The Charlotte News

Wednesday, February 22, 1939


Site Ed. Note: "Bumbershoots Rampant" tells of the enshrining at the British Industrial Fair of the famous Bumble Umbrella-chute from Munich, as the symbol to which to cling and by which to steer, just as with the cited example of the sword in Camelot, and suggests therefore "a design of Bumble bumbershoots rampant, dripping doves and bombs over the Queen Mother's hat." Saves thinking, said Cash.

Little did he know how darkly prophetic the statement--and not just for 1939 but also for those too confused by 1963 to understand that the Bumble steers of 1938 had little or nothing to do with that which occurred in a very different world 25 years later.

The torch, after all, as he said, had been passed by then to a new generation. That new generation had been the one which fought to correct the critical mistake of Munich, that appeasement to a mad dog leads only to more insatiate madness, the attempt to staunch the wound, once inflicted, by offering its ooze to the mad-slavering jaws.

That new generation was obviously neither the cause of Munich nor the War. Nor may any American be blamed for either. Nor was it within the power of any American single-handedly to prevent it.

Arguably, no one could have, except Hitler, himself, or someone with one little silver bullet for him--turning out, in the end, of course, to be one and the same.

Too bad that those who acted in Dallas, as long as they were laying waste their lives anyway, had not instead acted with the same resolve in Berlin 25 years earlier. Fifty million lives might have been saved by the taking then of one which had already proved both murderous and worthless. But then such miscreants never exert their wills that way, do they? For ultimately, such find solace only in a leader who is dogmatic, demanding nothing but robotic, mindless obedience to will, a will exerted on them by such a demi-god in whom is reposited all trust, grace and glory, removing all individual responsibility and conscience for their actions--again, one and the same.

It is the grand and tragic paradox besetting humanity since the days of the Caesars, since the days of the cave.

For more on the Umbrella, go here.

Those down front, rattle your jewelry...

Call It Sunstroke

It is no coincidence that the more enthusiastic advocates of bigger and better old age pensions come from Florida and California. These two states would stand to profit most from all the schemes to endow the old folks with so much spending money a month. Hence, it is not at all surprising to find Congressmen from these vacation lands debasing whatever powers of reason God may have given them and championing every crackpot idea that comes along.

But even they must sometimes be secretly embarrassed at the arguments they find themselves putting up. Such as that of Senator Andrews, Florida Democrat, before the House Ways & Means Committee:

"There ought to be some kind of dividend for men who have paid taxes for 40 years and own a part of the richest Government in the world."

And such as that of Representative Cannon of the same state:

"It is better to deplete our Treasury than to let one man starve."

The contradiction here expressed is too absurd for notice, but it suggests that the two statesmen ought to get together. If the Treasury is in danger of depletion after all the taxes the old people are supposed to have paid in, then plainly it cannot stand the wild raids upon it these two nitwits advocate.

A Great Man

To successive generations of school children, George Washington probably remains the boy who did it with his little hatchet and cannot tell a lie, who became the young surveyor and in due course, with the prompt emergence of the world's greatest nation, First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of his Countrymen.

To college students, experiencing the first devilish tang of sophistication, it is almost as good as an acquaintance with the great man himself to discover that he was really quite a fellow, with a taste for strong drink, an eye for a pretty figure, and a working vocabulary of profanity.

To patricians, it is reassuring to know that he had considerable skepticism of democracy and the trustworthiness of the plain people, while to the religious that painting of the commander praying (for victory) in the snow at Valley Forge perfectly illustrates the story of Washington as revealed to Parson Weems in a vision and promptly committed to print.

And so the various conceptions of the good man go, satisfying to those who hold them. Only the politicians, a crass group, make bold to transmit the fabulous father of his country to fit special occasions and to back up arguments that may need unanswerable citations from the dead. But all these images of Washington are incomplete and unforgivably inaccurate insofar as they fail to lay greatest stress upon the bedrock of his personality--the character that his strength of body and mind and heart had developed in him to such proportions that he, principally and sometimes almost alone, drove this nation through to a victory against the preoccupied British and held it together against the stresses of indecision and self-interest that came with independence.

Thumbs Down In Richmond

At any rate, Richmond County seems to know its mind. It went dry in the vote on state-wide prohibition in 1908, it went dry in the referendum on the Eighteenth Amendment and it went dry yesterday, by almost as great a majority, on the proposition of county liquor stores.

And there was rejoicing among the 2,527 Richmonders who carried the day for prohibition. For the 1,482 wets there was no consolation at all. Cheraw is still handy, to be sure, and there are always the bootleggers to supply the demand which, unless Richmond differs remarkably from other dry areas in North Carolina, is both large and constant. Even so, it was a gloomy day for the wets.

Long since has liquor ceased to be the issue in liquor elections. Even the dryest of the drys are forced to concede that the stuff continues to flow plentifully in spite of prohibition. But they won't sanction it, no sir! That would be highly immoral. They may not be able to avoid evil but at least they can formally condemn it.

And since this is their attitude and they are totally unimpressed by arguments that the liquor system they tolerate is the worst ever devised, there is nothing for it but to bow to the weight of numbers and weakly congratulate Richmond for its stand.

