The Charlotte News

Friday, July 21, 1939


Site Ed. Note: To Mars, men... and again, now and again... 2010? Global warming took place ages ago on Mars, according to Mr. Wells. Maybe, after all, we were there once, our prosopagnosia notwithstanding--and, with the abstemious monkeys taking campaign contributions from big polluters, eventually loused it up, too. With friends of earth like humans, who needs Martians to attack us?

With diffidation, Cash underscores a not dissimilar point in "Murder in Charlotte".

...And precisely thirty years from this date, after spending 21 hours, 36 minutes on the moon, off would lift the Eagle, a few hours after the man in the White House would telephone congratulations, saying, inter alia, "Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man's world," but a few seconds after this speech by his former political opponent, given September 12, 1962 at Rice University:

...No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man's recorded history in a time span of but a half a century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power, Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power.

And now if America's new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.

This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.

So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward--and so will space.

William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again.

But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon.

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency...

And this, before the United Nations, a year later on September 20, 1963:

...Finally, in a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity--in the field of space--there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts in the regulation and exploration of space. I include among these possibilities a joint expedition to the moon. Space offers no problems of sovereignty; by resolution of this Assembly, the members of the United Nations have foresworn any claim to territorial rights in outer space or on celestial bodies, and declared that international law and the United Nations Charter will apply. Why, therefore, should man's first flight to the moon be a matter of national competition? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplications of research, construction, and expenditure? Surely we should explore whether the scientists and astronauts of our two countries--indeed of all the world--cannot work together in the conquest of space, sending someday in this decade to the moon not the representatives of a single nation, but the representatives of all of our countries.

All these and other new steps toward peaceful cooperation may be possible. Most of them will require on our part full consultation with our allies--for their interests are as much involved as our own, and we will not make an agreement at their expense. Most of them will require long and careful negotiation. And most of them will require a new approach to the cold war--a desire not to "bury" one's adversary, but to compete in a host of peaceful arenas, in ideas, in production, and ultimately in service to all mankind.

The contest will continue--the contest between those who see a monolithic world and those who believe in diversity--but it should be a contest in leadership and responsibility instead of destruction, a contest in achievement instead of intimidation. Speaking for the United States of America, I welcome such a contest. For we believe that truth is stronger than error--and that freedom is more enduring than coercion. And in the contest for a better life, all the world can be a winner...

And a few nanoseconds afterward, on November 21, 1963, in Houston:

...Frank O'Connor, the Irish writer, tells in one of his books how, as a boy, he and his friends would make their way across the countryside, and when they came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and too doubtful to try and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue, they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall--and then they had no choice but to follow them.

This Nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space, and we have no choice but to follow it. Whatever the difficulties, they will be overcome. Whatever the hazards, they must be guarded against. With the vital help of this Aerospace Medical Center, with the help of all those who labor in the space endeavor, with the help and support of all Americans, we will climb this wall with safety and with speed--and we shall then explore the wonders on the other side.

Then, the earth stood still, amidst the cadence of the drums.

...A place and space in time, for a time and a purpose, under heaven.

Fair Enough

Michigan Asked For This Kind Of Silly Prattle

Governor Hoey reports "surprise" at the report of Governor Luren B. Dickinson of Michigan on Sodom. Governor Hoey is a tee totaler, a big Methodist layman, and, as all Tar Heels know, looks most unkindly upon Sin. But As for that wickedness which, according to Governor Dickinson, transpired at the Governors' Convention in big, bad New York, Governor Hoey saw little of it. On the contrary, he was impressed by the number of the governors and their associates who preferred the cold comfort of fruit punch to the cheerful inebriating cup.

And Michigan--Michigan, they say, is just plain embarrassed. That there was some polite drinking at the Governors' session is most likely. But Michigan candidly confessed that such happens in all its conventions, too. About that Governor Dickinson says that he has seen it at Michigan conventions, to be sure, but that was a different kind of drinking--adds that he hasn't gone out at night much. Apparently it is his view that drinking is all right so long as it is impolite drinking. And plainly he hasn't been out at night much.

