The Charlotte News

Monday, March 6, 1939


Site Ed. Note: We include the Gerald Johnson piece below, saying something not unlike that which Jonathan Daniels said in "Democracy Is Bread", as referenced in the Herbert Agar review of it appearing in the News September 30, 1938.

Mr. Johnson was a friend to Cash and often loaned him a few dollars and a night's lodging in Baltimore on Cash's return from occasional trips to New York to visit the Knopfs. Johnson, a fellow alumnist of Wake Forest, though older than Cash, held a natural empathy for Cash's ideals and philosophy, as indicated forcefully in the following piece.

Given that which happened as late as the Florida recount in 2000, where roving bands of imported Republicans, young lawyers in suits no less, reportedly sent south by their Beltway corporatista lawfirms, tried literally to bust down the doors of the Miami counting room on the eve of Thanksgiving, when vote-counting was crucial and at a premium for the arbitrary deadline announced by the Florida Secretary of State, (the Lady of Lake Katrine), the piece takes on special significance for our times, as well as those of 1939.

Mistake it not; it is the same thing, just as Johnson says, just as Daniels, Agar, and Cash said. Always has been there, probably so in every society with mixed racial, ethnic, religious and national backgrounds at its origins. It merely awaits the spark of every "jackass to bray", and thrives only when the police behave as enablers to the fascists, standing by, doing nothing, becoming as the Know Nothings. The braying jackasses qua copper who operate simply by the process of selective enforcement: allow the thug, the common divisor, dubbed Knights Knowing Katrine, to get away with the most outrageous authoritarian annulment of the law, extenuating every fanciful extremity of interpretation to them to frustrate the divided opposition, the while spouting "rule of law" to be exacted, under Cade's Rules, yet only on those who can in fact read and count with any discernment. Taken far enough, such a ruling order becomes little different, if at all, from that described below in "A Hard Choice". Witness the distinctions generated by the two methods described in "Fiorello vs. Martin", as warning of something becoming. Indeed, witness society now.

The only thought of Johnson with which we quibble is the one where he talks of the price of freedom being the making of the idiots free also. We quibble only because we believe, perhaps naively, that idiots may, too, be educated over time, to one degree or another, to acceptance of certain basic premises about humanity, and thereon become something more than idiots, just as children become adults, apes became men--even if in obviously varying degrees of civilization, with meandering lines, per Spengler, as to what that latter achievement means.

It is not, we posit, being necessarily polite in the face of Nazis, Knights, and braying jackasses, or the ideals which made them famous. As to that we join Dorothy Thompson and Gerald Johnson and all the many who stood firm in the face of the Wallaces, Bilbos, Barnetts, Bulls, McCarthys, et al., in saying, "Bunk!", if not something a little more bullisht.

Not Germany But America Cradled The Nazi Idea

Gerald W. Johnson, in Baltimore Evening Sun

Well, the German-American Bund has held its great meeting in New York and given us an impressive demonstration of what it would mean for Nazism to dominate this country.

Nice, isn't it? If anybody laughs, throw him downstairs. If anybody answers your argument, bust him in the snoot. Big Bill Thompson is the hero. The Ku Klux Klan is the party. It isn't anything new. We have had that sort of thing in America always. But never before have we called it ideology. We have always called it swinishness.

Probably the meeting of the Bund was one of the best things that could have happened here. We have been hearing the Nazis described in terms that didn't quite register.

But now that we have seen them at close range, the unfamiliarity is dissipated. We know this outfit. It is nothing but the old Gas House Gang dressed up in fancy shirts. There is little perceptible difference between these fellows and the plug-uglies who used to raid the precinct polling places on election days, beat up the poll holders and throw the ballot boxes into the streets.

Ideology? Bunk! The only idea the ordinary Bundsman can entertain is the idea of slamming someone with a blackjack.

Had the populace been left to obey its natural impulses, the Bundsmen would have been strewn all over Manhattan Island and a lot of them would have wound up in the morgue. As it was, 1,500 policemen stood up manfully in defense of the constitutional right of every jackass to bray, and not a Nazi was killed.

