The Charlotte News

Thursday, July 25, 1940



The Heat Reaction

Americans Make a Jest of What They Can't Change

In a Western town the traffic cops complained that the pavement burned their feet. To prove the point and suppress the giggles, they got a thermometer and measured pavement heat. It was 128 degrees. Out in Death Valley it was probably doing better than that, though Scotty hadn't been in to report.

And in Charlotte it was doing nearly as well, maybe quite as well. Anyhow, the cops at Independence Square shifted about a great deal, and the pavement was rapidly turning into goo.

Curious thing about it all, however, was that everybody took it good naturedly. Days of the heat wave had everybody worn down, of course. There isn't much sleep these nights unless you have air-conditioning in your bedroom, which most people haven't. But there was little evidence of ragged nerves and irritability. Some people swore at the heat, but they grinned as they swore; and you saw that they made a joke of it as much as the people who openly set up to joke about it.

It is a characteristically American reaction. What they can't do anything about they accept philosophically and with good humor. And nobody can do anything about the heat. If he can, our new telephone number is 3-0303. Ask for the Ivory Tower.


Theme Song

Wheeler Goes On Insisting Hitler Doesn't Exist

Bounding Burt Wheeler, Senator from Montana, plainly has his own private theme song--"There Ain't No Bears Out Tonight!" He sings it on all possible and impossible occasions. His presence hovered over even the Republican National Convention at Philadelphia and persuaded the platform committee to advise the American people that war can be avoided simply by sitting at home and hugging our shores around us. And at Chicago he forced the Democratic platform committee into the same thing.

And now he comes forward to declare that peace-time conscription is the same method that Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin use, and that the Democratic Party will commit suicide if it passes the Burke-Wadsworth Bill.

In point of fact, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin had nothing to do with inventing universal military service. In the high and happy days of the Athenian republic, it was already in use. Switzerland has preserved herself as a democracy longer than any nation in Europe by means of it. France has had it for a hundred years, and turned military and Fascist only after being conquered.

Moreover, if the polls of public opinion are to be believed, the majority of those eligible for service under the proposed law are in favor of it. Which hardly sounds as though it meant suicide for the Democratic Party.

The plain fact about military conscription is that few Americans actually want it. The vast majority undoubtedly deplore it as a departure from the tradition of the republic. They deplore war, too. But they also have some realism, and observing what Hitler is doing in Europe and in Latin-America, conclude that safety cannot be insured, war avoided, simply by joining Burt Wheeler in joyously carolling. "There Ain't No Bears Out Tonight!"


Venial Sin

Earl Long Is Charged Only With Political Malpractice

It has been a bad year for crooked politicians in Louisiana. Governor Leche, Seymour Weiss, Dr. Smith and dozens of lesser fry have had the finger of Uncle Sam on them, and now that a new crowd has come into power in the State, the fingering process goes on through the means of State agencies.

They think that at last they've got Governor Earl Long, one of the grossest demagogues that ever put himself over on a susceptible people. The indictment charges that he padded a Dock Board pay roll with sixteen deadheads during the week preceding the run-off primary. They say that it is only the first in a series of actions against him. Let us hope so.

For padding public pay rolls to win elections is standardized political practice. Why, a year or so ago in Kentucky they had a race for the United States Senate which saw a Federal machine and a State machine pitted against each other. The padding on both sides was far more reprehensible than this comparatively picayunish affair with which Louisiana confronts Earl Long.

There is a recognized difference between graft to win elections and to keep political machines oiled, and graft that comes into some politician's pocket. They come to about the same thing, morally, but one is tolerated and the other is not.

So they really haven't got Earl yet, not, at least, for a worse offense than almost any politician can be got for when he loses out and another crowd takes over.


A Top Spins

Robert Seems To Be on All Sides of This Question

The Hon. Robert Rice Reynolds has changed his mind. Leastwise, that is the only charitable assumption.

For years and years the statesman from North Carolina has labored to have the U.S. grab the British and French possessions in this hemisphere and charge 'em off to war debts. There was always the probability that they would land us in war with England and France, but Robert, who was determined that we should not go to war with Germany, where he had been treated very kindly on a visit in 1938, did not seem to mind that.

In season and out he plugged away on the floor of the Senate for the grab, filling literally hundreds of pages in the Congressional Record (at $84 a page).

But on June 6, 1940, the great man performed a sudden startling about-face. Then it looked as though Adolf were going to gobble up not only France but England without even stopping for breath. And on that day Robert arose in the Senate to deliver himself as follows, with reference to a resolution reaffirming the adherence of the United States to the 117-year old Monroe Doctrine:

"This resolution means simply that we today serve notice on Hitler that, should he win the European war, we will not stand for his taking over English, French or other possessions in the Western Hemisphere. This is nothing more than an implied declaration of war against Hitler should he make such a move... In other words we are saying to the Nazis that, should they win the war, that (sic) they cannot take over the Bahamas, Jamaica, and other rich possessions along the coast of South America and Central America. I will never vote to send our soldiers out of this country to fight over small islands that are of no use to us, and which are occupied by an admixture of people who have nothing in common with us."

But on Monday, July 22, 1940, the great man was on the floor of the Senate again, this time to fill up eight pages in the Congressional Record (at $84 a page). This time it looked as though there were a chance that England might survive, after all. And now Robert went back to the old stand and devoted his $672 worth of words entirely to the proposition that we must grab these islands at any cost.

He did not, indeed, think them rich possessions now. He said they were economic liabilities. But he did suddenly think they were of very great use to us--absolutely necessary to our defense. It was unfortunate that we waited until the French islands fell under Hitler's sway. We should have grabbed them from France. It was going to be awfully embarrassing to have to grab them from Mr. Hitler.

Up arose Colleague Lundeen. Of course the Senator meant to include the possessions of Denmark and Holland along with the French and British possessions? And of course the Senator was not a defeatist and was willing to use armed force to get the islands, all of them, if necessary, even from Mr. Hitler? Well, yes, said Robert. There was the Monroe Doctrine. He said:

"If ever we are called upon to give the blood of American sons in battle to defend the shores of America, let that blood be spilt in the Atlantic or in the Pacific, and let not one drop of it be spilt upon the fertile soil of America. To assure us of that we must of necessity be the possessors of these islands, so that if fighting ever takes place by the fighting forces of America, the fighting will occur outside the continental United States."

Let the reader set that against the bold type above [in italics] and reconcile the two declarations if he can.


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