The Charlotte News

Friday, January 26, 1940


Site Ed. Note: Those who consider Cash far too seriously at times might venture that "Quandary" represents a metaphor for his own ventures into the realm of analysis of the South. It might, at that.

Or, was it the world in microcosm, the hungry empiricist, yet ever perspicacious that the stranger bearing gifts might be something more sinister than the apparently benevolent altruist?

But then again, it might be a simple story based on observation of a hardy squirrel in the park on a snowy gray day.

"To salt away the nuts or not to salt away the nuts": that could be the additional sub-caption.

"Useless" points up the considerable quandary in which the United States found itself vis à vis Japan in 1940, caught between the need for silk and Japan's considerable continued market for exports on the one hand, and, on the other, the consequence of that policy being to fortify Japan's military establishment in aid of its war with China and its general threat of aggression in the Pacific.

"Quandary" and "Useless" together, perhaps, echo down the corridors of history with "Three Little Ships", "Pearl Harbor", and "Quandary", as set forth on September 28, 1939, to form a dissonant cacophony, the mixed metaphorical and literal harbinger of the prologue of things yet to be which became to the rest of us ultimately things which were.


Concerning Two Desires That Cannot Be Reconciled

He may have been a very young squirrel without experience in a world turned suddenly white. But our own theory is that he was on his way to being a Freudian case.

It is improbable certainly, that he was shy of people. Squirrels in the First Presbyterian churchyard do not exactly [indiscernible word] with a morbid desire to be far from the madding crowd. And the woman who was tossing out nuts for him looked a pleasant sort and called to him in a consoling voice.

Nor will the supposition that he was a lazy fellow explain anything. The snow there was hard and the nuts lay fully on the surface as they fell, so that no digging was necessary.

What plainly ailed him was that he couldn't make up his mind. Whether to cling to the tree trunk and keep his feet warm, or bravely to endure the cold tootsies and warm his stomach with walnuts and pecans--that was the question.

He dashed down, ran wildly forward a few yards, quite evidently trying to keep his feet from knowing there was snow there at all, turned and fled frantically to the tree trunk, again, peering eagerly and despairingly out at the nuts, his excitement rising as each new one fell. Repeated the performance at intervals of 30 seconds or so. Once in a terrific rush he reached a nut, grabbed it, stopped to crack it, dropped it and scurried to the tree again, to peer out, the picture of frustrate gloom. A destined neurotic, obviously.


Halting Japan Calls For Sterner Stand Than This

The commercial treaty of the United States with Japan expires today, and trade between the two countries will hereafter be on a day by day basis. Immediately there will be no change in tariffs, etc., but the United States will be free to make whatever changes she pleases, or to embargo exports to Japan, particularly war exports, by a moral embargo like that now in use against Russia--or by the passage of a specific embargo act.

All of which again brings us up against a problem which, as we have said before, ought to be decided one way or the other. For the abrogation of this treaty represents a definite gesture of sympathy to China, a definite gesture of warning to Japan that we do not like her plans to conquer China and become the mistress of the Pacific. And standing alone, it is almost certainly a futile gesture--one which is neither fowl, fish, nor good red herring, and which will only embitter our relations with Japan. It cannot stop Japan in China. It can only do what it is in fact doing, make Japan more polite to us for the nonce to the end of successfully carrying out her Chinese adventure--at the cost of secret rage and anger toward us, the desire for vengeance.

The question we need to face squarely is this: do we really want to stop Japan enough to pay the price and take the risk?

That we can stop her there is not much doubt. All along she has got from us two-thirds of all the military supplies she must have to continue her campaign in China. That was ironic in a way, because as with one hand we supplied her with the strength to murder Chinese, we held out the other to give the Chinese a vast lot of sympathy and some little aid. But for that we had this excuse: that it would do no good to stop shipping our supplies to the invader. Deprived of them here, she would simply buy them from England, France, and Italy--all eager for the trade. And more than that she would still pay for them in American dollars. We needed her silk, would go on getting it. Merely it would come by way of bread and be paid for in dollars instead of goods--at a considerably higher price.

