The Charlotte News

Saturday, July 8, 1939


Site Ed. Note: A topical issue, "The Filibuster" presents an argument against its use in the context of isolationists blocking aid to Britain and France. In 1939, the filibuster rule was that a two-thirds vote of the Senators was required to bring cloture to debate, to break a filibuster. Today, of course, it is three-fifths.

We disagree with Cash's view on the filibuster. There have been exceptions made to the rule in issues of national defense and national emergency, and for good reason. But for the ordinary business of the Senate, especially when it comes to confirmation of lifetime tenured Federal judges, judges who will adjudicate cases for Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Libertarians, the apolitical and people of as many viewpoints as the encyclopedia has to elucidate, the filibuster has its place--to protect not just a minority view but also a principle of judicial integrity which includes the insurance that judicial appointees maintain to the extent humanly possible the absence of political bias in the interpretation and adjudication of law. The filibuster, in place in one form or another since our beginnings as a sovereignty, should not become itself a political football to twist arms toward confirmation of those whose credentials or views are being sincerely debated and questioned. Up or down votes on emergent questions of national defense, yes. But, sometimes, justice delayed is justice, not only not denied, but better served by cautious, conscientious deliberation.

For Cash's later similar view to that below on filibuster, see "The Filibuster", February 27, 1941. For his views, however, on the necessity generally of protecting the minority, see "Winner Take All", November 4, 1940.

"An Essential Spot" tells a poignant story, indicative of Cash's consistent separation of the military and political leaders of Germany, Japan and Italy from the people of those countries. The story is made all the more poignant when one realizes that a mere two years from this day, Cash's own ashes, held in a little jar, would be beneath the earth of Sunset Cemetery in Shelby for the first full day following his funeral the day before on July 7, 1941.

The Filibuster

It Ought To Be Abolished Under Democratic Rule

The Neutrality Bill appears to be dead because the Senate isolationists have announced that they have formed a bloc of 34 Senators to filibuster against it all Summer if necessary. Part of these men are actuated by honest conviction that an arms embargo will somehow aid to keep us out of war, though the available evidence argues the other way. Some two or three of them, especially from the Midwestern states with large populations of German extraction, are not averse to injuring England and France and aiding Germany, though it is plain that to do so is to injure the United States also. And more of them are moved simply by partisan or personal spite toward the President.

But whatever their honesty or dishonesty, the method they propose to use in order to have their way is totally indefensible. There is little doubt that the majority of the Senate is prepared to vote for the Hull proposals; and that the overwhelming majority of the people are clearly in favor of them. Yet these 34, constituting only a third of the Senate, propose, with the arrogance of elected persons, to defeat the will of the majority by refusing to let the matter come to a vote. It is one more argument that the filibuster--a word, by the way, originally applying to a military freebooter, which is to say, a sort of bandit--ought to be abolished. The thing is wholly incompatible with democracy, which is, among other things, the right of the majority to determine all questions of national policy one way or the other.

An Essential Spot

To Receive Leaders Who Bring These Things About

It was a simple and natural and moving story the AP reported yesterday. A train moved into the station at Tokyo, while a crowd stood waiting. Before the crowd a detail of soldiers was drawn up at attention. An officer stepped down from the train, saluted the officers in charge of the detail. Then he began to remove little jars from the train and hand them to people in the crowd, who came up as their names were called. The little jars contained the ashes of Japanese soldiers killed in the attempt to rape China. A woman then came forward, received a little jar which had been her oldest son once, held it in her arms as though it were a baby, opened her mouth in a soundless scream, hurled the jar at the officer's head.

It is an excellent reminder that the people of Japan do not want war. That the people of Germany and Italy do not want war, either. Merely they have been lied to by men who set up for leaders--by men who care nothing for the toll in human life if they can have a chance to satisfy their ambition for power. Lied to--made to think that their armies were invincible and that they would go rolling out easily and resistlessly promptly to fetch home riches and glory for everybody, not a lot of smelly little jars. They know better now. And the Germans and Italians will know better presently, too, if their leaders are not found out in time.

