The Charlotte News

Friday, May 7, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu had fallen to the Vietminh, as announced late this date by French Premier Joseph Laniel. A small fortress, dubbed "Isabelle", site of the French Union main artillery, was still holding out three miles south of the main fortress, which had been under siege for 57 days. One of the last orders which the commander of the forces defending the fortress, Brig. General Christian de Castries, had sent to Isabelle was to fire on its own command post when the Vietminh riflemen finally broke through. There was no word on the fate of General De Castries or of a French nurse, Genevieve de Galard Terraube, the only woman in the fortress, who had been decorated for gallantry twice within the week. Premier Laniel told the French National Assembly that counterattacks had been launched in a vain effort to block the Vietminh from effecting juncture between their attacks from the northeast and the southwest, but that those efforts had failed. The defeat came after twenty uninterrupted hours of combat, in which the Vietminh outnumbered the French Union troops 4 to 1, the French having 14,000 men, including wounded, estimated to be about 1,000. By the time the attack had started during the previous night, a field only slightly larger than a baseball diamond had remained in which the defenders were concentrated. The battle for the fortress had been the first all-out frontal fighting during the war in Indo-China, which had lasted nearly eight years. The French still held the main cities of Hanoi, Saigon and Haiphong, while the Communists held spots throughout Indo-China. The Premier said that France would confirm its instructions to its delegates at Geneva without admitting that the fall of the fortress would change anything. He said that during more than seven years of war in Indo-China, France had never quit defending alone a great region of Asia. All of the member deputies of the Assembly had stood during the announcement, except the Communists, who remained seated.

President Eisenhower said this date that the resistance of the French Union forces at the fortress would "forever stand as a symbol of the free world's determination to resist dictatorial aggression." Congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader William Knowland of California, Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire, and House Speaker Joseph Martin of Massachusetts, asked for united action by the free nations of the world to stop Communist aggression in Asia.

In Geneva, the Big Three Western powers decided this date to propose to the Communists that the Indochinese peace talks should begin the following afternoon, after the last obstacle had been removed by the French agreement to have the chairmanship of the conference rotate between British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov, understood to be satisfactory to the Communists. It had been agreed several days earlier that the part of the conference to consider the peace in Indo-China would start whenever the Western delegations were ready. The delegations returned to the part of the conference dealing with unification of Korea after a three-day recess, but the two-week attempt to produce unification appeared near its expected unproductive end.

Secretary of State Dulles had developed a two-stage program for organizing an anti-Communist coalition in Southeast Asia and hoped it would produce a provisional arrangement within a matter of weeks. The Secretary was set to hold a series of diplomatic discussions in Washington to begin the first stage of the negotiations, via a multi-nation military staff conference designed to produce a provisional security arrangement which would be designed to last until the second-stage talks could eventually result in a formal security treaty—SEATO, to be formed the following September. The Secretary would report to the nation this night by radio and television on Indo-China and other subjects, including the deadlock on the Korean unification talks at Geneva.

In the twelfth day of hearings before the Senate Investigations subcommittee regarding the dispute between the Army and Senator McCarthy, Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens testified that Senator McCarthy's aides had threatened him if Private G. David Schine failed to obtain favored treatment from the Army. He said they had made "exceedingly serious" threats and he had received the distinct impression from both the Senator and his aides that the more the Army did for the Private, the less "hammering" the Army would receive from the McCarthy-chaired subcommittee. The Secretary had reacted with a sharpness not previously displayed during the hearings in response to questions propounded by Senator McCarthy regarding whether Roy Cohn, ordinarily chief counsel for the subcommittee, and its staff director Francis Carr, had ever threatened him, the Secretary maintaining that they had, creating that perception in conjunction with the constant discussion of Private Schine and the ongoing subcommittee investigation of alleged espionage at Fort Monmouth, a critical radar research facility in New Jersey. In response to the urging of Senator McCarthy to be specific, the Secretary cited what he called Mr. Cohn's "declaration of war" on the Army after Mr. Cohn had been denied admittance to the secret radar laboratory at Fort Monmouth the prior October 20, and after a meeting the Secretary had with Mr. Cohn and Mr. Carr at the Pentagon on November 16. Senator McCarthy then said that while Mr. Cohn had been denied admittance to the radar laboratory, "Commies have free access." The Secretary responded abruptly that Commies did not have free access. Three days prior to the November 16 meeting with Mr. Cohn and Mr. Carr, the Secretary said that he had stated at a news conference that he knew of no current espionage at Fort Monmouth, despite the headlines coming from Senator McCarthy's investigation. Because of debate on amendments to the Taft-Hartley Act, the subcommittee did not have an afternoon session.

