The Charlotte News

Sunday, December 10, 1939


Site Ed. Note: Incidentally, we don't know whether Ma and Pa Kettle have anything to do at all with Gog and Magog, but we thought it was interesting to point out the possibility.

Likewise, that of Osborne and Heriot, with Osborne knitting Heriot's sweater by the fire, as the young lad chews gum with Mary Lou, while the Crickets chirp on re Peggy Sue, with yet other insects and Christmas greenery still to follow, down at the busstop.

But, that was all a little later, you know, when we got into the Cleavers and Eddie Guest, all that.

"A Natural" on the Mayflower Cup for best book of the year in North Carolina takes us back to "The Professor's Prize", December 19, 1937, in which Cash proposed to knock it some and define just what it was a "book" is and what it is not, such as technical, informational tomes, no matter on what dramatic discovery of this or that, as opposed to literary works of merit.

Well, what is that latter thing? We believe it to be something which elevates itself from the page into something more than the mere words themselves convey, something which carries with it additional meaning than that to which the words themselves at first suggest, something which inspires the reader to contemplate something off the page, something yet more than is merely expressed by the words, a heightened mode of communication, something else, something, as opposed to being lifted from the page by ennui into daydreams, contemplating nothing of particular import, as, for instance, what color that sweater is which Osborne is knitting and whether the Ravellers might be writing a song about it right now as we dream, or, alternately, dumped to the page by somnolence, dreams of another sort, where shippers patter the raindrops in anti-color prayers, and we scale the scaffold, only to fall deep into the chasm of Nowhere, made in Diffidelity.

It may be humorous or dramatic or, better, as is life in general, a mixture of the two, repeated in circular motion, in co-orbital spheres, or opposing, set to dock on some secret mission when the orbits finally coincide, though not necessarily simultaneously--which this particular passage does not propose itself to be; just another attempt at definition, but one not by which to cling necessarily in umbilical alliance, as with extra-vehicular activity.

Whatever the case, it appears that in the two years intervening "A Natural" and Cash's previous criticism, the committee either overhauled itself or had itself overhauled.

The rest, we stress, is silence.

One Eliminated

This Should Assure Senator Taft Of The Ohio Nominating Vote

Governor Bricker of Ohio is certainly putting on a good imitation of a man determined to jockey himself out of any consideration as a Presidential candidate. His silence to the charge that he would rather let Cleveland's unemployable relief clients go hungry than ruin his economy record practically gave assent to the truth of it.

And now that he has opened his mouth to reply to the President, it is seen that it were better kept shut.

The President said nothing much more than what thousands of Ohioans have been saying--that Ohio has been remiss in its obligations. Specifically, he observed that the State Government was failing to carry its share of the Federal-State relief load.

That would seem obvious, or must at least to the unemployables of Cleveland and other cities. Yet Governor Bricker's chief defense is to refer indignantly to a squabble between the Federal authorities and his predecessor, Democratic Governor Davey, over old age pensions. Washington cut off its contribution after warning Governor Davey that the State's administration of these funds for his own political purposes had to stop.

And if it were disgraceful, as Governor Bricker alleges, for a Democratic national administration to protest that misuse of Federal funds by a Democratic state administration, why, then, Governor Bricker must hold that anything goes as between partisans of the same faith. Either that, or he is grabbing at straws to keep his political prospects afloat.

The Old Pot

England's Export Blockade Is Illegal, Beyond Doubt

The protest of the State Department to Britain against the blockade of German exports is probably more for the purpose of keeping the neutrality record straight than anything else. For it is not likely that Washington believes that the protest will have any real effect on England's course. It may gain some concessions for goods already purchased by American buyers, but that is about the best to be hoped for.

There is no doubt at all that the export blockade is illegal under international law as formally framed in the Hague Convention of 1907 and the London agreement of 1909 (the latter never formally ratified by any of the powers, because Britain declined to accept).

But for that matter, the whole British blockade, even as regards imports, is dubious under those 30-year-old standards, too. The only allowable blockade is a "close blockade," whereas England has set out, as in the last war, to close the whole North Sea, and indeed, in the last analysis, the seven seas altogether.

We had a tremendous argument with her on precisely that score from 1914 until 1917. But we are logically estopped from pressing that point again, for the very good reason that, once we entered the last war, we ourselves probably adopted the English position and with a vengeance. No nation ever performed on the seas with a higher hand than the United States in 1917-18.