 Long ago Voltaire observed that if God did not exist it would be necessary to invent Him. And in these days it is grimly plain that if Hell does not exist, it is necessary to invent it--to receive leaders who ordain the murder of women and babies and betray their own people into the hands of death in the name of glory.

The Worse Crime

Liquor May Be Deadly, But A Pistol's Deadlier

 We meant to clip it out of the paper and put it aside for use--that news story a day or so ago, from Georgia we think it was, about the policeman who was having to stand trial for manslaughter because a bullet he fired at the tires of the bootlegger's automobile ricocheted and plugged the fellow in the back of the head, killing him. And the use for it would not have been long in presenting itself for The News last night was a story telling how three Mecklenburg policemen had chased the bootleggers car which they finally overtook only after shooting three of his tires flat.

 No bullets ricocheted, luckily, and no innocent bystanders were wounded. The bootlegger was caught and convicted, fined $500 and handed two suspended sentences of eighteen months apiece.

But what about the officers? Whether or not it is a statutory crime for policemen to shoot at fleeing misdemeanants (as distinguished from felons), we do not know. The new regulations for the Rural Police Department, however, are explicit on the point. We cite paragraph 7, page. 63:

  1. Under what circumstances may a policeman use a pistol?
  1. He should never draw or attempt use a pistol except in extraordinary cases, such as an actual defense of his own or another's life; when attacked with a deadly weapon, or in active pursuit of escaping criminals, charged with great crimes, a murder, burglary, arson, etc. Shooting at another is a crime, except when proved to be done under justifiable circumstances..."

And the only difference between what the Georgia cop did, and was indicted for, and what the Mecklenburg cops did, is pure chance, the luck of trajectory. It is a chance that those in authority cannot allow police officers to take.

Useful Gift

Textile School Will Give Boys Better Chance

The action of the North Carolina Textile Manufacturers' Association in turning over title to the textile equipment now at the Stonewall Jackson Training School, leaves the institution the owner of an adequate textile school in its own right. This project has been several years in the making, and is one which is entirely praiseworthy.

The boys at the school are there, for the main, as the result of some escape or misdemeanor, and are not to be considered as criminals. Merely, they were in danger of becoming criminals when they were sent there. And it is the school's business to try to set them straight again, and as well as it may to prepare them to stay straight when they are discharged.

And for the latter purpose the textile school is particularly useful. Criminals are not born, but develop through the reaction of normal human impulses to unfavorable circumstances. And the lack of any skill through which they may come by money honestly is one of the chief causes of that reaction. Men who know some craft well enough to be fairly sure of getting a job are pretty likely to keep on going straight once they are out on the road. And that, of course, is precisely what the school is calculated to ensure them.

Site Ed. Note: For more on Henry Cabot Lodge II, see the note accompanying "Retraction", August 3, 1940. Note Cash's advice to his fellow Southerners that they stop blaming the outsider for problems within.

Fair Enough

A Bad Bill, Perhaps, But Not For This

The proposal to give the poor states two dollars of Federal old age pension money for every one of their own, while making the richer states match dollar to dollar, had its dangerous implications, and it was probably a good thing that the Senate killed it. Moreover, in general, we think it is about time the South quit blaming all its ills on the Yankee or some other outside force

Nevertheless, the argument that Senator Henry Cabot Lodge II put up against the measure, that it was designed to aid the South at the expense of the East was a fairly weak one. The South certainly has no inherent right to profit at the expense of the East. But the indubitable record shows plainly, when all excuses and all chauvinism have been eliminated, that for all the years from long before the Civil War, the East has steadily fattened itself at the expense of the South--that its preponderance power in Congress and the Government in general has been used to bleed the South through high tariffs, unfair rail rates, etc. and that its preponderant power has been used to the same purpose. And that, on the political side, Henry Cabot Lodge I, father of the present Senator, had a leading hand in it all.

So- if what the Senator alleged had been strictly true and if the measure had passed, it still would not have been half so unjust as he made it out to be. On the contrary, it might have been a sort of a fine Aristophanic justice.


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