The Charlotte News

Monday, June 6, 1938


Site Ed. Note: We got around to getting this day's editorials, albeit two weeks after they were due to be set down here; we apologize for our oversight in omitting them when we otherwise collected this month from the microfilm in December, 2005.

That said, there is not much here of newsworthy note which has not already been covered amply before, mainly a recap of the primary elections, Bulwinkle in the House race, Reynolds in the Senate.

"They Know Best, Maybe" does provide us with something which often seems to continue through time, perhaps in many states, but certainly in North Carolina--that a Senator, albeit generally incompetent, who does little or nothing, is deemed by the electorate often safer than an incompetent out to change the world. But, that is a sad and apathetic and even self-defeating commentary on the state of politics and the election of representatives as public servants to accomplish the country's law-making business, also. Perhaps, that is the result of a carry-over effect from earlier times when the electorate in the outlying states of the nation were suspicious of Washington and a strong Federal government and thus chose their elected representatives not so much on what they could do for the constituents but on what it was known they would not do, being too incompetent by far to do much of anything but sound good on the hustings and at picnics, telling the folks back home what lovely people they were, while they lived out of the public trough and basked in the lazy shade of its sheltering tree, every now and then bothering to lift up, and shake away the horseflies collecting on the body politic.

We happen to believe, however, that North Carolina did make finally a wise choice for Senator in 1998; one which, unfortunately, they chose mostly to disavow in the 2004 Presidential race, no matter that it was the first time since the election of Franklin Pierce in 1852, with William R. King, deceased before taking office, as running mate, that a Tar Heel, (even if one adopted from just over the border to the south), achieved such status as to be included on a national ticket. He was, we believe, the most generally intelligent Senator the state has put forward in many a decade, since Sam J. Ervin, anyway, (though we don't discount the considerable astuteness and intelligence of Terry Sanford, but for the fact that he was getting up in years when elected in 1986)--and intelligent Senators and good lawyers the country needs in the Senate.

Many of the citizens, and many of most states, perhaps, seem unable to grasp, as those former natives of a state who have lived in other parts of the country more readily do maybe, that part of a state's national reputation for honor, integrity, intelligence and good will comes mainly from the type of stock they elect and send to the Congress, most prominently its pair of Senators.

Ah, well, no one said the peoples is smart most of the time and that they can't be fooled at least some of it.

Now--well, now North Carolina has as its newest Senator another well-traveled individual, not, while he was in Congress for a decade before his election to the Senate, completely different from the description given below of Senator Reynolds--that is more dedicated to collecting big campaign chests, the most of any Congressman, and getting himself elected over and over while supporting in lockstep his party's platform than any positive legislative efforts; and so to what effect his well-traveled shoes has ultimately toward helping his home state achieve any great comity with the rest of the land is yet, after a year and a half spent cooling them in that estimable body, to make itself known. (And we say all that without any abiding prejudice to the gent as he attended our old high school, albeit a little time after us, and grew up only a mile or so over from where we did.) Anyway...

Anyway, there's always tomorrow...

Ah, yes.

We also provide this whimsical and probably always timely editorial from this date's page from Heywood Broun. (We note in passing, while on the subject, that our time in the library the other day was well spent in that we have found the plum we have wanted to find since learning in January from Cash's January, 1939 editorial on the wage-and-hour laws' superfluous mandatory paperwork and negative restrictions on income that Dave Clark had labeled him a "Red"; and, by the purest of coincidence and serendipidity, always lightly or heavily with us, the one we found anyway fits right into our time frame here as it turns out that it relates to an editorial by Cash published on July 3, 1938--so, though it took us a few months longer than the promised 19 Days to come up with that thing on Cash and his obvious comm-mu-nist leanings from old Dave and his Four Horsemen textile journal, stay tuned for that little subrosy highlight, and do so just because you'll probably like it like that, as we did.)

The People Speak Up

By Heywood Broun

The practice of writing letters is on the increase in America. And so, of course, is the habit of sending telegrams. Whether the quality improves I couldn't say. Naturally I'm talking of letters to editors, Congressmen, and publicists of one sort or another.

Those in the know inform me that columnar mail is at least twice or thrice as voluminous as it was a decade ago. They also say that the proportion of brickbats and the percentage of bouquets are on the decline. This I am ready to believe.


The interesting development is that John Q. Citizen no longer is timid about sending his view to the White House or letting his Senator know just where he gets off. To be sure, not all these messages are based upon individual impulse. Organization of various kinds is rife, and group leaders offer set forms and urge their followers to memorialize in numbers the various interested parties.

