The Charlotte News

Saturday, February 5, 1938


Site Ed. Note: "Backward, Turn Backward!" on the turn of fortune in politics of Herbert Hoover, from hero as relief administrator after World War I to chump of history after being rewarded with the Presidency, calls to mind a potential parallel averted by the recent turn of events as to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Hero to the country in his exemplary calm in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001, he is now out of the running early for the Republican nomination for the Presidency, six and a half years later, unable to win a single caucus or primary in the first active month of the season.

Well, he has this consolation: his halo of 2001, as well his other accomplishments as Mayor of New York City, and before that, as crime-fighting District Attorney in the vein of Tom Dewey, will remain unblemished by subsequent history. The voters didn't see fit to tarnish it by having him become chief tenant of the White House for the next four years.

There are many others through history who might have profited by Hoover's lesson, but who simply couldn't resist the brass ring. Well, it's a thankless job, but, after all, someone has to do it. Whoever seeks it, however, must come prepared with an iron behind; and even that did not protect Richard Nixon from the worst in time.

The rest of the page is here. Gargantua the Great, as described by Heywood Broun, must've had cause for a really big shoe, even if the elephant's memory sometimes wants for capacity in the offing.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind*

In Superior Court at Lexington this week, a fellow named Arman pleaded nolo contendere to charges of defrauding the chair factory at Thomasville he had been serving as superintendent, by accepting bribes from salesmen in return for purchasing their goods. Whereupon Judge Biven sentenced him to pay a fine of $3,000 and to serve eighteen months--the prison term to be suspended on condition of his absence from North Carolina for two years.

This business of settling the cases of men convicted of criminal offenses by exiling them, seems to be getting entirely too common. However well it may have fitted Greece and Rome 2,000 years ago (and they in fact used it only against political offenders), it cannot be justified in this country on any principle of equity or rational self-interest. We dump our convicts over into a sister state, and have we got rid of them? Maybe, but only by passing the problem of dealing with them all into a state which has not even been consulted in the matter. We surely have no right to do that. And moreover, we really gain nothing. For, inevitably, the other states proceed promptly to take a page out of our book, and to dump their convicts on us.

In reality, everybody loses, save only a lot of people who, according to the law, ought, in the interest of society, to be confined behind bars.

Pirates at Penzance

The British Government, say London dispatches, is "aroused" by the sinking of a second British freighter by Spanish Insurgents within the last few days, and is "redoubling its march" in the "determination" of wiping out the "pirate" submarines and planes. Oh, well, maybe so; but we bravely hazard the opinion that it's the same weary old run-around.

The whole business is strictly in the Gilbert and Sullivan manner. It is the obvious of the obvious that the British Government can steam a squadron of cruisers into Palma any day it pleases, and that when they come out, there need not be any "navy" left to the Spanish Insurgents with which to continue their entirely illegal blockade. And it is the obvious of the obvious too that, within any twenty-four hours, the British Government can launch from Gibraltar planes enough to wipe out not only every plane on Mallorca but every plane that Franco has in Spain. It is flatly ridiculous, indeed, to tell us that twenty British destroyers roaring through the waves at forty miles an hour can't find a submarine moving at eight miles an hour towards its one possible base on the eastern end of Mallorca.

But, ah, those Insurgent ships and those Insurgent planes and that Insurgent submarine are nearly certainly the property of Signor Mussolini. And Britain seems to suspect that the Signor might not like it if they were found and destroyed.

Backward, Turn Backward!

Herbert Hoover is still a big man in Belgium. He will soon set sail for that country where he will be honor guest at a celebration commemorating his work as food administrator there during the World War. This calls attention to Hoover's greatest mistake.

Not a mistake in feeding the Belgians; it wasn't that. Hoover was a wonderful feeder. The food was supplied by the United States of America, and Hoover dished it out. Such a dishing! The Belgians, Europe, America, the whole world, everybody but Hoover, was amazed. Here was a whole nation saved from starvation. He was the organizing, directing, administrative genius. He came home with a halo around his head. Republicans and Democrats both talked of running him for President. He was a hero, and not a blemish on him. An engineer of purest ray serene, the antithesis of a greasy politician. The world was his.

