The Charlotte News

Monday, April 3, 1939


Site Ed. Note: We include the below letter to the editor, laying some of the blame for Munich at the doorstep of the U.S., and the piece following it, "Memo for Vindicators", from The New York Herald Tribune, on the suspect nature inherent in paroxysmal patriotism. History does not offer much support for the former view, the immediate territorial, economic and military interests of France and England having made perforce Daladier and Chamberlain the chief actors at Munich to respond or not to the will of the dictators; the latter notion, however, is always timely everywhere, and is again these days. The Nazis and Fascists, too, after all, as far as they were concerned, were all patriots and had God on their side. It is an oft-made invocation beckoning holy justification instanter but signifying precisely nothing when done in the context of warfare and nationalism.

All the little lords seeking their littler vassals are but "patriots" to their nations who believe in some "God" who, by their own divination into the matter, obviously discerns them as the instruments of His inestimably providential work on earth--and so it is their primely moved destiny to rule and bestow upon the rest of us their penultimate wisdom. They saw it in that vision, after all, that night down there at ye Die Unterseite von Bierhalle. The only problem having been when some other refuses to be that vassal in their dream distilled specially from the Hops 'n' Barleycorn oberseite unten god they conjured there. Then starts a fight, which soon becomes a war, in which many people die, including many of the would-be Überlords.

Just as these God-fearing Patriots became in the South of old, regardless of the color of the victim at times, as reported in "One Touch of Novelty".

American Critics of Bumble's Policy Seen As Unfair

Dear Sir:

Czechoslovakia, or rather what was this state, is the symbol to certain newspapers and Americans for the "crookedness" of Premier Chamberlain of Great Britain, and the cowardice of the British people. Those words, I feel, aptly sum up all that has been said and written and is likely to be said and written of Premier Chamberlain and the British people by certain editorial writers, including those of The Charlotte News, and hosts of columnists and radio commentators. Dorothy Thompson, for instance, is perfectly frank in accusing Premier Chamberlain of crookedness, and the British people of cowardice.

To me, it is one of the wonders of the day that any American can dare so write and comment in such strains as outlined. Why is it that Britain is the international criminal in this affair? Hasn't America any responsibility in the setting up of the Czechoslovakian state?

The Czechoslovakian state was set up by the Versailles Treaty, and on the demand of the late President Wilson as conforming to one of his fourteen points: the self-determination of peoples. When the treaty was eventually signed by all parties including the Germans, though the latter did so at the point of a gun--as everyone today admits--, President Wilson signed another treaty with France, in partnership with Great Britain, which in effect guaranteed that the armed forces of America would go to the aid of France if she was ever attacked by Germany. It is true that these treaties were rejected by the U.S. Senate, but in spite of such rejection there was a moral responsibility to carry out the proposals of the late President Wilson if America ever arrived at the point of asserting that such help should be rendered to France or to save any of the work of the Versailles Treaty.

Did America arrive at such a point? One might not be able to say definitely, yes, but one can certainly state that every effort was made via the radio and certain newspapers to stir up a war psychosis in this country, if not to the point of forcing America into another world war, certainly in the hope of driving Britain and incidentally France into such a war. The answer at Munich was undoubtedly war or peace, and if the leaders of America wanted war they should have been honest enough to bluntly say so, and that they would lead America into it. But these propagandists for war never dared to openly demand war, but resorted to every kind of tactics to stir our people into a war psychosis.



Memo For Vindicators

New York Herald Tribune

Like charity, patriotism "is not puffed up." A patriot would no more think of calling himself a patriot than he would describe himself as a gentleman. The deeper his love for his land, the less is he likely to assure the neighbors that it exists, and under no circumstances will he be heard bellowing that fellow countrymen who hold opinions opposed to his own are traitors and lice.

It is far better for Uncle Sam's health that Americans should continue not to go in for mass hysteria over the flag, nor for any of those public devotional fevers which totalitarian priestcrafts employ to keep the people's emotions simmering. No patriotic rally ever resulted in an increase of patriotism, for this is a reserved feeling, capable of attaining to hidden sacrifice, and the more genuine its ardor the more steadily it burns. Those who refer constantly to their people and country as "God's" perhaps irk an impartial and all-seeing deity and are maintaining what nobody can know.

Patriotism cannot be fostered by parades or insignia, which merely promote arrogance. It is not always manifest in acts of faith before a national emblem, since these may be a toady's or a traitor's disguise. It does not fear persons who declare institutions as well as citizens of the United States at fault. Patriotism is a lot of trouble. It keeps a man critical and disturbed because things in his country are not as they ought to be. But nothing is easier than for people cherishing hatred of Americanism to appear the heartiest of patriots--all a matter of saluting, repeating popular phrases and reviling nonconformity.