Welcome! And Hail!

There is an old saying, which we have just invented, that if you cut open a Tar Heel Legislator you'll find an enlarged gizzard. This is because the Legislature is fed through a device called the hopper, and since what is deposited, tossed or sneaked into this hopper must be digested by the whole body, exclusive of foreign objects and all razor blades which are eliminated in committee, a Legislator's gizzard gets a lot of exercise. Hence its size.

Now, the ones who keep pelting the hopper are individual Legislators. Individual Legislators are only average men with the perfectly normal urge to fix everything that needs fixing (and some things that don't) by the simple and effortless means of rearing back and passing a law. Unfortunately a law that may fix this will unfix that, and what pleases some people will vex other people sorely. This is where consensus comes in. A hundred and sixty-one good men and true, with the academic assistance of nine Republicans, can pick a single Legislator's proposed law to pieces, which accounts for the fact that out of so many bills introduced, so few are ever passed. It also explains why the sum of the Legislature's intelligence is no greater than its component parts.

North Carolina has been fortunate in having, on the whole, able, upstanding Legislatures for many years. This is not entirely attributable to the luck of the draw or to any peculiar virtue in North Carolina politicians or to the astuteness of the electorate. It is due, rather, to a trait which characterizes most Down Homers, and that is a genuine devotion to the best interests of the state. It goes elsewhere by the name of patriotism, but here we simply call it state pride and let it go at that. But it is what, in the end, welds the 170 assorted solons who present themselves at Raleigh every two years into the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, whose short title is the Legislature that Mecklenburg is entertaining today.

Bumbershoots Rampant

How many millions of little boys and girls have been influenced during their impressionable years by the symbolism of George Washington's cherry tree, Sir Walter Raleigh's cloak, King Arthur's sword Excalibur, Douglas' spider, Teddy Roosevelt's Big Stick and other such trademarks of the great, we wouldn't pretend to know. Chances are that the influence of things like that on life and letters, civilization, and the progress of heroes and statesmen must be considerable. We are an impressionable lot, we humans, and we like a symbol to cling to and steer by. Saves thinking.

If we needed something to symbolize that astonishing age we live in, it would be difficult to find. England, indeed, has found one. It's an umbrella, Mr. Chamberlain's umbrella. A replica of that famous rain bouncer now reposes at the British Industrial Fair in London, and Queen Elizabeth has just been to see it. She approved the umbrella, said it was a symbol of peace.

Well, we're for peace: we accept the umbrella. We suggest that the British Empire herewith abandon the lions on its coat-of-arms and substitute therefor a design of Bumble bumbershoots rampant, dripping doves and bombs over the Queen Mother's hat.

Site Ed. Note: The reference to Douglas's spider, incidentally, is from the supposed statement by Sir James de Douglas to Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, circa 1306, upon the defeat of Robert and his Scottish nationalists by Edward I of England and the confiscation of his estates. Said James, according to legend, "I spied a spider clymbing by his webb to the height of an trie and at 12 several times I perceived his web broke, and the spider fel to the ground. But the 13 tyme he attempted and clambe up the tree."

Other versions of the story, as passed down by Sir Walter Scott in Tales of a Grandfather, published 1828-30, lay it to the Bruce himself, that he learned patience by studying the spider six times attempting its web, only finally to succeed on the seventh, by which the Bruce gained the strength to win his battle at Loudon Hill the following year. Eventually, the Treaty of Northampton provided the Scots their independence in 1328.

Yet, no one knows who in fact saw the spider.

Regardless, regarding Umbrellas, Scott's lines from Marmion are singularly most apt: "O, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!"

Not to forget that Arthur, according to Bulfinch, quoting Mr. Owen, was possibly only a mythological figure and not historic, "'the Great Bear, as the name literally implies (Arctos, Arcturus), and perhaps this constellation, being so near the pole, and visibly describing a circle in a small space, is the origin of the famous Round Table.'" And if you recall Arcturus from the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram to which we once referred in a Note...

Anything But Obnoxious

It may very well be that Shackelford Miller Jr., whose nomination as a Federal district judge in Kentucky the Senate has confirmed, is a man of unlimited character and notable ability. Nothing has been said to the contrary. But no one will have any doubt that his chief claim to the job is the fact that he served Senator Barkley as campaign manager in the hot scrap with Happy Chandler.

It must be equally as plain, from the contrast between this and the Judge Roberts matter, that the President for all his High Idealism is not above being motivated in his appointments to the bench by palpable political considerations. He chose Judge Roberts over other eligibles submitted by Senators Glass and Byrd because he aimed to build up the influence of Governor Price at the expense of the two unfriendly Virginia Senators. He named Mr. Miller to enable "Dear Alben" to pay off his debt for political services rendered, a practice which is traditional but nonetheless a chief fault of democratic government.

There is this to be said for the President, however: that he has permitted no considerations of politics to induce him to appoint as judges men who are obviously unfit for the bench in spite of their endorsement by the President's supporters in Congress. That does not, of course, include Mr. Justice Black, whose elevation to the Supreme Court the President thought up all by himself.


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