The Charlotte News

Tuesday, December 28, 1937


Site Ed. Note: The last sentences of "Bad--But Better" describe the type of police officer who should have received substantial p-r for their courage and principle in the face of the mob which was comprised of not only their neighbors but the voters who could vote out the incumbent chief or sheriff.

Had they received such publicity in 1937 or earlier, then likely the hot and riotous summers of 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1968 would not have been, the volatility which was their impetus, from a welling of unmet expectations, an incongruity between lawful rights and the reality of the streets patrolled by racist cops, ghettoes which were little more than urban concentration camps where those who could work worked as menials for their white masters without any self-determination, without any means to escape the urban canyons into which they were caste by the circumstance of birth, held within the seat of generational memory confirmed by present circumstance, circumstances manifest far and wide across the richest land in the world, which yet could not house or feed its forgotten and poor, forgotten by all but the racist cops whose assignment by the racist powers in the community, by the taxpayers who elected them, was to maintain that caste at the butt-end of a billyclub, or at the smoking end of a .38 police revolver, or within the smoldering ruins of intra-racial fratricide to which these same cops often stood as aiders and abettors by commission, the spread of the rumor of the snitch on some minor scrape with the law, or omission to act to intercede amid all that nigger-coon-junglebunny, Commie-Liberal-white-college-pansy-Radical-folksinger-Devil'smusic-pinko inspired, violence--all this would not have been sufficiently recent to trigger these riots, or the immediate precipitant circumstances so pervasive to warrant them in the emotions of the rioters themselves.

But, as it was, the publicity, if given at all to these types of law enforcement officers who withstood the mob in 1937, was quite insufficient to overcome that which the press held incumbent upon its duties to truth to report, the searing blowtorches which bespoke volumes in the picture published that year of 1937 in Life--that picture which is indelibly engraved upon the memory of anyone of reasonable and normal sensibilities as the collective scream in the night which said no more, a picture on which we have once before commented in association with the pieces of August 10, 1938.

Yet, still more would come, hate being too inept a word to embrace the torment which came later, such as that suffered by Emmet Till in his death throes for the wolf whistle at a young white girl, or that of hundreds of other nameless souls across the country, not just confined to the South, in the decades which followed.

How many such racist deaths fell within the gray area of the law, negligent homicide, involuntary manslaughter, such as that of Hattie Carroll in Baltimore, literally scared to death by the drunken, taunting actions and words of the spoiled child in a man's body, one who had learned only that he could get away with everything, including cold-blooded murder, William Zanzinger?

How many were buried so deep in some of the South's swampy grounds that they were never found, chalked up to disappearance, drifters maybe, not possessed of family near enough by to protest their missing affection, but who were nevertheless the recipients of the blowtorches in the night, whose screams echoed through the forest with all the same pain nevertheless, whose bodies were sacrificed to the gods on the pyres which blazed against wooden crosses to satiate the Norns weaving the rope of fate tighter and tauter from the ünter-world, way down below Valhalla, recast in the strung, stewed minds of the torturers as something befitting Saturday or Sunday night "Christian" services in the wild, mangled in their minds by centuries of ignorance and under-education, the predatory wisdom conveyed to them in fee entail by King Cotton, Queen Tobacco, the Hollis Browns of Dust-Bowl blight then caste into the wilderness stress?

But such p-r to these good cops, these strong cops, who withstood, at low pay, the stresses of that wilderness complex, and rose in strong principle against it, was simply not to be had with sufficient dissemination in a world beset by recumbent economic woes of the type besetting 1937, wringing the mind back to the hungry days of just a few years before, of warring would-be Kings of the Aryan race within Europe, having been even worse impacted by the worldwide depression of the early thirties, looking there for a convenient goat on which to pin the blame, of Asian Princes and Princesses in the Pacific seeking Empire, seeking hegemony among all Asian people in the name of that destiny-driven Empire of the Samurai Sword, giving from it all to the daily reader the tension of a blazing vision's horizon, lit by the increscent candle in the shadowbox, of Apollo's wrath screeching, scorching the horizon from on high in the village of Olympus.

There was only so much print to be scrunched and fitted within any day's trays, only so much room to be had within the troubled eye of the percipient mind forming its thought traces on the cortex to entrance the cerebrum and possibly interconnect with synapses emblazoned by the previous day's and those of the one before it, of the previous week or month, finally to come into the splendid lighted field of reason on a given topic of interest to it, only so much with which that mind could cope and be concerned on a given day.

Instead, thus, we eventually went to war, over cotton and silk and oil and rubber. Underwear, stockings, and cars. Empire. Getting from here to there, and with speed, and in comfortable fashion, and with lebensraum.

