The Charlotte News
Monday, May 8, 1939
Site Ed. Note: No doubt, Cash's own $200 per month salary at The News for writing pithy daily editorials caused him to be more than a little outraged when confronted with the news that Communists were obtaining almost twice that from government coffers for writing propaganda for causes inimical to the United States.
In "Press's Function", he tells the philosophy which would guide him and from which he would never falter or fade during his life as a writer, $200 a month or not, whether writing newspaper editorials or otherwise. When we look at the state of journalism today, by and large, whether by print or other media, we have to urge that it needs perhaps a refresher course in the old doctrine. To view it and read it in this age of cable television and twenty-four hour news, one would certainly tend to be swayed to believe that all the news fit to print or discuss, the "Hard News" in the community or the nation, is limited to sensational trials of movie stars or their local counterparts, ad hominem political stories, who sensationally murdered who in this or that burg or ville, or who got married, who didn't, and who took a powder and rode the bus to Las Vegas.
To gamble or not to. Ay, there's the rub.
Sure, the yellow stuff is the daily filler, has always been in varying degrees, but should not be the guiding light. Else it become the ignis fatuus--as the truer, broader concerns of the community are left as mere distractions alongside of the road, only to be discussed in the most studious of university classrooms. All to the probable ultimate end, if history is any lesson, that any old dogma, be it fascist or some similar machination, preached by any slick huckster with some form of charismatic appeal to the booby, may be promulgated of the moment and accepted by the populace at large as wise and true.
Lazy writers and commentators or too few of them, perhaps? The cart is guiding the horse because the horse is eating the hay piled on the cart, and the horse's blinders appear to prevent it from its usual function. Maybe it's time for another Federal Writers Project of a sort, done right this time.
But as the mayoral candidate in High Point then advised, let's keep all of the more important things shush-shush--for we wouldn't have wanted the country to know in May, 1939, after all, what was brewing abroad and in the land itself, would we have. So let's eat our yummy Rocky Road, full of nuts and marshmallows, and leave the thinkin' to them that's in the Know...and on the Q.T. Life is easier that way, hunny.
The Red Skill
Is the Government Really Bound To Preserve It?
The President's tender concern for the preservation of "skills" by the WPA is placed in a somewhat ironic light by the revelation that fourteen out of twenty-three Federal Writers Project supervisors in New York City are Communist pamphleteers, and that these gentle brethren are paid to the tune of 375 smackers a month.
A Red has to eat just like a normal man, certainly. It rather seems to us that the Comrades themselves might reasonably be expected to chip in and take care of the wounded Comrade who has been valiantly wielding the pen in behalf of the Cause. But $375 a month--can even a Red eat that much?
And for preserving their "skills"--well, maybe you can make out a general case for preserving the skill of genuinely talented painters and sculptors. But it is a little hard to understand why a writer's skill needs preserving. Even digging ditches isn't going to effect that, if it really exists. But grant the desirability of taking care of the really talented. And still--the skill of these Reds consists exactly and only in the writing of pamphlets to further the Communist cause. Is the Government bound to preserve the skill of a man at peddling doctrines designed to destroy it?
A Rocky Road
But If Russia Gets Together With Nazis, England Is Sold Out
It is possible, perhaps even probable, that Russia's present tactics are designed merely to force England's hand. And in any case, rapprochement between the Soviet land and Nazi Germany is a long way off yet. To reach it, Russia will have to collaborate (if only by neutrality) in making Germany completely master of Central Europe and placing the colossus thus created along her own western front--with the full knowledge that Hitler's prime stock in trade is treachery and contempt for his given word. And in both cases, the people will have to be prepared for the news that the real enemy of "civilization" is not, after all, Russia or Germany but the democracies, and that it has been a mistake all along--a process that will require some time even in lands where the propaganda ministers can manufacture public opinion to order.
Furthermore, there is Japan. It is not likely that Germany will be willing to break off the alliance with her, even for the most active assistance from Russia; for a threat to British and French interests in the East is an essential part of the Nazi plan of attack. And so it is probable that Russia will also have to agree to let her have China, as well as an adjustment of the Siberian border and the fisheries question, before a deal with the Nazis can be made.
