The Charlotte News

Thursday, November 18, 1937


Site Ed. Note: This date’s editorial column had half of its width ripped away at some point in time before being committed to microfilm. Probably by some Red.

So we provide of it what we can, and the rest you will have to fulfill with your own good imagination.

As for the initial part of the first available partial editorial, we ourselves think it probably presented itself as a predictive study of the Republican Party, maybe with a catchy title such as "Hell Hath No Fury", and proceeding something like this:

There was Hoover. We know what he brought and wrought, after the better part of sixty years under Republican-led government catering to Big Business, save only the seven years of Theodore Roosevelt and his stab at trust-busting, interspersed by Cleveland and Wilson, Cleveland being pretty much an Old Guard sort of Democrat himself and Wilson having been largely consumed with war worries abroad from August of his second year in office through the end of his second term, and sickly to boot in the latter stages.

Well, what about the future then of this now ailing and decrepit Party?

Looking into our crystal ball, we see on the horizon, maybe, if this war in Spain widens to all of Europe and the war in China touches down elsewhere and expands to all of Asia and the Pacific, as it well might should we continue hiding our heads in the sand, eventually forcing the hand of the United States to become involved, that there will come eventually some aging general who is credited with having won the whole thing for the allied forces, should they win of course—a major question, indeed, should the fascist interests now working at will in the world become yet even stronger, without check.

But keeping with the optimist’s assumption, in him, this old victorious general, Von Popeye we shall dub him, will be reposited such confidence by the American people after the supreme victory that they will go whole-hog down the line for just about anything he says: build-up of the military to unprecedented levels on the basis of cultivated anti-Red sentiment, that especially to be intrigued by his acknowledged protege waiting in the wings, for whom many in the country will find nothing but distaste and distrust, though Popeye, with his grandfatherly manner, will so reassure us about this protégé that he is an okay hell-of-a-fellow, that the usual saps along the landscape will bite the line and hail him with hosannas aplenty.

Perhaps, therefore, then will come, after Von Popeye’s three or four terms in office, albeit possibly limited by then by his own advancing age or the growing sentiment that a Constitutional amendment is needed to limit presidential aspirants to the traditional two terms, now that whispers of a third term are being heard ever so cautiously for FDR, Von Popeye’s protégé, who will have none of the sense of justice of his aging predecessor, none of the sense of restraint and good will, even in the end, in the case of Popeye, self-criticism, as Von Popeye will leave office warning the country of the industrial military complex of which he himself will have been greatly instrumental in promoting and building after the Big War.

The protégé, Hotspurs we shall dub him, will, once in office, then be free to deny liberties at will amid the ever-increasing hosannas against the Reds, the fear of loss of liberty being attenuated by the promise of getting government off the people’s back brought on by the now Red-labeled, Socialistic and thoroughly discredited New Deal of that Commie FDR, while assuring that government services will still respond to the hard working people of America, just cutting loose the bums who don’t want to work, seeking control of all aspects of government and the economy, seeking to unify them unto himself as a dictator, one "democratically" elected but inevitably through electoral manipulation by the same advertising devices, i.e. propaganda, and even control of some newspaper outlets, carried forward in this democracy with even greater fervor, by its greater freedom so allowing it, than that which produced the one-third plurality for the Nazis in 1933.

Hotspurs will give lip-service to some of the right things to attract moderate interests within his own party, just as did Hitler, while seeking further, behind the scenes, through a covert agency developed to combat Reds after the Big War, to coalesce all authority within himself. He will have studied and admired Machiavelli; he will know how to use the right symbols to attract the right audiences to his message, employing advertising men and skilled encyclopedia salesmen to accomplish the purpose admirably; he will convince the people that the media, with a few exceptions made for those who support his positions, and bitterly at times caviling at even some of them, are controlled by Reds who seek to destroy all of the American way of life as he knows it and tells it from atop the escarpment off his bitter lemon-twisted tongue. He will convince people privately that his opponent is two-faced and incompetent, without the necessary experience to handle the job of the presidency, though he himself has little more resume for the position than did Hitler for the position of Chancellor of Germany in 1933. He will also not appeal to the South directly in racially divisive tones, but rather to the contrary employ ostensibly healing phrases, yet while loading his campaign with symbols designed by those advertising men and propagandists deliberately to appeal to the Southern sentiment so long pervasive in its divided concept of reality, the one in which half the display is in images out of Watteau and the other half a mere self-fulfilling necessity tolerated via endowed traits of superiority paternistically and by virtue of the grace from on High cast over those too weak to provide for themselves for their savage heredity, unconquerable by time or even the trespass of the White Man’s Will.

