The Charlotte News

Sunday, February 20, 1938


Site Ed. Note: Those partaking of the warm night in February were no doubt not very much contemplating the notions on which Dorothy Thompson was expounding in her column of this date, that civilization must, and ultimately would, take its stand against barbarism come to woo civilization to its knees by force and threats of force, as in Austria that week. But it would not be long before such thoughts would pervade even the most halcyon days. Odds are that some of the teenagers, maybe even those as young as eleven, whom Cash saw in the microcosm of the world before him on the warm evening in early 1938, perished abroad in the fighting to come, whether on a warm day on a sandy spit in the Pacific or on a freezing field somewhere in France where the snow was periodically dotted in pink.

Who knows, maybe the boy in the leather jacket was James Dean, come down to visit, west of Eden, from Indiana.

Also this date, Cash paired with book-page editor, Cam Shipp, to indite a piece titled "Bonfires for Too Many Books". Just why we mislabeled the date by a week early nine years ago, we couldn't tell you at this juncture. You would have to ask us nine years ago. So far as we know, however, among the 5,150 editorials now posted through today, that is the only one with a mistaken date. In any event, here is the original page to prove it.

Warm Night in February

By ordinary they were in their rooms or a picture house at nine o'clock in the evening, but now at ten o'clock they were still walking, aimlessly. In groups, in twos, alone. Up and down. The wind came around corners, cool and damp and sweet. They threw up their heads, sniffed, and went on with a briskness that somehow was less than brisk, somehow locked within themselves.

The usual staccato of the wheeled traffic flattened into a long swirling, underneath which silence lay, palpable. The high school girls walking in the street before their homes skipped a step or two now and then, and grew again sedate. They giggled, but not very loud. Two small boys moseyed on their way, conversing in muted tones. A youth in a leather jacket made a noise with his mouth, snickered with his companions, and suddenly subsided. Against the thick red glare in the sky, houses that by day are commonplace and ugly stood out black and secretive--acquired cut-out towers and battlements. The wind rose, slithering bits of paper along the sidewalk, and softened again.

The town stirred in the prison house of Winter, flung out its limbs, and lay pensive, waiting for the coming Spring.

Reynard and the Grapes

Senator Capper of Kansas stands in very striking contrast to Senators Pepper, Andrews, and Overton, these days. Senators Pepper and Andrews think Florida needs at least one new Federal District Judge and maybe two, and Senator Overton is positive that Louisiana needs two; whereas Senator Capper not only doesn't think that Kansas needs a new judge but roundly denounces the scheme to give her one willy-nilly as a gross waste of the public funds and as "court-packing."

Are we to assume, then, that Senator Capper is a man of superior integrity to Senators Pepper, Andrews and Overton? More tender of his conscience for the public welfare? Perhaps, but, by the record, we see no reason to suppose it. And there is a simpler and more obvious explanation at hand, to wit:

Senators Pepper, Andrews, and Overton are Democrats from stout Democratic states, and if those states get new judges, Senators Pepper, Andrews, and Overton will likely have the naming of them, to their own political aggrandizing. But Senator Capper--poor Capper is a Republican from a state which went Democratic for the first time in the last election, and where the Democrats are busily trying to build a machine to capture it next time. And poor Capper would be the very last man to have any say in the naming of the Democrat who'd get the job of judge there.

Up Go Taxes

The House Ways and Means Committee is thumbing its way rapidly through the 1938 Revenue Bill, and the form in which the measure finally will emerge has been about settled. The controversial undistributed profits tax has been modified drastically, so that only a remnant of it remains, this affecting chiefly those ten per cent of corporations which make more than $28,000 a year.

But, ah! the bill will show one thing indisputably--that while there may be modifications of objectionable features of the 1938 Revenue Act, rates are constantly going up. Under the New Deal the normal tax on corporate income begins at a point where it used to leave off. And from there it reaches all the way up to 30%. And 30%, according to our figuring, is one dollar for Uncle Sam out of every five dollars of profit.

Nor is that all. In addition to the gradual increase in rates, there has been a doubling up of taxation. Uncle Sam was once content to tax the income of a corporation and let the dividends of its stockholders be exempt from surtaxes. All that has changed. This new bill taxes both the corporation upon the money it makes and the stockholder upon the dividends he receives. And the rates of tax run from 4 to 79%.