Democrats, at a Jefferson-Jackson Democratic dinner the previous night in Washington, asked the Administration to do something about the "circus luxuries" and "TV spectacles" and instead come up with action to prevent a cold war from becoming a hot one. An estimated 1,500 diners had paid $100 per plate to attend, in an effort to return Congress to Democratic control in the fall midterm elections. Speakers at the event said that the Republicans had created "messes of their own" in the Army-McCarthy dispute and had suffered serious "reversals" regarding Indo-China, referring back to the Republican campaign slogan of 1952, "Clean Up the Mess in Washington". Unlike other such dinners, Southerners were in ample evidence, sitting alongside old New Dealers and Fair Dealers, in at least an outward show of unity in the party. Former President Truman and his family were featured guests, the President stating in an informal talk to the diners that the country needed the friendship of its allies and could not have that if it insulted them. The former President and former Secretary of State Acheson received standing ovations after their introductions. Senator Lyndon Johnson of Texas, the Minority Leader, declared that the Administration had been "caught bluffing" by the country's enemies, creating the danger of the country being "left naked and alone in a hostile world". He said that American foreign policy had never in all of its history suffered such "a stunning reversal" as in the previous few weeks from the backtracking of the Secretary of State at Geneva. Senator Johnson had not previously spoken in critical tones about Republican conduct of foreign policy, having made a point of past cooperation with the Republicans in that area and in military affairs. He also said that Democrats in Congress were confused when the President said that he needed a Republican Congress to put across his program, as it had been the Democrats who had saved much of his domestic program. House Minority Leader Sam Rayburn said that the people had heard a lot about a "mess" in 1952 and that they were hearing a great deal more at present. He said that Senator McCarthy was the problem of the Republicans, not the Democrats, and that if the principals involved in the Army-McCarthy dispute were Democrats, the Republicans would be calling it "the biggest mess that Washington has ever witnessed." Adlai Stevenson, the 1952 Democratic presidential nominee, was recovering from an illness and could not attend, but sent along a message predicting that the Republicans would have "considerable experience as a minority" following the midterm elections in the fall.

In Saigon, it was reported that a Flying Boxcar transport plane had blown up the previous day during a supply mission for Dien Bien Phu, killing its two American civilian pilots and the French crew chief. One of the Americans, James "Earthquake McGoon" McGovern, had been one of the most famous and intrepid airline pilots in the Far East, held captive by the Communist Chinese for five months in 1950 after he had crash-landed in Communist territory. The cause of the explosion was not known, but unofficial observers thought possibly that it had been hit by Vietminh anti-aircraft fire.

The Senate voted this date to send the President's revised Taft-Hartley bill back to the Labor Committee, essentially killing it for the year. Southern and Northern Democrats voted together to recommit the bill to the Committee, disregarding an appeal by Senate Republican leaders. Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, speaking for the Democrats on the Committee, said that the measure had come to the Senate by "executive fiat", and charged Republicans of the Committee with refusing to consider changes proposed by Democrats on the Committee, limiting the bill to the specific recommendations made by the President.