The outcome of it all in that event, will depend upon you, the citizen, as to whether you tolerate this sort of intrusion on freedom as the ultimate call to freedom, or whether you recognize it for what it will be: a set-up of a military dictatorship, done by proxy, with some bureaucratic agency, probably, for symbolic reasons, to be stationed in northern Virginia, one set up to counteract the New Deal, pulling the strings, an agency run by a fellow who we shall dub Snidely Whipcord and comprised of agents who themselves often will be former Nazis or Nazi-sympathizers, after the Big War against the fascists and Nazis is won, enabling the Von Popeyes to do what they want without the normal speculative intercourse obtaining with ordinary mortals in ordinary circumstances of democracy, so as to accommodate the now grown unwieldy military machine and bureaucratic morass, requiring perforce that there be a new bogey against which to employ that machine in a new fight.

This prediction of course speaks only to the possibility that a particularly suspicious, scared, and untethered, alienated minority of the people will become subject to manipulation by such a whiphand crowd of pols within the Republican Party for its re-emergence as a viable entity, being convinced that the majority who believe in the present New Deal, while remaining openly critical of many of its abuses, are involved in a Liberal conspiracy to undermine their way of life in the hinterlands and on the prairie plains, in the large factories of the urban centers, in the large, plush suites at the top of those factories…

[Of Unknown Title]

But as for the general whole, no. What is needed is simply that the program shall be organized into a coherent whole, the punitive spirit be got out of it, that the disposition to go off half-cocked and without proper study of the facts be got out of it, too, and that it be put on some sort of solid financial basis.

It has been said many times that the Conservative Party in England has always managed to live because it has never attempted to go backward. Disraeli in his time was actually a better liberal than Gladstone. And today the Chamberlain government still carries on in the tradition. It is a lesson which our Republican Party apparently prefers not to learn.

In Prayer and Meditation

A man who used to edit a North Carolina newspaper once said: "I cannot discuss and I think nobody can discuss race relations in this state without prayer and meditation." We commend these precautions to Councilman Baxter and Hovis, both of whom arose in the meeting of the City Council yesterday to express themselves of opinions that were just neither to their simple, sentimental humanity nor to their high positions as tribunes of all Charlotte.

A second shooting within as many months of a Negro misdemeanant by a police officer brought open discussion in which these two gentlemen took part. Mr. Baxter said--in grim jest, we are told, but nevertheless he said--that he didn't think there was enough shooting of criminals. Mr. Hovis then adverted to the investigation the Council had made two years ago when police officers, accompanied by a civil service commissioner who later recanted, put on a beat-'em-up demonstration in "niggertown." The hearing in this case, Mr. Hovis went on to say, had "had its effect upon the Negroes and made police work difficult ever since."

That a dozen or so officers were blamed for their shameful part in administering the rough and ready discipline of storm troopers to law-abiding citizens seems not to have made any impression upon Mr. Hovis. The investigation had a bad effect, ergo, there should have been and there should be in this latest offence no investigation. The Police Department in its treatment of the black race should be accountable neither to God nor to man nor to any authority save itself. And Mr. Baxter--Mr. Baxter thinks we have "got to protect the citizens to the best of our ability." Precisely! Negroes are citizens.

Racial relations in the South are no different from any kind of relations. They grow cordial on justice, fair dealing in consideration for the rights of men, black or white, and they grow bitter on mistreatment, intolerance and high-handed disregard of the fundamental privileges for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Site Ed. Note: And, as long as we are on the subject, we shall show you a little more on the burg of Lumberton, N.C., not to pick on the town, for it is comprised of mostly good people, as are most towns and villes in the country. But there are always those bent on achieving power, too, in any place, especially when some Hotspur riles the people in certain ways to suspicion of this or that –ism in their midst, for his or her own political gain, based on a program so lacking in inspiration that something has to be injected into it to provide a sense of unity and spirit, even if by the dark component of dividing and conquering. For how do you sell the people the idea that Big Business is their buddy and trickle-down economics their best friend, except by also appealing to those sorts of raw emotions on some other level, religious fervor, moral fervor, racial fervor, etc.? That’s, after all, how Mussolini and Hitler accomplished it and got the trains to run on time.

And so we dedicate this particular chase to the eradication peacefully of that other form of chase which is always unhealthy to society at large. As we have mentioned before, we cheered the Indians, and were glad they chased the Cowboys back to wherever they came from, only three or four miles down the road for the most part probably. We are sure they all got home in time to see Marshal Dillon preserve law and order in Dodge, as the perspicacious sheriff--Sheriff McLeod, (pronounced "McCloud")--exhorted. Thus, there were no smoking guns on that particular occasion. We ourselves weren't out there, but we can tell you that at the time "Gunsmoke" was our favorite program, that and "The Lone Ranger" anyway. ("Sky King" wasn't bad at times either; and, of course, "Superman", "Highway Patol", "Maverick", well...)

It was, of course, more of a symbolic than actual victory at the time, as the Klan continued on feverishly in swivets, especially in the Deep South, through at least the sixties, even into the late seventies in certain areas.

