The Charlotte News

Thursday, June 29, 1939


Site Ed. Note: "No Prying Eyes" presents a fairly common theme of Cash, the demagoguery of little local dictatorships, exemplified by the political machines of Boss Hague in Jersey City, the Long machine in Louisiana, Pendergast in Kansas City, and Boss Crump in Memphis. Cash was interested in doing a non-fiction book on Huey Long as a potboiler of sorts after The Mind of the South, and approached Knopf about the idea in the fall of 1940. Knopf, however, already had a contract with another author to write such a book, eventually published several years later. The color of Huey, as with many such folksy lapel-pluckers, masked a much darker, sinister purpose, as eventually portrayed in the semi-fictionalized "All the King's Men". (The lending words a quarter century later in the title of another book and movie about a scandalous administration, without the semi-fiction, (though mystery it had for over 30 years--and perhaps still does; cui bono?), would portray this dark side at the national level, albeit in this instance, without the colorful Egg at the top of the wall.)

Good Law

Proposed Ban On Oil Trucks Should Enlist General Support

The Transportation Committee of the Chamber of Commerce should get virtually unanimous and active support from the citizens of Charlotte generally in its efforts to secure a municipal ordinance which would force heavy motor trucks, and particularly oil trucks, to go around the city instead of passing along its principal streets.

The big trucks are a nuisance at any time because of their effect in congesting traffic. And at night, they become intolerable. But it is the oil trucks which most call for being banned from the streets. There they go every day, speeding along past you as you walk along the sidewalk all unaware of danger. If they suddenly crashed into another vehicle and caught fire, maybe you could escape from the flaming flood as it poured down upon you, by flight through a store. Maybe, but probably not. And in any case, the property loss would almost certainly be frightful.

It isn't likely to happen? It did happen precisely that way at Fayetteville. And something of the same kind has happened repeatedly on the highways.

Good Town

If Only It Cleaned Up In its Premises A Little

Mr. John Crawford, editor of The Harlan Daily Enterprise, seems a pleasant fellow, and so we are almost minded to hear his plea in the letter reproduced in the column to our right and portray Harlan only as a pleasant place.

It is a bigger town then you think--10,000 people. It has its slums obviously, but it also has a fair share of the sort of pleasant middle-class houses you find in other American towns. And the people who rule it--Mr. Crawford shows us their pictures--don't look like Bull Montana or the feuding hillbillies of melodrama. On the contrary, they have the same sort of mild, commonplace faces our rulers wear most anywhere. Even the cops look almost amiable--deceptively, if the record means anything. The tax rate is represented as the lowest for a town of similar size in the country and in fact is obviously extraordinarily low--0.60 cents. (The coal mines would explain that, of course. And that fact in turn would explain why Harlan generally feels kindly toward the mines.) Besides all that, the place has its quota of decent churches and schools, and a lot of fine mountain views somewhat spoiled by the collieries but still on the whole good to look at.

We shouldn't, we think, pick it as our dwelling place if we had our choice among all the towns of the earth. Nevertheless, Mr. Crawford's rotogravure section does give us the impression that if only Harlan would hang two or three coal operators and some sheriffs and deputy sheriffs, it would be a pretty good place in which to live.

Site Ed. Note: Here is the letter to which the editorial refers:

Harlan Has More Than Gunmen, He Maintains

Dear Sir:

In the past we have provided you with many a good story. Our colorful background of mountains, moonshine and family feuds, as a setting for the juicy murders which have been committed here, gave your news and editorial writers a great canvass over which to spread their word pictures.

This same background again proved to be a writer's bonanza when the Senate Civil Liberties Committee "discovered" what are a horrible place Harlan was, especially for the organizers of John L. Lewis' United Mine Workers. And finally, the reputation of Harlan County was almost the undoing of a group of coal operators when the latter were brought before the bar of justice on the charge of violating the Wagner Labor Act.

We've been liberal with you. Now we're asking a favor. We want to show you "another side of Harlan." In order to do this we have worked up a little rotogravure edition on the county, showing some of the good things we have here. We think it is a right nice showing. We hope you take time to look over the special edition when it reaches your desk--in fact, would be highly elated if you would even feel inclined to make some editorial comment on this "other side" of Harlan.

And if you do make some comment, or carry a news story, won't you please send along to us a copy of the edition carrying it? You see, we want to be able to gather in a goodly number of these comments and then say to our folks here in the county: "Look! The newspapers of the state and nation are just as anxious to print good things about us as they are the bad. Just read what they are saying about us now."

After all, we have something besides moonshine and gun-thugs, machine guns and industrial over-lords, down here. It's a right decent little community. And don't you think it deserves a little puff in payment for all the hot news it has given you in recent years!

Any comment you make will be personally appreciated by the writer. In advance, let me say, "thanks a million."


John L. Crawford, Editor,
Harlan Daily Enterprise.

Harlan, Ky.

Men In A Hurry*

Congress, Having Dallied, Puts On A Midnight Sprint

The clock ticks on toward midnight Friday, when the fiscal year ends. And despite the fact that Congress has been in uninterrupted session since way back in January, the usual last-minute rush is on to get expiring laws re-enacted and to provide the appropriations which are of tremendous importance nationally, some even of international consequence. We dare not essay to do it ourselves, but we can tell you this: that today and tomorrow we shall witness in Washington the most hurried and impetuous kind of statesmanship--legislation by the clock, you might say, and with fatigue playing its customary compromising role.

But in the end we shall be as rigidly governed by these jammed-through laws as by any others which were given due consideration and debate. And since some of the very worst New Deal legislation has been the product of long deliberation, who knows but that the country will fair as well one way as the other.

No Prying Eyes

This Law Admirably Serves Its Real Purpose

In New Orleans, a reporter for the Times-Picayune sought to have a look into the records of the Board of Supervisors of Louisiana University, by way of checking up on what authority Prexy James Monroe Smith had to palm off $500,000 worth of phoney notes on the banks of the city. But up rose Supervisor of Public Accounts Frank S. Shattuck to refuse on the ground that, under a state law, "to further protect the faith and credit of the State and its agencies, and prevent its impairment by unfavorable and misleading publicity, records of the board shall not be subject to public inspection."

That law, of course, was passed by the Long machine, and violates one of the first principles of good government in a democracy. How that sort of thing works out to protect "the faith and credit" of Louisiana is admirably illustrated by the fact that Prexy Smith is in flight. Does the reading of those stories whet your appetite for buying a bond backed by "the good faith and credit" of Louisiana? And is that appetite still further increased by the news that, though it is plain that Prexy Smith is a common embzzler and that he certainly didn't work alone with the aid of powerful persons in the Long machine, nobody will be allowed even to pry into the record?

Of course not. But then, to be sure, the law was not really passed for the purposes it alleges. That is only a sugar-coating of the same sort Mr. Hitler habitually uses for his crimes. And the thing serves its real purpose perfectly, to wit: the protection of the Long mob in its grabbing of the boodle.


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