But if the deal is made, then the British Tories have gambled the Empire into disaster. It seems clear enough now that their policy has been deliberately to strengthen Germany for the Drang nacht Osten--to the end of isolating and perhaps overthrowing the Russian regime, which they have considered to be the chief enemy of civilization as they desired it. But if Hitler and Stalin get together, they will have succeeded instead in raising up Nemesis for themselves. And their last hope of escaping an endless series of Munichs or a war they'll lose will be what they always seemed to have counted on: that in the showdown the United States will decide that, as a matter of pure self-interest, it cannot afford to see the British Empire destroyed. But in the present condition of opinion in this country, that does not seem at all certain.
A Loyal City Employee About To Be Discharged
L. L. Ledbetter, whom the Council is said to have marked for a pink slip, has been one of the most loyal City employees. As to the quality of his service as City Treasurer, that is for his superiors, being best acquainted with it, to pass upon. But as for the priceless ingredients of zeal and interest which he has brought to the job, we can testify.
The City owes its A-1 credit standing partly to Mr. Ledbetter. This employee has lost no opportunity to put in a good word about the City to bankers and brokers, where it would be worth something. 0n one pleasure trip north he spent part of his time calling on the municipal bond trade, and telling them how well-to-do was Charlotte. He has succeeded in getting an old black mark against the City's credit, which originated in Reconstruction days, eradicated and the stigma of default removed from the official rating. He has sent out financial statements to holders of City bonds, treating them much as though they were stockholders in a private enterprise, and they must have been impressed by the novel consideration. He has seen to it that the City's bonds were duly considered for the New York State and Massachusetts lists, which recognize only the best. His extra devotion, over and above the requirements of the place he has held, caused the manager of a local bond house to say last year:
"Mr. Ledbetter is working for Charlotte's interests, and he knows what he is doing. The public generally does not appreciate the value of his services."
Insofar as the reported move to displace Mr. Ledbetter may be based on dissatisfaction with his handling of office routine, it deserves to be qualified by his enterprise in extraordinary matters. Insofar as it may traced to simple politics, it is inexcusable.
Good Anti-War Propaganda, But Otherwise Debatable
As anti-war propaganda, the Lee Bill to conscript capital certainly should have considerable effect. The Senate Military Committee, without dissent, last week approved the bill, which would call for the taking of a "wealth census" and give the Government the right to place 1% bonds in amounts graduated according to the citizen's appraised capital. A person with net wealth of $1,000-$10,000, would be required to invest five per cent of it in bonds, and for millionaires the proportion would run out to three-fourths of their capital. Even this figure could be raised if it became necessary.
Objection to the bill may be raised on the tenable ground that it would result in much forced liquidation of assets for which there would be no takers. Certainly it would play havoc with the price of equities and securities that underlie production. In the worst case, the Government might be put in position of selling a family out of it its home or its means of livelihood.
Though, to be sure, if the Government, to win its wars, has the right to draft men's persons and expose them to the risk of destruction, it also has the right without dispute to draft money and things when this became necessary to win the war. The only possible question lies in whether it would serve to win the war or to lose it.
A High Point Gentleman Hits Wide of The Mark
Up in High Point a Mr. O. Arthur Kirkman is running for Mayor. And the other evening he told a group of voters that what High Point needed was a "better press"--declared "that High Point was often presented in an unfavorable light in news stories going out of the city by a press which, probably unintentionally, did not take care to put High Point in as favorable light as it should be put."
That is curious, for it is our own observation that High Point has an excellent press--one of the ablest and the fairest in the state. But the trouble with Mr. Kirkman, of course, is that he starts out, like a great many other people, with a false premise as to what ought to be the function of a press. In brief, as appears more clearly from some other remarks he made, he thinks it ought to be a sort of super booster.
In truth, however, the function of a newspaper, so far as its news columns go, is to report the facts of public interest, regardless of whom it puts into favorable or unfavorable light--to inform the people of events with as little coloring as is humanly possible. And as for its editorial policy--civic patriotism surely does not require that it be everlastingly shouting boasts from the housetops and shush-shushing unpleasant truths. On the contrary, a clear exposition of the evils and a sharp criticism may sometimes be the very best boost. If we may be pardoned the allusion, we believe thoroughly that the wide advertising of slum conditions here was one of the greatest services The Charlotte News could have rendered Charlotte. For, in the last analysis, it is the business of the newspaper to try to consider the best interests of its town in terms of the long pull, not in those of a bigger and better status quo.
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