The Charlotte News
Saturday, May 21, 1938
Site Ed. Note: "Out With It" might be re-named: "Gimme Some Truth".
So what do we call what we are in now?
For a time back in the latter seventies, for instance, the press took to defining the condition of the mind of the nation as being in "malaise" or "cultural malaise", meaning the dragging on seemingly interminably of some nagging situation to the public mind, (i.e., that which so affects, or rather, perhaps, more accurately, infects, dinner table conversation, water cooler conversation, and, not coincidentally, newsprint and tv and radio jabberwocky that it creates a "perception"), as that mind slowly glazes over, while the government appears to sit passively doing little or nothing, or, when it attempts to do anything, vacillates between ineptitude and impotence to end whatever it is which is doing the nagging and glazing in the public perception--malaise.
Another apt phrase for what went on then might be mellow melancholy--or, to crib a line from a film of the time and rework it a little, a mellow melancholy so mellow, not to mention so melancholy, following, as it did, two--perhaps in truth, three, four--decades where the antonymous watchwords billowing choler prevailed, that this mellow melancholy thus prevailing tended most often to ripen and rot.
Then came the happy man on the white horse and suddenly everyone awakened one brisk January morning with a bright, buoyant smile, ate their jellybeans--and it was Morning in America, or maybe that was "America's Morning".
Only problem was that for much of the country it was more mourning for America than it was any "morning" therein, as we watched the homeless increase at a pace not equaled since the Hoovervilles of the early thirties, the deficit spiral off into the starry stratosphere from unprecedented military spending to wage a competition with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, trickle-down trickling at such a slow pace that by the time it trickled on the fellow at the bottom end of the pile herding around the spigot, he was likely as not to get sand--not even enough of that in fact to wet his whistle with spittle--as any bare sparkle of trickle, and, not coincidentally, for all the law and order crackdown talk, crime and crack also continued to spiral upward apace.
That really didn't work so well, in truth--now did it? More malaise plus, in the bargain by its twelve-year end, plentifully more plaintive horns of billowing choler to boot.
So now? What is it now?
Not a depression; the three-year recession seems to have settled into a more subtle thing, call it "tax-break intercession denial--drill for more trickle-down in Alaska, secure our southern borders, and encourage volunteerism for big hurricane relief in the lower 48", or something like that.
Maybe the best euphemistic expression to give it is: "One Trick To Get There, Now It's All Ad Hoc: Or How Babaro's Broken and We Don't Know If We Can Fix Him, Even If He Will Survive At All in Token--Got him in a Splint, Talkin' to the Mares--Give Him Six Months, Your Thoughts and Prayers, and We'll See Then Whether He's Still Walkin' Or Has A Care, Whether All This Global Chill-Balkin' Was Real or Just Some Wyrd-man Terror-Scare".
Maybe, as we suggested earlier, a shortened version for that period into which we have slowly drifted, and not just for a couple or three years, but for all of a hundred and fifty, quite bi-partisanly, might be simply and humbly phrased: Hurricane Oil.
In fact, we'll offer a suggestion to the National Weather Service, as we slowly twist our way in toward hurricane season: name them as you please this year, not euphemistically or alphabetically, but accurately, wildly so, willy-nilly, like the beasts they are. Start with Esso and BP, then Pemex...
In fact, we can fairly well hear some of the wall-to-wall coverage now: "Yeah, Hurricane Shell come through here like a damned four-barrel freight train out o' hell, worse than Sinclair down yonder last week. Blowed my tractor-trailer rig done four counties over--four-year old Mack, too--my mobile home FEMA done give me last spring--hadn't ev'n had time to strap her down yet--six counties up. Clean wiped me out. Now that they done away with FEMA and made us go to Homeland Security for the cash and cards and what-not, damned if I know what we'll do. Might move to Afghanistan."
Here's a suspicious letter to the editor which appeared on the page this date, of the type from Tillie Eulenspiegel. Anyone who within the space of two short paragraphs provides two variant spellings of her own brother's first name, (eponymously provided by the Lester brood, obviously), certainly has some family problem, which indeed would likely have found remedy from more direct and less vicarious reading of The News.