Then came his mistake. He became a politician, a candidate, finally a President. The halo began to wear. Instead, before it was over, poor Mr. Hoover was in a mind to have the halo replaced with a sign entitled, "Kick Me; I'm Used to It."

His mistake was in not quitting when the quitting was good. If only he had let it go at feeding the Belgians, he would have been a prophet not without honor even in his own country. As it is, he has to return to an earlier scene to feast once more on the cheers of the populace and the acclaim of a grateful nation.

Sooner or Later

The coup de grace which the Council intended to deliver to the Blue Laws turns out to have been instead a faux pas; in good old Americanese, a fumble. The shade of our religious code is not a degree lighter than it was, and the penalty for violating what was left of the Fourth Commandment after the church itself got through modernizing it to suit its own comfort and convenience--that penalty is still, if the worst comes to worst, a stretch in the hoosegow.

At the same time, we find within us the patience to be philosophical about the false step and the delay. If the present City Council doesn't re-enact the liberalizing ordinance at its next meeting, dotting all the eyes and crossing all the tees, why it will do it a few meetings later. Or, failing that, surely the one after will do the needful. For it is a state of mind, rather than any caprice, before which Blue Laws are giving away; and while a few months may make an irksome difference to the operators of baseball clubs and tennis courts, and a few years to the moving picture people, in good time our local ordinances will accommodate themselves to the will of a large part of the people, and we all shall soon become accustomed to the new order and think nothing of it.

Prearranged Yells*

Townsmen R. C. Birmingham's and J. B. Vogler's report on the "Little Business Men's" conference at Washington includes a sad commentary on the workings of the Democratic spirit. Somewhat as we had suspected, a loud handful of Pennsylvanians and New Yorkers had previously determined to "yell like hell," and that they did, to the considerable embarrassment of the more dignified majority. Even so, say Charlotte's representatives, the conference served a useful purpose.

But the impression we got, and the impression millions of other readers got, was that a vehement, angry wrangle took place, and that Mr. Roosevelt and the New Deal caught the devil. And isn't that, now that we think of it, an illuminating illustration of the paradoxical political situation, wherein Pennsylvania and New York, and all the elements those states symbolize in America, are yelling bloody murder so loudly that the rest of us can't hear ourselves think? And pretty soon we cry, "Sit down!" or, "Throw 'em out!" And bedlam is compounded with confusion and mortal enemies are made without knowing exactly why, except that everybody seemed to be yelling at everybody else.

There are things wrong with the New Deal, to be sure, and they need to be examined and corrected, if possible. But nothing was ever so wrong with it as Pennsylvania and New York, and all the elements those states symbolize in America, would have us believe. Periodically we in the South ought to remind ourselves of that, otherwise we will find ourselves yelling in chorus too.

Necessity Knows a Law*

At any rate we were pursuing a 4-2-1 plausibility, these months ago when we proposed that the City Council disregard the precedents and move for Supreme Court authorization to maintain the new Charlotte Airport. It seemed that the time had come. The tribunal never had passed on an airport as a public necessity, but then, times change and new needs arise. It appeared ludicrous that the City might own a valuable property quite legally but is unable to assess taxes for its upkeep.

City Attorney Boyd, with the Council's sanction, thereupon appeared before the Supreme Court and made vigorous and eloquent argument that the time had come for the court to exercise its discretion and admit municipal airports to its list of public necessities, just as it had done for public parks.

That the idea had weight is shown in the Supreme Court's decision. Four justices turned thumbs down, it is true, but two of them believed that the City might properly protect its airport property, whereas Justice Clarkson agreed that it might maintain it. That is consolation, but we still have on our hands, like Peter the Pumpkin Eater, the ludicrous situation of owning an airport without being permitted to use tax money to keep it up.

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