The glorious quality of the American way always has been that you were free to follow it or not. It never was designed for solemnly lifted, shiny boots for everyday wear, nor for prostrate obeisance. Always it has been rough with disagreements and with virile cantankerousness, and far from regarding it as perfect, Americans intend to go right on improving it.

The Debt Cracks 40*

It happened April 1, but there was no fooling about it. The U.S. debt cracked $40,000,000,000--40 billions, that is. This is within five billions of the statutory limit, and rapidly (see any daily Treasury report) approaching it. In fact, the debt for which the Treasury is directly and contingently liable already exceeds $45,000,000,000. The theory is that the assorted governmental corporations such as HOLC, RFC, Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation, Commodity Credit Association and U. S. Housing Authority will repay the $5,400,000,000 that they have borrowed by issuing bonds in their own right. A skeptic notes, however, that the Treasury had to guarantee the principal and interest of these bonds before investors would take them.

During and after the World War, the debt rose to a maximum of 251/2 billions. In the prosperity of the twenties, it came down to 16 billions. The depression and deficits caught Mr. Hoover, and it went up again to nearly 21 billions, where it was when the most profligate Administration of all times, ours or any other, came in. It has mounted without interruption or hope of interruption ever since.

The Issue in Chicago

The American people like to root for one side or the other, even if only in a pick-up baseball game between kids of the neighborhood. The American people also, for the most part, hate gangsters and despise corrupt politicians. For which reasons they ought to have a greater than usual interest in Chicago's municipal election, which takes place tomorrow.

The side to root for goes under the Republican label, but never mind that, nor assume that the gangsters and plug-uglies vote the Democratic ticket exclusively. Corruption thrived and racketeering got its start during the administrations of Big Bill Thompson, a Republican and an impossible critter any way you took him. Some of the iniquities in Chicago may be laid to Prohibition, a period during which Republicans and Democrats alternated in City Hall. But Repeal and the rare opportunity it afforded to strike a blow for uprightness came wholly within the terms of Mayor Edward J. Kelly, Democratic candidate for re-election and the man to root against.

His Republican opponent is Dwight H. Green, the district attorney who won a conviction against Al Capone for income tax frauds and comes as close to being a counterpart of Tom Dewey as the Windy City seems likely to produce. Against him is lined up all the power and patronage of the Kelly Administration, the money of the underworld and--for an oddly-associated partner--the influence of the Democratic Party nationally. But honorable men everywhere, without regard to partisan faith, will hope for a clear verdict for reform in Chicago.

Site Ed. Note: Perhaps the explanation for what happened in that instanced below might be found as an atavism to that described within Cash's book as the prevailing practice first in the antebellum South, then during Reconstruction, and afterward, viz.:

If the common white was scorned, yet that scorn was so attenuated and softened its passage down through the universal medium of this manner, struck at last so obliquely upon his ego, that it glanced off harmless. When he frequented public gatherings, what he encountered would seldom be naked hauteur. Rather, there would nearly always be a fine gentleman to lay a familiar hand on his shoulder, to inquire by name after the members of his family, maybe to buy him a drink, certainly to rally him on some boasted weakness or treasured misadventure, and to come around eventually to confiding in a hushed voice that that damned nigger-loving scoundrel Garrison, in Boston--in short, to patronize him in such fashion that to his simple eyes he seemed not to be patronized at all but actually deferred to, to send him home, not sullen and vindictive, but glowing with the sense of participation in the common brotherhood of white men.

To sum up, the working code of the Old South, the code which really governed most relations between the classes, was exactly adapted to the exigencies of the Southern order--was adapted above all to the old basic democracy of feeling--was itself, in its peculiar way, simply an embodiment of that feeling. If the common white, with the backcountry hot within him, was likely to carry a haughtiness like that of the Spanish peasant underneath his slouch, very well, so far from challenging and trampling on that, his planter neighbors in effect allowed it, gave it boundless room-- nay, even encouraged it and invited it on to growth.
(The Mind of the South, Book One, Chap. II, "Of the Man at the Center", section 5, pp. 41-42: 1941 ed.)


For ten years the courts of the South were in such hands that no loyal white man could hope to find justice in them as against any Negro or any white creature of the Yankee policy; for twenty years and longer they continued, in many quarters, to be in such hands that such justice was at least doubtful. Hence the traditional inclination to direct action found here the same justification it had found in the case of mob violence--the justification of necessity.