Yet, were she to have read without discernment all of just The News editorial pages of the previous several days, why she would have quite logically concluded: that since The News editorial page labeled FDR one of the great Presidents in United States history, the New Deal as "Nazified", that fascism always started on the left with mystical premises before proceeding to the right with high boot-legging, voiced disapproval that the New Deal was "sneaking" the country into socialism, that socialism was practiced or advocated by Norman Thomas, Soviet Russia and the National Sozialist Party in Germany, that Boss Hague in Jersey City was the enemy of Norman Thomas and socialism and the Constitution but a friend to some Catholics, that Hitler was allying himself with both Franco and Mussolini, both fascists, that many Catholics supported the Pope's position in favor of Franco in Spain, that The News was opposed to anything anti-Catholic, supported the Constitution, opposed regularly Boss Hague for opposing socialists and "Reds" and believed Norman Thomas a respectable personage, Heywood Broun a "pink walrus", decried the vigilante busting of the Bundists by the American Legionnaires, denounced peace propaganda--that part of it denouncing war as being aid to socialists--as so much propagation of anti-Red hysteria, puzzled over why Dr. Derry opposed socialism but not fascism, why Ms. Hazen Smith, Associate Dean of Women at Duke, opposed fascism but not socialism, why then Ms. Murgatroyd would have had naturally only to conclude, by perfect syllogism, that The News was fascist-socialist, and, indeed, the whole country, nay, the world, was just one big happy family of socialists qua fascists-fascists qua socialists, including FDR, his friend in Jersey City, Boss Hague, Norman Thomas, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Franco, Dr. Derry, Ms. Smith, Chamberlain, Daladier, all the notable American syndicated editorialists of the day, all of the editorialists for The News, the Bundists, the American Legionnaires, the National Progressives, and the Constitution, being supportive of them all, likewise, and that in the end, therefore, the proper view was that when all the broken-hearted fascists qua socialists-socialists qua fascists, living in the world come together and agree, as they regularly did, obviously, everyday within the columns of The News editorial page, there will be an answer.
In fact, since we bother to reprint all of this stuff from so many decades ago, we must be, ourselves, socialists qua fascists-fascists qua socialists, and since we, also, pride ourselves on supporting the Constitution and its entire fabric, we inevitably, with inexorable force of logic, conclude that this document is nothing more than a subversive fascist qua socialist-socialist qua fascist contract drafted, subscribed, ratified and subsequently adverted to by like-minded individuals, and that we are therefore, not merely any old one big happy family here in America but rather, inevitably and inexorably, specifically one big Happy Family of Lesters.
Indeed, go to any Chinese restaurant in America, and you are sure to see us there on the menu.
And don't forget the fortune cookie on your way out.
An Argument With A Most Salutary End
Lady Reader Discovers The Best Way To Keep Herself Wised Up To The World
"The Charlotte News" is so interesting! My brother, Jeter M. Murgatroyd, reads it every evening, and so that makes him interesting, too, see?
The other day he was reading it aloud, as usual, and began to talk about the FSA. Well, I was just thrilled. I guess I must have asked him a million questions about it. But I didn't seem to get the connection in what all he was saying, so I asked him what FSA stood for. I was real disappointed when he told me, too, because I thought it meant Federal Security Administration. Jeeter said I was a dern fool.
He was right. From now on I'm going to read The News myself, and then maybe I won't be so dumb.
Out With It
One thing this country needs is an end to fact-dodging in names and symbols for harsh, brutal facts. When the Hoover panic was on it was called a depression, a silly, soft word that really means an indentation in the ground. It never did get any better under that name. Now it is called a recession, a soft-soap word that slips around, sneaks around and evades the harsh fact.
Cleveland's troubles were called a panic and the people, recognizing it as such, got over it. Theodore Roosevelt's little set-back in 1907-08 was frankly called a panic, and lasted less than six months. Now the people and their leaders talk of "downturns," "adjustments," "losses in volume" and other silly, tricky words intended to gloss over lack of jobs, empty dinner pails and, last, no dinner pails at all. But times is just as hard as ever, for all the euphemisms.
Site Ed. Note: And while on the subject of reading, square this one, from May 6, with the one below, fifteen days hence, and you get the idea.
Grand Jury's Report
The city has been too often disillusioned by capricious drives on crime, moral reforms and the like to be unusually impressed by the grand jury's report to Judge Armstrong. This is a thorough report, however, covering a great many phases which hitherto grand juries have chosen to ignore. And most of us will agree at once on the simple desirability of the recommendations made, such as the one that all prostitutes arrested and found to have venereal disease be confined in the Industrial Home until cured.
This is standard practice now, of course, provided it may be proved that the women have been violating the law. The grand jury knew that, which leads us to believe that what they are really getting at is that all diseased women run in by the police, whether guilty on a specific charge or not, be sent to the Industrial Home. But that would be running the risk of punishing the innocent in order to get at the guilty, and that is a risk the authorities cannot afford to run, or we would be confining people on mere evil reputation alone.
And in another instance the grand jury displays a willingness to curtail the privileges of respectable persons in order to correct abuses of them by the criminal element. To repeal the one-gallon liquor law because it makes it more difficult to convict small-lot bootleggers would, in all likelihood, hand back the whole trade in liquor to the very crowd that the grand jury is after.
