The Charlotte News

Sunday February 13, 1938


Site Ed. Note: Okay, our work is cut out for us today: we have to cover a little bit on Pearl Harbor, a little on the deportation of Harry Bridges, some on the Equal Rights Amendment, and a local curfew for wayward women...

"Japan's Terms" discusses the strategic advantage to be gained by Japan having a fleet the same size as that of the United States, that it had sufficient island-hopping capability to attack Hawaii against necessarily thinned United States naval defenses, spread out on two coasts and in the northern Pacific.

But the editorial assumes Japan's tactical goal might be fully to take Hawaii, in order to gain a point of embarkation from which to attack the Pacific coast of the United States mainland.

That, of course, was not the goal of the ultimate attack in 1941. The effort then was twofold: 1) to strike such a fierce and crippling blow to the U.S. fleet parked at Pearl that it would not be able to retaliate against the Japanese Task Force simultaneously headed south into Malaysia and the Dutch East Indies, with intermediate designs along the way on the Philippines, and 2) to try to force the United States government into submission by such a demoralizing attack, in the hope that it would accede to the combined will and demands of Japan and Hitler, that it would bow politely and then intercede and broker a peace between Great Britain and Germany, and allow the empire inertia of Japan to proceed unimpeded. Both goals of course proved foolhardy in their offing. But Japan was desperate to get around the trade embargoes which by 1941 were choking its continued ability to wage war in China and maintain its interests by then acquired in Indochina. Germany was choking for oil, with Rumanian oil being insufficient to supply the continuing two-front war with Russia and Great Britain being fought simultaneously by the summer of 1941, and Mexican oil having been cut to nothing by the British blockade of 1939 combined with the cutting off of the western route through Russia after Hitler attacked his former, albeit uneasy, ally on June 22, 1941. So, the hand was dealt and the cards were missing for the Axis.

The rest of the page for today is here. We warn, however, on this one, that you may need your de-fuzzying glasses, as it is quite a bit fuzzier than the ordinary. We shall try to remember in a few weeks to obtain a higher resolution version so as to make it clearer, though never perfectly clear it shall be, for those interested in seeing just what those indiscernible words and names are and were, and what more precisely was being said about this women's Equal Rights Amendment in 1938.

The proposed Amendment as it was sent to the states finally for ratification in 1972, after being proposed in every Congress since 1923, but never theretofore approved for submission, stated as follows:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

The Amendment was never ratified within the seven-year time frame allowed. It had a checkered history of support. Even so staunch a civil libertarian, individualist, humanitarian and women's advocate as Eleanor Roosevelt opposed it, as did most of the country at that time, including organized labor.

The strongest argument against it was that it would actually abolish certain preferences provided formally by law and informally by tradition to women in the marketplace; moreover, it was argued that, given the broad interpretations of the Civil Rights laws passed in the 1960's, particularly Title VII prohibiting sex-based discrimination, and the broad interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, it could be utilized by forces opposed to extending rights to women to argue that its effect was to narrow the scope of existing laws.

In any event, it was considered at best superfluous, given existing laws and the Fourteenth Amendment, and therefore potentially confusing. There is, for instance, no amendment to the Constitution which per se addresses racial discrimination, even if the Fourteenth Amendment was passed initially with prohibition of denial of rights based on race in mind. Thus, would forces against equality of treatment among races have sought to argue that without such a specific amendment, in the light of one addressing sex discrimination, the Fourteenth Amendment should be interpreted narrowly to enable certain types of discrimination by race, or age, or other characteristic not otherwise specifically addressed expressly in the language of the Constitution? Lawyers, especially hired hacks for jackasses, have come up with far stranger arguments to convince courts in the past to accept those positions, especially should public opinion turn dark, as it has at times.

All in all, we think it was a wise decision not to ratify it, but obviously not because we do not believe strongly in the principle it enunciated. Only that the principle it enunciated is quite well enough and strongly addressed on behalf of every citizen of the United States within the simple language of the Fourteenth Amendment. We all enjoy equal rights in this country, not merely by ideal, but by right. And if any jackal tries to tell you differently, tell him or her to move to Argentina.

