The Charlotte News

Wednesday, April 21, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson said this date that he believed H. Struve Hensel, Assistant Secretary of Defense, was a "competent, honest man" and had not masterminded the Army charges against Senator McCarthy, as the Senator was contending in his bill of particulars filed with the Senate Investigations subcommittee the previous day. The Secretary said further that the current dispute between the Army and the Senator had "done no good" to military morale or helped to meet the problems confronting the nation, and that "men of goodwill ought to get together to solve these problems." A reporter had asked Secretary Wilson whether Mr. Hensel was "guilty of possible law violations", as charged by Senator McCarthy, and the Secretary chuckled, paused and answered "no". Mr. Hensel had been a Government official for much of the time since 1941, and had been appointed to the present post by the President and confirmed by the Senate without objection the previous February 19. Mr. Hensel had responded to the statements of Senator McCarthy by calling them "bare-faced lies", when he had said that Mr. Hensel was seeking to dodge investigation for "misconduct and possibly for law violations", accusing the Senator of an "attempted smear … a diversionary move." He challenged the Senator to repeat the accusations in a forum where he would not have immunity from a civil suit for defamation, in which case, Mr. Hensel said, he would guarantee a lawsuit.

In Houston, Senator McCarthy, set to speak this date at the site of the Battle of San Jacinto, the final battle for Texas independence 118 years earlier, meant to avenge the defeat at the Alamo, was expected to deliver a last-minute speech before the start of the public hearings on his dispute with the Army, but had refused to discuss the contents of the speech in advance. He was evidently attaching more than usual importance to it, as he had been working long after midnight, "working like hell" on it, as indicated by a friend. The Senator said that he had dictated a two-hour draft, but had not yet decided how much of it to retain. (He may have been talking of his latest beer bender chasing his bourbon.) University of Texas students protested the appearance, finding it inappropriate to have the Senator as the central figure of the state's principal holiday. Democratic Party organizations and others writing to Texas newspapers likewise protested the appearance, but the directors of the San Jacinto historical chapter had voted unanimously to invite him, and an officer of the organization said there had never been any question of withdrawing the invitation. Extra police were being assigned to the event in anticipation of anti-McCarthy protestors. The speech would not be broadcast directly by radio or television, but recorded portions might be used later, according to radio and television spokesmen.

The first session of the hearings in the dispute with the Army the following day would not be televised locally in Charlotte.

In Paris, it was reported by authoritative sources that the U.S. Air Force was ferrying from Paris French paratroopers to Indo-China for drop into the besieged French fortress at Dien Bien Phu. The sources indicated that U.S. pilots would land the paratroopers in a non-combat area, where French pilots or American civilians would then ferry them to the northwest Indo-China fortress. The number of jumpers being transported and the route they were following were military secrets. The Air Force had provided the airlift at the request of the French Government, and the U.S. Government considered it compatible with U.S. policy regarding the U.S. military assistance program to France and Indo-China. It was also learned that the Air Force would ferry French troops from North Africa to Indo-China, though U.S. sources considered it as a one-time operation. The U.S. was already supplying the French with fighters, attack bombers and transport planes in the fight to save Indo-China from the Communists. About 200 U.S. Air Force ground personnel had been stationed there to help maintain the planes and 25 or more American civilians under private contract were piloting some of the transport planes carrying supplies to the fortress, but no U.S. Air Force personnel were taking part in the flight operations in the combat zone.

From Hanoi it was reported that Brig. General Christian de Castries had sent an urgent appeal to the French and Vietnamese people in Hanoi this date for milk and fruit juices to be dropped to the hundreds of wounded French soldiers under his command trapped inside the beleaguered Dien Bien Phu fortress, ringed by the Vietminh. He said that the wounded were constantly asking for fruit juices and condensed milk. An earlier appeal published in a Hanoi newspaper had not received any response. Since March 25, 12 days after the Vietminh had first launched an all-out assault in suicidal waves of fanatical troops on the fortress, the French had been unable to land planes to evacuate the wounded, as the rebels had constantly pounded the airstrip with mortar and artillery fire. The Vietminh had ignored repeated appeals by the French to cease firing long enough to permit evacuation of the wounded. Waves of transport planes were still able to drop supplies, including guns, ammunition, food and medical provisions, as well as reinforcements. The French high command in Hanoi said in its morning communiqué that the fortress had gone through another "quiet night" the previous night, indicating that the Vietminh had still not launched the expected mass attack in advance of the April 26 start of the Geneva peace conference on Korea and Indo-China. The enemy had continued to tighten its grip gradually on the perimeter of the fortress, maintaining continuous artillery and mortar fire from the surrounding jungle-covered hills, forcing the French to pull themselves into a small circle of deep redoubts and mazes of barbed wire entanglements, which formed the fortress at Dien Bien Phu.