Secretary of Labor James Mitchell and Secretary of Commerce Sinclair Weeks issued a joint job report this date, indicating that unemployment had declined by 260,000 in April, the first drop since the previous October, based on the week ending April 10. They indicated that there was evidence that unemployment had continued to decline as the month progressed. The more than 3.4 million unemployed, however, despite some improvement over March, was still the second largest unemployment total for April since World War II, compared to 3.5 million unemployed in April, 1950, the postwar high for that month.

Near New Bern, N.C., two cars carrying five persons collided head-on early this date, killing all occupants, four of whom were soldiers and one a woman traveling with two of the soldiers. The car driven by one of the soldiers had attempted a left turn, hitting another car, occupied by two of the soldiers.

On the editorial page, "The Secretary Will Read the Minutes" indicates that the war in Indo-China was a civil war, as had been the war in China before the Communists took over in 1949. The Communist insurgents had been supplied with arms and ammunition by an outside power in China, that having been Russia, just as Communist China was supplying the Vietminh. U.S. military aid had gone to assist the Nationalist Chinese, just as it was helping the French and Vietnamese in Indo-China. Both nations had been exhausted by a long war, China having fought Japan, and Viet Nam having fought against the Vietminh.

It had been said that the U.S. had "lost" China, and while there had been diplomatic and military mistakes, to have saved it would have required full-scale U.S. intervention. The country was not in any mood to fight either the Russian Communists or the Chinese Communists after World War II, and so demobilization had taken place. No political leader could have been successful in calling for intervention to prevent that loss. In addition, the country's allies were prostrate after the war, their lands laid to waste and their economies in ruins. They also therefore did not want to join in fighting against the Chinese Communists or the Russians.

It appeared much simpler, however, to try to save Indo-China, comprising a smaller area, with a population of only 30 million compared to China's 400 million. The long coastline of Indo-China would facilitate naval and carrier operations. The U.S. also was stronger than at any time since the postwar demobilization had ended after the invasion by North Korea of South Korea in mid-1950. The country's allies were also better armed and their economies were flourishing. The true nature of Russian imperialism had also emerged in the meantime, and it appeared probable that if Indo-China were lost to the Communists, so would all of Southeast Asia be lost. But the American people were wary of foreign wars, with the memory of Korea quite fresh. The Eisenhower Administration had been unable to convince the American people that a Communist victory in Indo-China was a serious danger, or to persuade the people or Congress that intervention was therefore required.

It indicates that the President might rue the glibness with which some of his party's spokesmen had blamed the previous Administration for the loss of China, as he was now faced with the same dilemma in Indo-China. "Sometimes it is helpful in understanding the confused present to read the minutes of the first meeting, as it were."

"Dollars for Guns, Pennies for Schools" indicates that in 1900, the per capita expenditure on education in the U.S. was $3.40, whereas in 1953 it was $76. While that indicated progress in education, it had not kept pace with the age in which they lived, as made clear by comparison of Federal expenditures per capita during those two years, in 1900 having been $6.85, whereas in 1953, it was $467. Thus, the ratio of educational expenditures to Federal expenditures, while one to two in 1900, had been diminished to one to six by 1953. The reason primarily was rising defense costs.

That status had prompted columnist Walter Lippmann to make a suggestion in the Atlantic Monthly that the country had to do in the educational system something very like what it had done in the military establishment during the previous 15 years, as the educational system remained in approximately the same condition as it had been prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

It informs that the majority of the residents of North and South Carolina had not completed grade school, that a third of tested North Carolinians and over half of South Carolinians had not been able to pass the armed forces qualification test.

It indicates that it would not take nearly as much money to raise the educational level as it had to arm the country after Pearl Harbor, but the problem was that military expenditures, over which the voters had no control, were so high, causing voters to economize on other functions of government over which they did have control. It concludes that providing for the few more pennies for education, along with the dollars for defense, would pay off handsomely either in war or in peace.

