The Charlotte News

Tuesday, January 10, 1939


Site Ed. Note: As to "A Boorish Exercise", Cash, while always remaining steadfast to his belief in absolute freedom of speech and the press, would markedly alter his view of the Lindberghs, practically, but not quite, suggesting Lindbergh as a Nazi by spring, 1941, after his speech in Madison Square Garden to an America First rally full of Bundists, and Mrs. Lindbergh, as a collaborator for her later book, The Wave of the Future, positing Nazism and Fascism as a stabilizing force in Europe to thwart Communism. Regardless, the tenor of the piece, and especially its last sentence, especially directed in defense of someone of tarnished image of the day and for whom Cash demonstrated little tenderness even before the outrages of 1941, has much to say to our society today since September 11, 2001.

And the phrase "nigger in the woodpile" never had, in our opinion, the better and so profound an application as that to which Cash employs it, aptly, in "Mysterious Brawl".

Too, from whatever the Right might have taken comfort or not in the posture and remonstrances of Professor Frankfurter, undoubtedly they were disappointed that he didn't yell "Fire!" in a crowded classroom.

Comfort For Conservatives

It may be that a gloomy gentleman of the Right will read sinister significance in the AP's report that Felix Frankfurter, soon to become a member of the Supreme Court, "perched himself comfortably on the back of a chair (italics ours) today to conduct his Harvard law class in 'public utilities'." That is plainly an unorthodox stance, and so quite possibly, in these days of signs and omens and strange appearances in the sky, open to cabalistic interpretation, particularly when set in conjunction with the baleful acrostic, "public utilities." And what will unquestionably confirm the gloomy suspicions of the dexter wing is that in the course of his lecture, the professor quoted approvingly the words of the late Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Let's don't quote the dictionary; let's let the dictionary quote us."

But, ah, let them pluck up heart, these Rightists. After all, there were other signs in that report, too. Thus, after being greeted with a burst of applause on his entry, the Professor remarked dryly in the best professorial manner: "Thank you--but it won't make the course any easier." And observing a number of visiting students standing at the back of the room with cigarettes in their hands he growled: "Remember, gentlemen, there are still fire laws and other regulations to be observed."

And that, as you'll note if you ever went to college, all adds up to a mighty portent that as things were they shall be.

Mysterious Brawl

What the sudden fighting between Czechoslovaks and Hungarians is about is a puzzle. The differences in the two countries were supposed to have been settled long ago, at Lord Hitler's orders, by the handing over of a considerable portion of Czechoslovakia to Hungary. Hungary, indeed, wanted more, but was ordered to be satisfied with what she got, which was supposed to settle that.

But she has kept on growling and grumbling, quite as though she thought she were a sovereign power in her own right. Indeed, she went so far, in collaboration with Poland, as to try to put a spoke in Lord Hitler's wheel by grabbing off Ruthenia, through which he proposes to engineer his Ukrainian invasion. And so it may be that Lord Hitler is out to teach her the same lesson he has lately been drilling into Poland--that she is sovereign only when he chooses for her to be. And at the same time, he may be trying to make himself solid with the Czechs, whom he was lately despoiling, by now posing as their protector and champion.

In any case, it is quite impossible to tell from the dispatches what caused the brawl or who ordered or instigated it. It does appear, however, that the Czechoslovaks began the shooting, and, since their state is now a Nazified stooge of Hitler's Germany, it is improbable that they acted thus without prompting. About all that is fairly plain is that Adolf is somehow the nigger in the woodpile. But what purpose may be behind it we can only guess until he shows his hand.

Brief Case History

M. M. Grey, whom the Board of Commissioners discharged yesterday from his position as superintendent of the County Home, is no stranger to the pink slip. Some five or six years ago Mr. Grey, at that time welfare superintendent, was held to be unsuitable for the place by the State Board of Charities and Public Welfare, which refused to certify him for re-appointment. A State investigation of the County Welfare Department under his stewardship professed the declaration that he was a poor executive and lacked the ability to organize his office. He was charged with feeding welfare employees and others--as many as fifteen a day--at the County's expense, to which his defense was that it was done to expedite the work of the department.

