The Charlotte News
Monday, October 2, 1939
Site Ed. Note: "No Wall" presents the sad plight of the lack of an open library in Charlotte, especially sad to insatiable readers like Cash. This was still at a time when Cash had some remaining work left on The Mind of the South, though it was meandering toward its finish in July, 1940. Cash was relegated to spending most of his meager income and then some on the books he could muster from local book shops. By the time he received his Guggenheim grant of $2,000 in May, 1941, he owed not a few personal debts which he attributed to his book buying. As we have pointed out before at this site, however, that vacuum has long been filled in Charlotte by one of the finest public libraries in a city its size anywhere in the country. Yet, they still don't have any overt recognition in their hallways of Mr. Cash--though this omission would likely not trouble him. He would be too busy searching through the books to notice.
As to "A Borrower", it should be noted that the Bank of Boston made loans to William Rhodes Davis in 1938 and 1939 to finance the shipment of oil from Mexico to Germany through the time of the British blockade after September 1, 1939.
We Have No Need For An Author's Portrait Here
Up in Greensboro, the other evening, we see by the papers, they had a formal business of presenting and accepting a portrait of O. Henry, who was born and bred there, to hang on the Greensboro library wall.
So far as we can recall at the moment, John V. A. Weaver is about the only American author born in Charlotte who is sufficiently entrenched on Parnassus to justify hanging his portrait on a library wall. But there is no use to go looking for a portrait of him, seeing that Charlotte has no library wall on which to hang it. Or at least that, if the wall is there, there would be nobody to look at the portrait save the caretaker and the mice.
There was a movement some time ago to get the library open again, though we have heard nothing of it recently. Is it dead?
Surely, it was never more desirable to have it open than at present when there is a war going on in Europe which, willy-nilly, involves the lives and fortunes of every person in America, including Charlotte. The minds of the people have never been more full of questions than now, and the library would have helped to throw light on a good many of them, for, in addition to the regular reference works, it had a pretty good collection of books dealing with the last war and its aftermath.
Are the people in the town actually so apathetic that they are going to let the place stay closed indefinitely out of sheer lack of interest and energy?
Hitler Can Get Credit Here, While Allies Can't
The danger of acts of Congress which attempt to tie our hands in international affairs by laying down hard-and-fast rules to deal with conditions no one can accurately foresee, has been admirably demonstrated by the present neutrality law. The labors of such great and astute statesmen as William Edgar Borah have brought us into a quandary where we either have to continue actively to aid Hitler to win the war or officially confess that our sympathies are not neutral.
Of the same sort is the Johnson Act, which forbids any bank or individual to make loans to a belligerent nation which owes us a World War debt on which it is in arrears. But Germany, as it happens, owes us no war debt, because she was our enemy in the last war and because of various skullduggeries she has practiced on our late allies and ultimately ourselves. So, while England and France are barred from our money market, Germany isn't.
In point of fact, of course, no bank or individual will want to make loans to Germany as a financial enterprise. But there are in this country some 3,000,000 Germans, many thousands of whom are active Nazi sympathizers. And besides the Germans, there are plenty of other friends of the Nazis. All these will be enabled, not only to send contributions to Germany but also to use their resources here to arrange credits for Germany--credits which, if she cannot use them to buy American goods because of the British blockade, can easily be transferred to other countries from which she is still able to import.
Ah, well, then, that being so, why of course Senator Johnson will be the first man to want the bill amended? In a way he does. He wants it amended, indeed, to bar England and France from getting even the 90-day credits which count in international trade as cash. But he does not at all want the bill extended to include all belligerents. That, you see, might offend Germany. And besides--it would draw the teeth of the spitefulness toward the war debtors which wrote this bill in the first place.
There Are Two Sides To Military Training In The CCC
Whether the people of the United States like this or that sort of neutrality, there seems to be almost unanimous agreement that a little military training for CCC boys would be a good thing. The American Legion, at its convention, went on record in favor of such training in modified form, provided that it should be voluntary.
The CCC boys, we dare say, would be for it in a minute. In fact, this appears to be one kind of preparedness that everybody is for and nobody against. So why not proceed?
Well, the Civilian Conservation Corps is essentially what its name implies. As an emergency relief measure, it is expensive in the extreme, its 300,000 enrolees costing the government $1,200 a year apiece. The chief justification for this expenditure is the service rendered in conserving national resources of soil and timber, not to mention humanity. If the CCC should be turned into a semi-military establishment, it would have to be at the expense of its other functions.
Also, the argument might be made that if this country is going in for military training of its youth, it by no means should be confined to youth of the relief class. Soap-box orators would be sure to say that in case of war this would amount to putting the less fortunate into the front-line, exposing them to extermination and bearing out Prof. Malthus's theory that war serves a grim purpose. It does seem reasonable to suppose that the CCC boys, being advanced in their training, would be among the first to go.
This Neutrality Policy Going To Be Expensive
Al Smith expresses himself as being confident the ban on the entry of American ships into "danger zones," as contained in the proposed substitute neutrality act, will certainly keep us out of war. And that view is widely shared.
Nevertheless, it is perhaps as well not to expect any magic results from this provision. It will certainly operate to prevent incidents with Germany over the sinking of our ships, unless she deliberately goes out of her way upon the high seas to attack them. But it may be questioned that it goes very far, in view of the fact that she sank very few American ships prior to our entrance into the last war.
The large number of Americans lives claimed by U-boats from 1915 to 1917 was accounted for almost entirely by those who were traveling in the ships of other nations. And so it may well be that the prohibition of the travel of Americans in the bottoms of belligerents will have more practical value than the ban on American ships against entering "danger zones."
In any case, the thing promises to present us with a serious problem. If honestly applied, it means the immediate closing of the European trade to our shipping, for there is, of course, no area of European waters which is not already in strict reality a "danger zone." And that promises to become more true as time goes on.
But it happens that our trade with Europe represents nearly half of our total foreign trade. And that more than half of our trading ships regularly ply to Europe.
There is a widespread notion that we can make up for the loss in Europe by concentrating on the South American trade. But in point of fact, our trade with South America is less than a third of our trade with Europe. As for grabbing off the markets of the European powers--England and France need South American products and will probably continue their trade there, at least until, and if, they are so crippled that they no longer can.
Our main prospect for gain in the South American quarter lies in taking over the German market. But that comes only to about a quarter of a billion dollars a year--about equal to the loss of our own market in Germany.
Moreover, the raw materials which represent the main part of what South America has to sell are the same raw materials of which we already have abundant supplies. And our tariffs and generally high living standards make it difficult for us to expand our Latin American trade.
In may be that a good many of the ships will be able to find employment on other trade routes than those to Europe by crowding out the ships of other nations. But that is dubious, in view of the greater labor costs, etc., of the American ships.
In all probability we are going to be in the position of tying up hundreds of our ships. And that a time, mind you, when we are busily engaged in building the ships to expand our merchant marine.
We are not here arguing that the ban on "danger zones" should be omitted. On the whole, we think it ought to be left in. But it is as well to understand what we are going to pay for it. This neutrality is going to be extremely costly.
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