The Charlotte News

Saturday, May 20, 1939



Site Ed. Note: In "Nose Thumbing", Cash reminds that the Nazi Party was not, in early 1939 at least, demonstrative of the entire German will and populace. Indeed, Hitler and the Nazis had come to power in 1933 with a mere plurality, consisting of one-third of the German popular vote, the chancellorship having been arranged for him by Hindenberg and the old guard to neutralize growing power among the Social Democrats. They thought improvidently in the process that they could play marionettist to Hitler and his gang. But predators of course always play a little game of deception in their pretense to the role of manipulandum. Hold out weak and empty promises in the one hand while holding in the other the threat of violence and terrorism for failure to offer booty for the promise of "protection". Promote enough stooges who haven't sense to get out of the rain to high and exalted status to keep in check the ordinary mass from whence they came. And of course, promote all which is parochial and nationalistic, or suits these ends--art, thought, invention--no matter how pedestrian, over that which is peregrine, that which instills the sense that something other than the parochial exists. In so doing, yet more of the stooges are cultivated down below for ready use when the time comes.

And just as one cannot fix blame on all Germans for the ravages of the Nazis, one cannot forget that Nazi mentality is far older than the Nazi Party, itself, indeed, as old as recorded history; it is any form of mentality, hallmarked by megalomania, substituting without chagrin "I" and "Mine" for "Thou" and "Your", which seeks to regulate in little or in large the conduct of a person--any person--as target-object by stripping away first civil liberties to which others in the society are provided not only full access, but to which access is provided for the very purpose of depriving this target-object of liberty through any machination deemed palatable of the moment by significant enough numbers--until the thing is fully formed in the society. Then, to strip away from the target-object reputation and finally life itself. But, for the conscience to be at ease with itself lording over its freshly sated bloody jowls, even death of the prey is not yet enough: the soul thus becomes the quarry, to vanquish any hint of lasting human esteem in the target-object, to enable the continuing rationalization that the good of all is served by its elimination not only from the physical world but from the very consciousness of all humanity, thus even from the spiritual realm, as it is a thing, not human. And that inevitably shreds it fully, that is the soul and quasi-reality of the predacious. For to destroy any part of humanity is to become that which is finally destroyed. It is an irrevocable compact we as humans make with our conscience in exchange for birth into life.

It can happen literally anywhere if given a foothold. It starts as the incredibly dumb, vapid, and impotent, the risk taken with nothing left to lose, slapping a number on the wheel, hoping to hit the jackpot--the thing which slanders and libels and puffs, even manufactures, its own weak credential for profit and self-aggrandizement, and then slowly leaks upward, eliminating opposition of the intellect as it goes--akin to a viral infection. Yet, this virion's capsid being that only finally of itself, becomes ultimately the weakest fortification against the inexorable and resistless intrusion of the external world, the realization that others beyond the clubbish thing, do exist, and with powers and abilities superior to that which remains only the calumnious mediocrity without foundation beyond its own mendacity and mendacious confrontation with all without. For mediocrity breeds perforce for its own defense, calumny, and calumny in turn promotes the continued existence of mediocrity, until all that remains in the club is that which is both mediocre and calumnious.

Perhaps, a new name for this state of mind is thus born, Club Calummed, doing business as Viral Association of Calumnious Usurpers United in Mediocrity--VACUUM, for short. You will know them by the ease with which they slander and otherwise lie.

For The Record

But Chamberlain's Pleas To Germany Are Not Without Their Danger

Mr. Chamberlain's continued efforts to hold out the olive branch to Hitler may be intended entirely for home consumption--to put himself on record with his own people and ours as having exhausted every possible hope for peaceful settlement with Germany before giving it up. Certainly, it seems impossible that he can have much real hope that Hitler would give effective guarantees to renounce aggression. The only way Hitler's guarantee could possibly mean anything would be for the Führer to begin to cut down his military establishment, or at least to stop expanding it. And that is about as likely as that he will suddenly take to the ideas and ways of the Little Brother to the Birds. For if the armament business slowed up in Germany, unemployment would rapidly reappear, and with it new and more pressing economic difficulties for a Reich already on the brink of collapse.

On the other hand, the Chamberlain pronouncements involve one quite plain danger--that they may be interpreted by the German people as spelling weakness and indecision. At least that the Government may use them to foster such a notion among the people, and so persuade them that it is quite safe to go on all along the hi-jacking road--a thing which at the moment they seem to be skeptical of. The reaction in Berlin to Mr. Chamberlain's remarks yesterday, was certainly of that sort. All that appeared was laughter and renewed boasts that Germany is invincible--a notion which is exactly calculated to reconcile the German people to the prospect of war.


