The Charlotte News

Tuesday, June 6, 1939


Site Ed. Note: From Mississippi this past January, as from several places in Alabama and Mississippi in the past decade or so, we have sign that the day when "they never saw them before" is becoming a thing of the past in the deepest and formerly the most virulent parts of the South when it came to lynching. To that end, of course, we must remain ever vigilant--to end the strange fruit.

The lynching in 1955 of fourteen-year old Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi, a mere week after he had arrived there from his native Chicago, and the subsequent acquittal of two individuals who had confessed to the crime, galvanized even more an already ever increasingly galvanized nation against the inhuman nature of the act and mentality in issue, the brutalizing of a person for skin pigment.

Such crimes had of course gone on and gone on with impunity in much of the South since the beginnings of slavery, becoming more prevalent in the aftermath of the Civil War with the fervid displacement in the minds of the battlefield blood-saturated guilt and defeated humiliation, cast, for want of a ready Yankee musket-bearer, onto the former slave--or one so perceived--then passed generationally through the decades as they followed on down the dusty road from horse to horseless carriage to Chevy, often encouraged along the way by twisted interpretations of the Bible itself, offered by drunks and sycophants of the cloth wishing to ingratiate themselves as big, virile men among their clientele of the robe and the politically powerful Pharaonic-aspiring Pharisees in their communities.

Billowed from the reports of the Brown v. Board of Education decisions of 1954-55, and striking the flame against handy Till from a rumor circulating that he had whistled at a white girl, the lynchers kidnapped the young boy on August 28 at around 2:30 a.m. He was then brutally beaten, shot in the head, and tossed from a bridge near Swan Lake into the Tallahatchie River, weighted with a cotton gin fan tied to his neck.

Pictures would prove the worth of millions of words in this instance as the photographs of his mutilated body circulated internationally in parts of the magazine press.

Rosa Parks would start the Montgomery bus boycott a hundred days later. Martin Luther King would emerge from the experience as the pre-eminent leader of the national Civil Rights Movement, a singularly articulate, conscientious voice, who, after his Letter from Birmingham Jail in April, 1963 and his August speech at the Lincoln Memorial, would become the lasting symbol of the nation's conscience on modern conceptions of democracy and justice for all.

Much would follow. Much would change.

Much still will.

Much had preceded even the birth of Emmett Till on July 25, 1941.

Spirits to spirits, blaming the living for the perceived sins of the dead against the long dead, lynching--yet not finally killing--the handy target-object. And spirits to spirits living onward to teach the living and bring justice to the rest of us.

Bold Officers

They Must Have Had The Courage Of Community Opinion Behind Them

They don't want a lynching at Chatman, Virginia. So they didn't have one. "They" means the decent people of the place generally, and particularly the people with influence and power, who do most to make public opinion. That, we make bold to surmise, is the essential meaning of the action of the jailer, the sheriff, the public prosecutor, and the mob itself Sunday night. It is conceivable of course that the officials might have stood up to the mob just as a matter of individual conscience. But officials like that are rare indeed--and to find three of them together would be wonderful. Besides, the mob went away quietly--a thing in and of itself which suggests very pointedly that they felt that the weight of all decent public opinion was against them.

It simply goes to show again that the thing can be done--that lynching can be completely wiped out when the prevailing opinion in the community wants it wiped out. Jailers, sheriffs, and even public prosecutors are human. They want to hold their jobs, and to do that usually try their best to do what they think the most weighty and authoritative opinion in their localities wants. If they feel that such opinion favors or condones or even tolerates lynching, then, and even though their own private conscience may run the other way about, they are very likely to be "overpowered" by men whom "they never saw before" as we constantly read in the papers.

Site Ed. Note: The picture was also mute on the probability that the million from Mexico came from Nazi oil purchases arranged between the Reich and Mexico for a year prior to this time by and to the great profit of William Rhodes Davis. Poland would suffer greatly from the deal in less than three months. The camps, Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, would begin a year hence.

On Account

Mexico Makes A Payment, But Let's Not Cheer Yet

Viva Mexico! Last week she paid a cool million on her account with the United States for lands expropriated from American residents. The picture in the paper showed Ambassador Josephus Daniels receiving the check from Foreign Secretary Eduardo Hay, and both exuded good faith and respect for the sanctity of obligations and Good Neighborliness and all that. But the picture didn't tell all the story.

It didn't tell, for example, whether this million was in partial payment for the lands expropriated under the present Cardenas regime (with an estimated value of some ten millions) or a resumption of indemnification payments, which ceased in 1930, for lands seized by his predecessors. It didn't go on to say that Mexico, having offered a token in recognition of the validity of American land claims, would do as much for American owners of looted oil properties.

And it certainly was mute, this picture, on the possibility that Mexico's token payment of the million had been conditioned on the U. S. Treasury's continuing to purchase Mexican-mined silver, which we don't need and can't use and only have to bury, at the rate of two million dollars a month.

