The Charlotte News

Friday, February 10, 1939


Site Ed. Note: "A Pope Passes" refers to the death this date of Pope Pius XI, succeeded by Pope Pius XII. Pius XI had been Pope since February 6, 1922. The Pope, at first seeking concordats with the various governments of Europe, including a June, 1933 concordat with Hitler and the 1929 Lateran Treaty with Italy which re-established the sovereignty of Vatican City lost in 1871, eventually condemned both the governments of Mussolini and Hitler by 1937. In a 1938 speech at the Vatican, he stated: "Mark well that in the Catholic Mass, Abraham is our Patriarch and forefather. Anti-Semitism is incompatible with the lofty thought which that fact expresses. It is a movement with which we Christians can have nothing to do. No, no, I say to you it is impossible for a Christian to take part in anti-Semitism. It is inadmissible. Through Christ and in Christ we are the spiritual progeny of Abraham. Spiritually, we are all Semites."

He also condemned the government of Mexico for its anti-clerical stands in the 1930's; in the state of Tabasco the Church had been outlawed.

Pope Pius, however, supported Franco's Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War because of atrocities committed against Catholics under the Republican rule, including the burning of churches without government intervention. Of course, he died before Franco achieved final power in Spain and became as much a Fascist as Mussolini, as was becoming grossly evident he would be by the time of the Pope's death.

The Pope was about to deliver a major speech condemning Mussolini and his alliance with Hitler at the time of his death. An injection given by the Vatican doctor, whose daughter was Mussolini's mistress, just hours before the Pope died, caused rumors to spread the following day that he was murdered to silence him. The speech subsequently disappeared and no record has ever been discovered of it. Whether the rumors of murder bore any truth has never been determined.

We include also the following letter to the editor from the Assistant Commissioner of Commerce for Puerto Rico, responding to an article by News writer Harriet Doar based on an interview with a missionary. It provides some window into the Caribbean island of that time--and perhaps why so many fled from its confines to the United States, especially to New York City. Rice and beans being lauded for their cheapness as the dietary foundation of the people pretty much sums the scene.

Island Official Takes Issue With Mrs. Morton

Dear Sir:

It is a rather confusing picture Mrs. C. Manley Morton presents in your issue of January 17. (The reference is to an account, written by Mrs. Harriet Doar of The News staff, of an interview concerning Puerto Rico during Mrs. Morton's recent visit here. She is a missionary of the Christian Church and has spent eighteen years on the island.) She praises the Governor, accurately estimates the attitude of the people toward the United States and in her description of the island. On the other hand, her zeal to put the sugar corporations in their place has led to the retailing of erroneous information.

She says that workers were striking for 70 cents a day for field work recently. As a matter of fact, Puerto Rico has its own minimum wage and hour law providing $1.00 a day for eight hours of work. It is equally untrue that plantation workers are denied the privilege of having home gardens. Much of the effort of the Insular Government, Federal agencies and the larger land owners has been concentrated upon a campaign to induce the workers to use available land for home gardens. Seeds are furnished, expert guidance is available and extension workers are active among rural women.

The thesis developed by Mrs. Morton represents an effort to explain why Puerto Rico is a low income field and she misses the point by attributing all responsibility to land owners. Without attempting a defense of the land ownership procedure down here. I would suggest that poverty is more directly the result of excessive population. We have 1,800,000 people to feed, and an annual population increase of 40,000. There are not enough acres of land, if every inch were cultivated, to raise subsistence for so many people.

To provide as good a living as possible from the land we have turned it over to cash crops for which there has always been a dependable market. We have been able to raise more dollars in sugar, tobacco, coffee, etc., than if we had been trying to grow potatoes and bananas. This income is taken to the United States where it is exchanged for food and other supplies that have amounted to purchases as high as $90,000,000 a year. Bulking large in our imports are rice, flour, dried fish and other inexpensive dietary items. I fail to see how Mrs. Morton can justify her statement that living costs are higher than on the mainland. She is refuted by an examination of the import figures revealing that Puerto Rican workers depend upon rice and beans as the dietary foundation and you can feed a lot of people a good many meals of rice and beans for two dollars.

I do not want you to get the idea that I am attempting to deny that poverty is present in Puerto Rico. There is much of it and the danger of actual starvation is not to be averted by wage-hour bills, sugar quota restrictions and similar procedure that drastically curtail the employment prospects of thousands of very poor people.


Assistant Commissioner of Commerce,
Government of Puerto Rico.

Death to Traitors

Chien Wa, formerly a well-known reporter for Chinese newspapers, was on his way to his new work at the Japanese censorship bureau in Shanghai last Monday when a shot was fired. Where it came from, nobody knew, least of all Chien Wa. For he lay dead upon the street.

Monday, that was. Wednesday, a Chinese employed as a detective by the Shanghai government which Japan has set up as a front for its operations, was going about his duties in a district of the International Settlement occupied by the Japanese. Another shot; another mystery which our detective was powerless to help solve. For he too lay dead--the 48th renegade Chinese to be assassinated in Shanghai since the Japs took that busy city.

We all deplore murder, of course, and murder this is--murder from ambush. And yet, we all despise traitors, too, especially traitors to a side that is the hopeless underdog. And which of the two iniquities we stress the more depends upon our natures. But we suspect that most of us will condone the first because of the second--that we will conclude, in fine, that the copperhead Chinese got exactly what was coming to them.