The Kettle, Too

The Nazis Also Break The Old Codes As Well

But if England, with her export blockade, is violating the thirty-year-old code which was already shot full of holes, Germany is also violating it, for both the Hague Convention and the London agreement explicitly ban submarine attacks on merchant shipping without prior search and a warning for the safety of the crew and passengers. It was on this provision that we took the stand, in 1916-17, which eventually landed us in war with Germany.

In Germany's defense, it may be said that, regardless of codes, she is justified in common sense, since according to Mr. Churchill's own statement, thousands of British merchantmen are now armed--and the price of search and warning might well be the destruction of the submarines themselves.

But when you begin to talk of common sense instead of the aging codes, then England has her justification, too. After all, there is no logical difference between imports and exports, when the ultimate purpose is to choke the commerce of the enemy to death. The right of neutrals? In reason, they certainly lose at least as much from the ban on imports as from that on exports. And what about the right of neutrals as against the unrestricted use of submarines, which jeopardizes not only the property but the very lives of neutral subjects? If we are to allow the latter, then, surely, we are bound to allow the export blockade, too.

What is plainly not justified in either law or common sense is Germany's new demand on neutrals--that for her to deal with them as neutrals, they must actively oppose England's blockade. That applies to us as well as to Holland and Belgium and the Scandinavian lands--only she is in no position to enforce it on us. It comes simply to a demand that, to be regarded as neutral by Berlin, you must become Berlin's ally. England has an equal right to demand that neutrals, to be regarded as neutrals in London, must make war on German submarines.


To Which We Add Some Data For This Year's Murders

The Judge got us a little wrong. Or maybe the reporter got the Judge wrong. Judge Burgwyn, that is, in Superior Court yesterday.

Said the judge:

"The murder rate in Charlotte is twenty per cent greater than that of New England and eight per cent greater than that of Chicago. There are more murders committed in Mecklenburg County in a year than there are in England. I take my figures from an editorial that appeared last Summer in The Charlotte News... Isn't this supposed to be the greatest church-going city in the country?"

But in reality what we said was that Charlotte's murder rate was twenty times as great as that of New England and eight times as great as that of Chicago--which adds up to being 2,000 and 800 per cent greater.

From the latest quarterly Uniform Crime Report of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, we discover from January to September, inclusive, of this year, New England towns of 100,000 or more people have had an average rate of 0.65 murders per 100,000 people. For all towns of whatever size, the section had an average of slight[ly] more than 0.70.

Chicago had 155 murders in the period, giving an average (for 4,000,000 population) of a little less than four per 100,000.

In the same period Charlotte had 23 murders (30 up to now). Allowing the city 100,000 people, that makes Charlotte's murder rate for the first nine months of 1939 somewhat over 35 times as great as that of New England towns with 100,000 or more people, almost 33 times as great as that of New England towns of all sizes, nearly six times as great as that of Chicago--respectively, 3,500, 3,300, and 600 per cent.

No wonder the Judge--or the reporter--minimized the statistic. It is a little staggering to get around.

Site Ed. Note: The editorial to which the judge referred was "Murder in Charlotte", July 21, 1939.

Of course, as Bishop Jimison said, some of these devout church-goers would have likely crucified Jesus right in front of the First Presbyterian Church as they staggered to the polls to vote dry. So...

A Natural

Awarding Mayflower Cup This Year Was Easy Job

It was a foregone conclusion that Bernice Kelly Harris, of Seaboard, should win the Mayflower Cup this year. Or anyhow, it ought to have been: some of the awards in the past have seemed to us to be a little odd, in view of the fact that the cup is supposed to go to the best literary work produced in the state each year. Actually, it has sometimes gone to monographs, which, whatever other merits they possessed, were somewhat less than beautiful letters.

But Mrs. Harris's novel, "Purslane," indubitably is literature. It is a simple story, simply told, of life in a small eastern North Carolina town. But the effect is sometimes heartbreaking. The reader who can read it through without being moved to the point of tears has a cast iron hide. That is not to suggest, however, that it is tainted with that curse of Southern books of the past--sentimentality. Mrs. Harris sees her people with clear eyes, neither idealizes them nor concentrates on their vices. In many respects, the novel is one of the most genuinely realistic which has come out of Dixie.

What has always puzzled us is how the University Press ever got the contract to publish it in the first place--an amazing departure for a university press. That is no crack at Mr. Couch & Co. Merely it seems to us that the big commercial publishers in New York and Boston would have snapped it up at all costs. But publishers are dumb that way sometimes.

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