The Charlotte News

Monday, November 21, 1938


Site Ed. Note: Regarding "The Pacifist Argument", there certainly was no harm in 1938, with the Nazi-Fascist war machine plainly on the march in Europe and the Japanese war machine plainly on the march in China and Southeast Asia, in the Administration trying to stimulate re-armament against a tide of dissent on the part of the America Firster crowd and the isolationists generally, comprising at the time about half the country. The argument in full by genuine pacifists was basically that armament encourages use of that armament, mobilization for the sake of exercising it, once the military hierarchy is given command of significant equipment and men to make war. While there is historical truth in that argument, these particular times could not stand by indifferent to that which was going on abroad, plain usurpation of sovereign governments, destruction of the rights of peoples for their national origin, their religion, their non-"Aryan" status. For, aside from the human rights arguments to be made, the plain intent of Hitler was to be master of the earth, making the rest either his puppet dictators or his economic slaves.

But that was 1938. Hitler and Mussolini and Stalin are all dead. Soviet-style Communism, while not dead, is of little note anywhere these days.

The United States by far and away has the most mighty military on earth. And the most mighty means for establishing economic sanctions and blockade to achieve whatever result is just and desirable, in accord with the peaceful nations of the earth, without accomplishing such ends by waging war, and certainly not offensive, "pre-emptive" war.

That is what the maintenance of this mighty war machine is or ought to be about, not the making of war as an exercise every now and then to insure everything is nicely oiled and working, but the prevention of warfare.

And, ultimately, it is the American people to whom this Administration and this Congress must answer. When two-thirds say no, it is time for the Government to respond with concordant action. Yet, the Republicans--and it is fair to blame this on one party at this juncture, though by no means at this point all of that party--stubbornly resist the will of the people. Next, the people will and should take to the streets and parks in protest of their Government as is their right, peaceably to assemble and to petition for redress of grievances. A government no longer responsive to its constituency is a Government no longer in control of its charge to govern. This Government, on its present course, by its majority, heaves itself very close if not over that precipitous juncture between democracy and despotism.

We also reproduce the first few paragraphs of Hugh Johnson's piece, praising a recent appointment by FDR of Alf Landon for a showing in it of bi-partisanship, but criticizing generally the New Deal as being too prone to its own in appointments to key positions in the Administration. Indeed, the Administration would make a decisive correction in this regard. FDR appointed as Secretary of Navy in 1940 Republican Frank Knox, an anti-New Dealer, who ran as vice-presidential nominee with Landon in 1936; he served until his death in 1944. Roosevelt would elevate Harlan Fiske Stone, appointed from his post as Attorney General by President Coolidge to the Supreme Court in 1925, to Chief Justice in 1941 upon the retirement of Charles Evans Hughes, a Hoover appointee to the Chief Justice position, formerly appointed as associate justice by President Taft, before resigning to run for president as a Republican in 1916. Wendell Willkie, although previously a Democrat, would lose to FDR in the general election of 1940 as the Republican nominee, but would be appointed by Roosevelt as his personal representative in England, the Soviet Union, China and the Middle East in 1941-42.

In any event, the notion posed by Johnson below is one which serves any administration well, especially one which has come to power by slender vote margins. Unity is achieved not by cramming some unwanted agenda down the throats of half or over half the country by a bunch of partisans with special-interest campaigns yelling directions in their ears.

The Nation Faces Adolf

By Hugh S. Johnson

Chicago, Ill.--The appointment of Mr. Landon to the Lima conference was a fine thing for the President to do--intelligent and patriotic even beyond its surface appearance. In times of great stress, this country has always closed up its ranks against exterior enemies no matter how hard its factions fought at home.

The 1916 election was so close that its outcome was not certain for 24 hours. Yet, within a few months we were at war. Never did this nation give a greater example of its solidarity. In positions in government you couldn't tell a Democrat from a Republican until close to the end of the War when a Cabinet member persuaded Mr. Wilson to draw the party line in a victory election. It was a tragic--even fatal mistake.

