The Charlotte News

Thursday, December 21, 1939


Site Ed. Note: That Nature, she's about a mover, 'ey? For some reason, we are reminded of that old Proverb... Well, we figure you probably remember it.

"His Own, Anyhow" presents a pretty sound argument for the modern concept of speech writers for Presidents, doesn't it? If things continue the way they appear to be going, we may eventually need as well surrogate speakers for them.

"Road's End" suggests itself as an early metaphor for how the entire war would proceed for the Nazis. Had they been anything other than madmen to begin with, there would have been no need for the suicide by Captain Langsdorff, or any of the rest of it. By this point in time, unfortunately, all was a fait accompli, of course, except the vagaries of the direction in which the winds and blinding light would bend the course of each projectile to find or not its dehumanized target. The rest was suicide--by the rope of the mob's anger finally unleashed at the end, or by the Black Hand's own Luger before they got the chance, being really the only remaining questions to be asked of the doomed militaristic mind of the Nazi.

Broun's Spirit

Ernest L. Meyer

(In The New York Post)

To all that has been said about Heywood Broun there is little new that can be added. But this, I think, is revelatory:

"We were a new and quite unknown theatrical group, we of the Provincetown Players," Susan Glaspel, novelist and playwright, told me yesterday. "We dared to dream of an experimental stage dramatizing the work of American writers.

"In 1916 we opened the little Playwright's Theater in Macdougal Street, and our first offering was 'Bound East for Cardiff,' by a young writer named Eugene O'Neill.


"Most of the newspaper critics were unkindly, and some, indeed, almost savage. They seemed to regard us as just another troupe of starry-eyeed and hopeless hopefuls; rather a nuisance, in fact.

"There was one outstanding exception. He was a critic for the Tribune, and his name was Heywood Broun. From the very first, Heywood encouraged us. Not merely in his columns; he called on us personally, on Eugene, on George Cram Cook and the rest, tried to understand and did understand our motives and our vision, and aided us out of the deep well of his sympathy.

"Later, of course, especially after 'Emperor Jones,' the Provincetown Players achieved a fame that was dizzying and that, unhappily, proved disastrous. The critics larded us with praise. All that is forgotten. But what I have not forgotten is that in those early, tentative days, when the soil was hostile to our roots, we survived the season of the cold largely through the warmth of Heywood Broun, who believed in experiments honestly conceived and who had the courage to walk with strangers along paths that were untrodden."


That was Heywood, functioning as a dramatic critic. And to all of his many and versatile roles he brought, I think, that same fine quality of willingness to believe, or readiness to advance any experiment conceived in honesty, and withholding pedantic judgment until all the evidence was gathered. Whether in art or in politics or in appraising the manifold creations and dreams of mankind, he brought the gift of his understanding, the warmth of his generosity, the flame of his convictions.

If those convictions changed from time to time, it was because events changed, and the world changed, and he could not remain static in a heaving universe. That was not his weakness: that was his training, and in exercising his strength he lent sinews to pioneers walking down untrodden roads. Now that he has walked down the last path of the living, we who will linger after him for yet a little while lean toward each other for comfort in the gathering dusk, for we know that a sun has set.

Road's End

Given The Man, Suicide Was Only Way Out Here

The suicide of Captain Hans Langsdorff is not hard to fathom, so far as we can fathom such things at all.

He had taken a terrific beating at sea, with the odds supposedly in his favor. That that was in anywise his fault does not appear. All the reports indicate that the Graf Spee fought bravely and to good purpose. She put the British heavy cruiser, Exeter, out of commission with deadly effectiveness--so soundly trounced her that she was no longer able to fire a gun or steer her course. And by all the accepted theories, that ought to have given her the victory. But the light cruisers had proved to be far more powerful weapons than had been expected, and by what the captain himself called a series of "unbelievable" maneuvers, had inflicted such damage upon him that he had to run for it.

Then, on top of that, he had been denied the one consolation that remained to him under naval tradition--to take a ship out again and die fighting, to the end of inflicting as much damage on the enemy as possible, had been forced to sink the ship ignominiously by his own hand.

For a man of his rigid tradition, it was simply too much to be supported. His career was over. It did not matter that he had done his best--he had failed, the unforgivable crime in a naval man.

His Own, Anyhow

Harper's Fails To Observe A Quite Obvious Pain

The January issue of Harper's Magazine is out today with an apology which runs like this:

"In the course of an article on ghost writing in the October issue, written by Mr. J. K. Atkins under the pseudonym, Seneca Johnson, it was stated that former President Hoover practically never wrote a speech of his own. The fact is that Mr. Hoover's speeches have invariably been written by himself. We say this after opportunity for investigation through original manuscripts and associates of Mr. Hoover... We apologize to the former President and a great public servant for a most unfortunate error...."

