The Charlotte News

Friday, January 19, 1940


Site Ed. Note: More on dress codes: We suggest that when a student comes to school in dress which expresses something a little unusual, the simple solution is to provide ample time for a mature discussion of the varying perceptions within class of the meaning of the garb to each student, with the wearer having the first and last word on the subject. Perhaps, set aside study halls for this purpose, sending the student there, so as not to be disruptive of normal class time. Probably takes about ten minutes, and sufficiently defuses whatever it is deemed possibly offensive to enable the wearer to be properly ingratiated to the school's society again. (But then, would not the little Aleck wish then to do so every day, just to get out of class? Well, we didn't say that there wouldn't be a built-in penalty for that bit of absence, if regularly maintained, when grades are finally published, now, did we?) And if one is still concerned that such might suggest heretical and terrible images and their interpretations to the purely innocent minds of the thusly beseeched, then we might inquire as to what it is, after all, which anyone of high school age these days, or in any days past for those who could read a book and imagine, has not seen which could possibly be formed by dress offending some 1950's code? Indeed, walk downtown in most urban areas and the adult population will be seen to wear all manner of dress offensive to these silly codes, including bright red jackets worthy of James Dean's character in that film emblematic of teenage rebellion, perhaps rebellion in general. (Where did Buzz go? Apparently, his ghost, resurrected, re-ascended the cliff and met the Porsche, in reality, at the chickie run out on Highway 46 at 41, near Cholame?) Does this artificial environment then prepare the student for assimilation into normal functioning society?

Ah well, we could always abandon MLK Day, too, we suppose, and return to the good ol' days when the Southern schools celebrated Lee-Jackson Day. Or do some still do so? If so, is that so bad?

We are aware of the comment attributed to Lee, in explanation for his accepting the mantle of commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, that he was remaining loyal to his "country", his country then being the Confederated States of America, among which was his native Virginia.

The concept was old, of course, being around within the United States since the days of the Articles of Confederation enacted after the Revolution, giving way finally by 1787 to the Constitution; it being recognized through debate in convention and then disseminating back home via the various more educated representatives of the states, the scribes, valiant newspapermen and pamphleteers, who covered it and gave it voice somewhat wider than the echo from the hustings would permit, at least among those with the ability to read, whether to themselves only or also to others who couldn't, that confederations would not long sustain in one closely contiguous group, but would remain vulnerable not only to external conflict from without the confederation, foreign invasion, but also, because of the rising inevitably of jealous trade barriers, differences in accent, neologisms derivative of different mixes of immigrants in variable measures and cadences, and the like, internecine conflict as well would become the more probable than not norm,--with peace and security to all but a fleeting exception, like the deer, half-seen, coursing the glade, even that fleeting exception then always on tenterhooks, as the populace would expect the worst, thus being always at the ready, the slightest incursion to the norm being a sign to suspect, thus to rouse to arms, providing the self-fulfilling prophecy of the lesser lights, to be exacted before cooler heads, sometimes with the necessity of defensive arms in play, could prevail against it. Confederations.

So, one might question, why, through the history of our country since ratification in 1789, has this same process inherent in confederations occurred unquestionably within our constitutional framework, though actual invasion of United States soil by a duly organized foreign sovereignty has occurred but twice, in the War of 1812, and at Pearl Harbor.

The answer to that question is rather simple, as we have suggested before, we posit. When such rebellion to the notion of equality before the law, whether individually or by groups, unfettered from their moorings, takes hold in a given setting, it is the simple failure to appreciate these simple words of the Constitution, Article VI:

"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the Contrary notwithstanding."

This Supremacy Clause is the compact to which all states, and each of those states' localities, bound by charter to the state, (and, for that matter, each corporation incorporated by charter within each of those states and localities, each business entity licensed within each of those states and localities, or each individual citizen receiving some license to practice this or that craft or profession, what have you, within those states and localities), and hence the Federal Constitution from which those states and hence their subordinate localities derive authority, subscribed when each state and its citizens ratified the Constitution, and to which each subsequent state and its citizens, upon becoming part of the United States subscribed, upon so entering that compact.

As we have suggested before, by way of representation, one big circle, with fifty smaller circles inside it, with lots of littler circles inside each of those, all joining tangents by the fingers, in what sometimes appears as a most contorted and complicated and even ugly array and jumble, but nevertheless somehow achieving thereby a common bond with the host, the Supremacy Clause. (Ms. Clause, too.)

"But I don't like it. I wasn't born back then. Nobody asked me. Nobody asked me even to be born. And, besides, I'm not licensed to do anything. Thus, I've license to do everything I please," says the licentious refusenik contra. That all may well be true, as to your birth and so on. But, there are ways around this compact, though limited they are: One is to leave the country of one's birth and move elsewhere, a place where the compact no longer bothers you. The other is that state of peace known as Eden, before the Fall. But, that, we posit, alas, insofar as it is any realizable plane of constant existence, may be the same state, you see, as that which one finds in the predictions, at the end, the Boojum, if you will, the state of invisibility, the state we commonly call Death, before it circles round again, we hope, anyway, to Genesis, that is, so long as all the spirits have not been killed off at the Death, you see.