Before that Mr. Wilson put more Republicans than Democrats in key positions. The Commander of the AEF, General Pershing, was as near to being a Republican as any army officer can be to any party. The Fuel Administrator, Dr. Garfield, was a Republican. So, as it turned out, was the Food Administrator, Mr. Hoover. The War Labor Policy Board--ancestor of the present Labor Relations Board--was headed by a former Republican President--Mr. Taft. The most important district draft board had for its chairman, Charles Evans Hughes, the narrowly defeated 1916 candidate. Key positions in the War Industries Board were nearly all held by Republicans. It was a Republican, Julius Kahn, who was responsible for the Draft Act. In all army and navy promotions, politics were absolutely eliminated for the first time in our history.

The German challenge then, as now, was a challenge to democracy. Under Mr. Wilson's leadership, this country proved that under war stresses democracy can thus make a collection of itself and be more efficient in both industrial and man-power mobilization than any dictatorship. If Mr. Wilson had continued that policy in the 1918 election and in appointing American delegates to the peace conference, it is possible to believe that the whole post-war history of the world might have been happily different.

Up to the Landon appointment, there has been absolutely none of this in New Deal appointments...

Further Note: Johnson goes on to urge the appointment of Herbert Hoover to oversee the Jewish resettlement problems of Europe, recommended by his having "solved kindred problems" in Belgium, Germany, Russia and the Near East during World War I, referring to Hoover's handling of food and clothing distribution in Belgium, his chairmanship of the American Relief Commission which enabled 150,000 displaced Americans in Europe to get home, and helped to feed millions of starving people in the Soviet Union in the famine there after the War in 1921-23, as well as his direction of other European relief efforts during the War. Hoover, however, was not so appointed and sat on the sidelines during World War II, after touring Europe as a private citizen in 1938.

Make a Day of It

By all means, as Councilman Baxter intends to ask, rumors and charges which have been discussed by the Civil Service Commission should be gone into fully and thoroughly by the whole City Council. This is due the City officials whose names have been brought into the case, is due the members of the commission, and it is due the public. If there is proof of wrong, let it be brought out. If not, let names be cleared.

And while the Council is about it, why not have a general interrogatory session? Why not, for example, call up Mr. H. L. Taylor and Chief Littlejohn, whose exchanges in the Beaty trial seemed to hint significantly at much under the surface that concerned the City Administration and the courts? Why not, in short, go into the whole business that involves the integrity of the City Government and all its agencies?

The surest way to dispose of a rumor, if it is a rumor, is to haul it out into the open. The surest way to give strength to it is to avoid a showdown.

Wisecracks by Hoover

In a speech the other day, Herbert Hoover, who lately has returned to his habit of the campaign of 1936 and gone in for wise-cracks, delivered himself of his second-best down to date. Said he:

"The New Deal slogan should be 'two families in every garage.'"

A smart crack that one, and a bold one, since it plays on Mr. Hoover's own 1928 slogan of "two cars in every garage." But it is neither smart enough nor bold enough to cover the fact that it has a great gaping hole in its logic. The crowded housing conditions among the poor to which he refers are the direct result of the collapse of the American economic system which took place between 1929 and 1933. In fact 1932 and 1933 saw the worst unemployment, the worst poverty, and the worst crowding of people into slums the country has ever seen. And the President of the United States from 1929 to 1933 was not Franklin Roosevelt, the New Dealer, but Herbert Hoover, the Old Dealer.

No, Mr. Hoover, for all his newfound wit, would do well to date his quips post-1933. Such, for instance, as that superb one which set us chortling: "President Roosevelt said he would not let the people down. The time has come to let them up."

Mobile Conflagration

At Emporia, Va., two North Carolinians were cremated when the old truck in which they were riding plunged into the side of a freight train at a crossing. And thereafter the road was blocked for hours while the truck and its trailer burned. The accident happened in broad daylight, so it is reasonable to guess that the cause of it was simply that the truck was going too fast to be stopped when the train was sighted.

