The Charlotte News

Thursday, February 3, 1938


Site Ed. Note: "Battle at Gettysburg" suggests that the debate over the showing of the Stars and Bars is not merely one of the last couple of decades. We have made our point before with regard to the flying of these colors on official buildings. It constitutes an endorsement which is symbolic of many things, to both Southerners and Northerners alike, black and white, and colors in between: segregation, slavery, lynching, assassination, rebellion against the Federal government by violent insurrection; (and does anyone really believe in their right mind that had the Confederacy by some stroke of imagination won the war, that within five years, the Confederacy itself would not have been dissolved into eleven or twelve Balkanized states at the behest of the Hotspurs, drunk with victory and free to undertake their own brand of Reconstuction?). It is, in the context of a permanent fixture flying over the dome of a state capitol, not merely an historical relic.

But in the context below, of a mere temporary display for the sake of historical re-enactment, the last "charge" of some old men in their nineties toward the stone wall, to reach over and shake hands with their former opponents: is that a real issue? We think not.

Indeed, as it turned out, had the spirit remained among all the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those last remaining veterans and the veterans predeceasing them, perhaps the 1960's could have been a decade remembered mostly for peace and understanding, rather than as it became, war and misunderstanding and generation gaps, and, finally, into the early seventies, Watergate gaps.

There is no reason to deny history; there is every reason not to do so. Nor is there any basis for blaming persons in the present for what their ancestors may or may not have done in the past. Somewhere back there, there is a murderous barbarian in every line, whether presently or in the past, whether descended of kings and queens, paupers, or those in between. Nor is there any reason to view a war which occurred 145 years ago as still going on or worthy of any more than a learning exercise about what not to do.

The rest of the page is here. Dorothy Thompson's piece presents a cogent analysis of perhaps some of the problems which led to France becoming ripe for the Nazi picking two years later, not that it was inevitable, not that it was the result of the labor practices she discusses: strike, 40-hour work weeks, minimum wages and devaluation of the franc to increase the balance of trade by making products cheaper to purchase by foreign companies. But the conflict within French society, especially as she discusses in the latter paragraphs of the piece regarding rigid disciplinarians chafing against the rest of the society seeking change by peaceful resistance to the disciplinarians, suggests a blueprint for what occurs as symptoms when a society is attempting to sneak into fascism. The remedy is not "law and order", but greater government responsiveness to the problems being voiced by the people. Whether sneaking into socialism or sneaking into fascism, society must consistently check itself in either direction, lest one or the other form of totalitarian control take place eventually. The outcome is the same in either extreme: loss of individual freedom to moralists and kooks, megalomaniacs who paternalistically believe they know best and that the rest need follow their will or else be deprived of the fruits of society.

Hypothetical Hero

Most people are likely to assume, when they read that the House Pensions Committee has approved a bill to pension widows and dependent orphans of World War veterans, that a grateful Government is heartily recognizing its obligation to the relicts of soldiers brought down in battle by the bullets of the Huns or dead of disease contracted in trench or training camp. If so, they have another think coming.

To put the worst possible face on it, a young man could have been caught in the draft just prior to Armistice, could have been sent to Camp Greene, let's say, where he spent three months in comparatively pleasant surroundings, building up his physique and strengthening his constitution, and was discharged with a bonus of $50 in February 1919. Some ten years later, he married and in due course several children blessed the union. In 1936, he received another bonus of about $150.

Part of this money our hero spent for liquor, and with this introduction he became an addict. He developed chronic alcoholism. He was admitted to a Government hospital, cared for and treated, without a penny of cost to himself, for some months, but developing cirrhosis of the liver, he died. Under the terms of that bill approved by the House committee, his orphans would receive $6 a month apiece until they reached sixteen, his widow $22 a month as long she lived and did not remarry.

When the Earth Trembles

Under dateline of Pasadena, Calif., we read:

The Carnegie Institute seismological laboratory reported a great earthquake at a large distance...

Under dateline of Weston, Mass., we read again:

Scientists at the Weston College seismograph station tonight reported their instruments picked up one of the severest earthquakes recorded in several years. They placed the center of the quake, which they said lasted four hours, at 4,000 miles northwest of Boston, in Russia near Bering Strait...

And yet again we read, under dateline of Moscow:

Four Russian scientists radioed today that a violent six-day storm split the ice floe on which their North Pole weather observation camp has drifted for eight months...

Maybe, quite probably, the events recorded in the last dispatch had nothing to do with that recorded in the other two. Yet, it is just possible that they did. The disturbances in the earth's interior which result in earthquakes are generally accompanied, often before the earthquake itself appears, by disturbances in the magnetic fields which surround the planet. And these disturbances again are often accompanied by great storms and other meteorological phenomena. Moreover, the region of Bering Strait is, of course, in the general vicinity of that in which the Russians are located. We argue nothing, but it is at least interesting to speculate upon it, pending definite information.