We'll Take America

"Inside Nazi Germany," the March of Time feature which has created so much interest and controversy, is the slickest piece of editorializing in celluloid that we have ever seen. Rabid Nazi sympathizers and antipathists both find it objectionable, the first on the ground that it overemphasizes the restraints of Hitler's methods and subordinates their benefits, the second on the ground that it does the opposite. Both probably are wrong, and the picture about right.

What lodges in the craw of good Americans, of course, is the lock-step regimentation of the thoughts and actions of the German people. One could be simply contentious about it and put up a fair argument that what goes on in Germany under Hitler has its counterparts or its equally objectionable antithesis in these States under the New Deal. Their labor battalions are matched by our CCC, and their Nazi relief collector by our own Internal Revenue Bureau. The behavior of Storm Troopers is surely no more high-handed than the methods of our unions when they go on strike, and the chief difference between their governmental employment policy, under which a man works at a job at a wage fixed by his regulators, and our WPA is that jobs are not provided for all able-bodied Americans.

Nevertheless, a difference there is, a vast difference, and no wonder it appalls us. For Hitler's Reich has seized control not only of things in Germany but of personality as well. In childhood boys and girls have incessantly drummed into them one idea--that Der Führer is their god and that they must bow down to him. Adult thought is controlled by the masterly expedient of commandeering all the means of public expression, so that mein Herr and his Frau hear, read and see only that which will strengthen their master's hold upon them. For those who may be so bold as to dissent from the doctrine that is dished out, there is a remedy.

They may like it, yes. They may feel that they are a nation united; and accord is preferable to dissension. But if they should not like it, there is nothing they can do about it, and that is where we have the advantage of them.

Lawyers and the Old Doc

In the last analysis, poor old Doc Townsend is the victim, it seems to us, of his ignorance of lawyers. As everyone knows, the overwhelming majority of that House of Representatives in Washington, for which he has been judged to have shown contempt, is made up of lawyers.

But, clearly, the old Doc didn't know what that means. He had an idea he had been peddling about the country. It was a cuckoo idea, to be sure, but he seems not to have suspected it. And when the House called him before its committee to answer questions about that idea and the movement it had started, and he had satisfied himself that it had the authority to call him, he went, apparently in the naive expectation of being treated with common courtesy. And when, instead, he found himself unmercifully hazed with sarcastic questions that insinuated all too clearly that he was a thievish scoundrel and probably a Red in the bargain, why, finally, in a mixture of anger and bewilderment, he stalked out of the hearing--to be cited for contempt.

There was nothing extraordinary in the treatment he got, of course. Perhaps his tormentors did not even mean any real discourtesy. It was simply an exhibition of the technique of the lawyer's trade in our time, and you may see it being applied to witnesses any day in almost any court. But it seems a shame, even under the lawyer-invented rule that ignorance is no excuse, to put the old Doc in jail simply because he let lawyers goad him into indignation.

Site Ed. Note: We conclude from the below that, despite Desmond taking his barrow to the marketplace where Albany is a singer in the band, it is a far better thing that we do to be content with having horny people in their cars than to stimulate nudists running all over creation amidst the traffic to vent their frustrations. But, on third thought...

In any event, how could one fashion a law to discriminate by stationary vehicles the horny pressing. What about that situation where you are perfectly stationary in traffic and some big dump truck decides that it is time to dump its load upon your vehicle? Should it then be against the law to give it a good blow?

On Second Thought

The League for Less Noise reveals that New York State Senator Thomas C. Desmond has introduced a bill at Albany which would provide that nobody might sound a horn on a stationary vehicle without being hauled off to the hoosegow.

We were just going to recommend the measure to our City Council, but on second thought we hesitate. The psychiatrists dope it out that what ails those people who, with their cars waiting for the green light, incessantly pound on their horns, is not, as one would naturally think, congenital idiocy, but simply that the poor devils are suffering from a tendency to exhibitionism. Moreover, they say that if exhibitionism is balked in one place, it immediately breaks out in another, and that if it can't get out through any sublimated manifestation, it goes back to its primitive form. And remembering also that they say that the primitive form of exhibitionism is nudism--ah, no, we think that, seeing that you can't lock up half the automobile-driving population anyhow, we may as well let well-enough alone.

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