As to the curfew, we shall simply indicate that we have not yet forgotten the little cracker copper who took down the names and addresses of us and our compadres once when we were nine years old, merely for being out unaccompanied by an adult after 9:00 p.m. in the village wherein we lived. Just to spite the greasy cracker, we became a lawyer. Suffice it to say, we've never heard of any curfew in that village since. Short of martial law being declared for obvious reasons, disobey all curfews anytime and every time anyone tries to impose one on you. They are, short of open and mass insurrection in the streets, patently illegal. Tell them that we do not live in Nazi Germany. Tell them we do not tolerate curfews--even if the drunken, greasy coppers imposing them got the word confused with the name of a former mayor of the town.

Why the Rush?

We are not unprepared to believe that Harry Bridges probably deserves to be deported, as Old Doc Copeland says he does. Harry seems to have remarkable gifts for hair-raising. That he is a Red looks clear. He unquestionably is an Australian. And, if he is in the country illegally, as the Old Doc says, why, that would seem to settle the case.

But, ah, now, there's something we want to know. As we recall it, Harry was in our midst a good many years before he took to organizing labor. And if he was here illegally, how come that it was only when he took to organizing labor that somebody began to think of good reasons for deporting him?

Site Ed. Note: For more on the effort to deport West Coast maritime labor leader Harry Bridges, see "A Hoary Canard", August 26, 1938, "Who's Un-American Now?", September 2, 1938, "Frivolous Impeachment", January 25, 1939, "Contempt", (and accompanying note), February 4, 1940, "Killing Cure", May 25, 1940, "Lady or Tiger?", June 2, 1940, "Veto", (and acompanying note), July 3, 1940, "Gag Bill", (and accompanying note), August 31, 1940, "Next, Please", September 2, 1940, "New Role", (and accompanying note), October 19, 1940, and "Jealous Man", February 18, 1941.

Japan's Terms

The Japanese Foreign Office, in refusing to advise our Government as to whether or not it is building ships larger than the 36,000-ton limit set by the London Treaty (to which Japan is, of course, not a party); says:

The Japanese government will be ready at any moment to enter into any provisions of the matter of disarmament which give primary importance to a fair, quantitative limitation.

Nobody doubts it. What is doubted is the Japanese government's noting of a "fair quantitative basis," which, as was made perfectly clear in the London Conference, would have to give Japan a fleet of the same size as the United States.

But the United States, of course, has two coasts to defend, not to say Alaska. It has no possible bases of operation against Japan's save Midway Island, Guam, and the Aleutians, none of which is fortified. But Japan is compact, and she has a [indiscernible word] island bases for operations against Hawaii, none of which is supposed to be fortified but several of which pretty certainly are. And if she succeeded in grabbing Hawaii, she'd have a base of operations against our Pacific Coast. And as for England, she, of course, has to defend territories scattered all around the earth.

In short, Japan's notion of "fair limitation" seems to be one which would give her a decisive practical superiority over the American and British navies, taken separately at least.

A Tough Old Reactionary

According to Mrs. Emma Guffey Miller, of Pennsylvania, and Miss [indiscernible name], of Charleston, S. C., both leaders in the National Woman's Party, the people who are opposing the proposed constitutional amendment to give women "equal rights" are those wicked depositories of all guilt in our time, "the Tories."

The [indiscernible word] seems a little curious to us, seeing that what the proposed amendment actually says is that hereafter no law shall make any distinction for or against women. And, whatever used to be the law, virtually all the distinctions that exist today are distinctions for women. For instance, it is a little hard to imagine that the mill-owners of New York, "clinging tenaciously to every vestige of property right"--as the ladies charge--are really the people who are disturbed that the State's minimum wage law for women shall not be abolished.

Ourselves, indeed, we'd nominate as the chief [indiscernible word] in this business of discrimination against women old [indiscernible name] herself. Ah, no, we are not going to gallop into the jaws of [indiscernible word] and tell you that she [indiscernible words] intelligent than a man. Not us, misters. But we do wish to observe that she has laid upon them a certain number of handicaps incident to their function of child-bearing. And if it be granted at once that the old Dame is the very head and front of Toryism, we still can't think of anything--not even a constitutional amendment--which seems calculated to bring her to a proper regard for "human rights."