In Paris, Secretary of State Dulles arrived this date to attend a NATO meeting and to consult with Western allies on strategy for the Geneva conference. He was greeted at the airport by French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault, and the two would have a private dinner in the evening to review the Indochinese question and other problems which would be discussed at Geneva. Mr. Dulles told newsmen that the meeting of NATO on Friday would be of "special significance", for one of its purposes was to take notice of the fifth anniversary of the signing of the NATO treaty. An informed American source in Paris said that the U.S. would stand by its decision to oppose an expected Russian move to turn the Geneva conference into a "Big Five" conference with Communist China participating as an equal partner, even if the opposition were to break up the conference.

Senator Homer Capehart of Indiana accused the National Association of Homebuilders of "trying to crucify" the Administration and the Senate Banking Committee, of which he was chairman, for the probe of the multi-million dollar housing scandals. During a Committee hearing, he told the president of the Association that the Committee would not permit him or any other person "to fleece the American people" and that he did not believe in his attempt "to beat the brains out of a committee trying to do an honest job". The Senator had just read a statement issued by the president of the Association the previous week when the housing scandals had first come out in the press, in which the president had stated that there would be a "circus atmosphere" which would "give the Federal Housing Administration a false reputation" and that the investigations would "make big headlines". He had disputed charges that the Government had lost millions of dollars and that excessively high rents had resulted from the alleged widespread abuses under the Government's loan insurance program. The president of the Association said that there were surprisingly few defaults on the Government-backed apartment construction loans, and that only when a builder defaulted on the loan did the Government lose money. The previous day, IRS Commissioner T. Coleman Andrews had told the joint Committee on Reduction of Nonessential Federal Expenditures that builders of 1,149 apartment projects under the now-defunct "middle income" housing program had piled up 65 million dollars in excessive profits by the inflated loan guarantee device, though indicating that his agents had not thus far found evidence of tax fraud. The joint Committee was running a simultaneous probe, and its chairman, Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia, had said the previous day that overvaluation of apartment housing projects had pushed rents up to 25 percent higher than they would have otherwise been.

In the county outside Charlotte, County police credited three Southern Bell telephone workmen this date with heroic action for saving the lives of two of four children inside a flaming house after an oil stove had exploded inside. The telephone workmen had smelled kerosene and smoke, rushed across the street into the house as the interior of the dwelling was being engulfed in flames, grabbing two of the four small children and taking them outside, while the mother was able to lead the other two children to safety. No one was injured in the blaze, though the house was destroyed.

Donald MacDonald of The News tells of an escapee, a 31-year old man originally of Charlotte, from the State Prison for the Criminally Insane, being the object of a statewide police search this date, wanted as a suspect in the theft the previous morning of a 1948 dark green Buick of a Charlotte schoolteacher and for the attempted rape of a 15-year old black girl. He had been labeled as dangerous by the police, having a long record of storebreaking, larceny, house burglary and forgery. The girl in question had identified him from a photo as a man who had attempted to rape her the previous afternoon at knife point. She said that the man had offered to drive her home in the described stolen automobile, had said along the way that he wanted her to do some work for his wife, and after driving her into a wooded area, had pulled a knife and ordered her to go with him into the woods where he then attempted the rape. She had managed to escape after he had swung at her once with the knife. He had posed as a City Engineering Department employee the previous morning to obtain the keys of the schoolteacher's car, on the ruse that street work was being done and the car needed to be moved. He had been arrested by police on January 13, charged, along with a woman, with storebreaking, larceny, and receiving stolen property following a January 11 break-in of a service station and another store. Thereafter, he had been committed to prison for the criminally insane.