What gets us, however, is how Harper's ever got into that jam in the first place. That Mr. Hoover wrote his own speeches back in the years between 1928 and 1933 ought to have been plain to anybody, and particularly to an editor. There never was a ghost who could tie the English language up into such ponderous and inexplicable forms, and moreover those sentences represented an exact verbal reflection of Mr. Hoover trying to make up his mind through four long years.

And what ghost would ever have been rash enough in 1928, with the indices for steel activity, carloadings, etc. already creeping down, to get his client out on a limb with that crack about two chickens in every pot and two cars in every garage?

More recently, indeed, it has looked as though Mr. Hoover might have got himself an astral helper, especially in the speeches in which he went in heavily for wisecracks. But that is no excuse for Harper's, since it let the allegation go by that he never had written any of his speeches--something that was "fundamentally unsound" on its face.


German Claims Throw Light On Nature Of Nazi Mind

A curious light is thrown on the Nazi mentality by the largeness of their claims as to the outcome of the great air battle over the northern coast in Germany Monday--44 British planes shot down as against only two Germans. And at the same time, a serious weakness in the German propaganda, so boasted by Dr. Goebbels, is revealed. That weakness, of course, is the lack of restraint.

Nobody will believe this claim or any part of it. The whole weight of evidence and expert opinion now available to us indicate that the British fighting planes are definitely superior to the German in maneuverability, the thing which is apt to be decisive in conflict. And the British flyers average about twice as much training as the German. The story doesn't make sense, and its total effect will be simply to cast further doubt on the truth of anything the Nazis report.

What explains such foolishness?

In this case it is easy to guess that it is a [indiscernible word] from the destruction of the Graf Spee and the German cruiser of the Koln class by the British navy. The Nazi mind is essentially a paranoid mind--its basic attitude is one of megalomaniac conviction of invincibility built over a yawning chasm of inner doubt. And so it cannot bear defeat--must both deny it, as in the case of both these sunk ships, and also attempt desperately to compensate for it by setting up purely fictitious victories in the absence of real ones, must enormously magnify even the real ones. Lest it collapse into that chasm of its own inmost feeling of inadequacy.

The Old Stand

Business Much As Usual, Despite Hatch Laws

We have observed before that there is a considerable difference between making a law against something and actually putting it down. Take the Hatch Act, for instance. It turns out to have a hole in it as big as a barn door.

The act, you remember, set out absolutely to forbid participation of Federal employees in political campaigns. And above all, to halt the practice of bleeding Federal employees for the benefit of campaign chests--a practice that was already illegal under other previous enactments.

Well, yesterday at Raleigh, North Carolina's Attorney General Harry McMullan ruled that it does not, nevertheless, prohibit "voluntary, unsolicited contributions to a political campaign fund." Which may be good law, but which also leaves matters right back where they were in the first place.

"Voluntary, unsolicited contributions" were what the contribution of Federal employees already were supposed to be before the law was enacted. "Really, Smithers," says the Boss, "you have been on sick leave a great deal lately;" or, "Really, Hardcastle, it is a pity that you are left-handed when right-handed men do this job best;" or, "Really, Snapnoodle--, well, well, I don't want to be too hard on you, but I have to watch my step, you know. The Republicans will be going over this office with a fine tooth comb with an election coming on. And of course I shall have to count on your co-operation. You understand me?" And "Why, and yessir," they all answer dutifully.

Or the old grapevine goes to work and the man at the next machine or the next pigeonhole confides all for your good that he has it straight that the boss is a little sore about that hangover you had last Thursday, and--as one man to another--you know the best way to smooth over things like that is to kick in, say, $25 to the kitty. Voluntarily and without solicitation. It shows your heart is in the right place.

Thimble Storm

But Board's Powers Are Sometimes Too Great

Representatives Halleck, Republican of Indiana, and Routzhohn, Republican of Ohio, both of them members of the House committee investigating the National Labor Relations Board, are obviously out to make partisan capital out of the probe. And so their excited proclamations that the NLRB tried to "frame" Inland Steel in 1937 so that a CIO union could bring charges against it under the Wagner Act, may be taken with skepticism.

The only evidence for this charge is the admission of Nathan Witt, secretary to the board, that he flew to Pittsburgh to confer with CIO officials about the framing of a formal charge. But he protested that he did that only because the essential purpose of the board was to settle the strike, then in progress, as quickly as possible, and that it was desirable to expedite the whole proceedings. That is not implausible, and moreover, there is no doubt that quasi-judicial Federal bodies regularly do this sort of thing. Even the Federal courts, for that matter, come very close to doing it.

More serious is the confession of Philip O. Phillips, regional NLRB director at Cincinnati, that in the Cincinnati Milling Co. case, he relayed to the trial examiner, one Harlowe Hurley, instructions from the board in Washington as to what course he should take while he (Phillips) was also serving as attorney. Obviously, it is to make the NLRB both prosecutor and judge--a thing which violates the most fundamental American conceptions of justice.

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