Suppose it had been other automobiles it had struck. Or suppose it had been a city street--say at the South Tryon Street crossing in Charlotte. Quite likely a great deal of other property would have been lost, and if it happened at rush hour, a number of innocent bystanders might easily have lost their lives. Dozens of them might have done so, indeed, had the tank been burst open by the shock, to allow the flaming stuff to go roaring through the streets.

So as long as other trucks use the roads, we suppose that these must be allowed to use them too. But the size of such trucks plainly ought to be rigidly limited. And above all, they should be forced to proceed at very low speeds, instead of galloping over the roads at the high speeds which are now all too common.

The Pacifist Argument

"Camouflage of imperialism behind hysterical cries of 'threats' to democracy and 'common defense'... another Martian invasion scare... History has proved that battleships and bombing planes cannot stop economic or cultural penetration..."

Thus the seven pacifist organizations yesterday in denouncing the President's rearmament plans.

The last thing on earth the President can justly be charged with is imperialism. His whole Latin-American policy has been directed to breaking down the imperialism built up by Coolidge, Hoover & Co. The marines have come out of Nicaragua and Haiti, Cuba has been relieved of the Platt Amendment and its American exploiters, trade treaties have been made with the Argentine, Brazil and others which leaned so far over backward that they have actually inflicted some damage on the United States, Mexico has been allowed to grab the lands and oil properties of Americans and make virtually her own nominal terms about them rather than risk any shadow of imperialism.

And as for "hysterical cries" and "Martian invasion scares" and the proposition that "history has shown"--these are themselves the hysterical cries of those who are out to defend a dogma at any price. There is no question here of peaceful "economic and cultural penetration." The Nazis never penetrate anywhere peacefully. They simply give their appointed victims the choice of submitting willy-nilly to "economic and cultural penetration" or being overrun by "battleships and bombing planes" and armies. It was so with Spain. It was so with Austria. It was so with Czechoslovakia. Moreover, the history of their invasions shows that they invariably follow up "economic and cultural penetration" by establishing political regimes modeled on Nazi lines, which can be controlled from Berlin. At this very moment Czechoslovakia is being Nazified.

Nobody in his senses thinks that we can or ought to tolerate Nazi regimes and Nazi bases in Latin-America. Everybody, on the other hand, knows that the Nazis are already immensely busy in Latin-America with "economic and cultural penetration." Is there the slightest reason to believe that they do not mean to follow through there with force as they have invariably followed through elsewhere? There is not.

And that being so, the only rational thing left to do is to build enough battleships and bombing planes to make it quite hopeless for them to attempt to follow through their technique and apply force in this hemisphere. As to the definition of "enough," it is a question for the experts of war, not the dilettantes of peace.


R. E. Sentelle used to be superintendent of schools in Brunswick County. In 1935 he went to the State Legislature, where he fought all efforts aimed at prohibition. In 1937 he went back, and this time he voted for the act permitting counties to vote on liquor stores. But he was still classed as an ardent personal dry.

Last year, Mr. Sentelle was arrested in Montgomery County on a charge of driving drunk. He fought it furiously, declaring that he didn't drink. The court convicted him nevertheless, and gave him a jail sentence and a fine. Whereupon he carried his case all the way up to the Supreme Court and, when his appeal failed, to the Governor.

We remember wanting to say something about it at the time, to the effect that a State official and politician should receive no consideration denied the least of the people. But so convincing was the man's attitude and so positive his plea that, in uncertainty, we decided against it. In any case, Governor Hoey commuted the jail sentence, but let the fine and the revocation of his automobile license stick.

Last Thursday night R. E. Sentelle was arrested by Charlotte police officers on charges of driving drunk and having "a half-gallon of white-lightning and two pints of Old Mr. Boston" in his car. He has demanded, as is his right, a jury trial.


Framed Edition
[Return to Links-Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News--Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.