But, nevertheless, this incident was perhaps in a small way a harbinger of things to come in the South and in the nation, things which would eventually uproot the power of the Klan per se at least, in its most visible and visceral state, if not altogether uprooting with it the beliefs accompanying its most tenaciously inclined advocates and membership to that single governing concept overriding every other idea they possessed, racial superiority. To uproot that latter belief in the most tenacious, there can come probably only generational passage and better understanding of common human interests and goals, better education to afford better self-perception, so as not to need any crutch any longer of racial superiority to get through the day and night.

Site Ed. Note: The piece below incorrectly refers to the Fourth Amendment as the Sixth, but regardless, the substance set forth is entirely correct. Of course, as to the silence of Justice Black during oral arguments, he was brand new to the Court and thus merely following the traditional role of a first-term justice, to remain silent. He would later not be at all so silent on issues of civil liberties, his former Klan membership notwithstanding. He would indeed uphold the label "liberal" and admirably so, in the true spirit of the Constitution, receiving recognition from civil rights organizations as early as 1941, specifically for his early stands, for instance, to uphold civil liberties against interrogation of black prisoners in the South by use of rubber hoses, fists, and other such Draconian methods.

Justice for a Justice also goes far in determining future justice.

The case at issue was that of Nardone v. U.S., 302 US 379, which held that under the Federal statute in issue all employees of the Federal government, which the Court held included law enforcement officers, were prohibited from intercepting wires unless permitted by the sender of the wire, and thus evidence procured in violation of that statute was, pursuant to the Exclusionary Rule, inadmissible in evidence at a criminal trial. The arguments were narrowed, however, to the particular wording of the statute in issue and thus did not expressly reach the per se constitutionality of the actions, whether they transgressed the Fourth Amendment, as it was unnecessary to the decision. Implicit in the application of the Exclusionary Rule, however, is the notion that such evidence, if procured as in this instance contrary to statute, or in other instances contrary to reasonableness and probable cause considerations, is violative of the Fourth Amendment search and seizure protection and Fifth Amendment Due Process protection, the assumption being expressed in this instance that Congress had these protections in mind in enacting the statute. The case was decided 7 to 2, with Justices McReynolds and Sutherland dissenting. Justice Roberts delivered the opinion.

A follow-up decision in the same case, reported at 308 US 338 and decided in 1939 after re-trial and re-conviction, concerned the question of whether or not the government had to divulge, under cross-examination during trial, to the defendant the uses made of the illegal wire-tap evidence, and specifically whether testimony could occur regarding information procured as a result of the wire-tap while not revealing the substance itself of the wire-tap. The lower court had ruled that such cross-examination was properly prohibited by the trial judge as not infringing the statutory restraint on the mere acquisition of the information since the statute did not proscribe use of the information to acquire other information under the so-called "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine.

The Court again reversed and held that the doctrine does apply under previous rulings by the Court such that the use to which illegally obtained information is put is relevant and may be timely inquired into therefore by the defendant. The information might be acquired separately by legal means and the taint from acquisition of the poisonous tree thus attenuated. But as long as the information is derivative of the illegal wire-tap, the taint remains and may not be used in any manner, so as not to encourage disingenuous law enforcement activity violative of statute. This case was decided 7 to 1, with Justice McReynolds now being the only dissenter. Justice Reed, who had replaced Justice Sutherland, one of the "old men" of the Court, who retired in January, 1938, did not participate. Justice Frankfurter, appointed to the Court in early 1939, delivered the opinion in the second case.

We have touched on this latter case before in association with an editorial we included by Raymond Clapper from December 17, 1939.

The Silent Liberal

Black, J., Liberal, said nothing.

The Supreme Court of the United States was sitting in the question of wire-tapping by Federal agents. And Brandeis, J., Liberal, was obviously thinking of the Bill of Rights, Article Six, which runneth:

The right of the people to be secure in their...papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...

Brandeis, J., had thought about that before. Dissenting to the famous decision of 1928 [Olmstead v. U.S., 277 US 438] upholding the Washington State law legalizing wire-tapping, he had said that the telephone, like the telegraph, is essentially only an extension of the letter, and that therefore it ought plainly to come under this Article Six. To allow wire-tapping, he said, would be to expose the people to the mercies of an army of snooping spies as certainly as to allow mail-rifling. Right or wrong, that was his faith, and it had been the undeviating Liberal faith of his lifetime. And so now as he probed with swift questions into the arguments of the lawyers for wire-tapping, he was sure of himself and a little contemptuous.

But Black, J., Liberal, said nothing. Perhaps he was remembering that on a time, when he was a Senator of the United States, there was some question of the wholesale seizure of some telegraphic correspondence...

