The Charlotte News

Wednesday, October 15, 1941


Site Ed. Note: Today's page tells us that Governor Broughton's SBI investigation, belatedly ordered under public and press protest, of the August Roxboro riot in Person between the would-be lynch mob, broken up finally by the Sheriff after the Klan had thrown sticks and stones at the jail, and the African-American CCC men who came in with baseball bats swinging to break it up, had turned up names of the mob--an exhaustive inquiry being required to do so, no doubt, as the Sheriff apparently hadn't a clue as to who these men of high standing in the Klan were. Now, says the piece, down to the business of a trial of the malefactors. We'll stay tuned.

The piece culled from Time on General Semion Budenny's hapless misunderstanding of strategy, replacing it with the sentimental defense of his hometown in the Ukraine, costing the loss of Kiev and potentially the war with Germany, gives him a sensitivity worthy of someone who was serving the present Administration in 2003 when the decision was made to go into Iraq, after the impetus for it was demanded by the President in early 2001. Strategy embraces the entire world picture, not just establishing emotionally-based emphasis on one nation as a potential threat, any more than one city within a country, ignoring the proof which suggests a different approach. Again, we ask what the country would have thought if on December 8, 1941 President Roosevelt had declared war on Russia, stressing the need to wipe out Soviet Communism. Anyway, as change appears to be coming on the Iraq debacle, we shall not unduly belabor it.

We watched the third and final presidential debate tonight. We have a question: who is this guy Joe the Plumber? He seems to be in control of the McCain-Palin campaign and we would like to know who he is and what he has been doing these past 40 years. Is he the reason for all this mess? If so, let's find Joe and have a good talk with him. Has Senator McCain been palling around with him? Is he a radical? Has he ever considered the state of the weather? Did he clean his customers' pipes properly or were they left still clogged? Did he mastermind, for instance, the break-in at the Watergate?

The second thing of which we make note is the response of Senator McCain on court appointments. He said that he would not impose litmus tests, that he would consider appointments of Federal judges on the basis of qualifications, but then said that support of a 35-year old Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, by a judicial candidate would not be within the qualifications for which he would look. That somehow sounds like a litmus test to us and a lot of double-talk, replacing "litmus tests" with a litmus test as part of "qualifications".

The last thing of which we make comment is more general, regarding the notion of the failings of the American educational system, the falling competency standards of students, as brought up in the debate. We think a large part of that problem has come about by the fact of not allowing children enough time simply to be children, and for long enough before institutionalized education begins, that at least until age five, not automatons plugged into a system of education at a too early age, many times forcing pre-school at age three, extension of school years to ten months, more regimentation and not enough teacher control of issues in their classrooms. Students emerge from such a school system bombarded, not taught, much of which has to be self-teaching through disciplined study, and seem often in a daze, unable to think freely for themselves. And to achieve anything creative in life, one must be able to think out of the box, not as the television screen says.

Indeed, Hugh Johnson's example in his column of this date of the cadet with whom he attended West Point in an earlier time, the fastidious soul who could memorize by rote many things but could not manage descriptive geometry or halation, finding the bright point on a lighted glass sphere and explaining how he came to the conclusion of it, seems to be one fitting and timely for today as well, perhaps any age. What causes it? That is the ability to do rote tasks but an inability to think, even through relatively simple problems requiring analysis of variables via application to them of learned defining principles. (We remind again that Johnson was also a trained lawyer and thus his mind was trained to be thusly flexible. But we think that one does not have to be trained as a lawyer to have the ability of which he writes, one which clearly he believes, and probably rightly, anyone of normal intelligence ought possess. While prerequisite to entry to a field such as law, requiring the application of principles across varied factual situations, it is by no means a skill limited only to application in law.)

We posit that a major part of the fault is in parenting which stimulates too much emphasis on distraction, not enough on interaction from an early age. Video games or television, for instance, in today's world do not substitute for reading stories to children before they have the ability to read themselves. Children unconsciously learn to read by that old time-honored process, sitting on papa's or mama's lap and viewing the words and pictures as some child's book or even some classical story from literature is read to them. They don't realize it; the parent doesn't realize it. But the child learns and learns how to articulate words by listening to the parent who has disciplined themselves enough properly to pronounce the text before them. Well, we could go on about that. But learning simple reading skills and math skills begins at home with good parenting. It cannot be accomplished merely at school. Nevertheless, school affords a socialization process, most especially an appreciation for differences among people, which has no replacement at home. A school which may appear on the surface even a little chaotic at times does not necessarily suggest a bad school. Too much order breeds contempt in any situation.