The County Commissioners and the County Board of Education balked at firing their welfare superintendent, but the State Board (Mrs. Bost) prevailed. Judge Wade H. Williams was appointed to his place. That was in October 1933, and by December Mr. Grey had been made superintendent of the County Home on the death of the incumbent. He had held the position ever since.

It became the fashion, however, for successive Grand Juries to question the cost of running the County Home and the farm and dairy that are operated in conjunction with it. The last Grand Jury, under Foreman Joe Garibaldi, made several specific and positive recommendations which led to the appointment of a special committee of County Commissioners to look into the several enterprises. It was the adoption of that committee's report yesterday which turned out Mr. Grey.

Dampened Expectations

Take the aggregate of proposed State expenditures for the next two years--$154,514,899--and the taxpayers' immediate and outspoken response is, "Ouch!" Expenditures are at an all-time high, at that. But take a few of the many comparatively small items which make up this total--such, say, as the Commission for the Blind's request for $55,494 and its allotment of $31,044, or the State Orthopedic Hospital's request for $145,511 and its allotment of $112,587--and this record budget is broken down into a record of moderate, penny-wise expectations which, even so, the State is unable to fulfill.

There is something pathetic about it, and something grimly antipathetic in contrast to the magnificence of Federal budgets these last few years. Nearly every appropriation the State makes, exclusive of highways, has an intimate, direct effect on the welfare of individual North Carolinians. These individuals may be in need of care or training of some kind, as in the case of old age benefits and educational, charitable and correctional institutions, or they may depend upon the State as their employer. The $26,000,000 for an eight-month school term, for example, goes almost entirely for teachers' salaries, and while the whole sum is large, its parts, representing the livelihoods of many gentlefolk, are modest indeed.

And so, throughout, it goes. The State, unlike the Federal Government, limits its appropriations to the money that it can raise within the limits of its people's ability to pay taxes. No lifting by the bootstraps here in North Carolina. Only, instead, a vast need and a vast inability to supply it in full measure.

A Boorish Exercise

At East Hyde Park, N. Y., Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Listen, the Wind has been barred from the town library. Says Mr. J. Edwin Russell, commander of the town's American Legion post, town clerk, and member of the library commission in explanation:

"We are faced with the grave menace of anti-Americanism in this country, both from the Nazis and the Communists, and it is time we wake up. I just don't believe our taxpayers should give money and book royalties to people like the Lindberghs."

After reading that, we are convinced that we are in great danger in this country--the danger of succumbing to sheer churlish idiocy.

It is the privilege of anybody, of course, to dislike Colonel Lindbergh. But it now appears that his activities in Germany and Russia have been directed to the patriotic task of gathering information for his own country. In any case, nobody in his senses ever suspected him up being a Fascist or Communist. But suppose he had been? Suppose the book in question were his own? Suppose it openly plumped for Fascism or Communism? To suppress it would still be the most un-American act of all. For it is the prime law of the historic American tradition that every man must have the right to be heard, regardless of what he has to say.

The book, however, is not Lindbergh but his wife's. One of the most beautiful pieces of prose written in recent years, it has nothing to do with politics of any kind but is a simple straightforward account of a woman's thoughts and feelings as she travels about through the air with her husband. If it can be suppressed as Fascist or Communist, then so can Gone With the Wind or Northwest Passage or the Holy Bible. And if it is fair to retaliate upon Lindbergh by banning his wife's beautiful book, then it is fair to retaliate upon Dorothy Thompson by banning Sinclair Lewis.

Write it down in the book: we cannot save Americanism by destroying the whole spirit of Americanism and making ourselves into imbeciles and boors.


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