Since Sept. 3, however, that excuse no longer exists. It is precious little in the way of military supplies that Japan can buy in England and France, now, and Italy is too frightened to risk selling much, either. So it undoubtedly is in our power to cripple and pretty quickly destroy the Japanese expedition in China by clapping an embargo on exports to her.

The cost?

Japan is our third best customer. Every year she buys from about $200,000,000 to more than $300,000,000 worth of goods from us, sends us two-thirds as much, of which silk is the primary item. That is five or six times as much as our total trade with China, half that of our trade with the United Kingdom, half that with Canada, from 25 to 40 per cent more than that with France. The loss of that trade will be a serious matter for us directly. And indirectly it will mean more unemployment because of the closing down of the silk mills. More, what is no mean item, our women will have to wear cotton and rayon instead of silk for a good while--a thing which is certain to raise a vast clamor.

The risk?

That Japan may elect, instead of bowing herself bitterly out of China, to stake all in a swift naval warfare.

There is no doubt that all our professions for many years and our obligations under the Nine Power Treaty call on us to clamp on the embargo, willy-nilly. And prudence may dictate the same thing--for we are probably helping to raise up an Eastern colossus which may some day be a grave threat to us. On the other hand, we have economic trouble enough now.

But in any case whatever, we ought to make up our minds and quit trying to ride a horse in both directions--either come to the aid of China with effective measures or accept her doom and desist from silly and bootless gestures which net us nothing but hate.


Veto Of This Measure Was Only Rational Course

The Republican cries of "Hitlerism" against the President's veto of the measure to pay Ohio $1,338,000 withheld from it in 1938 because of its failure to comply with the Social Security Law--and against the House's vote to sustain the veto--is mere political maneuvering.

For all we know there may be politics on the side of the President and the New Dealers in the House, too. Probably is, for that matter. Certainly, the ardent New Deal dislike for Governor Martin L. Davey did not aid Ohio in getting her irregularities overlooked. The present Governor of Ohio, Republican John W. Bricker, is anathema to the White House--perhaps not without reason, in view of his effort to make the Federal Government bear most of the relief load in Ohio.

But regardless of that, the veto is amply justified. To deny it, the Republicans would have to show that Ohio was not in fact failing to comply with the law in 1938, something that nobody claims. Otherwise, state politicians would be at liberty to manipulate the relief set-up as they wished, for the achievement of temporary objectives--secure in the knowledge that, once they attained these objectives, they could remedy the irregularities and the money would come through just the same. And indeed, if you ever let down the bars by overriding the law to pay sums not legally due in the past, it would be only one more step to overriding the law to raid the Treasury at will.

On The Skids

Long Gang Seems Done For, Regardless Of Run-Off

Even if Earl Long should succeed in grabbing the Democratic nomination to the Governorship in the coming run-off primary in Louisiana, the Long machine still promises to be broken.

He has the stooge Legislature in session at Baton Rouge, busily engaged in passing laws designed to catch votes at the coming election. But it is certain already that this is the last Long Legislature. Only 25 of the 100 members of the present House, and nine of the 39 Senators secured outright renomination in the first primary. And even if all those who are still in the race should make a clean sweep in the run-off--a highly unlikely thing, of course--, the Longites would still be a minority in the next Assembly, and Earl Long as Governor would be impotent.

Moreover, it is plain that the old brazen gang spirit has been pretty well cowed by the long string of indictments and convictions secured against its leaders--a string that is constantly growing. All the laws now being passed by the Legislature are laws designed to persuade the voters that the machine has reformed, not at all laws to coerce and intimidate and flout democratic reforms and rights--in the good old Huey manner.

Site Ed. Note: Also on this day's page this piece.