We don't recommend it, incidentally, individually or otherwise, until it is Time, as to the physical state. As to a state of mind, however, it is one to which to strive surely, and sometimes even to achieve for a time, until the pressure from without might suggest its temporary abandonment to purpose until later again achievable.

Anyhow, you go study it all awhile, the Boojum, too, if you don't get it or have forgotten it a little, and make a full report on it to us. We'll be waiting--and we'll be sure to let you know of it if we disagree with your assessment. And should you decide to come after us in some way with your assessment trail blazing, we'll be sure to let you know double-quick our assessment of your assessment.

Ah well, the truth of the matter is that Virginia still celebrates Lee-Jackson Day, having first conjoined it with MLK Day, until 2000, when it was moved to the Friday before MLK Day. We have to say that it is a strange tradition. No northern state to our knowledge celebrates Meade Day or Grant Day or, God help us as to the flack this would cause in Georgia, Sherman Day. Maybe, until Virginia ceases this strange practice, they should.

And it is not to say anything per se is inherently wrong with studying Lee or Jackson or the rest from an historical perspective, set within the context of their times.

But to continue to celebrate their lives as a holiday and close schools as a result, and have no counterpoise historically to that notion, such as Grant-Sherman Day, is to deny the reality of history and to suggest, not very subliminally, to those students from their earliest days of school that these two Southern gentlemen stand out pre-eminently above the rest as dashing cavaliers worthy of all the respect attendant the other individuals for whom we recognize annual holidays in the land, the two Presidents and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

But one of those Presidents was the first one elected under the duly constituted government of the Constitution, not the Bible, another was brutally assassinated after restoring the Union at the time of the "second revolution", and Martin Luther King was brutally assassinated after being the primary instrument at the forefront of a movement by which the promise inherent within the fabric and eventually the clarified words, post-Civil War, of the Constitution was to become slowly realized through time, that promise having been violently and systematically repressed in major parts of society, seeping into its fabric via the necessary economic compacts between the states for mutual sustenance, thus becoming a way of life, since the days of the founding throughout most of the land, save in certain enclaves, villages, and families, here and there, able to sustain in a different, more independent manner, and often then with grave results to all involved in those places should they aspire to bring their perceived notions of equality and its manner of achievement in practical circumstance to the general offering place in society's avenues of commerce and information exchange temporal to the particular time in question.

That promise still moves in varying degrees backward and then forward again, step by grudging step, as old beliefs, outmoded emotive reactions worthy of the weepiest of spiteful children, slowly slip the surly bounds of the willow to become, not the will o' the wisp, but rather understanding of simple differences of perception.

Perhaps, instead of Lee-Jackson Day, then, Virginia might start anew with Perception Day, to study why we celebrate as a nation now MLK Day, why we celebrate our diversity thusly, and not the Civil War and its military generals of the Confederacy, no matter how personally honorable they might have been in a time where one section of the country sought to separate itself from society and inbreed its own economic system, doomed dismally to failure had it ever succeeded for long in becoming a reality, as history's lessons amply provide in abounding and uniform cadence.

We notice today news of a study out on the "NPI", the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, (probably as problematic, incidentally, as the MMPI, which we once took as part of an experiment in a psychology class, and found so humorous that we could almost not see straight enough to answer all the little absurd questions--which they use to nominate your police officers, among other bureaucratic functionaries, in many locales, explaining a lot to us anyway as to the potential for problems which often we see play out in the evening news or newspaper), which found simply that today's college youth are increasingly narcissistic when asked to agree or disagree, presumably on some strength of agreement scale, with such statements as: "If I ruled the world, it would be a better place," "I think I am a special person", or "I can live my life any way I want to."

First, we note, were we asked to take this test, we would feel compelled marginally to note that the latter statement ends in a preposition and thus is logically given, were it to be lived thusly, to starting the whole damned thing over again incessantly, and thus should be rephrased, "I can live my life any way in which I want." By the time we were done correcting the statement, we would then be compelled, you see, strongly to disagree with its substantive meaning, Q.E.D. So, perhaps the testers would accept our rearrangement of the words; or would they deem it to be an extremely narcissistic answer, conveying with it too much introspection? Well, we don't know. We shall go to the mirror and find out.

Anyway, we find such tests to be, shall we suggest, ludicrous, at least in terms of divining anything for very practical application. A suitable academic exercise for exploration of flaws in the process, for stimulating dialectics which have some practical impact, perhaps, on critical thinking. But to use it for some other purpose, to suggest that college students are "narcissistic" or think themselves better than others, is to be divisive, the old working class conflict with the educated classes given to rise, and thus misses the point, except to stimulate societal conflict.