That's why they died, ultimately, in the Volcano Islands, on both sides, on all sides, at Suribachi, in Indochina and Manchuria, at Oswiecim, Treblinka, Buchenwald, Dachau, and Belsen, occlusions developed out of the darkrooms of the sick mind reading into the pain of the goat the plume of crested adventure in tow, the high-wielding tradition of conquering the weak for the good of the whole, out of Cape Colony in the Boer War or the slave markets of Charleston, of New Orleans, the gloriously magnificent adventures of Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, or of the killing field of Little Bighorn and the collective punitive vengeance for it which followed at places such as Big Hole and Wounded Knee, of the Alamo and San Jacinto. That's why they died.

Speed, and comfort, and lebensraum.

Did Roosevelt provoke Pearl Harbor? Did Roosevelt start the war? Did the trade embargoes on Russia, on Germany, on Japan? Did Versailles? We think not.

Did the illimitable greed for power and booty of Hitler and Mussolini, Tojo and Hirohito, (who some still insist on giving the posthumously blasphemous respect of the title "Showa"), and their inability to understand that their sick minds were bred, romanced amid the melange, on the torments of an age past, an age in which civilization was barely discernible in the world, an age in which emotion consistently exceeded reason for that very lack of civilization, something so simple as the language of the heart and the mind, the poetry of life? We think so.

Had Roosevelt wanted to go to war, after all, he had the Navy in 1937 already with which to do it, as detailed in "The New Armada", November 29, 1938, exceeding that of the Japanese by 200,000 ships, and by over three times when combined with that of the navies of presumptive allies, France and Great Britain. Had he been looking for an excuse, the Panay had its ample precedent and could have easily been whipped up in the press as the straw breaking the camel's back, for which swift and mighty vengeance must be meted, just as with the Maine and the subsequent months of Hearstian yellow press of its day had whipped the fervor to war against Spain in Cuba, and even against the initial Presidential resolve of William McKinley to avoid it.

And, with things not going at all well on the home front, with shouts of "dictator" and "socialist" coming from the halls of some of the most respected journalistic organs in the country, from some of the most prominent syndicated columnists who appeared regularly in print and on radio across the land, with the recession which some termed a new depression beckoning a hard year ahead in the country, with some predicting that 1938 would be as excruciatingly bereft of means as 1932, with the Supreme Court packing-plan debacle still fresh in the minds of the public from the previous spring of 1937, with the fretted and declaimed revelations after the confirmation of Hugo Black to the Supreme Court just behind it in the fall, there was plenty of reason for a lesser man to have whipped the war sentiment in the country, to distract from this political and economic disarray into which matters had slid, and out of the largest landslide election for President in history just a year earlier.

But yet, did he? He did not.

And so, it stands to reason, aside from the particulars, which, when examined, for instance, the supposedly received and deliberately ignored radio transmissions from the Japanese Task Force bearing for Pearl Harbor, as some theorize support such a blind-mice theory to explain the mystery of the unspotted fleet in those latter days of November and early December 1941, militate against any such notion to begin with, that, all of these factors having been laid at the disposal of the President to provide the perfect means and atmosphere to hoist arms against the Japanese four years earlier, at this time in 1937, but then eschewed, with only the Chicago speech in October resting as continual warning to the belligerents that sooner or later enough would be enough, Roosevelt truly did seek, as his speeches consistently expressed right through the campaign of 1940, to avoid involving the United States in another foreign war, and that to the bitterly frayed end of resolve--when finally that December 7 the eye to injustice in other lands could no longer be averted, the injustice having been done now directly and viciously, with 2,400 dead, unmistakably not merely, as the Panay was excused, by "accident" amenable to apology.

But again, if one is looking, quite futilely, for historical analogue to the present, we stress, that former was a warring sovereignty, not, as in the latter scenario, a loose group of nineteen insane bandits boarding airplanes amid lax security paying more attention to "airport rage", protecting their precious jobs by protecting their precious employers from the just complaints of passengers being treated at the time more routinely than not like herded cattle, than that to which their eyes and ears should have been attuned on that latter day of infamy.

Today is today, yesterday is learning.

The rest of the day's page is here.

Got milk?

Home to the Wars*

Up in Shelby, where politics is both a passion and a major industry, young Ralph Gardner, son to Oliver Max, has announced that he expects to enter the race for the State Senate immediately upon his return from the Yale Law School this Summer.

Wherefore we have already heard cracks going about anent the "heir apparent," "the crown prince," et cetera, et cetera. And, to be sure, it is because of Papa Max who used to be Governor, and Uncle Clyde who is Governor, and Uncle Yates who is a Federal judge, that the young man is in a position to leap straight into politics without serving the usual apprenticeship.

Yet--and why not? Young Gardner made a brilliant record at Chapel Hill, climbed into Phi Beta Kappa and the Golden Fleece while making letters in four sports, which is no mean feat. And at Yale, he has been one of the leaders of his class. In a word, the boy obviously has intelligence, he obviously has background, and, as a matter of record, he has a pleasing and unpretentious personality. That is, he is precisely the sort of person we want in North Carolina politics, and precisely the sort we have too often lacked. And if family prestige can get him launched the sooner--why, we think, so much the better.