While in theory the notion sounds good, it is questionable, doubtful in fact, that Congress could enact such a law as that proposed, to prohibit all forms of gang murder, as there is no Federal common law such as in the states to get at ordinary murder and provide enhancements to sentencing for particular aggravating circumstances. Murders and other forms of violence committed during labor strikes might conceivably fall within the commerce powers to regulate as affecting interstate commerce by interfering with general collective bargaining. But gangland murders, per se, unless involving kidnapping across state borders to invoke Federal jurisdiction, form a more difficult specie of crime insofar as enabling Federal jurisdiction. The RICO laws, premised on regulation of commerce, were enacted in 1970 to get at general racketeering activities, including murder, but require for application a general scheme of conduct, convictions on at least two prohibited acts carried out for a common enterprise within ten years.

The proposed but never passed Federal anti-lynching laws were primarily aimed at law enforcement personnel who allowed the victims to be taken by the mob, a form of deprivation of Constitutional rights while acting under color of state law, clearly within Congressional power to punish criminally and civilly.

Other, earlier Federal laws, however, enacted right after the Civil War, apply criminal sanctions and civil sanctions to deprivation of civil rights, including those which are the result of lynchings obviously. Until the 1960's, however, these laws were simply not usually invoked.

One part of this body of law, enacted originally in 1871, though the sentencing provisions have been considerably stiffened from the original maximum of six years, is codified under 18 USC 241. It provides:

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or

If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured--

They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

Its companion statute, 18 USC 242, applies to law enforcement officers and others acting under color of state law who similarly transgress, to deprive a person of rights, privileges or immunities under the Constitution or to subject a person to a punishment other than that prescribed by law, with similar penalties available, except that the maximum general penalty is one year in prison unless bodily injury results from the deprivation of rights, in which case the penalty is up to ten years, with life in prison or the death penalty available, as under section 241, when either death occurs or the other enumerated heinous crimes have been perpetrated.

Thus, in point of fact, the anti-lynching bills proposed in the 1930's were unnecessary, as the new laws proposed provided for no more harsh sentencing than that already on the books; the existing law needed only to be enforced. The publicity surrounding the threatened passage of these new laws, however, served its purpose in tending to abate the practice insofar as law enforcement turning the victim over to the mob, at least until the wake of Brown v. Board of Education and its threat to the recalcitrant, especially in the deep South, of those integrated schools and, by extension of imagination as to what the integrated little boys and girls would perforce be thus doing obviously, his feared "mongrel race" ultimately, saw a return to lynching in the South, starting with the vicious killing of 14-year old Emmett Till for whistling at a white girl in Money, Mississippi. His death and the gruesome pictures publicized of his battered body of course inspired Rosa Parks to sit elsewhere on the bus than the back and thus spawned the Montgomery bus boycott of 1956, which in turn sparked the modern civil rights movement of the latter fifties and sixties.

Murderers, All

Asheville Citizen

The lyncher is a murderer. The simple fact that his crime is usually committed in the security of numbers does not alter the fact that he is a murderer.

There are other murders committed each year in this fair land of ours. In all too many of such cases the guilty person is never brought to justice.

For instance, gangsters have a way of killing those who incur their displeasure. The justice meted out to the person who squeals to the police or to the courts is usually swift and quite often barbaric. It rarely happens that the guilty persons are apprehended and punished.

Furthermore, industrial strife produces its homicides each year in this country. Occasionally such murders are committed by members of one or the other of the warring factions. In other instances they are perpetrated by union racketeers who are trying to protect their extortion activities.

The person murdered by a gangster or an industrial racketeer is just as dead as an unfortunate Negro lynched by a bloodthirsty mob.

Congressman Gavagan hopes to prevent lynchings through the punitive machinery which he provides in his bill. If this machinery will be effective in preventing lynchings it will be equally as effective in preventing gang and labor war murders.

Such being the case, it stands to reason that the law should be amended to include gang and labor war murders. While Congress is about the business of preventing murders, it might as well do a thorough job of it.

The only defect in this argument lies in the pertinent fact that Mr. Gavagan hails from New York. His state does not have any lynchings but it does furnish more than its proportionate share of murders committed by gangsters and labor toughs.

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