Yes, one might tap across time changes in attitudes, based on mass responses to the same general query. But to suggest by it a confirmation of a general hypothesis of the type derived is to ignore the reality that all college students for time immemorial, as a group, have been tending toward narcissism. That for the reason, we think, that college, itself, indeed, likewise high school, to some degree, or ought to so do, tends toward narcissism. For part of the educational process is introspection, criticism of ideas necessitating criticism of one's self and environment and perceptions, and hence tends toward narcissistic behavior, in order to understand one's self as part of one's world.

Don't believe it? Look, and read, and interpret as an adult, in any high school or college yearbook, in any year, going back as far as they had photography, and get back to us on it.

Failing to do that periodically throughout life, to re-critique, to assess that past, that role, what caused one's thinking, one's belief system, while often painful to do, self-haunting even, is part and parcel of the problem which leads to a feeling of omnipotence, not narcissism. There is a great difference in thinking one's self special and the greatest.

Perhaps, we are quibbling with the nomenclature surrounding this test's assumptions, that it taps instead feelings of anomie, normlessness, as opposed to narcissism, a state of simple reflection to understand one's self and one's environs from some perspective which is different from that one to which one has become comfortably accepting and accustomed through the process of acculturation within the bounds of the locality, the state, the nation, during that time in which one came of age, to back it round to understand it, both its strengths and its weaknesses, within the context and stresses of its time, then to critique the latter to attempt to effect positive change, not for the purpose of reaching unattainable perfection, or to say one is better than someone else, but rather simply to avoid the worst, for as long as possible, death and war, realizing the while that process must largely be self-motivated as an adult, and usually fails miserably when other-motivated, especially by officious intermeddlers, who, by so being, have obviously not taken the time to reflect enough to realize the inherent flaws in their own process of understanding others.

In short, we vote for more narcissism, within its classical meaning, less omnipotence, (such as that engendered by too heavy reliance on books which exhibit on their cover,--after promoting themselves egomaniacally via some easy-sounding study results simpatico with a popularly held belief, such as that more discipline is always the order to insure equation with normative behavior patterns which are familiar to the parents,--a subtitle starting with the declarative usage of the word, "why", giving axiomatically as its object a popular problem of which many complain, as opposed to its interrogative form), fewer standardized tests of this silly variety, designed by multiple choice examination to tap personality attributes, and more understanding of our Constitution, and its somewhat complicated simple text, when taken in whole form, and from an early age.

The study suggested, incidentally, as being emblematic of and contributory to the fault leading to its stated results, perhaps the teaching of the nursery rhyme in preschool during the 1980's which went, "I am special, I am special, look at me," sung to the tune of "Frère Jacques". Okay, perhaps. Maybe, then, all it needed was a slight change of lyric in the last phrase to "You are, too," and all would have been well, no piratical tattoos on the navel passage, then, to suggest indviduality by a permanent imprint, separate from that engendered by the parents and the rest of humanity, save the tattooist, that is, and the assorted other dyed chickies at Easter with the same one. (Or, just have had a good listen to "Yellow Submarine", the album--all of it. (Oh, but what about that line? You know the one. What about that? It's a question, you doper. So answer it for them, dependent on their age.))

Anyhow, enough for today. We're going out to hunt for the snark.

We usually find it, by each day's end, anyway, everyday, within the simple Cartesian plain notion. That way, we usually fail to find the boojum variety of it.

Benighted York

Yet, Somehow, It Seems Better Off Than Mecklenburg

Yes, yes; we know. It would be unthinkable for so moral a community as Mecklenburg to expose its boys and girls and its adults with a weakness for strong drink to the temptation of open liquor stores. We know too well the heroic attitude of the drys that revenue from liquor is tainted revenue, and it would be downright sinful to use it for schools, say (although it is perfectly all right to use for that specific purpose considerable fines that come in from the organized bootlegging racket).

We know that there is no compromise with the forces of evil, and a vote for liquor stores is a vote for the forces of darkness and corruption. We know all these arguments, since they have been hurled freely in this community and have prevailed.

Nevertheless, it appears from the record of South Carolina liquor sales by counties that Mecklenburg, not to mention other dry border counties, is getting the liquor and that South Carolina is getting the revenue. According to the story in Thursday's News, taken from figures presented in the Southern Christian (Methodist) Advocate, York County, containing the cases of Fort Mill and Rock Hill, sold more liquor than any other in South Carolina except populous Richland, of which Columbia is the seat.

And according to the dogma of the drys, York County should be rolling in corruption and gone in shame. Whereas, as a matter of fact, York County appears to be deriving not only a comfortable income from liquor sales but to be enjoying a tranquil order which Mecklenburg surely must envy.