"Question" asks whether, since the Army had been charged with "coddling" Communists, athletes and singers, it was not about time someone charged the Senate with "coddling" Senator McCarthy.

"A New Title for Gen. Washington" indicates that on June 18, 1775, General Washington had been elected to head the Army of the United Colonies by the Second Continental Congress. Since that time, a hierarchy of rank had developed in the Army such that there were brigadier generals, major generals, lieutenant generals, generals, generals of the Army, and one General of the Armies, the late John Pershing. According to Senator Edward Martin of Pennsylvania, General Washington, within that hierarchy, was outranked by all of the generals, generals of the Army and by General Pershing. That had prompted Senator Martin and Senator James Duff, also of Pennsylvania, to introduce a bill to promote General Washington to the rank of General of the Armies, and make the title retroactive to his appointment in 1775, so that he would rank first, not 46th, among the generals. It suggests that if there was any true American who thought it should not be done, then that person should speak or forever hold their piece.

A piece from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, titled "Gen. Forrest and His 'Spelling'", indicates that the South had long been embarrassed by the quotation of General Nathan Bedford Forrest: "Git thar fustest with the mostest." That he had uttered the statement was not doubted, but a complaint had arisen from the phonetic spelling when reduced to written form regarding a fundamental military principle. According to his defenders, General Forrest had been a polished and cultured gentleman who would not have talked in that manner.

But now it was clear that General Forrest had in fact written in that general style, as letters in his own handwriting had recently surfaced, one in St. Louis, provided to the West Tennessee Historical Society, revealing the General's postwar financial problems when he was attempting to establish a railroad. It provides a quote with his numerous misspellings and lack of punctuation, producing run-on sentences.

It finds that those problems did not threaten his place in history as one of the greatest cavalry leaders of all time, as it reminds that Napoleon had difficulty reading his own handwriting and had spoken poor French. Speaking perfect English had not been his job.

Drew Pearson indicates that unless the Russians made a bad mistake at Geneva, it appeared slated to become the worst diplomatic defeat for the U.S. in 20 years, showing that the U.S. no longer held the world's initiative, balance of power, or trump cards in the cold war. The other diplomats had not sought out Secretary of State Dulles to find out what the U.S. wanted, instead going to Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov. For the first time, the U.S. had retreated to the days of Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt when it could not call the tunes at international conferences. Repeatedly in those times, the U.S. had inspired important diplomatic gatherings only to have them end in failure. The reason was not that either a Democratic or Republican administration was in power or because there was no attempt made at diplomatic success, but rather because the Nazi-Fascist leadership had been too strong and the country was divided at home, resulting in the U.S. coasting downhill into war. Now, Communist leadership had replaced the Nazi-Fascist leadership at a time when the U.S. was woefully divided at home and so could not lead, a fact of which the European allies were aware. President Hoover had lost leadership abroad because of the isolationist split in the Republican Party, and FDR could not gain leadership until after Pearl Harbor because of increasing isolationism, especially from some of the same people who had returned to support Senator McCarthy vigorously.

The Kremlin read the newspapers, as did the country's allies, and were aware that Secretary Dulles could not carry out what he urged without the support of certain Republican Senators and the American people, who were confused by Senator McCarthy, and without the Army, whose morale was at a low. Thus, the Secretary had gone to Geneva with almost no trump cards, and then threw away the one card which Mr. Molotov had thought was a trump. It was why Secretary Dulles had departed Geneva amid reports that he would resign his post, after only a week had passed since the start of the conference. Reports of his imminent resignation were denied, but he was feeling quite depressed.

Once, when heckled before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Senate Majority Leader William Knowland, Mr. Dulles had appeared almost on the verge of tears, indicating that he did not appear to be able to please the Senators, that there was no way to conduct foreign affairs to their liking. As he had departed for Geneva, he had told advisers that the Majority Leader appeared to be the biggest obstacle to his policies.