Improvised Curfew

A perfectly natural concern over the morals of young girls--children, really--has led Judge Redd of the Juvenile Court and Captain Moseley of the Rural Police to step completely out of bounds. They have agreed upon a sort of curfew for girls under sixteen who are found out after midnight, either in parked cars or public places along the highway. The police will use their discretion, of course, but what it all comes to is that the police are to be vested with the extraordinary authority to arrest and imprison young girls who may be guilty of nothing worse than impropriety.

It means that the police will have to decide, on the spot, whether a girl has or hasn't a right to be out past a certain time of night. It means that if a cab driver has his girl friend to keep him company on the dog watch, the warranted assumption is that she is a prostitute and he a procurer. It means that if a girl cannot convince the officer that members of her family are present--"bring her in and she will be detained in juvenile jail."

Not every girl, you understand, for Judge Redd believes that "the officers should be able to size up the situation and act accordingly." Ah, yes; but to "act accordingly" is to imprison young girls on the suspicion that they are not wholesome persons. And, explicitly, no person ought to be taken, imprisoned, or disseized of his...liberties or privileges...but by the law of the land.*

*[From the Declaration of Rights in the North Carolina Constitution. [See Sec. 19]]

Not Painless, Unfortunately

Cotton mill men have begun to converge on Washington to protest any concession in textile duties to the English, with whom one of Secretary Hull's trade treaties is in the making. And let us say right off the bat that we don't blame them, and that if we were in their place we would do the same thing. Undoubtedly. And they may make out a water-tight case.

At the same time, it is unfortunately a fact that there are no painless terms on which trade between this country and other countries may be stimulated. That is, if we are going to sell more goods to England, we must agree to buy more goods in turn. It has to work both ways. The rub of it is that nobody in this country who makes textiles, for instance, wants to admit English textiles. The same rule applies to everything made in this country, which is nearly everything. And if every protest were heeded, trade between this country and England would soon be limited to an exchange of musty old titles for nice young heiresses.

Hagood's Testimony

The opposition to the naval expansion program of the President voiced Friday by Major General Johnson Hagood, retired, may or may not be well-founded. But in any case, we think the General's testimony had better be taken with a grain of salt. For one thing, he is obviously a very opinionated man--so opinionated that back in 1934 he could not contain his dislike for the President's policies and broke out into public denunciation of them, in defiance of the established American rule that military officers must not take public part in politics, and, indeed, in defiance of the elementary military rule that a soldier must not publicly criticize his commander-in-chief. And, undoubtedly, it was as a result of the uproar caused by that outburst that the General ultimately decided to retire from active service.

We suggest nothing so snide as that he is actuated by spite. But it is inevitable that he should not feel too kindly toward the administration. And, under those circumstances, it would be extraordinary if a man of such strong feeling did not, unconsciously, let a certain bias enter into his viewpoint about any administration proposal.

Hold That Axe!

That was a pretty definite sounding letter Max Gardner sent up to the New York Exchange about that proposed job as its czar.

"My professional duties and obligations are such that I cannot accept this office if it were tendered."

And yet, we are tempted to risk our not exactly staggering reputation as prophets, and to climb far out on a limb to say that we suspect it isn't really so completely settled as it sounds. Our Max is much too smart to allow himself to get jockeyed into a spot where it might look as though he were out hunting for a job which was not completely in the bag--much too smart not to have it that the job came straight up the path to his mousetrap and drafted him willy-nilly. And it is quite possible that that is what the letter was all about.

Anyhow, 75,000 smackers per annum is 75,000 smackers per annum. Max could very well keep his law offices open in Washington, too, immediately in other hands but under his indirection. The job promises to be a steady one. It would land him in the center of the finances of the nation. And it would give him enormous publicity, making him loom large as a national figure.

Max has turned that job down, but we shall not be surprised if Max takes that job yet.

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