The Charlotte News

Wednesday, February 26, 1941



Site Ed. Note: In "A Puzzler" Cash is taking on the same problem which apparently another writer, presumably Dowd, had taken on from a different angle the day before in "Hot Potato". We have pointed out this contrast in views before, as well as the considerable doubt that Cash wrote the other stance which advocates a much tougher stand on crime by the police and the courts as being the solution to the murder rate. The view expressed by Cash below is that the factors which could suggest the high murder rate, when isolated and compared to other cities with similar demographics or problems, fail to show any great dissimilarity in anything but the murder rate.

Perhaps Cash suggests the solution in the notion of the highly Puritanical code of conduct which used to mark Charlotte in those days, as distinct from other cities of a similar size. That, and the notion, as Cash pointed out in "The South in a Changing Word", his commencement address at the University of Texas on June 2, 1941, that the South as a whole had evinced such a moral code in combination with an historical tendency to violence.

Why does this unsettling combination exist? Is it in the gene pool? Is it the heat and humidity in summer, coupled with the sudden change to cabin fever in the winter? Is it the psychological notion that repression of instincts, especially when Puritanical moral ideals come into play, leads inevitably, if not re-channeled, to the venting of those instincts in violence?

Well, it is a hot potato and a puzzler. But we suggest the answer to it all lies somewhere in the inadequate facilities in communities for venting of repressed instincts in constructive, creative ways. Charlotte in those days had a poor library, so under-funded that it had ceased to exist for awhile. And little else was there readily accessible to the novice in the way of avenues for artistic expression, with the possible exception of aggressively creative driving--still also in great evidence in the South today. So…

A Puzzler

Explaining Town's Violence Is a Tough Problem

The town was making good on its reputation for violence yesterday and with a vengeance. Four felons escaped from County Jail at the point of a gun and a white man with a long criminal record cut a young policeman open with a knife.

Isolated instances, you might call them. But we are pretty sure that they are all part of a general picture of something--something which is perhaps not entirely clear but which is certainly sinister.

How does it really happen that this town which claims to be the greatest church-going town in the world, planted in a County famous for its piety and Puritan code since the earliest days, is the most murderous town in the United States and one of the most violent towns in the world?

The Negro? Slums? Poverty? Inefficient police organization and methods? Inefficient prosecution and weak judgments in the courts? Corruption spreading out poisonously from bootleg and racket rings?

Other Southern towns have far more Negroes in proportion, a murder rate of a third or a quarter ours. Other towns have slums as bad or worse, more poverty, inefficient police and courts, corruption.

Perhaps it is that here they have all come together in a peculiar combination that is lacking elsewhere--that opens the way wide to crime and particularly crimes of violence. Sometimes we suspect even that there is genuinely a spirit of anarchy present in the place--especially when we watch traffic conditions in the morning.

The thing obviously deserves harder and more systematic study than it has been given and an adequate program based on the findings.

A Test

Wheeler Exhibits Lack of Elementary Information

In the speech he made at the "peace" meeting in New York, before an audience packed with Joe McWilliams' Fascist Christian Fronters, Burton Wheeler referred to Canada as a "colony" of Great Britain and said flatly that the English King had the power to take the whole British Empire into war without consulting Parliament.

Canada is not a colony, but a co-equal dominion of the British Empire. It has absolute control over its own affairs and the absolute decision as to whether or not it will enter any war, regardless of England's being involved. It entered the war now going on only after it had carefully considered the matter, and of its own free will and accord.

The King of England is one of the least powerful heads of a government in the world. He has absolutely no power to declare war or take any other important decisions on his own account. He declares war only at the instructions of the Cabinet. And that Cabinet holds office at the will of Parliament. The failure of Parliament to support any measure taken by the Cabinet, any major bill backed by the Government, means that the Cabinet resigns and a new one is formed. Parliament actually has more effective control over the question of war or peace for England than Congress has in this country.

All this is elementary. But the fact that Burton Wheeler misrepresents the facts is illuminating. Either he is out deliberately to deceive the country and whip up hate for England. Or he confesses that he is making his decisions about a matter upon which the destiny of mankind hangs, out on an ignorance that would shame any high school boy.

Cautious Man

Roosevelt Uses Power He Already Has Very Timidly

The caution with which Mr. Roosevelt uses the powers which he already has suggests that the main thing to fear about those granted him under the Lend-Lease Bill is that he won't use them soon and fully enough.

The order establishing defense priorities in the aluminum and machine tool industries ought plainly to have been framed long ago. And that statement is not made merely on our own responsibility. In fact William Knudsen himself said as much when he complained that airplanes were being held up because of the shortage of aluminum.

Mr. Knudsen didn't say it, but it stands to reason that plane production could now be considerably higher than it is if the machine tool industry had been placed under priority orders immediately after the fall of France.

The President's reason for the delay seems to have been his new desire to get on the good side of business men and his reluctance to offend the powerful automobile industry in particular. He is right, of course, to try for as much unity in the country as possible. But his caution in this case seems over-timid and ill-advised.

Sensible and patriotic business men are aware that they, like everybody else, are going to have to make sacrifices. They are undoubtedly willing to do so. The occasional exceptions ought to have been disregarded long ago.

Missing Army

British May Intend To Gamble On Greek Defense

Where the Army of the Nile may be is a mystery which has all the military commentators busily surmising. That it is not now being used to complete the conquest of Libya by taking Tripoli appears certain, in view of the fact that this was a mere mopping-up operation which should have been completed by this time.

Mr. Churchill's remarks in his latest speech and Eden's visit to Turkey suggest that the British may be planning to maintain their toehold on the Continent at any cost, with a view to the ultimate invasion of Germany, and to give Greece all-out aid. There are rumors, indeed, that the Army of the Nile is already in Salonica.

If so, Hitler's plans are in for an upset. He has apparently hoped to bring the whole Balkan area, including Turkey, under his control without having to fight for it. But if Wavell's army is in Greece or is to go to Greece that easy triumph will be out, and the Nazis will undoubtedly have to strike soon.

To go forward with the attempt to invade England with Wavell's Australians planted at his rear would be a gamble which not even Hitler would care to risk.

On the other hand, the attempt to defend Salonica is a long gamble for the English. It means that supply lines for a large army must be maintained over 4,000 miles of sea--since Greece's resources are not even adequate for her own needs. The army which defended Salonica in the last war numbered 135,000 men. And if Hitler attacks in force, an even larger one will probably be needed this time.

The attempt easily could turn into another Gallipoli or Dunkerque. But Mr. Churchill is no man to flinch from great risks.



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