But still, we say, the report in general envisions a more salutary and less violent city, and we believe much that is good can be made to come from it.
What About Peter?
Governor Rivers of Georgia comes now demanding that the Tariff Commission forthwith set itself down and adopt a quota limitation to keep out foreign goods competing with the products of Southern industry. Which, when you think about it, is a slightly dubious demand to come from a Georgia Governor.
Say that Southern industry has its troubles with foreign imports. Some Southern industries certainly do. Nevertheless, the quota proposition is essentially identical with the high protective tariff the Republican Party so long imposed on the country. And--Georgia is primarily a great cotton growing state. And--40 per cent of all cotton grown in the South is sold to foreign countries. And--the foreign market for cotton ultimately determines whether it will bring two cents a pound or twenty. And--these foreign countries pay for the cotton they take from Southern and Georgia farmers, not with gold--they haven't got it--but with the goods which they sell in this country.
There is ample evidence from the history of the tariff that drastic limitations on imports have greatly damaged the Southern farmer already. Indeed, it is precisely the limitations of the 1920's, and the consequent fact that European countries couldn't pay for American cotton, which mainly explains the opening up of the new cotton production centers of the world and the loss to the Southern farmers of a market for millions of bales of the staple. Southern industry may need help, but it is hard to see what gain there is in choking Peter to death in order to pay Paul.
Mr. Neville Chamberlain's policy which was to "assure the peace of Europe for a generation," has had to date the following results:
1--The annexation of Austria and the enormous strengthening of Germany. For it now appears certain that Hitler dared to act in that case only after Lord Halifax had made it perfectly plain to him that England would not act to stop him.
2--Mussolini has been emboldened to demand that France (a) seal its southern border to the passage of arms to the legal government in Spain, (b) recognize Franco as the rightful lord and master of all Spain, (3) abrogate its treaty with Russia, the sole bar to Hitler's advance into Czechoslovakia and toward the hegemony of all central and eastern Europe, and (d) give up its territory and hand him Tunisia, and with it the absolute mastery of the Mediterranean.
3--Mussolini and Hitler are all too plainly preparing another putsch which will shortly come off if Mussolini's demands on France and Hitler's (Henlein's) on Czechoslovakia are not met fully. For (a) the German stooge newspapers are busily charging today that the Czechs have wantonly injured a hundred Sudeten Germans, though the whole world knows that the fact is that the Sudetens have been busily engaged for the last fortnight in the manufacture of provocative incidents (a standard Nazi tactic in preparation for a putsch) and that the Czechs have practically doubled themselves backward in their effort to avoid trouble; (b) German armies are pouring to the Czechoslovakian border under the nonsensical pretense of "routine maneuvers;" (c) four German warships will enter into the Mediterranean today; (d) Mussolini is congregating armies and armaments on the Tunisian border of Libya, and his fleet lies off Bizeria.
4--The hard-headed French, who know exactly the value of Mussolini's word, are hurrying ships and planes to Tunisia, and lining up their armies on the Tunisian border. And the Czechs, a brave and patriotic people who swore not to surrender the independence they fought 300 years to win, are all but openly mobilizing for action. In short, war is perhaps closer to Europe today than it has been at any time since July 1914.
Sneaking Into Socialism
An electrified empire consisting of one whole state, Tennessee, and hunks of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and perhaps a wee bite of Western North Carolina--such is the dream of David E. Lillienthal, director of TVA. He frankly admits as much, and by his action in forcing the sale of the Tennessee Public Service Company's distribution system, so that Knoxville may buy TVA current for distribution and re-sale, he shows that his dream has begun to come true.
Knoxville, of course, is tickled to death. What city wouldn't be, with a publicly-owned power plant, subsidized heavily by the Federal Government, offering cheap power to all residents at especially attractive rates to industries? Nobody can blame Knoxville for accepting the Federal Government's gifts, any more than Greenwood County, S. C. can be blamed for taking Mr. Ickes up on his offer, half loan and half outright gift, of a power plant.
All the same, we do not recall the adoption by Congress of specific laws or a set of principles decreeing the gradual elimination of private ownership of public utilities. We think, in fine, that this is a policy instituted by the executive branch of the Government, which hornswoggled Congress, in the case of TVA, with much fine talk about fertilizer manufacture and flood control. We think, in sum, that this country is being sneaked into socialism, and while candor compels the admission that the people generally are blithely unconcerned, they will wake up some fine day to discover that the rest of private initiative is jeopardized by the extension of the very same policies which have been put into effect these last five years.
Site Ed. Note: And if you liked to died, as we did, to see the rest of the editorial page for this date, here that is, too.
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