The Charlotte News

Sunday, December 11, 1938


Site Ed. Note: Saturday's and Monday's editorials are missing from the microfilm.

John Nance Garner, as discussed in "Stultification of Liberal", demonstrates how reversed the trends in the 1930's from those of the present age, since the 1970's. Few today in the political arena, save the brave or crazy, would fight to have the label "liberal". Most, it seems, fall over themselves in proclaiming mom's religion while dripping lips of apple dowdy, to get to the first of the line to greet the latest flag-waver and happy-sappy. In the case of Garner, he would be dumped by FDR from the ticket in 1940 in favor of Henry Wallace, a true liberal. Meanwhile, drawing regularly the editorial ire of Cash for being a goldbrick artist on the public dole for it, Garner would sulkily slink back to Texas for the duration of the term after the summer convention. But, perhaps "Cactus Jack", having been also Speaker of the House for two years when he became Vice-President in 1933, had the right, that is left, approach; he lived, after all, to be almost 99, 27 years after retiring from politics--which means that in 1938 he had presidential ambitions for his 72d birthday.

And, good idea: Keep the Christmas in Christmas--on private property, in homes, and in churches of the faith. Nothing wrong either with a few flashing lights, wreaths and traditional stars or angels on publicly owned lampposts, we suppose, as long as the message is silent and ecumenical rather than specifically religious. Quite candidly, however, the whole recent flack in 2005 about this stripping of "Christmas" to nomen nudum status in some places, with 2,000 soldiers having now died in Iraq in 33 months for this "Christian nation" in a completely offensive and, in our opinion, unnecessary war, comes to ours ears as a bit hollow, banal and plain silly.

Get the troops home by next Christmas and leave the Iraqis to their own self-determined destiny. That, it seems to us, is a worthier issue about which to get motivated this Christmas.

"But perhaps Nazism has utterly destroyed the power for making distinctions." Indeed, one might think it.

A Friendly Custom

Every well-regulated community ought to have a local custom. It gives character to the place and, besides, is pleasant and wholesome.

If this city doesn't look out, a local custom is exactly what it is going to acquire. For several years now it has been lighting up its streets for Christmas and lighting up the exteriors of its homes. From the tentative beginning of an outside Christmas tree here and there, more and more residents have taken to more pretentious decorative schemes, until last year the winner of first prize...

Yes, there is a prize: $200 in prizes. And the winner of first prize in last year's contest had a most elaborate display. But the prize is secondary to the custom and the inherent pleasure of letting one's light so shine before men that they will receive and be warmed by the Christmas message of cheer and good will which it conveys.

Lowest Paid Performers

Only by reversing the motion adopted by the Southern Conference yesterday, and by pointing up its phraseology, can the full purport of it be taken in. Something, we'll say, like this:

Scholarships, jobs and other financial aid may be frankly awarded on the basis of football-playing ability.

This, which may be identified as the VPI Plan, is no mere reversal of the much discussed Graham Plan. The Graham Plan originally was designed to put a stop to all kinds of Southern subsidies based on athletic ability. But the conference would not go so far, finally settling on the rule that subsidies must be open equally, but no more than equally, to athletes and scholars. The VPI Plan now moves the scholars down and the football players up a notch each. It could be administered in the various institutions so that the athletes got theirs first and the non-athletes had to take what was left over.

In which case it would be a move to de-emphasize college football. Not directly, of course, but by making the sport more and more professional until the amateurs could take no part in it and the college professionals, with an eye on the take at the gate, and a knowledge that they were earning their pay ten times over, demanded a cut more in line with their exertions and performances.

Stultification of Liberal

The good word, liberal, is finally reduced to an absurdity when the Texas supporters of John Nance Garner for the Presidency assert that their hero is "a liberal Democrat (who was) practicing liberalism many years before some of the most vocal present-day sponsors of liberalism were born."

The Vice-President may be in favor of free speech, free assembly, etc.--one very essential portion of the true liberal creed--but there is no record that he has ever been an active champion of either. When labor leaders were kidnapped and ridden out of Texas cities for attempting to introduce the CIO, did Jack Garner raise his voice to protest? He did not. And so the whole story runs.

And as for having any interest in bettering the condition of the underdog and in social legislation, you'll look in vain for any evidence in the record. Fact is, indeed, that you'll look in vain for any considerable legislation of any sort which bears his name. The truth about old Jack is that he is simply a professional politician, playing the game with a sole eye to winning for himself and his cronies--and usually succeeding. Ruggedly honest by his lights he may be, but his lights, it must always be remembered, are precisely those of the professional politician. For the rest, he is simply another Texas planter, not very well educated, without much background, and still inclined to the frontier philosophy in which he grew up.

To call him a liberal is simply to turn the term into meaningless gibberish. And to propose him for President in such complex and dangerous times as these is to propose a national calamity.

Decisive Reason

The President's announcement that he is going to ask for another reorganization bill--this time to be framed strictly by Congressmen--will be, in all probability, the signal for roars that he is incurably dictatorial and that he is turning left again. But there will be no sense in it.

There is no excuse, for that matter, for turning down the Administration bill--as it was finally amended at least--in the last session, save the desire of a lot of Representatives and Senators and Publisher Frank Gannett to set the President back on his heels. The bill, in fact, was one of the least radical and most sensible which the New Deal has sponsored. And now that the President has been chastised to the taste even of his best haters, there is no conceivable reason why Congress shouldn't pass a new bill, embodying most of the features of the old one.

No reason at all? Well, maybe we go too far, at that. There is one--which operated before. It is this: the essence of any bill worth its salt must be what the essence of the last bill was: the extension of the Civil Service. But that means a reduction in patronage--and, of course, patronage is why Congressmen keep their jobs with...

An Easy Distinction

The bulletin boards of Berlin these days are reported by the Associated Press to be plastered with huge posters, showing Satanic-looking English soldiers engaged in shooting helpless Arabs. And readers are informed that:


Can that fetch even the German, denied though he is of any source of information save Nazi propaganda? He must know that the account of what Germany has actually done to the Jews is plainly false--that it goes immensely far beyond any casual smashing of windows. And as for England--she is killing Arabs, yes. But because those Arabs are in rebellion and because they are themselves engaged in a systematic effort to murder the Jews in Palestine. Maybe England has no right to rule Arabs, but she at least has legal title, and is only trying to make good on that title and restore order. That's a very different case from that of the Jews in Germany, who have neither rebelled nor sought to murder anybody--even their oppressor, Hitler. And any German with a grain of sense left should be able to draw the distinction for himself. But perhaps Nazism has utterly destroyed the power for making distinctions.

No Proper Solution

The City Council, we see by The Charlotte News, is considering asking the Mecklenburg delegation to the next Legislature to back a scheme for a referendum in Charlotte on the blue laws. Maybe that is a better solution of the question than none at all, but we do not agree even that far without crossing our fingers. And not merely because we suspect that, because liberals always act on the principle of letting George do it while the anti-liberals organize and campaign hotly, our side will probably get beat.

There is no worse abuse of the democratic idea than that which attempts to have it that every question whatever is properly one for settlement by majority vote. As a matter of fact, the whole essence of the democratic system is that minorities have rights which no majority has the right to infringe--and particularly those rights which are associated with freedom of conscience. The blue laws simply represent an attempt on the part of the people (whether a majority or not we don't know) to force their own notions of Sunday observance on others. As such, they are unjustifiable, regardless of whether or not they may represent majority opinion.


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