It is, as yet, something of a rarity in this country for a sensible man to need protection of his right to speak his mind. It is the idiots who are constantly stirring up mob fury; but it is of prime importance that the idiots shall be protected, for if an idiot can be gagged, so can anybody. Human ingenuity has never been able to devise a system of guaranteeing freedom to the wise and honest except by guaranteeing freedom to all; and freedom for the wise is so supremely important that it is worth the price of making the silly free, too.

When all the speakers at a meeting are praising God and Abraham Lincoln, the police have nothing to do. It is the unpopular meeting that must be defended at all costs.

But while an American has no right to gag a Nazi, he has a right, which is now becoming a duty, to say what he thinks of him.

The fact must be admitted that these people constitute a very real danger. The danger lies in the fact that their crazy program makes a strong appeal to certain swinish instincts that Americans do possess.

The United States, not Germany, is the real cradle of Nazism. We never called it that, but we have had outbreaks of the same thing several times in our short national history. The latest occurrence was the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, which was practically simon-pure Nazism. The Kluxers were preceded by the APA, the Know Nothings, and half a dozen small organizations, all of which flourished on chauvinism, race and religious hatred, and lawlessness.

The United States is so placed, geographically, that it can be defended with relative ease from foreign attacks. Therefore, if the American Nazis threaten no more than to release Hitler's bombers upon us, we can afford to laugh at them. But when they threaten to release, not foreign airmen, but our own innate impulse to resort to lynch law, the threat is serious. That they can do. If they are themselves torn to pieces in the first outburst, nevertheless, the damage will remain. Every mob murder sets back civilization: and the ground is regained only slowly and painfully.

A Truce on Self-Defense*

Judge Gwynn's lenience we take to have been justified by circumstances which were not made public. Certainly a Negro who had served two sentences for knifing other Negroes, who had received a nolle-pros in another shooting case and who was convicted by a jury in still another case of manslaughter, would hardly appear to be a fit subject for judicial clemency, which he received in the form of a reduction of his sentence from 12-15 years to 10-12 years.

The Judge must have had his reasons, however, and in any case the prisoner got a lengthy sentence and will be engaged for awhile otherwise than in knife and gun play in defense of his life, as he invariably pleaded. The interim could be of advantage to the Crusaders, that organization of Negroes which wants to do something about crime and which, giving up adults as hopeless, is going to concentrate on the younger members of the race. With this one-man crime wave out of circulation for a spell, their task ought to be somewhat less complicated.

A Hard Choice

General Cazado lays himself open to the charges of promoting useless bloodshed when he seizes Negrin & Co. and balks their efforts to make peace with Franco and flee into Seville. Undoubtedly, he will be so charged by Chamberlain, Daladier, and their press in England and France. And certainly, it seems impossible that he can ever hope to win the war now.

Nevertheless, his action is understandable. Franco has made vague tokens about "charity" and "good will" which have fooled some people who were eager to think well of him. But he has always made it clear that he was talking about what he has many times called "charity with justice"--the justice part being the execution of all the leaders of those who have opposed him and the reduction of the rank and file to essential slavery for a long period of years. And that men should prefer dying in battle to being coldly butchered or turned into animals of burden for a regime they hate, is natural enough.

There is still ground for question, however. For, unfortunately, under the conditions of the kind of war Franco makes, it is not only fighting men who have to be considered. Continued resistance means the continued murder of women and babies from the air and the ground. A heart-breaking choice, anyway you look at it.

Site Ed. Note: His name, of course, was properly spelled "Fiorello", but, as always we try to do, we leave it as originally printed. Printer error because it was pronounced that way routinely on the radio and in newsreels, or Cash typo? Only the Shada knows.

Fiorella vs. Martin

The New York police, apparently at the instance of Mayor La Guardia, are carrying on investigation of Mr. Fritz Kuhn and his German-American-Bund. These activities are divided up among half a dozen "companies" which publish newspapers, books, sell uniforms, etc., and the coppers suspect that Der Fritz and his pals have been using that fact to escape paying certain taxes. Anyhow, all the books of all the outfits have been subpoenaed, and so has Fuhrer Kuhn and all his little Goebbels and Goerings. And as a result, it is expected that the main facts about their activities will be made known to the public, regardless.