Betty Boyer, in her weekly "Grocery News" column, brings you news of frozen T.V. dinners which "the whole family will rave about", plus the new, "sensational" Plantation Spoon Bread Mix, not to mention the tuna dip on chips, as well as fine coffee at great savings and a new shortening which is "never too hard—always creamy".

On the editorial page, "An Old Problem Bobs up Again" indicates that from time to time it had been critical of the tendency of the American press to single out the sensational story to catch the eye and attention of the reader, which it regards as natural enough, as the newspapers reflected the human qualities of the people who put them together as well as the people who bought and read them. Television and radio were equally at fault in probing the area of disagreement.

It indicates that the continuing agitation regarding the reports of the reaction to Vice-President Nixon's statement the previous Friday, that the U.S. might have to send troops to Indo-China should the French withdraw, had brought those thoughts to mind again. It finds that by any definition, the statement had been news, as no other high Administration official had publicly admitted to the possibility of sending U.S. troops to Indo-China, though that possibility had been implicit in many previous Administration statements regarding the threat posed to Southeast Asia and its importance to the free world.

It can conceive of no way to avoid overemphasis of controversy and disagreement in a free press, but finds it unfortunate in the instance of the Vice-President's statement because it was prompting a large amount of unnecessary speculation in Congress, to the confusion of the people and the dismay of the country's allies. It had also removed the spotlight from the Vice-President's "magnificent statement of America's interest in protecting Southeast Asia from Communist aggression and eventual conquest."

It indicates that one of the jobs of the editorial page was to try to restore some order to the fast-moving events which dominated the front page, finds that the real significance of the Vice-President's speech was its broad area of agreement between the Administration and its predecessor on the nature of the Communist threat. Mr. Nixon had sought to show why the country's security was bound up in the security of Southeast Asia, just as its security was at stake in mid-1950 when the Communists invaded South Korea, finding it more difficult, however, to get that point across to the people in light of the current controversy.

"Vaccine May Be Tested Here" indicates that thanks to the combined efforts of the local health officer and the chairman of the County Commission, local youngsters might yet be able to obtain the new Salk vaccine as part of the nationwide trial during the year. The State health officer had decided against North Carolina's participation in the trial on the grounds that there would be insufficient time for the immunization to take effect before the normal peak period for polio in the state. Guilford County, however, had obtained permission from the State's health officer to go ahead with its plans to participate in the trial, and when the Mecklenburg County chairman had heard about it, he got in touch with the local health officer and suggested that they renew the application for an allocation of the vaccine.

There was not enough vaccine to go around for every locality which wanted to participate, and so it remained questionable whether the application would be approved. The vaccine's use was originally planned in the counties in the state with a high ten-year incidence of polio, Guilford, New Hanover, Catawba, Caldwell, Durham, Rockingham and Buncombe. But since the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis was anxious to see the vaccine tested in all geographical areas of the country, if the other high-incidence counties did not follow Guilford's example, the application of Mecklenburg might be approved. It hopes that it would be.

"Hoover's Plan for Balanced Budget" indicates that Republican orators for the previous 20 years had routinely blamed the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations for deficit spending and resulting inflation. In his address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, former President Hoover had avoided placing any blame for continued deficit spending on the Eisenhower Administration, instead placing it on Congress, which, the piece ventures, was where it belonged all the while. Mr. Hoover had gone out of his way to poke at the present Republican Congress, saying that the handout philosophy had once been "tax-and-tax, spend-and-spend", but that now it was "cut taxes, cut taxes, spend-and-spend". He had said that it was a "philosophic improvement" but one which did not cure the deficit. He believed that a balanced Federal budget was essential to end inflation and that the only way to balance the budget was to hold taxes at their present rates until expenditures could be reduced to the level of revenues.

There were economists who took the other view. In a recent piece in the Washington Post, Seymour Harris, a Harvard professor of economics, argued convincingly that continued deficit spending did not mean that the country was heading for bankruptcy as the ability to carry the national debt was measured by the national income, which was steadily improving. It finds, however, that the process of rationalization ignored an important probability, that the state of the nation's economic health would be even better than it currently was with the elimination of deficit spending. Canada had just finished its eighth consecutive year with a balanced budget, and had an unmistakable economic boom.

