The Charlotte News

Monday, December 4, 1939


A Burnt Child

Unidentified Someone Fears That He Has Heard This Before

The President is touchy on the subject of his "nine TVAs." Someone, he said, not stopping to identify the person, was trying to make it appear that from seven to nine power authorities would be set down in nine parts of the country and, supposedly, run them as the TVA runs the Tennessee Valley area.

The President said bosh, he had human engineering more in mind than civil engineering, and by human engineering he said he meant soil erosion prevention, tree planting, waterway development and transferring abjectly poor people to new industrialized areas where they can make a living.

That sounds fine. But we don't blame the unidentified someone for fearing the worst from the multiple TVAs.

When, in a message to Congress in 1933, the President introduced the original conception of the Tennessee Valley Authority, it was going--

"... to transcend mere power development: it enters the wide fields of flood control, soil erosion, afforestation, elimination from agricultural use of marginal lands, and distribution and diversification of industry."

And has TVA in practice transcended mere power development? You might ask Mr. Wendell Willkie about that. He probably would tell you, and support his statements with figures, that all the other lofty purposes of TVA have been largely a blind to mask its usurpation of the power trade and to cover up the cost of its own power producing facilities.

Polite Justice

The Goddess Turns Her Back In A Virginia Court

At Warrenton, Va., three more or less young men, all members of the first families of the neighborhood, were convicted Friday of having beaten up one Count Igor Cassini, gossip columnist of Washington, and then stripping him nearly naked, applying tar and feathers to his person, and leaving him on a country road to find help as best he could.

But as an anti-climax to the conviction, the three were let off with fines totaling $500, of which $300 was levied against the admitted ring-leader, one Ian Montgomery, age 38. That is to say, they were let off virtually without punishment, for all are wealthy and will feel the fines less than a common white man or an ordinary Negro would feel one of $5.

Cassini was attacked on the ground that he had insulted the Montgomery family. What he had actually done was to report in his column that Ian Montgomery's mother had been invited to the Presidential reception in honor of King George and Queen Elizabeth, but that his father hadn't been. Perhaps it was malicious, though the malice escapes us. Certainly, Cassini, a Fascist-minded dealer in social patter, is no admirable sort. But that, of course, has nothing to do with the matter, nor did the Court claim that it did.

From this distance it looks like a gross miscarriage of justice--a flagrant example of favoritism before the law. How gross and how flagrant you may judge simply by asking yourself whether, if these assailants had been common whites or Negroes, they could have hoped to get off so easily.

False Logic

Gagging Free Speech Is No Way To Safety

Protesting against allowing Earl Browder to speak at Yale University Tuesday evening, Bernard J. Ackerman, Connecticut State Commander of the American Legion, wired Yale's President, Charles Seymour:

"Freedom of speech and civil liberties are in no way involved in this issue... If Mr. Browder's recent Boston speech characterized by a Presidential spokesman as 'close to treason,' is a sample of what one may expect from him, then one may definitely say that he forfeited any protection which a citizen may claim under our Bill of Rights."

To deny that freedom of speech and civil liberties have any connection with such cases is the standard approach of men who want to abolish them, but that does not make it so. Presidential spokesman or no Presidential spokesman, Browder is not guilty of treason under the Constitution of the United States which says explicitly, (Art. III, Sec. 3):

Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

And "enemies" here obviously means enemies in the legal sense of those at war with us.

The News yields to nobody in its dislike of Mr. Browder's doctrine (which is simply that Moscow is always right), or in contempt for the shabby squirming he is now engaged in. But it is precisely because Mr. Browder's doctrine is so unpopular, because there is such a hue and cry to shut him up--the Legion and other agencies succeeded in making Harvard and Dartmouth break his speaking engagements in those institutions--that his rights (rights which he himself would destroy for all others) must be defended and preserved. The right to free speech is the right to say what every man on earth save the speaker believes to be damnable, even what he himself in his heart believes to be damnable, or it is nothing. Even Hitler or Stalin will allow the right to say what they themselves agree with.

Let Yale University hold up its head. It has vindicated against odds the truth that you cannot save democracy by destroying the rights which are the foundation stone of democracy.

About Face

Italy Turns Away From Axis To Confront Red Advance

The lid is pretty well off in Italy when 3,000 people demonstrate before the Soviet and Finnish legations in Rome, shouting, "Down with Communist aggression!" and "Long live Finland!"

It was quite different when Poland was invaded, but Poland was one of Italy's closest friends. Then, however, Il Duce was still attempting, in the face of the growing sullenness of his people, to keep up the pretense at least that the Rome-Berlin Axis was unshakeable, despite the Nazi-Red pact.

But that period is plainly over with. "Unofficial but authoritative spokesmen" at Rome warn that if Russia tries her aggression in the Balkans, Italy will intervene. Which is to say that notice is served on Berlin that the Axis will hold only so long as she keeps her dubious ally in line.

For that matter, Berlin itself is certainly none too happy over the Russian advance in the Baltic, would be even more unhappy over a Russian advance into the Balkans. It means an end to the German dream of an empire stretching from the Arctic to the Black Sea and the Persian Gulf. Nevertheless, the Nazis are now in such a desperate spot that they'll probably hold on to the Reds in the forlorn hope that it will enable them eventually to defeat England and France.

As Russia moves toward becoming involved in the general war, Italy moves toward the same thing. And as Italy moves toward that goal, Mussolini, the author of the foolish pro-German policy, becomes more and more discredited and falls steadily into the background, is likely to end one of these days as merely another prime minister, taking orders from the army and the throne.

From the standpoint of the preservation of Western civilization, all that is excellent. Fascism is already ceasing to be a menace in Italy. And, even from the military standpoint, it is likely that Italy more than balances out Russia. Italy has the best of it at sea by a wide margin, is probably the equal of the Russians in the air, and though Italians are not the best soldiers in the world, neither are Russians--who also suffer under the disadvantage of poor leadership.

Pal For Browder

Mr. Shaw Seems Determined To Prove His Dictum

Mr. Browder has company in his determination to believe that Moscow is always right. Its name is George Bernard Shaw, no less.

Shaw is out with a statement backing up all the Russian claims to the hilt. The trouble with Finland is that she has been misled--by Britain, France, and the United States. Expecting to be backed up by him, her foolish Government has pursued a wronghead and totally unreasonable policy. All poor little Russia wants is to defend herself.

Shaw has many times and vociferously told the world that either he or everybody else was cuckoo. We begin to suspect that he may be right.

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