Moreover, the same combination of circumstances which had operated to make mob violence socially desirable from the Southern viewpoint operated to make this private violence desirable also. To smash a sassy Negro, to kill him, to do the same to a white "nigger-lover"--this was to assert the white man's prerogative as pointedly, to move as certainly toward getting the black man back in his place, as to lynch. And so, to a very considerable extent, it, too, was felt as an act of patriotism and chivalry.

The best men in the South never gave it such open and explicit countenance as they gave to lynching, perhaps, though in the heat of passion they often gave the example in action. Faced with an unmistakable case of the cold-blooded murder of a Negro or a Yankee-serving white man, or of gratuitous assault on these, they would always respond with more or less of indignant disapprobation. But, conditioned as they were, they were immensely prone to give consent to the doctrine that a broken head or even death was fair punishment for the sassy nigger (that is, one guilty of any word or deed of assertion) or the "nigger-lover." They were immensely prone and, for subconscious purposes, maybe even eager to accept the claim, immediately put forward by every offender who was not an utter dolt, that his violence was due to this or to insult offered his women. And, in consequence, they were so honestly blind that it would have to be a flagrant case that would move them to do more than merely turn away their eyes.
(Ibid., Book Two, Chap. I, "Of the Frontier the Yankee Made", Section 6, p. 119)


The final great result of Reconstruction we have to consider in this chapter (a result which stands as a sort of summation of the things we have been seeing) is that it established what I have called the savage ideal as it had not been established in any Western people since the decay of medieval feudalism, and almost as truly as it is established today in Fascist Italy, in Nazi Germany, in Soviet Russia--and so paralyzed Southern culture at the root.

Here, under pressure of what was felt to be a matter of life and death, was that old line between what was Southern and what was not, etched, as it were, in fire and carried through every department of life. Here were the ideas and loyalties of the apotheosized past fused into the tightest coherence and endowed with all the binding emotional and intellectual power of any tribal complex of the Belgian Congo. Here was that mighty frame the Democratic Party, as potent an instrument of regimentation as anv totemic society that ever existed. In a word, here, explicitly defined in every great essential, defined in feeling down to the last detail, was what one must think and say and do.

And one thought it, said it, did it, exactly as it was ordained, or one stood in pressing peril of being cast out for a damned nigger-loving scoundrel in league with the enemy. Let a man deviate from the strait way once, and by dint of much eating of meek bread he might yet win forgiveness. Let him deviate twice, three times, and men's eyes were hard and dangerous in his, women began to gather their skirts closely about them as they passed, doors that had formerly swung hospitably open slammed in his face, marriage into a decent family became difficult or impossible, the children in the village street howled and cast stones, the dogs developed an inexplicable eagerness to bite him, his creditors were likely to call in the sheriff.

Had it still been possible in the Old South to be an open atheist or skeptic without suffering any physical penalty? Pious and patriotic drunks, riding home from a camp-meeting or a party rally, were apt now to send bullets crashing through the unbeliever's windows. And sooner or later the Klan was almost certain to pause in its routine labors long enough to teach him reverence and a proper regard for the safety of his country with a horsewhip or a coat of tar.

Tolerance, in sum, was pretty well extinguished all along the line, and conformity made a nearly universal law. Criticism, analysis, detachment, all those activities and attitudes so necessary to the healthy development of any civilization, every one of them took on the aspect of high and aggravated treason.
(Ibid., Section 11, pp.134-135.)


In North Carolina the Red Shirts were riding, a maskless resurrection of the Ku-Klux Klan. The conservative Democratic forces were resorting to wholesale intimidation of the black voter and practicing wholesale fraud; were stealing votes by thousands in the confidence, fixed by Reconstruction, that it was entirely justified by the end; in the cool conviction even, I think it may safely be said, that it was no mere necessary immorality but the very shape and substance of morality itself. And everywhere violence was flaring; in the Populist year of 1892, 162 Negroes were lynched in the South, the greatest number on record for any year. And in the North--Henry Cabot Lodge and company were joyously capitalizing on all this to furbish up the Force Bill once more; were gleefully preparing to send down the Army again.

And when our common white, our Populist of whatever sort, had come to this: The eyes of his old captains were ominous and accusing upon him. From hustings and from pulpits thousands of voices proclaimed him traitor and nigger-loving scoundrel; renegade to Southern Womanhood, the Confederate dead, and the God of his fathers; champion of the transformation of the white race into a mongrel breed. And in his own heart, as he gazed upon the evidence, it was, in ninety-nine cases out of the hundred at least, echoed and confirmed-fearfully adjudged true.