It must be tiresome to get burning protests which are identical, and Congressmen may well grow fractious when they find advice on important topics signed "Seabiscuit" or "War Admiral," as was the case in quite a few of the briefs filed during the campaign against the reorganization bill. But surely a private person has the privilege of bawling out a member of the House by special delivery or sending his criticism to the White House. Such actions are part of the right of petition, and the practice is more open and honest than that of furtive lobbying. I do not even see any reason why columnists should be immune. And they are not.


Twenty years ago I had a sneaking notion, shared by some of my fellows, that anybody who took the trouble to write a letter to a newspaper man was some mild kind of nut. But these denunciations grow more spirited and sane and cannot be waved out of the picture.

To be sure, the man or woman who shoots an arrow into the air in the hope of catching a columnist in the neck aims at a moving target. It is a craft in which only the quick survive, and an ability to roll with the punch is essential. Quite often the reader who hurls the brick gets less than his two cents' work. The recipients have learned to dodge and to ski.


A friend of mine who is in the racket tells me that he saves at least ten hours every year by keeping a big wastebasket beside him to catch the letters which begin, "You dirty Red, why don't you go back to Russia, where you came from?" He says that he has not finished one like that in fifteen years and that by now he can almost spot them with his fingertips before he opens the envelope.

It is my friend's contention that only one type of letter can get his goat. "When somebody writes," he says, "and complains, 'You have bored me terribly for the last three months,' I feel remorseful, and I want to make amends. But if the writer says, 'You've bored me steadily for ten years,' I'm not sorry. That's his fault. He's a glutton for punishment. He's had time enough to find out."

The "Ins" Have It

It was a good day for the "in" boys. Reynolds, Winborne, Bulwinkle in the state and national races, and Wolfe Riley, Austin, Harkey, the County Commissioners and the Board of Education (with one substitution) in the local races, all showed their heels to the challengers. It was a bad day indeed for those who gave up their hold on one job to seek a better, as Hancock, Blankenship and Merle Long can tell you.

But it was primary day, and on primary day anything can happen. Some other things that happened were--

Lost at Home

Major Bulwinkle again demonstrated that if he is to be unseated, somebody other than Hamilton Jones will have to do it. In three tries extending over a period of eight years, Mr. Jones has built up a considerable following and an efficient organization. Each time he has made a good run, runs that he need not be ashamed of, and this time he made considerable inroads in the incumbent's strength in his home county of Gaston. Mr. Jones came to the river needing from his home county only a convincing majority to overcome his opponent's lead up the district. He received instead a majority of less than a thousand votes, and that meant curtains for his aspirations.

It is no disgrace. The Bulwinkle organization is most efficient here, and Mr. Jones, inadvisedly, we think, did not make the sort of campaign which was calculated to give his well-wishers anything tangible to go on. It was a case of the man seeking the office instead of the office seeking the man, and the odds were in favor of the man who already held the office and enjoyed the advantage of its perquisites. Besides, Mr. Bulwinkle's service in the past Congress has, we believe, been more than usually acceptable to the greater part of his constituency.

They Know Best, Maybe

In the groping, the bumbling, the confused sentimentality of the American electorate, there remains a sort of reassuring unwitting level-headedness. "Muddling through," the English call it; and sometimes this muddling takes a willy-nilly, inexplicable form. Such, for instance, as the size of the vote Bob Reynolds rolled up. It was a jar to those who believe that high state jobs belong by right only to statesmen.

And statesman, or anything approaching it, Bob Reynolds is not. Once you have conceded his personal magnetism and his impressive platform presence, you have run the gamut of his qualifications to hold office. It is not so much that he lacks the capacity to amount to a capable public servant as that he lacks the disposition. His whole record in six years of being a Senator is wholly one of diligence for his re-election. That alone explains his ardor for the works of the New Deal, since to have followed the New Deal through its three contradictory phases required the sacrifice three times of views which Reynolds himself had put forward as convictions. This charge may be documented by anybody sufficiently interested to go to the record.

And yet, we say, there is something reassuring in the collective judgment of hundreds of thousands of voters, however foolish we may consider them at the time. Like mama, they frequently "know best." And it may be that about Robert they know that, being a good fellow and meaning no harm, an apathetic Senator is likely to inflict less enduring mischief than one who yearns to reform the world.