It finds the words of former President Hoover to have the ring of authority when he said that the country could cure the deficit and many of the pains of taxes without reducing its effectiveness in defense or the necessary functions of government, provided it could have a period of self-denial and patience.

You can listen to former President Hoover regarding the economy if you want to, but that tends to blink the one historically lasting contribution of his Presidency, and we know what that was. And it took a lot of deficit spending, including on the war, to get the country out of it. Thus, he ought be regarded historically as the leading exponent of inevitable deficit spending resultant of his policies, not an opponent of it.

"Discovery!" indicates that FHA official Clyde Powell, who had been questioned in connection with the revelation of exorbitant profits and shady deals in the housing program, had refused to answer a Senator's questions based on the privilege against self-incrimination, and the piece decides he was a "Fifth Amendment Capitalist"—rather than a "Fifth Amendment Communist", the phrase coined by Senator McCarthy.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "English as She Is Spoke", indicates that Beatrice Cobb of the Morganton News-Herald complained that colorful speech was vanishing in the mountains, which, it supposes, was the result of too much "book-larnin'". It finds that all was not lost as people still made nouns do the work of verbs and vice versa. Thus came to be such expressions as: "They churched Pitt for tale-bearin'"; "Granny kept faultin' us all day"; "I don't confidence them dogs much"; "I didn't do nary thing to contrary her"; and "I didn't hear no give-out at the meetin'".

A letter writer to the Chapel Hill Weekly had given an example of a sentence ending in several prepositions: "What did you bring me that book to be read to out of from for?" It indicates that it did not mind sentences ending in prepositions but that the cited example "sounds like a little too much of a good thing to go for". Editor Louis Graves of the Weekly had reminded that the "tantamount" season had again begun, beginning always when someone wrote that "victory in a Democratic primary is tantamount to election" in North Carolina. Mr. Graves did not like "tantamount" because it was a funny-sounding word which reminded him of "catamount".

It indicates that it had known a boy in school once who insisted that a mosque was a kind of catfish, confusing it with "mollusk".

Editor Weimar Jones of the Franklin Press hated the phrase "different than", as it does, too, finding in it no sense or logic or good taste, labeling it a "Briticism".

It concludes that all of it proved that words were living things, some of which were rough and others perfect ladies and gentlemen, some dull, others sparkling, some finicky, others solid, some having guilt by association fastened to them while others borrowed friendliness by connotation. Some were sweet and others were sour, and either one liked a word or one did not.

It is like "iconic", not a bad word, in and of itself, until you see it misapplied every damn day in every other story you read, in nearly every other story you hear, until you want to scream, "Stop using iconic to describe everything which is not anything except something which stands out in someone's subjective mind." That does not render it iconic, which again, means only something which is representative of something else, usually in reference to religious iconography. It has nothing to do with tail fins on automobiles in the 1950's, nothing to do with prominent actors and actresses or folk singers or rock singers or rappers or albums or movies or movie scenes or dialogue from movies or anyone to whom or anything to which you might attach some special significance in your own pop-head. Get over it. You are only saying when you say such and such is iconic that it represents something else. If that is all you mean to say, fine, but, obviously, by the context, when people use that word routinely in the popular culture and in pop "journalism", they are absolutely oblivious to its actual meaning. Moreover, it has become so hackneyed as to be rendered meaningless, even in its proper context, and should be, once and for all, retired from the English language for at least the next 20 years, to give it a rest and enable some better descriptive language than trying to sound semi-educated through the abuse of an overused word. It would be far better and less grotesquely ostentatious simply to use plain old "significant" or just plain-speak, being truer to your school: "Look at them thar tailfins from the Fifties. Thems big uns, ain't they?" "Iconic", no.