Because he had been tired, he had pulled a boner at Geneva, holding a background press meeting in his hotel room the night before the conference had begun, at which he flatly indicated that the U.S. had no intention of intervention in Indo-China, as Vice-President Nixon had stated three weeks earlier would be the case if the French were to withdraw. That statement, while not quoting the Secretary, made headlines around the world. Mr. Molotov understood right away who the author of the statement had been, and called together the Communist satellite diplomats to tell them to adopt a hard policy of unconditional surrender in Indo-China. Prior to that time, U.S. and Indian observers had heard reliable reports that Mr. Molotov had planned a conciliatory policy, as he was afraid that the U.S. might actually intervene in Indo-China.

Secretary Dulles could have avoided the press and said nothing, to keep Mr. Molotov guessing. But the real mistake had been made by elements of the Republican Party in hamstringing Secretary Dulles and by Administration failure to do anything about Indo-China until it was nearly too late. The President had inherited a difficult situation there not of his making, but which had not become serious until after the truce had been signed in Korea the prior July, releasing the Communist Chinese to increase supplies of war matériel to the Vietminh. The Administration, however, continued to procrastinate, the National Security Council having done nothing, until two months earlier finally realizing that something had to be done or risk loss of all of Southeast Asia to the Communists, a warning which had been given by various journalists for more than a year. It had been at that point that the Vice-President, Secretary Dulles and the President began educating the American people and the country's allies regarding the use of American and allied troops in Indo-China. But neither the American people nor the country's allies could be educated so rapidly, especially only a few months after the end of the Korean War. After people had been repeatedly told that the peace in Korea had arrived, they could not suddenly, with any enthusiasm, shift back to a war mentality regarding a distant part of Asia.

Mr. Pearson concludes that it was the problem faced by Secretary Dulles at Geneva and why he had returned home sadly disappointed, also finding that the downhill drift toward another world war was certain to become a reality unless the country did something drastic to stop it.

Doris Fleeson tells of Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona sponsoring a states' rights amendment to the President's proposed amendments to Taft-Hartley, which would permit individual states to have substantial rights to enact labor laws not present under the current Federal law. Whether it would go so far as to enable states to enact their own wage, hour and fair labor standards was in question. The President and Secretary of Labor James Mitchell opposed the Goldwater amendment, as did labor generally.

Under such an amendment, states might seek to attract new industries, especially during a recession, by enacting laws favorable to employers.

Senator Alexander Smith of New Jersey, chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, and Senate Majority Leader William Knowland had backed the Goldwater statement that his general approach had the approval of the White House labor advisers, but they did not claim approval by the President. A liberal coalition in the Senate had hoped to attract enough support to recommit the bill to the Labor Committee, and they had tacked on a civil rights amendment to attract Southern opposition to it. But now that Senators Smith and Knowland had made their statements, it was unlikely that there would be recommital and it was generally believed the Goldwater amendment might pass. The liberal effort to oppose it, however, would continue. (As the front page indicates, the bill had been recommitted this date, effectively killing it for the session. It would not be the last time that Senator Goldwater's effort to turn back the clock would fail.)

In the House, members of the Labor Committee claimed that there were enough votes to keep the bill bottled up, but a Senate victory would provide impetus for the House to enact it.

Ms. Fleeson observes that professional politicians around the Capitol were beginning to marvel at the Republican taste for controversy, with it not the first legislative effort marked by internal division within the Republican Party, either going far beyond what the President had proposed or directly opposing it, significant with only six months left until the midterm elections. There was a general belief that the President would have been better off to have ducked the labor controversy during 1954, as he could have done. Labor had now been alerted to what it considered to be one of the greatest perils it could possibly face.