A Good Book*

But It Lags Sadly Back Into The Middle Ages

The Department of Commerce's "Statistical Abstract of the United States" for 1938 has arrived, as it arrives each Spring. It is a formidable looking tome, composed entirely of long rows of figures running up and down 848 pages. But it is an immensely valuable one for editors, and we go often to it. For in its pages you can find out almost anything that calls for exact figures--the area and population of the states, the density of population per square mile, the number of births in any state and the excess of births over deaths or vice-versa, the strength and distribution of the national guard, the exports and imports of the United States to and from any given country, the total value of farm or manufactured products for any state, the size of value the cotton crop, mineral resources, the extent and cost of Government irrigation projects, the cost to the Government of irrigation projects, the cost of American Government from the beginning, and ten thousand other bright things like that.

But the book is by no means so valuable as it might be. There is one great glaring hole in it. It lags sadly. The export and commerce figures in the new volume, for instance, end with 1937 instead of 1938. And the figures for state and local debts end with 1933. Nor are these isolated instances. Excuse for it? We have never believed that there was one, save the prerogative of Government officials and clerks to take their own good time. And indeed, so much has been almost admitted in a recent Department of Commerce announcement that hereafter they intend to bring the reports more closely up to date.


A Union*

In Which The Wachovia And The Charlotte National Both Gain

One of the things this section of the country has lacked woefully has been capital. Natural resources it has in abundance, and of late has either been developing or importing the technological skill to exploit them. But money, money concentrated in sufficient quantity to serve the needs of great industrial enterprises is something that has had to be ordered off for.

The management of the Wachovia Bank & Trust Co., first established in Winston-Salem, perceived this deficiency and set about to correct it in the territory it served. It began to divert transactions in credit from the usual sources in New York to itself, in the process adding to its resources and the supply of credit. It made the discovery that Southern industry preferred, in simple consistency and for reasons of loyalty, to do its banking business at home whenever possible, and it found that by drawing on this credit at home the supply of credit was actually increasing--self-augmented, so to speak.

And so the Wachovia has grown until today it is exceptional both in size and in management. And it was entirely a logical further expansion that it should establish an office in Charlotte, already the industrial and financial center of the Carolinas. Its merger with the Charlotte National Bank, an institution with a long and honorable history, gives it recognized local identity and simultaneously broadens the scope and enhances the opportunity of the Charlotte Bank. Indeed, this looks to be one of those rare instances where both parties to the transaction come out on top. The city as well is gainer in the bargain.


Nose Thumbing

This Sort Of Thing Doesn't Aid The Cause Of Civilization

In Orange, N. J., the First German Presbyterian Church has changed its name. In the future, it will be known as the Williams Street Presbyterian Church. "The word 'German' is not very popular with people here," explains the pastor.

All of which sounds a good deal like Boss Hague, or Orange's proletarian neighbor, Jersey City--in reverse. And suggests that it is about time we were hauling up in our flight into hysteria. Adolf Hitler justly enjoys the hatred and contempt of civilized men and women, so far as they are free to get at the facts to judge him. But it is to be remembered that the German people are not free to get at the facts--that they are his prisoners mentally as well as physically. They have their national faults, but so have we; and at bottom they are neither better nor worse than any other people. They have been betrayed into their present unhappy plight through a very natural sense of having been wronged by other nations and through very natural national aspirations. And there are signs that they were beginning to break away--that they will break away if the world is not involved in general disaster by the madman who rules them before they have time to get fully at the facts.

We went off the deep end with this sort of thing in the last war. Even sauerkraut had its name changed dreadfully to liberty cabbage; people with German names who had been in America since before the Revolution, found themselves suspected as spies; and the glorious music of Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms was denied to our ears. Such stuff is utterly silly--even when we are at war. The German people have been one of the great civilized peoples of the world. They will yet be that again, if Hitler does not play a Samson to them. But in any case whatever, what they have contributed to civilization will stand fast forever and it is puerile and ridiculous to attempt to deny it, to hate them as a whole people, and to try to retaliate upon the Nazis by blotting the great German name from our view.


Lost Belief

Tree Rings Don't Tell The Age Of The Trees

Another old favorite belief is out. From the oldest times men have gone on measuring the age of trees by the number of their rings--allowing one ring a year. And not only the simple folk. That was what they taught in college courses in Botany. But now, behold: a pair of Texas scientists turn out to tell the American Association for the Advancement of Science that it's all a mistake.

Trees, they say, don't necessarily or even usually grow just one ring a year. Instead they lay down a ring every time their supply of moisture runs low. And so in districts and times when their rain supply is plentiful throughout the season, they may and commonly do lay down just one ring. But let an uneven season with a drought or two in it come along, and they form two, three, or even more rings.

The archeologists who have been computing the age of extinct civilizations by tree rings are going to have to count all over again. And that one about the sequoia that started growing before the topless towers of Ilium tumbled down, begins to seem a sad mistake. It is all very disquieting, and not only to the scientists but to us. It leaves us in dread that one of these days some bright boy is going to bob up and to deprive us of the last fixed truth on which we have based our existence, by telling us that turtles to let go before it thunders.


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