Drew Pearson indicates that the international and political furor raised by Vice-President Nixon's speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors the previous Friday had left two principal points clear, that "Dickie Nixon" loomed more and more definitely as the man Eisenhower had picked to succeed him in 1956, and that there was no question whatsoever that the Administration was contemplating the use of armed force in Indo-China should it be necessitated by French withdrawal. Despite a modifying statement by the State Department after the speech, the use of U.S. ground forces and small atomic bombs had definitely been under discussion. He finds the speech by Mr. Nixon to have been not only a masterpiece but calculated to achieve for him recognition from a powerful group of opinion-makers. Even Democratic editors who did not care for Mr. Nixon had come away from the speech admitting that his degree in public speaking had paid dividends. He had spoken for an hour without reading from a manuscript or scarcely looking at his notes. His delivery had been forceful, earnest and demonstrating a grasp of the subject while not being partisan. The first half hour had been devoted to a disarming exposition of the problems of Southeast Asia, together with personal observations he had made during his recent world tour. He had told about the difficulty of getting along with cantankerous but courageous President Syngman Rhee of South Korea, then had quoted a British general who had been asked what was needed most in Indo-China, replying that it was another Syngman Rhee. The last half hour was devoted to the difficulties faced in Indo-China, the political problems of the Government in France of Premier Joseph Laniel, which could easily be overthrown because of the war, the great problem of creating a spiritual leadership among the native peoples of Indo-China, as well as the U.S. alternative policy of appeasing Communist China by admitting it to the U.N. Mr. Nixon had warned that it would be more expedient to compromise by admitting Communist China but that the U.S. had to adhere to principle, that U.S. policy could not be bogged down by uninformed public opinion on the one hand or reluctant allies on the other. (And if those radicals in Lafayette Square get out of hand, we'll just find some thugs, you know, Teamster-types, people who can get in there and bust some heads.)

Mr. Pearson notes that the general reaction among the editors was that he had done a brilliant job and enhanced himself with the newspaper profession, but that the American public was a long way from being ready to send troops to Indo-China.

Some editors, he continues, believed that the speech had been merely a trial balloon of the Administration, so that the President could deny it later, but Mr. Pearson believes otherwise because the President had repeatedly relied on Mr. Nixon to speak for him, had let him carry the ball as negotiator with Senator McCarthy, as the pacifier with Congress and as the all-around political handyman of the Administration. The President became bored and tired while the Vice-President was an eager beaver, partly because the President did not understand politics and the Vice-President loved it, partly because the President hated political chores whereas the Vice-Presidency was a job where time hung heavily on the occupant's hands. Substituting for the President had begun as an accident but had now become a habit for Mr. Nixon, which Mr. Pearson believes would be recognized when the Republicans began looking for the President's successor in 1956—it being the conventional assumption at the time that, because of the President's age and his dislike for politics generally, he would not run for a second term.

Mr. Pearson also believes that the speech was not a trial balloon because the plan to stand firm in Indo-China, with U.S. forces to be sent if necessary, had been considered by the National Security Council, to which the President delegated major foreign policy decisions. The policy on Indo-China had become hard and fixed.

Mr. Pearson indicates that as he had reported in his column on April 8, eight days before the speech of the Vice-President, the current education campaign to prepare the American public for war in Indo-China had been preceded by a special study by the NSC, with the prospect of sending ground troops under discussion to replace French metropolitan troops, thereby relieving the political problem in Paris, where it was demanded that the French troops be brought home. The column had also indicated that U.S. admirals had proposed sending two or more aircraft carriers, which were, he notes parenthetically, presently off the Indo-China coast. On April 6, he had reported that the White House had made careful but pointed overtures to Democratic leaders to get their support in case the Administration became militarily involved in Indo-China.

Doris Fleeson indicates that the Administration had worked hard over the weekend to try to isolate and sterilize Vice-President Nixon's Friday speech to the newspaper editors. Administration officials contended that he had not enunciated any new policy in speaking of sending troops to Indo-China in the event of French withdrawal, stressing that his comment had been in response to a hypothetical question and that he had stated that he did not anticipate withdrawal by the French. They had wished that he had resisted the temptation to answer the question. It was also denied that he was floating any trial balloon to test American public opinion or for the benefit of the allies.

She indicates that the problem with all of the explanations was that the Vice-President had only carried to a logical conclusion that which had been made plain by the Administration and the President, that Indo-China could not be lost to the Communists. The Vice-President attended the meetings of the National Security Council where the policymakers reviewed the stubborn facts and he was, no doubt, responding to those facts and discussed contingencies. It was not new in Washington for officials to indicate what was on their minds. Former President Truman had done it all the time before reporters. The Vice-President was a working politician, presiding over the Senate during probing debate about Indo-China, and his reply to the editors reflected what was in his mind, what would occur if the French were to withdraw. It was not mere idle speculation to suppose that if the use of troops in Indo-China had been ruled out by the Security Council or the White House, the Vice-President would not have made that reply.