Echo of 1916*

Concerning A Funny Claim Which May Be Offered Us

John Garner's appearance in open opposition to the loan to Finland indicates that what Mr. Clapper says in his column today about the Middle West may be applicable to other sections of the country also. It seems, indeed, to be a pretty safe bet that sentiment in the whole country west of the Appalachians and the Mississippi is still decisively isolationist.

And it is an interesting thing to bear in mind for the coming election. Or if there is no decisive shift in our foreign relations soon, we shall probably begin to hear from the advocates of the Third Term, that we ought not change horses in midstream because "He Has Kept Us Out of War."

Such an argument will, however, be a good deal less than candid. There's not much doubt that Mr. Roosevelt has all along wanted to take a more decisive stand about European affairs than he has felt it wise to take or has taken. Continually, he has put out feelers only to withdraw when the public clamor made it plain that sentiment of the country was not with him.

He wanted no neutrality law at all. He accepted the present one because Congressional leaders assured him it was the best he could get. And he is plainly chafing at the bit over Finland.

This is not to suggest that he may not be fundamentally right. The argument that the European fracas is not our business will not stand up under analysis, and it would be dangerous for the country to assume that in common self-interest we may not have to come to the aid of the Allies, though it is permissible still to hope otherwise.

That, however, is not the point here, which is simply that the President does not really embody sentiment as it has so far developed but is in fact far out in front of it.

Cook Note

Mr. Browder Fails To Look Over All The Routes

Mr. Earl Browder, on trial in New York, for obtaining passports under false names on three occasions in 1937 and 1938, plans to use as a part of his defense the "moral argument" that it would have been "dangerous for them (Communist Party members) to pass through some countries as known Communists..."

But it seems to us that he is going to have to do better than that. Certainly, the claim that the fact that Mr. Browder and his friends wanted to go to Russia to receive orders from Comrade Stalin and that they might have occasioned some difficulties on their way--that this fact entitled them to break the law of the United States does not appear to have anything very "moral" about it, when you examine it.

Moreover, the claim doesn't add up to too much sense anyhow. What country in Europe would be likely to interfere with a person traveling under an American passport, even though he was known to be a Communist? There is only one, of course--Germany. And it is entirely unnecessary to cross Germany in getting to Russia.

New York City, where Mr. Browder resides, happens to be the greatest port in the world, and you can get boats out of it, not only to Hamburg and Bremen and the Channel ports but also to all the Baltic ports, including Riga, which has direct rail connection with Moscow and Leningrad. Many people deliberately choose this route because it is somewhat cheaper.

Or if you don't want to go by sea, you can circle around by Switzerland, Yugoslavia, and Rumania, and so come eventually to Moscow, at amazingly small extra cost, with a fine view of the country thrown into the bargain. Or if you'd prefer, there is the Mediterranean route to set you down at Constanza or Odessa, again at little extra cost.

What Mr. Browder's "moral" argument really seems to come to is a demand that he be allowed to break the law to save himself a few dollars or because he gets seasick on long voyages, or bored, or something like that. Or hasn't Mr. Browder ever heard of Thomas Cook?

Two Southerners

It Is Curious That This Day Is Not More Observed

Today the South celebrates Lee-Jackson day. At least, that is, the banks close and various of the women's patriotic societies hold meetings.

It is a little odd that we do not celebrate it on a more extensive scale, for these are rightfully the two greatest heroes of the Confederacy

Both men were more than soldiers, though as soldiers both rank with the greatest of the world. And in celebrating them the South need not be afraid of the charge, sometimes made, that it is merely clinging to the martial spirit.

Stonewall Jackson was a man of austerely religious spirit who disliked war thoroughly, opposed it until the case was made and out of his hands. And his men loved him in the field, not only for his great brilliance and courage as a leader but for his gentleness and democracy, his everlasting care for their comfort and well-being. "Old Long Tom" they sometimes called him to his face when drawn up in ranks, and he did not mind, knowing that respect and admiration does not depend upon the outward ritual of rank.

And as for Marse Robert, no man of greater moral courage and gentler spirit was ever boasted by any people. He spoke out against slavery long before the Civil War when he was an officer of the United States, and when to do so was to expose himself to the charge of the war-mongers that he was a traitor to the South. He took off his hat to humble Negroes when they took off their own to himself, saying that he would not have it that his manners were not as good as theirs. In the field he indulged in none of the arrogance so common to military officers, commanded his men by loyalty rather than by the whip, guarded their lives with fatherly compassion, reprimanded his younger kinsmen when they stopped to indulge in gaiety in the midst of the carnage, continually deplored the struggle.

And when the war was over, he gave the rest of his life, not, as so many men on both sides did, to whipping up hatred, but to restoring amity and the prosperity of the nation.

They were two eminently deserving of everlasting remembrance.

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