It doesn't seem a bad idea, either. The Dies Smear Committee was supposed to have looked into the activities of Nazis and Fascists as well as Reds, but it has shown a strange reluctance to give them more than a passing glance--preferring to concentrate on the Reds, apparently as a build-up for legislation itself dangerously close in spirit to Nazism: legislation designed to destroy the Bill of Rights for all but the right crowd. And the people are certainly entitled to know about these fellows just as much as the Reds, not to the end of framing repressive legislation but simply by way of information and judgment.

La Guardia, for that matter, has set an excellent example in handling them. First, he insisted that they should have their full right of assembly and free speech, and sicked his cops on the foolish heads who attempted to interfere with those rights by force. And now he is out to make the facts about them perfectly clear to the people. That is undoubtedly the best way to render them completely innocuous. And best of all, it accomplishes that strictly within the frame of the American tradition, as the Dies method wouldn't.

No Argument Left*

The City Managership is probably going to be a chief but soft-pedaled issue in the municipal elections next month. Rumor has it that a political faction is all ready for the fray, organized and with enough prospect of seats on the Council to oust Marshall and substitute their own man, who is already selected.

About the only plausible argument this faction had to put up against City Manager Marshall was that his services came too high. For that matter, a number of independent voters have probably felt that $10,000 was too much even for so well qualified and experienced an executive as the incumbent. So, when he himself recalls that his salary was increased by $2,000 in compensation for engineering of the million-dollar water improvement program, and suggests that it revert to the previous figure, the result is to take the wind out of the one substantial argument against him.

For nobody has gone so far as to claim that Mr. Marshall hasn't made a first-rate manager, or that he hasn't earned every cent of his salary. Wherefore it is bound to follow that those who would displace him have something other than efficiency in mind. What that is has not yet appeared.

Man Has Idea

Representative Lacy McBryde, Cumberland County's man in the Legislature, probably would be the first to deny that his proposed Cape Fear Valley Authority is socialistic. Mr. Lacy, indeed, assuming that his Scotch name imbues him with the characteristics of that race, may be thinking chiefly about all the easy money that the Federal Government is passing around, and about how grand it would be for Fayetteville, a prime beneficiary of Federal subsidies ever since the old plank road got taken up, to become the sprocket of an Eastern North Carolina industrial wheel. But his proposed CFVA is socialistic, all the same.

The word has lost its horrendous sound, and no more is a fetish to scare little Legislators into not doing what they consider sensible. But most people, even those with advanced ideas, retain a sense of fair play, and to these it will not seem altogether cricket for the State to sock private power companies with a whole raft of taxes (beginning with a franchise tax of 6 cents out of every dollar they take in) and without revenue, plus the enthusiastic bounty of Mr. Ickes in Washington, to build power plants in competition with them.

And if this argument be lost on legislators because of the public nature of water power, let them substitute bread--the basic utility of them all. If Mr. McBryde would consent for a moment to taxing Cumberland County's farmers till they howled, then setting up a subsidized commune in competition with them, we will eat our hat.

Any Old Port

To discover a pretense of the first palpitude, commence by putting down the statistic of about (nobody knows exactly how many) 135 Federal departments and agencies containing some 500 bureaus, then continue with a minority report of Republican members on a special House committee on reorganizing the Government:

"Does Congress propose at this time to surrender the American form of government and the constitutional method of legislating, not for the promotion of efficiency and economy, but for the promotion of riotous waste and extravagance?"

Now, truly, this is unworthy of the opposition. The American form of government as it is typified by a maze of organization, from which egress may be had only by following a circuitous trail of red tape, eminently deserves to be surrendered. And as for the promotion of riotous waste and extravagance, the Administration could not possibly be contemplating such a stunt. It has already used up every trick in its bag.

No, the only defense the Republicans have against the adoption of a reorganization bill, almost any reorganization bill, is that they can do it better if they should get back in power. That might be so, for Dr. Roosevelt, it must be conceded, is a great one for pointing out marvelous objectives and never reaching them.

But the Republicans have during previous sessions when they ruled the roost, missed their chances, deliberately, by the same obstructive tactics that characterize their resistance in this instance. They stand convicted of not wanting any reorganization of any kind. The rest of us have reached the point of taking what we can get.


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