Be Careful, We Mean

Who-oo-oosh! They're home in droves. Honk--honnnnk! Watch 'em go!

The college boys, we mean--and girls, and prep school boys and girls. With that amazing vitality which the rest of us old fogies would give our shirts for, and with gas engines as auxiliary motive power for their eager young wings, they can go more places and do fewer things than any six previous generations put together. The extent of their ingenuity in amusing themselves seems to be taking in a movie, which, in all likelihood, they have already seen, or in gathering gregariously at the corner soda dispensaries; but in between they set a headlong pace, and they put the staid old family bus through such paces that her tires scream aloud at every turn. Nobody's ear has to be rocked to sleep in these nights--or what there is left of them--the nights, we mean.

They're young, of course--the boys and girls--we mean--and it must be said for them that even with Twentieth Century accouterments they appear to get in no more trouble than their predecessors, with almost no mechanical equipment. And it's all right, for they have but a couple of weeks' furlough altogether, and they have to make the recollection of the holidays last them until Spring. But we do hope they don't hurt anybody with those automobiles, themselves--or us, we mean.

Tit for Tat*

The El Paso, Texas, Times has sent us a marked copy containing an article the theme of which is set forth in the headline,

Maintaining 17 Silver Price Vital To Western Mining Towns

We can well believe it. We can well believe, for that matter, as the article concludes, that the benefits of a fixed price for the output of silver miners far outweigh the cost of the Federal subsidy--in the eyes of their miners, at least. And we follow the reasoning that, as Federal subsidies go, 830,000,000 annually isn't much.

But there is one point upon which the article barely touches at all--that what on earth is the Government going to do with those great amounts of silver which it buys at parity [indiscernible words]? There is some sense, now, in curtailing the cotton crop because there is too much cotton, but in the case of silver the Government is stimulating its production without the slightest idea of the use to which it ever will be put.

We believe, we'll send a marked copy of The Charlotte News to The El Paso Times, and hope that they will endeavor to clear up the silver mystery.

Bad--But Better

Eight persons were lynched in the United States during the first 11 months and 23 days of 1937, according to the report of the Tuskegee Institute. All were Negroes, and all were lynched in Southern states, Florida leading the list with three; Mississippi, hitherto the accepted champion, followed with two; and Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee accounting for one each.

It is a shameful record, and one for which, as Southerners, we hang our head. Particularly appalling was the case of the two Mississippi blacks who were seared with blowtorches. Men who behave in such fashion as these monsters behaved are on the level of the Iroquois Indians and the Tartar hordes--the worst barbarians of history.

Nevertheless, it is necessary, we think, to maintain perspective even on crimes as heinous as lynching. The men, it is true, were deprived of their lives here without any shadow of right and without any legal proof that they were guilty as charged. Even so that is 12 less than in 1936, 15 less than in 1935, about 90 less than the average at the opening of the century, and all of 287 less than the total for the single year of 1895! Furthermore, in 56 instances involving 77 accused persons, officers of the law prevented lynchings. And--51 of those instances were in the South. And--police officers with the nerve and the will to protect their prisoners are worth all the anti-lynching laws in the world.

The Amicable Japanese

"The main point is," the Japanese spokesman asserted, "that the case is settled, and settled amicably. This demonstrates what two civilized nations can do toward settling serious problems."

We observe, however, that "the serious problem" in this instance was, in addition to the attack on the American flag and the destruction of an American ship, the killing of two American sailors. And we recall that it was because of the alleged killing of two Japanese sailors by Chinese policemen that Japan made her summary demands on Nanking last Summer, and without waiting for an answer began to pour ships into the Whangpoo and reduce Shanghai to ruins.

From which it seems fair to assume that when one of the "civilized" nations is Japan, the question of whether or not amicable settlement can be reached depends entirely on how many ships of war and 16-inch guns the other government can throw into the scale of the argument.

On the Other Hand*

Put the way Assistant Attorney General Robert H. Jackson puts it, there is nothing to do but to join with him in condemning--

"... the monopolies, and those so near monopoly as to control their prices, who by profit-sharing have simply priced themselves out of a market, and priced themselves into a slump."

Obviously, this is not only bad judgment, the results of which serve the monopolies and semi-monopolies exactly right, but it is contrary to the free competitive system everybody is always extolling and wishing Mr. Roosevelt would return to. And yet--.

And yet we have had in this section of the country a horrible example of the bad effects of too much competition. The textile industry, divided into thousands of units, some efficient and some inefficient, under thousands of rugged individuals as managers, has always had to contend with a large element which would take business at almost any sacrifice. Why, right here in our files we have a letter, dated a couple of years ago, from a North Carolina mill, which reads:

"On account of the price-cutting that had been going on in the carded yarn industry for more than twelve months, the mill was shut down, because we were not in position to lose any more money."

These illustrations of monopolistic control over prices and no control at all, seem to show that one is almost as bad as the other. There is just this about it, however: that in the absence of control, the consumers sometimes get a break.

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