Site Ed. Note: The Olmstead case wrestled with the fact of the literal words of the Fourth Amendment, as quoted above, being limited to physical possessions, letters, papers, etc., and thus reasoned that the proscriptions could not be applied to non-physical information seized over wires, not the result of an invasive search of private property, but merely the receipt of information imparted auditorily.

As indicated above, Justice Brandeis dissented, finding that such technical application of words was not logical, especially as the telephone and telegraph had not been invented obviously when the Fourth Amendment was ratified. His dissent recognized a much broader principle embodied in the Fourth Amendment, and in the Bill of Rights generally, the right to privacy of the individual.

This right to privacy would later be adopted by the Court in the 1960's in the field of marital privacy, dealing with acquisition of contraceptive devices, then, in 1973, the right to choice in abortion, albeit in these cases not dealing with search and seizure issues.

Justices Butler, Stone, and Holmes joined in dissent in Olmstead. Justice Holmes stated wisely in his opinion: "We have to choose, and for my part I think it a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part... [I]f we are to confine ourselves to precedent and logic the reason for excluding evidence obtained by violating the Constitution seems to me logically to lead to excluding evidence obtained by a crime of the officers of the law."

Remember those concepts next time some huckster tries to sell you the idea that either the right to privacy on which the right of choice is premised does not exist in the Constitution or that the Exclusionary Rule likewise does not exist because the document does not say those words. They are there. One must simply think a little.

These hucksters will tell you they are religious; but then so did Hitler. These hucksters will tell you that they only want to insure that criminals are locked away properly; but then so did Hitler.

We also caution that the same attempts by logical extension do not work the other way about, to limit freedom, as the current Administration's whimsical interpreters of the law have attempted it. Their reasoning has run thusly: Because of one act of 19 crazy men, we shall now recognize logically that times have changed, and therefore we must restrict freedom out of necessity, pass laws contrary to the Fourth Amendment's recognized spirit and history, in order to catch some bad people who we don't like. If we happen to infringe on the freedoms of some innocent citizens, that is okay and all for the best because times have changed after all. These aren't just criminals, now, that we are talking about, folks, after all, running bootleg whiskey in the 1920's; they came here to kill you.

Well, we might respond, whiskey is a killer, too, and may become the worst terrorist of all, and has killed far more people in its tenure of existence than any terrorists or group of terrorists. But, to go to the extremes which were tried and miserably failed during Prohibition is to invite the same sort of chaotic underworld, the same sort of waste of human law enforcement resources, the same sort of social taboo attached to some behavior making that behavior the more appealing to some for its taboo; and so it is with anything, including Terrorism.

The world is not ever going to be one hundred percent safe. We do not, after all, mandate foam rubber bathtubs, Astroturf sidewalks, polyurethane cars and trucks, issuing of parachutes to every passenger on commercial airline flights, etc., though, practically speaking, we could.

But, ultimately, the reason why we do not allow wiretaps except by probable cause and approval by an impartial magistrate who has read an approriately subscribed affidavit based on actual evidence of a crime is that we recognize the spirit of the Bill of Rights being to protect freedoms of the individual, not to void them or limit them based on specious arguments that the words do not recognize expressly certain freedoms.

So, the insistent gun-toter will then respond: why not recognize that same spirit with regard to the Second Amendment? Because, we reply, just as the Fourth Amendment has the limit on its freedom of "unreasonable searches and seizures", so too does the Second Amendment have the limit that the freedom recognized is for the purpose of maintaining a "well-regulated militia". We do not say that under no circumstances may the govenment undertake a search or seizure; similarly, we do not say that under all circumstances, a person has the right to bear arms. Just as we do not say that under all circumstances a woman has a right to an abortion at any stage of pregnancy.

But, say what you will, notice that the First Amendment does not carry with it any such limiting language, other than "peaceably" within the right of assembly.

When the People Laugh

One European fascist leader who is unlikely to give much trouble is Colonel Francois de la Rocque, leader of the French Croix de Feu. For this week at Paris they were trying the Colonel's suit against some fifteen persons for alleging that he had taken bribes to lend the support of his organization to the Andre Tardieu cabinet.

Old Tardieu and the Colonel himself were theatrical after the best French tradition.

"De la Rocque is a traitor!" quoth Tardieu.

"Tardieu has lied!" came back the Colonel.

"De la Rocque is the last man to say that to me," thundered Tardieu, "for it has become a byword, to lie like de la Rocque!"

But the audience--the people--in the courtroom? They laughed. They laughed a little at old Tardieu's dramatics. But most of all they laughed at the protestations of Colonel de la Rocque--laughed, the story said, derisively.

Laughter is the last thing in the world on which the pretensions of a dictator thrive.

Site Ed. Note: Incidentally, General Winfield Scott, subject of the little extracted piece from the Baltimore Evening Sun, was nicknamed "Old Fuss and Feathers".

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