But most of all, for a student to succeed, there must be first good parenting. It is not about "quality time" and more pigeon-holed regimentation at home but simply accomplishing things together, between parent and child, mutually interesting and beneficial to both--that is what bonding is all about. The parent, by reading a story or book to their child may dust off some old fogged learning they received and internalized themselves while in school and thus mutual growth occurs. Mental acuity increases on both sides of the age divide.

No child should be pushed or pressed in anything. It is counter-productive in the long run, if not the short. Each child progresses at their own speed and based on their individual merit. The slower child in the first grade may by the twelfth find celerity. The fast child in the sixth grade, if not properly motivated, may fall behind by the twelfth. It is not, in either case, that anything necessarily is wrong, either at home or at school, or requiring some intervention by a psychologist. The child slowing down may go out in life and do something entirely worthwhile. Each person is an individual. Our society as a whole needs to take note.

We were fortunate enough to have a parent who was a school teacher and who had taught at each of the high school, middle school and elementary school levels, and so we speak, we think, with some degree of understanding of the topic beyond just the experience of having gone through the public school system.

Starting in the late 1970's, some great part of this society went slightly nuts over its obsession with so-called "radicalism" of the 1960's, scapegoating every ill with the notion that it was caused either by the excesses of the 1960's as a decade or the spending of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs during the period 1964-69, an extension of what President Kennedy had begun.Thus, the tendency to try to undo, brand as "radical", everything which had been accomplished in that period, 1961-69.

All of that is hokum of course. That "radicalism" was simply a beginning to integration of society, not only by race but also more thoroughly in terms of the sexes, the poor and undereducated. We have undergone fundamental changes in the last fifty years in terms of that socialization and integration of society and determining the best ways to effect it, whether leaving it to the relative sloth of the private sector and at the mercy therefore also of all of its antiquated notions evolving from self-fulfilling prophecies, superstitions and prejudices, or to the public sector with an attempt at least thereby to take it out of those old systems through a more judicious and objective method of analysis to insure fairness to all without prejudice, to the extent humanly possible, or some hybrid of the best parts of both systems. The latter two systems do not always work, clearly; but the former was entirely untrue to both our Constitution and any sense of moral justice at all and thus could not persist or ever be refashioned again without utter chaos of the sort which did befall society in the latter sixties and early seventies, not because of the reforms or their methods, but simply because the reforms were not fast enough and had been so long delayed in coming as to create inevitable release of long pent-up rage and tension--a society, in other words, in growing pains, not one victimized by "radicalism".

For always one thing must remain to preserve the Constitution and our democracy: individualism. If someone wants to believe in something you don't, that does not make that person thereby radical, as some people believe. It does not make them wrong.

Radicalism is simply defined as change through violence. The assassination of our President in Dallas was an act of radicalism. The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were acts of radicalism. The assassination attempt on George Wallace was an act of radicalism. It is not, however, radicalism to work within our system of government for change through democratic methods, eschewing all forms of change through violence, eschewing all forms of non-democratic will to change, shutting up the other side or cutting off debate or other such bullying tactics.

We mention this latter notion because neither of the two presidential candidates is a radical of any stripe or embraces any hint of such a thing. Both are thoughtful and both address the issues for the most part. Neither is a bully. But stressing someone's associations in the past, rather than what they themselves stand for is beneath such thoughtful stress on the issues and is a cheap distraction from the great issues now facing the country.

We hope therefore that the McCain-Palin campaign will cease such nonsense, which will only weaken the country further than it already is, listing from a state of disunity slowly into utter chaos and, potentially, radicalism of one sort or another sure enough, no matter who wins the election in 2008.

Tonight, however, was not such a fresh start, as Senator McCain renewed the nonsense about Senator Obama's supposed "radical ties", floating amid the rhetoric of the campaign the last couple of weeks. It is akin to the tawdry nonsense which went on in 2004 assailing the merits of Senator Kerry's war record because he returned from that unpopular Vietnam war critical of it and government policy with respect to it. It is dirty politics of the divide-and-conquer mold which Nixon made famous and made Nixon famous. Of that, we believe, most of the country is very tired. The results of that society--for want of any name, we'll call it the Trickle-Down Society--are now very stark and plain after those policies have pervaded, save for twelve years, since 1969--twenty-eight of forty years.

If you are one of those who fears one-party rule of the country, then take a look at the long picture and realize again also that seven of our nine present Supreme Court Justices were Republican nominees, even if two are routinely moderate and judicious in their approach, of the Justices appointed to the Court since 1969, two have been Democratic nominees, while twelve have been Republican, even if four were routinely moderate and judicious in their approach. And, of course, we stress again that Republicans enjoyed one-party rule, including Federal judicial nominees, for fully four and a half of the last eight years. What have been the consequences to our society, to your personal life, of that one party domination of both the executive and judicial branches since 1969? What, the four and a half years more recently, until two years ago?

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