There could be but one outcome. When he had come to this, he fled, as he might have fled had he discovered himself somehow and unbelievably ranged on the side of the legions of the pit; flung himself back fully into the Democratic frame and made the walls of Dixie solid again.
(Ibid., Book Two, Chap. II, "Of Quandary--and the Birth of a Dream", Section 9, pp. 169-170)

One Touch of Novelty

The only saying that distinguishes the first lynching of the year from all its predecessors in recent years is the fact that the corpus was that of a white man. Otherwise, the circumstances are so familiar that we can rattle them off blindly, without once consulting the printed account.

It happened in the far South--Florida, this time; a state shamefully given to lynching. The jailer, a deputy sheriff, was taken by surprise and had no chance to defend his prisoner. As usual, however, he recognized no members of the mob, even though they were without masks. No posse was organized to hunt the lynchers down before they could do their deed. If a posse was organized, a decent interval was allowed to elapse. The Governor of the state has issued a burning statement in which he declares that this is a foul blot upon the [word] of the commonwealth, and he is determined to see that the guilty men are brought to justice. But he has made no move to send in State police or militia to do what he well knows the local constables have no intention of doing.

And without waiting for the aftermath of the year's first lynching, we can tell you what will happen. Nothing. Nothing at all. Oh, a few editors of Florida newspapers, well away from the area in which the lynching was committed, will indite furious editorials; Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, prime source of lynching statistics, will make an entry on a clean white page, speculating the while if it is polite for a Negro institution to record a white lynching; the lynching bill bloc in Congress will blink and wonder how this white lynching fits in with their purpose for a Federal law; and the fag end of Winter will give way to certain Spring.

Cages And Myths

Two very curious things about Mr. Hitler's speech Saturday are worth noticing. One of them is that the great man spoke from within a cage of bullet-proof glass. That is the first time such a thing has been reported. And taken with his zeal to see that the German people heard his speech only after it had been edited and to keep the knowledge of Mr. Chamberlain's stand away from them, it lends confirmation to the stories which have been increasingly common of late--that there is a growing disaffection toward the Nazi regime in Germany itself.

The other thing is that he again showed his tendency to substitute myth for history, when he roared that Germany could not and would not be turned back from its "destiny" by "artificially-created states," and that a German king received the homage of the Czechs a thousand years ago! As a matter of fact, Bohemia was an independent state for a thousand years before Germany as such was born. It had some German kings through intermarriage and other considerations--and so has England had them! But until its absorption by the Hapsburg Dynasty in the seventeenth century, its only relationship with the Germans in general was that of a sort of loose and incidental membership in the Holy Roman Empire. And Germany as such has never ruled it until now.

On the other hand, Germany might very correctly be called an "artificially-created state." From the death of Charlemagne until Bismarck in 1870, it remained a tangle of small independent or semi-independent states, often hostile toward one another and at best held together only nominally in the bonds of the Holy Roman Empire. After the World War, separatism and hatred of Prussia were rampant and the nation nearly fell to pieces again--would have had it not been for the vigorous action of that Weimar Republic upon which Hitler heaps scorn today. And many of the Germans are said even now to believe that division is the natural state of the land and that it will again fall to pieces when Hitler has passed. That, indeed, is precisely one of the main excuses civilized Germans give for supporting the fellow--that he is the only man who can hold Germany together.

On Recognizing Franco

Unpalatable dose for the friends of the Spanish Loyalists though it is, the recognition of Franco's Spanish Government by Washington was probably the most sensible step which could be taken in the circumstances. What undoubtedly lies behind it is the purpose of playing along with England and France in attempting to weaken the Spanish butcher's ties with the Italian and German war-lords who gave him his victory over his people.

That will be hard to do, of course. The Spanish people have been fighting more than a hundred years to throw off the rule of greed and force masquerading under the cloak of moral authority. And the spirit of such men as the Basque dynamiters, who often deliberately blew themselves up in order to destroy a Franco position, will not die--and will not long be tame under Fascist despotism. Franco will live with fear of rebellion always before him. And so he is going to need to keep hold of the hands of his Italian and German masters.

On the other hand, Spain is ruined and broke--the war having cost 40 billions of dollars! Franco's only chance of holding power is to succeed in beginning rapidly to restore it. And to do that he needs money badly--money which he can get only from the democratic powers. Hence, it is not impossible that they may be able to break the hold which the Italians and Germans have fastened on the economic life of the land, and to detach him politically from the axis--far enough at least to assure that he will choose neutrality if war comes.

Anyhow, it is probably worth trying, though it does involve the risk of making the axis powers stronger for war.


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