Marvelous Morality

Commissioner Wearn Recoils From That Stuff And Those Things--Ugh!

The three abstemious monkeys, all rolled into one, would have nothing on our Arthur Wearn. In his morality he is magnificent. Well, maybe magnificent is not the word. But anyhow marvelous. Behold!

The County Commissioners had to settle yesterday a couple of questions indirectly concerned with That Stuff--liquor--and Those Things--slot machines (which don't pay off). Legalization or use of neither was involved in the slightest, but only the very practical questions of turning over confiscated bottled liquor to hospitals in the community and taxing slot machines. Commissioner Wearn felt a draft of contamination in the board room. A couple of drafts. He shut his eyes to see no evil. He shut his ears to hear no evil. He shut his mouth, but opened it long enough to vote No, resolutely, in both instances.

His critics might say, to be sure, that in voting not to give the hospitals confiscated liquor he was as much as compelling them to order off for it, thus enriching the distillers; and that in voting not to tax slot machines he was doing their proprietors a notable favor. But let the critics carp. If they raise an argument that Arthur can't answer, he will simply shut his ears, shut his eyes, and through his clenched teeth sibilate no no no no no no...

Site Ed. Note: The case to which the below editorial refers is Hague v. CIO, 307 US 496 (1939). It was a splintered plurality opinion. You may read it for yourself.

A lot more would occur in this area, too.

We seen the parade. Tweren't always good, especially by the time it got to Skokie, but we seen it anyway. And in the mashed, yet strangely, ever strangely compelling, brew we call America, seeing it, hearing it, feeling it--that's what it's all about, Pilgrim.

I Am Not The Law

Decision In Hague Case Is Sweeping Victory For Civil Liberty, And Cuts Ground From Under Dictators

The decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Boss Hague represents one of the most clear-cut and sweeping victories for civil liberties ever won in the United States. The CIO, says that decision, or any other group of people has a right to assemble without any permit at all. They have the right to use the streets and all other public places for the communication of their views, subject only to such restriction as can be shown in good faith to be necessary for the convenience of the general public--and if one group is allowed to assemble and another is not, that is de facto evidence that such restrictions are not in good faith. The mere fact that their meeting is expected to give rise to disorder is not ground to forbid the meeting. Rather, it is the business of the authorities to provide sufficient police protection to see that disorder cannot develop. And finally, anybody or any group has a right to distribute printed matter without securing permission.

At a blow that sweeps away a whole mass of insidious encroachments on the Bill of Rights. And it cuts the ground out from all the little dictators in Jersey City, and Memphis, and elsewhere--and from under any big dictator who might attempt to arise. It says that the Bill of Rights means just exactly what it says--and that nobody has a right to change any part of it on any excuse at all.

It is a little amusing to observe that only Butler, J., and McReynolds, J., are listed as dissenting. For these are the justices usually listed as most conservative and as most rigidly strict constructionist. But the language of the First Amendment is the most explicit in the whole Constitution. And the ancient liberties it guarantees are surely one of the things in America most worthy of being conserved.

It is still more amusing to wonder if Hague will attempt to go on being the law still. And if the Federal Government will move to put him and all his sort down if they do attempt defiance. Hitherto there has been no established and certain way to implement the Bill of Rights. The decisions of the Supreme Court were too vague and piecemeal to make it certain that the Federal Courts would issue injunctions against violators of civil liberties. But the injunction against Hague was the thing immediately upheld yesterday. And no Federal Court can any longer reasonably dodge out of its duty in such cases.

Hague will be in plain contempt of court if he goes forward on his course. But will the courts clap him in jail for it? In view of the fact that he is Vice-Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and that the Administration at Washington has consistently played ball with him, it will be interesting to watch for the answer to that question.

Further Site Ed. Note:

In 1939, five of seven old men out of nine
Proclaimed it not a sin to speak, wax and wen
Or to be a "United States citizen"

(O, say can you see, me, we, thee,
In sub rosa number eleven, see?--He-she-key)

Or to preach--less revolting, ghastly rumors--heaven, hell
Given, in balance, the meat by which Seven of 6, 7 Acts may sell
Or, as Candy's chamberlain in 8, an ideal begging only to wait
Understood too well by the Sate's night-bird quell,
Baptized in fire, only unseeing, the seen to foretell

Yet, then in 2000, five of nine, we did Note,
Declaimed that as "U.S. citizens"
We've no right to vote

That to us, at the time,
Seemed like a barrel of monkeys, out of rime
Fun, loving, but also apt to run when pressed to the carrel
Very funky,
Like Oscar's Razor,
Oh, see cam phase her.

But whether and wherefore art thou how now, ye 5-4-3-2-1
We lumber along in the turnip fields, macaque, ol' pal
'Til the wagon comes, till that wagon comes.

Boy, you just stay right there, till that wagon comes.

Or until the Ref calls the roll and issues a Technical Foul.
At least on some, on someone's sum.


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