As Indo-China was being viewed as indispensable to the free world and, per military experts, "massive retaliation" would not work there, and if applied to Communist China, itself, would provoke World War III, it was difficult to see how the Administration could avoid stepping up the defense of Indo-China.

Robert C. Ruark, in Bombay, indicates that the people of India, in their new democracy, were enjoying some other benefits of self-determinism, including "the old adventure in idiocy that we used to call the noble experiment or prohibition." It was a piecemeal experiment reflecting the personal views of the party in power. Calcutta was wet as was Delhi, whereas Bombay was dry, as were Madras and parts of the Central Provinces. But the enforced ban was no more successful than had been Prohibition in the U.S.

There was no public drinking in Bombay but people who were willing to swear that they were alcoholics, transients or special cases were allowed to buy at high prices a few units of alcoholic beverages per month. A short-span tourist received two units or two jugs, and a semi-permanent visitor obtained four units, provided he swore that he was accustomed to drinking back home. People drank heavily but hid the fact behind locked doors, as enforcers were everywhere and could take someone to jail for possession of a pint without a permit.

India was spending a lot of money on propaganda to promote tourism, making extravagant claims about the wonders of the country. But a thirsty tourist could not purchase a beer publicly in Bombay and the town's nightlife was nonexistent as a result. There was no point in visitors going out after dark as there was no place to go.

Mr. Ruark wonders how a people could be so naïve as Americans had once been, in trying to control public morality by decree. He predicts that it would not last forever in India but that they would have paid a bitter price for their experiment in "stupidity".

He concludes that Rudyard Kipling might have had the new regime in mind when he had written, "Somewhere East of Suez, where a man can raise a thirst." He indicates that he had been right about the thirst, but had left no clues about how to quench it, "unless you rap on a strange door and tell somebody that Gopal sent you."

A letter writer from Hamlet, N.C., comments on a recent editorial of April 9 which he asserts had advocated intervention with U.S. arms and men in Indo-China, finding its arguments far from adequate to warrant that decision. He indicates that the editorial had said that the war was a civil war, and finds that if the U.S. were to enter, then China and possibly Russia would also enter. He believes that in that case, the U.S. would wind up the aggressor in provoking a world war and use of the hydrogen bomb. He asks, among other questions, who, "with Churchill's help, seduced Roosevelt into precipitating Pearl Harbor so that Congress could declare war?", who had found "it imperative to drop the hell-bomb on Hiroshima, even though Japan was already capitulating?", etc. He believes that it was advisers to the various Presidents, the same "faceless" professional advisers currently advising President Eisenhower. He wants the editors to name them so that the people would have a clearer understanding of how the country was being run. He concludes by asking whether the prospect of another depression under the Republican watch might have something to do with the urgency of the Indo-China situation.

The editors respond that the editorial in question had not advocated intervention, that it indicated that if the President, who had the facts, were to make that grim decision, the American people ought to support it. It clarifies that it had also not urged application of the "massive retaliation" policy, but pointed out the cruel dilemma which a "major aggression" by China in Indo-China would pose. It also states that the "professional advisers" to which the editorial had referred were mainly military and diplomatic officials who advised the President on such questions.

A letter writer from Cheraw, S.C., says that he does not want any more wars, had never approved of their destruction, but that there would be a price to pay for anything one got and that the country had to live up to its obligation to other countries, whether resulting in peace or war, to achieve and maintain freedom. He finds that if the country had to go into Indo-China, it should "go with everything we have at our disposal and get rid of that bunch of ungodly, mad, blood-thirsty Communists." He urges getting behind the Government, whatever it decided, with everyone doing their part, big or small, and victory would be achieved, as God would be with the country "as long as we are right". He urges everyone to pray, however, that the war in Indo-China would not involve the U.S. and would soon come to an end with victory for the French.

A letter from the president of the Junior Woman's Club of Charlotte thanks the newspaper for its cooperation in helping the Club to have a successful previous year.

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