Prank in the Dark*

By a teller vote of 159 to 122, which is to say with ample margin, the House of Representatives voted this week to cut TVA's appropriation from $49,000,000 to $21,197,000. The reduction, if it stick, will have the effect of stopping work on a dam already a-building and of preventing the building of another dam about ready to be started.

It probably won't stick, however. You see, a teller vote is not the same as a record vote. A lot of men stand up and are counted for or against, and while there is some risk of being caught in the act, the general confusion of a teller vote is a pretty safe alibi. It's different in a record vote. Then a man has to answer to his own name, Yea or Nay.

In a teller vote, therefore, a Congressman may signify his preference without much fear of retaliation from the Administration. And that's what the House was doing when it cut TVA's appropriation almost in two--expressing itself, that is, against Government competition with industry, against the pouring of further multi-million-dollar subsidies into Government ownership, against the President's vaunted "national planning," which means going in by the back door to socialism.

But, la! They were only voting in this case their own convictions, and the Administration has effective devices for making them toe the mark and vote the Administration's convictions. TVA, in all likelihood, will get its other millions.

Oft-Fallen Women

An investigation by the Welfare Department of the seventeen women in the Industrial Home showed, on the worst side, that--

One of the inmates has served 22 sentences there.
One has served twelve sentences in seven and half years.
One has served ten sentences in seven years.
One has served nine sentences in eight years.
One has served seven sentences in five years.
Three have served four sentences in three and a half years.
Six have served two terms.
Two are feeble-minded.
One is a first termer.

Thus the seventeen are all present and accounted for, with this added detail: that two of them admit they have had not less than 50 court trials apiece, mainly for drunkenness and prostitution.

The sordid inventory need surprise nobody. Old man Mencken recently probed into the histories of charity patients of a Baltimore hospital, and he found that the obstetrical wards were ushering into the world the offspring of indigent parents themselves born at public expense; that surgical and medical wards were overrunning with diseased progeny of former diseased clients; and that, to put it baldly, a sympathetic society was simply perpetuating a hopelessly unfit strain with no gain and little pleasure to anybody.

Apparently, that is what the Industrial Home is doing--taking prostitutes out of circulation while they are diseased, releasing them cured, and wearily taking them back again when they have gone out and got diseased all over again. It's an expensive service for a clientele composed largely of repeaters.

On The Party Line

In its report of Chairman May's announcement that the House Military Committee had unanimously approved legislation to authorize the major part of President Roosevelt's $552,000,000 special defense program, including 5,500 new planes for the army, the Associated Press records among other things that,

"... He (May) said that Republican members of the committee sought unsuccessfully to limit the War Department to production of no more than 1,000 airplanes in any fiscal year. Representative Andrews, Republican, New York... said the limitation proposal was defeated fifteen to ten, on a straight party vote."

Look at that last sentence again. We don't ourselves know whether the planes ought to be produced as quickly as possible, or whether they ought to be strung out at the rate of a thousand a year. We suppose arguments can be made for either course, though the President's recommendations seem to be based on the wishes of army and navy experts. But what we do know is that partisan politics ought to have nothing to do with a matter so fundamental as the national defense.

What the Democrats were clearly thinking about was lining up solidly behind the President. And what plainly obsessed the Republicans was this: how can we be generally in favor of national defense and still manage to put a spoke in the President's wheel?

A Pope Passes

The Pope who died yesterday will be long remembered. For he played a central role in the European politics of his time, and the controversies growing out of that part promise to be long drawn out. But this is not the time to discuss those controversies. He is dead. And so we address ourselves to his qualities which lie in the field of service to mankind.

That he was generally devoted to peace was manifest. His utterances in regard to Spain have the ring of a man acutely distressed by the spectacle of interminable butchery. And in the Munich crisis last year, he was even more disturbed and active than the President of the United States.

Moreover, he was a plainly courageous man, quite capable of defying Mussolini when he was convinced that it was right to do so. He defied the Italian chief when he attempted to turn the schools away from their traditional Catholic coloring and make them into mere rolling mills for the manufacture of little Fascists--and to a considerable extent he had his way. He defied him, too, on the matter of the adoption by Fascism of the Nazi race philosophy--denounced it to the whole world as being inherently and incurably pagan and anti-Christian. And his backing of Cardinal Mundelein was, of course, just as unpalatable to Mussolini.

Peace to his ashes. He was at the end of his years. And the world which is shaping up is not one to make the role of the Pope a happy one.

The Smear Method

Conservatives in the Senate are on exceedingly dangerous ground when they play with the idea of blocking the confirmation of Mr. Amlie to the Interstate Commerce Commission on the ground that he is a Communist. He clearly is no such thing, and the people who are crying the charge up are plainly the same sort as those who perform before the Dies Smear Committee: people whose definition of a Communist is anybody they disagree with. What Amlie obviously is, is a left-winger of the same Progressive stamp as the LaFollettes. The most radical thing that can be alleged about him is that he has pronounced in favor of Government ownership of railroads and communications. You may think that opinion damnable, but it certainly is not equivalent to Communism.

There is good ground for doubting that Amlie is qualified for the ICC post by training and experience and prejudice. Let the Senate reject him on that score, if it please. But forthrightly, not by the smear method.


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