His notion of innocent girls being betrayed into debauchery at a Governors' convention is silly, of course. But Michigan really deserves no better. It was silly enough to elect him Lieutenant Governor, though he plainly had little knowledge of the facts of life. And if, now that he has become Governor through accident, a gang of boodlers is running the state while the old gentleman makes it ridiculous with charges like these--it has it coming as certainly, well, as certainly as North Carolina has grief and blushes coming for having elected the Hon. Robert Rice Reynolds to the Senate.

[Note: See article reprinted from Time, to our right.]

Mars Is Coming

However, You Can Keep Your Shirt On

We don't want to alarm the radio audience unduly, but Mars is heading toward the earth at terrific speed. Not just the men from Mars this time, but the whole planet. You may see him in the southeastern sky every evening. And if you look, you'll have no trouble in identifying him. For he is much brighter than any other star in sight, with a cold and baleful red. At present he comes into view over the horizon about 45 minutes after sunset. But on July 23 his rising will almost exactly coincide with the going down of the sun.

However, the people who got excited about Mr. Orson Welles' broadcast of an old H. G. Wells thriller, may compose themselves. The approach of the planet is quite normal. It happens about every two years, at the time when the planet is directly opposite the earth in its passage around the sun. But it has been a good many years since it came quite as close as it will come this time. Sometimes it is as much as 63,000,000 miles away at opposition. This time, however, it will come within 46,000,000 miles of us. That is somewhat more than a third as far away as the sun, and about 144 times as far as the moon. Traveling at 500 miles an hour, it would take Mr. Wells' rocket man about ten years to cover the distance.

Murder In Charlotte

It Flourishes Like The Green Bay Tree But Nobody Troubles To Move Against It

So far this year Charlotte has had nineteen murders. Nineteen. Seven in July alone. And so the chances are that it will again be out in front at the end of the year as the most murderous burg of more than 50,000 people in the whole United States--perhaps the most murderous of any town in the country; there are no figures available on that. But the only serious rival it has in towns with more than 50,000 people is Atlanta. Last year Atlanta beat it out for first place, by a tiny margin. But the year before Charlotte won, and the year before that. This year, it looked in the first quarter as though Atlanta would have a walk-away--that Charlotte had reformed. For in the first quarter Atlanta had 20 murders, Charlotte 5. Fixing Atlanta's population at three times that of Charlotte, that gave the Georgia metropolis a 35 per cent lead. But Charlotte has already gone up 300 percent, with the second three months not yet complete. To keep its lead, Atlanta will need at least 60 murders in these three months--which does not seem probable, even for Atlanta.

It is an old story--and we begin to tire of chronicling it. Last year, 27; 30-odd the year before; 50-odd in 1936; 40-odd in 1935. And so on back as far as the record runs. Over and over, the thing has monstrously repeated itself. And over and over The Charlotte News has monotonously directed attention to it at every opportunity--over and over has printed out that the percentage of murder here is nearly twenty times as high as in New England towns, is seven or eight times as high as in such objects of pious horror as New York and Chicago, is even three times as great as the average for South Atlantic towns in general--by far the most murderous group in the nation. And what has come of it all? Nothing. Precisely nothing. The only people who have taken cognizance of it at all have been a group of Negro citizens. For the rest--nothing. Nothing has been done and apparently nothing ever will be done.

And it is that great apathy which is finally the principal culprit. You cannot blame it on the presence of the Negro pure and simple, for other Southern towns with a much larger proportion of Negroes have much smaller murder rates. That of Memphis is half ours, that of Columbia, S. C., a fourth. And if you lay it to official apathy, even to the apathy of our politic Solicitor, then all that apathy is finally just a reflection of the general public apathy--of the apathy precisely of the very best people.

In this town, you can stir people up to go out and swat a library. In this town, which boasts that it is the greatest church-going town in America, which prides itself above all on its strict morality, you can whip up militant crusades for the putting down of petty gambling machines, for the harrying of prostitutes, against Sunday baseball and movies. But against murder you cannot raise a cheep. Under the Charlotte code, murder is apparently accepted as a fact of life like the rain and the sun, not as a matter which has anything to do with morals.


Framed Edition
[Return to Links-Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News--Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.