On the First Go-Round*

Mecklenburg and Gaston did themselves proud with the clear majorities both counties delivered to William H. Bobbitt for judge of Superior Court. Without reflecting upon either of the other candidates, it may be said that Mr. Bobbitt, by training, temperament and inclination is a natural for the place. He may not have been born to the bench, but his aptitudes have led him in that direction inevitably.

It is too bad that judges and solicitors of those higher and lower courts are compelled by the North Carolina system periodically to get on with the candidates for purely political offices and scramble for votes. The holder of a judiciary office should go in unencumbered with partisans and the deterrent of a campaign should not be placed in the way of any man suitable for such a place. But with the nomination of Mr. Bobbitt, we are reconciled momentarily to the system. He will make, we are confident, an exceedingly able judge.

Revolt at Burgos

While France digests the fact that its territory has been boldly violated by planes which probably were Italians or Germans masquerading behind the Spanish Insurgent flag, Gibraltar is buzzing with significant rumors. Those rumors have it that the officers and men who make up the Spanish portion of the Insurgent army are rapidly growing ripe for an out-and-out break with their German and Italian allies and for revolt against Franco. They seem finally to have realized that they are simply being made a cat's paw for the turning of their country into an Italo-German state, and numerous fights have already occurred. Franco, who knows that he will swing for a traitor if the body of his countrymen ever get their hands on him, is represented as trying desperately to compose the quarrel, but without much success.

In itself, there is no spectacle which would be more calculated to warm the heart of the world than that of the Spanish fascists and the Italian and German fascists busily warring on one another. But the thing is big with the prospect of the outbreak of a threatening world war, too. For if the whole body of Spaniards--Insurgents and Loyalists alike--turn to the task of heaving the invaders out of Spain, Mussolini and Hitler are either going to have to retreat ignominiously or throw off the mask and embark openly upon a war of conquest. They almost certainly would adopt the latter course, and if they did, the whole non-intervention hypocrisy would collapse and England and France would have to take it lying down or fight.

Toward Peace

How much faith Mr. Chamberlain may put in his "realistic" schemes for pacifying Europe by giving Mussolini and Hitler a free hand was perhaps shown by Sir Samuel Hoare's description in the House of Commons Thursday of what England is doing in preparation for air raids. He said that,

1--Trenches to accommodate 1,500,000 persons are to be dug in London's parks and open spaces.

2--A ring of tent hospitals is to be provided around London to accommodate the wounded until they can be moved.

3--Plans are being worked out to make Oxford and Cambridge Universities casualty clearing stations.

4--30,000,000 sand bags have already been acquired for the protection of waterworks and electric and gas stations, 275,000,000 more are to be acquired, and several million pounds will be spent on other schemes for protecting these nerve centers.

5--Plans have been worked out to use the subways as bomb shelters, and still keep the trains running, so that transportation will not be paralyzed.

6--Bomb-proof shelters will be built in the House of Parliament itself.

7--Plans have been worked out for the post office to warn all London residents of coming raids.

8--Plans have been worked out with the railroads to move 3,500,000 Londoners at least 50 miles away from the city within 72 hours.

One More Sign

Whatever they may themselves think about it, the hoodlums (they are hoodlums, regardless of their station in life) who broke up Norman Thomas' speech at Newark Saturday with rotten eggs, are not good Americans. They may carry flags and yell till they are red in the face, and the fact remains that they are the deadliest foes of Americanism among us. You cannot defend Americanism by destroying the rights which constitute the heart of Americanism.

Even so, we are not sure that Mr. Thomas has gone the best way about vindicating free speech and assembly. There is no more right of free speech in Jersey City than in Berlin or Rome or Moscow. There is not in Newark, either. And with Hague's stooge, Moore, in the Governor's Mansion at Trenton, it may very well be doubted that there is any in New Jersey anywhere.

But Mr. Thomas already knew that, and the nation already knew it. And to attempt to defy the mobs which Hague has drummed up, is, we suspect, merely to inflame passion and make free speech and assembly more unlikely than ever. Perhaps he has in mind to force the hand of the administration, but, if so, he is wasting his efforts. It is an unpleasant thing to have to say, but it is brilliantly clear that administration, for all its pious snuffling, means to go on winking at Hague's crimes because he has the delegates to the 1940 Democratic convention safe in his vest pocket.

The only recourse really open to Mr. Thomas is the courts. And, for all the fact that some New Jersey courts are manned by Hague's stooges, we believe in the integrity of the courts generally and think they can be trusted eventually to give Hague his deserts and vindicate the rights for which Mr. Thomas battles.

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