Robert C. Ruark indicates that a close inspection of the advertising business via Life had convinced him, after being away from the U.S. for seven months in Australia, India and Kenya, that things had reached "such supreme simplicity that they won't be worth doing at all." Some of the cigarette ads had removed all of the nicotine, some of the liquor ads had removed the alcohol, and one soap would not burn or irritate the eyes as ordinary shampoos. A healthy baby informed of "no more tears from soap in the eyes." Gearshifts had become automatic on automobiles and refrigerators opened from both sides. The previous night, he had dreamed that he went to hell in his "boy-form bra". What had curdled his milk of human kindness was an ad which proclaimed, by way of promoting a hair dye product, "Give Your Husband a Gorgeous Blonde For Easter or Maybe He Prefers a Luscious Redhead or a Stunning Brunette!"

He indicates that he had been upset for the previous five years because his wife had turned up blonde one day without giving him advance notice, causing him to spend four years trying to get her to change it back to its original color, "mousy brown with considerable gray." He says that had been the woman he had married, not a stranger with "blue hair or pink hair or any of the other hair that women experiment with when they are bored or mad." If he wanted a "gorgeous blonde", he would obtain one for himself, and would if the hair-dye people kept messing with his personal life.

He finds that people were scared and dissatisfied and "H-bomb-happy", seeking to lose their fear in a "silly escape to gadgets and distractions." He believes that such gadgets would not cure the panic, regardless of budget or "how colorful the copywriters, no matter how well the caffeineless coffee is supposed to let you sleep after the TV program which is always without benefit of any kind of talent."

But not everyone can escape for several months to safaris and world tours.

In any event, insofar as Life of late is concerned, for those still learning to read, we are still wondering about the President's religion being that of a Penguin. We suppose it is elementary.

A letter writer indicates that newspapers had a responsibility to protect the readers against dishonest advertisers, finding that dishonest and objectionable advertising had been appearing on the theater page. He cites the example of the Center Theater in Charlotte, which had advertised the film "Personal Affair" during the week, by showing a man struggling with a woman with her clothing torn from her shoulder to her bosom, which was partially exposed, with the statement: "His kiss stifled her scream! Could the man she gave her love to so willingly betray her so shamefully! This is the impersonal affair of a wife who risked everything to save her marriage!" He thinks the advertisement did not belong in a family newspaper and that, having seen the film, could inform that the scene described never occurred in the movie, and so was also dishonest. He thinks it might be a case for the Better Business Bureau, as it was misrepresentation. He urges the newspaper to consider canceling such false advertising, and finds the theater to have completely disregarded the community welfare.

Well, you went to the movie to see what you could see. Who are you to speak? How many times do we hear people say, "That was the most disgusting movie I have ever seen," or, by turns, "the most disppointing". Why did you not read a review of it in the first place and simply go to something else? Nobody held a gun to your head—save maybe, in a brainwashing sense, the movie advertisers, or the Garden Club.

A letter from the president of the Student Council at Carver College in Charlotte urges voters to vote on May 18 for the two cents increase in property taxes to support the two community colleges, Carver and Charlotte College. He lists several reasons why the two colleges were important to the community.

A letter writer from Pittsboro suggests that there was no justification for televising or broadcasting via radio the Army-McCarthy hearings, "exposing our caudal equipment to all of the civilized world." He finds a refreshing contrast in the manner in which the three-man board, chaired by UNC president Gordon Gray, was conducting itself in the hearings regarding charges of disloyalty against Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer. That board was hearing witnesses in secret, a process which he believes would give the truth a fair chance of being developed and ultimately known to the public. He urges that Americans take a more active interest in foreign policy, as the Government was causing the taxpayers to furnish the money for wars while the youth furnished the cannon fodder. He questions whether the country was not "trying to dam up the stream rather than drying up its sources of water".

You should send a copy of your letter to the Vice-President.

A letter from an optometrist, the general program chairman for the 30th annual Southeastern Educational Congress of Optometry, which had been held at the Hotel Charlotte in late April, thanks the newspaper, especially reporters Emery Wister and Elizabeth Blair, for coverage of the conference.

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