The Pump That Never Stops*

The Deane Plan, explained for The News Tuesday by its inventor, a vice-president of G. M. A. C., and incorporated in a bill now before Congress, is a little revolutionary and complex. But, as we make it out, the essence of it is for the Government to siphon purchasing power from business when it is better than normal, and, when it begins to lag, to [indiscernible word] that purchasing power in capsule form.

His idea is, of course, the maintenance of an even keel, the avoidance of violent ups and downs. All of us ardently desire exactly such a state of things, and if Mr. Deane has actually got down the formula by which it might be attained, and if it should be put into effect and worked out in practice, he would take rank along with Lincoln as another Great Emancipator. But we see one possible flaw in the Deane Plan.

The principle of it is akin to that expounded by the advocates of extensive public works in times of depression--pump out the money to get business a-humming again, and lay off when that happens. This principle is good, in principle, but it takes no account of the political factor. The political factor, as illustrated in the last six years, is that once the politicians acquire the habit of dishing it out, they can't stop.

Pit in Kilkenny

Yesterday, in his column, General Old Ironpants Johnson reported that, despite the continual insinuations of the administration that it is only big business which dislikes it, his own observation was that the little boys were actually madder than the bigshots, and that even so talented a handpicker and shusher-up as Uncle Danny Roper was going to have his hands full keeping the Little Business Man's conference from turning into a war-dance.

And forthwith, General Old Ironpants' prophecy began to be borne out in actuality. And though Uncle Danny saved some remnants of the day, not even he could keep the affair from sounding in general like a gathering of all the champion toms of Kilkenny. To begin with, 500 extra boys who were not invited came along anyhow. And all those who were gifted with lungs loud enough to make themselves heard above the uproar seem to have had something very warmly to complain about. Our own Mr. R. C. Birmingham, a properly invited guest, wanted to speak sharply about taxes. There was one tall gentleman in a gray suit who yelled that the trouble with this country was that Satan had it in charge. We doubt that even the most gifted of the Big Boys, choking in their passion to find an epithet to express their rage against "that fellow Roosevelt," ever rose to such superlative heights of invective as that.

It is a little difficult to understand how the administration, which is ordinarily canny in practical politics, ever landed itself in this hot spot. But maybe it will learn something useful at that, and if only that the little boys have got a lot on their chests.

Battle at Gettysburg

The proposed reunion of Confederate and Union Veterans at Gettysburg next Summer may be held up because they won't give the Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic assurance that only the national flag will be displayed. And if they did give him such assurance, we'd bet Nathan Forrest's sword against any spoon of them all that the Confederates would refuse to go.

It is a little sad and picayunish, we think. The wounds left by that war and its aftermath were deep, but Southerners long ago proved with their blood that their devotion to the Stars and Stripes is real and paramount--all the way from San Juan Hill to the heights over the Marne from Chateau-Thierry. Merely, the old flag remains for many of them-- and especially for these tottering old boys who lived and fought under it--the symbol of a second country, a country which lives now only in the realm of sentiment and memory, and which can never again conflict with the claims of the one nation which exists in reality. The last being so, we think the Rebs might well have their flag when the remnants of two of the two finest armies of the world meet to clasp hands.

But we refuse to become indignant about it. Old men have their little crochets and must be humored in them.

Sneaking Into Socialism*

Federal courts seem to have a pat answer to the petitions of power companies for relief against governmental competition. The answer is, Nothing doing. The Supreme Court enunciated this flat negative in the Alabama and Duke Power Co. cases, when it held that while the power companies might be adversely affected, they had no proprietary rights in the matter and could not block PWA loans and gifts for municipal power plants. The Circuit Court of Appeals in Chattanooga ruled on the same basis in denying the plea of the utilities for injunction against the sale of TVA power, and yesterday our own Circuit Court of Appeals ordered protesting power companies to stand aside and let the Santee-Cooper canal and power project proceed.

But if the courts have a pat answer on the legality of public ownership of power plants, we, nonetheless, have a pat question to raise. It's legal, all right, but is it desirable? There may be nothing in the Constitution forbidding governmental competition, but whence cometh the demand for it? It is not, or has not been until these last few years, in the American scheme of things for Government to light our houses and supply the current that turns the wheels of our factories, any more than it is for Government to pack our meats or bottle our drinks or--publish our newspapers. There may have been a "mandate" uttered by the people for the first of these processes to be begun, but we are yet to see where their elected representatives in Congress, where policies crystallize, have enacted this mandate into law.

Site Ed. Note: Going back for a moment to "Du Temps Perdu" of January 31, a kind reader sent us this photograph just yesterday. It is Cash's sister Bertie in April, 1964, standing, by pure coincidence, in front of the buggy exhibit at the Smithsonian. The little boy is not identified; as Mrs. Elkins was a school teacher, perhaps he was one of her students out on a field trip to Washington. Whatever the case, all things considered in the land of the Princes of Serendip, we find it interesting. (Photograph, courtesy of the Buggy Institute, LLC)

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