and proceeding from there.

When we attended the University, there was a requirement for graduation, since eliminated, we understand, just a few years ago, that one had to swim the length and back of the Gray olympic-sized pool, next to Woollen Gymnasium, utilizing at least three different strokes in the process, though each stroke could be maintained for any length of time. It always puzzled us until, post our freshman swimming class for those of us who needed remedial swimming so as not to drown, we relied on that additional training, supplementing that which we had acquired, at our ma's insistence, at the YWCA in the third grade, in much earlier days of disgruntlement with swimming, chlorine never suiting our eyes, when, off a deserted beach in Acapulco, after we drifted out too far, we suddenly fell off the shelf and no longer had our footing, being pounded incessantly by wave after wave, the undertow grabbing us alternately and redundantly, shoving and pulling us out further and farther from the shore, helpless to resist nature's forces, yet, reliant on that good UNC training in swimming and philosophy just a year earlier, suddenly reminded ourselves to relax, get a grip, and rely on the old back float and paddle, gradually drifting us, in gentle guide and glide, easily back to lee, where our awaiting friend, still sitting leisurely on the beach, said, "For a moment, I couldn't see you anymore and thought you might be gone."

Drew Pearson discusses the military record of Senator McCarthy, in contrast to the brave military record, for instance, of Brig. General Ralph Zwicker, whom the Senator had attacked during his testimony before the Senate Investigations subcommittee as lacking the brains of a five-year old child, deserving of removal from any command and being unfit to wear the Army uniform for supposedly protecting those who had been responsible for promotion and then honorable discharge of the Army Reserve dentist suspected by Senator McCarthy of Communism, prompting General Zwicker to call his superior, Lt. General Withers Burress and threaten to resign from the Army, saying that he did not have to take such abuse. General Burress had contacted Army chief of staff, General Matthew Ridgway, about the threat to resign and General Ridgway considered it serious enough that he called in the top officers, who agreed that Senator McCarthy was undermining Army morale. They decided that it was time for the Army to come to General Zwicker's defense, one factor leading to Army Secretary Robert Stevens taking a stand against Senator McCarthy, telling General Zwicker and another general to refuse any further summonses from the Senator's subcommittee.

Some of the generals began comparing General Zwicker's military record with that of Senator McCarthy. General Zwicker had 113 combat decorations, including the Purple Heart, while the Senator did not earn a single combat medal while in the Marine Corps. The Senator had claimed to have been wounded during the Pacific war, but in fact he had suffered a broken foot during a prank initiation ceremony, traditional aboard ship, when neophytes crossed the equator, the King of Neptune ceremony, in which the Senator, while climbing down a ladder, missed a rung and fell backward, breaking three bones in his foot. When the Senator had first resigned from the Marine Corps, he had sought to obtain a couple of air medals, typically given out for each ten air missions. But the Marines found that he had only flown on nine missions, all of which had been only as an observer, and so he was turned down. Long after the war had ended, after he had become an important Senator, he applied again for the air medals and this time, right after the election of President Eisenhower, the brass hats chose to ignore the record and take Senator McCarthy's word for the number of missions he had flown. At the Senator's request, he was formally decorated with the air medals at a military ceremony in his office, normally reserved for Medal of Honor winners. He had also bragged of a commendation for allegedly "refusing to be hospitalized" after suffering a "severe leg injury", which was in fact his King of Neptune broken foot.

Mr. Pearson concludes that Senator McCarthy had become the only Marine in history to be awarded a hero's commendation for crossing the equator, and that he had been such a mediocre Marine officer, that while his buddies had shot up the promotion ladder during the rapid war build-up, he had only been promoted one rank, from first lieutenant to captain, after managing to wangle a first lieutenancy after entering the Marines, while bragging during his first Senate campaign that he had enlisted as a private.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that there were three leading candidates to replace Walter Bedell Smith as Undersecretary of State, Foreign Operations Administration head Harold Stassen, present Deputy Undersecretary Robert Murphy, and Herbert Hoover, Jr., the first two men, especially Mr. Stassen, wanting the position, while Mr. Hoover did not.

Mr. Hoover had drawn the attention of Secretary of State Dulles, Attorney General Herbert Brownell, Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey, and the outgoing Deputy Secretary of Defense Roger Kyes for his handling of the Iranian oil settlement with the British. He had also drawn the admiration of British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden. Unlike his father, he was adept at handling Congress and had shown talent not only at handling the foreign end of his job but also the domestic end. Though he did not wish to participate in public life, having seen quite enough of it in his early years as the son of a President, he would likely be approached and offered the job as undersecretary. He had already been offered an ambassadorship informally and rejected it. He preferred to remain in the private sector, where, like his father, he was a brilliant engineer, and was also a successful venture capitalist.

By way of contrast, Mr. Stassen was actively seeking the job, as his duties as foreign aid director were diminishing and he knew that he had to move to a more important position to stay near the center of the political stage. But it was questionable whether Secretary Dulles would feel comfortable, knowing that Mr. Stassen was ambitious politically. Otherwise, the two got along reasonably well. Mr. Stassen had made it clear that he had not put aside his political ambitions when he put forward a scheme for dumping American agricultural surpluses abroad.

A letter from the North Carolina Commissioner of Labor in Raleigh, Forrest Shuford, comments on the March 8 editorial, "Hiring Is as Important as Training", stating that in Charlotte at present, a total of 430 young people were actively engaged in on-the-job training as apprentices in the skilled trades, under the North Carolina State Apprenticeship Training Program, established in 1939 and which had, during the previous eight years, an average of more than 3,000 students in active training each year. About 200 Charlotte industrial establishments had registered apprenticeship training programs, but apprentices were only in training in about half of them because there was a scarcity of apprentices signing up. The 430 presently in the training program were distributed across 60 different trades and occupations. The program was designed to produce highly skilled craftsmen and mechanics, was open to all races and wherever an employer wished to train apprentices as a part of his regular work force. He says that Charlotte had one of the best apprenticeship programs, the largest in the state. Persuading employers of the desirability of hiring and training apprentices under the guidance of their already employed staffs of journeymen was one problem, and another was persuading young people who were not going to college to take advantage of the training program.

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