The Charlotte News

Friday, March 15, 1940


Site Ed. Note: Rather than comment about yet another tempest brewing in a teapot, that concerning the Reverend Wright's controversial statements from the pulpit, in the plain exercise of his right of freedom of speech, the substance of which we find ourselves in substantial agreement actually, as long as the context is maintained, and in the tone of discharge of a lot of static electricity along with it in the process, quite healthy, likely carrying over beyond the church into the broader community in and around Chicago--we would wonder what the rate of serious crime among the parishioners in that church is, and would be willing to bet it lower than the norm of most churches in the country, and likely for this very healthy discharge of pent-up hostility through the time-honored measure of exercise of freedom of speech--, rather than comment too much on this issue, or the 3 a.m. wake-up call ad from Texas, which we just saw for the first time today--where have we been the last two weeks?--yet another tempest in a thimble, for we have yet even to figure who the young clean-cut white fellow was supposed to be entering by the backdoor, burglar or teenager home late from the dance, let alone who the children were, and, for the life of us, don't understand how anyone may infer from that commercial yet another subliminal racial slur, even comparable to the Klan scenes in "Birth of a Nation", rather than that--.

Oh bloody hell.

Had the young man been wearing a hood and brandishing a rope; had he been an African-American with a gun or an obvious Hispanic with a knife, Chinese with a throwing star or Japanese with a Samurai sword, then a fit comparison might be made with "Birth of a Nation". But, as it was, we think that sort of notion is quite absurd. He didn't even appear at the end with the choir of heavenly angels announcing his coming as the thief in the night.

Granted, the ad makes little sense, at least to us, but that does not make it racist.

Was the infamous daisy ad broadcast by Lyndon Johnson in 1964 the fodder for spawning the hippie movement, the White Album, and, ergo, ipse dixit, ultimately the Manson Family? The extrapolation is as inept as that the 3 a.m. ad was subliminally racist because, really, truly, the intruder was supposed to be a young African-American--dressed as a white teenager, and none too stealthy looking at that.

Next, we shall hear that Thomas Dixon and D. W. Griffith were actually liberals, ahead of their time, in that they spawned racial violence which carried over into the formative phases of the Civil Rights Movement.

These are not arguments, but silliness, projections of supposed subliminal interpretation derivative of something which does not in the least convey the supposed message. We understand the suspicions, but taking suspicion to that level on someone who has never once held to any except policies antithetical to all forms of discrimination is ludicrous.

And none of the chatter on ads, on ministers of one candidate or another, on campaign fundraisers of one candidate or another who have been in trouble, or any other such peripheral matter, motivates us any closer to an understanding of a single substantive issue of importance with which the next President will have to deal.

The next President will neither be an advertising executive nor an associate minister of any church.

Thus, why should any of us be shocked in a year, should the candidate elected do the unexpected, as, not that we weren't paying attention, but during the ten seconds devoted to issues on the news, in between the numbers racket, the fund raising, the peripheral carnival of players making all kinds of interesting statements, we missed what it was each candidate actually holds as their first several priorities of office.

Again, we are not faulting any of the three remaining candidates for that state of matters, but rather the press, mainly the tv press, the infotainment world of cellophane flowers of yellow and green, towering over their heads. That is what is turning America so cynical, in our estimate, about politics and politicians, and for decades now, not the Comedy Channelism.

But rather than comment too much on that stuff, we thought, instead, simply to let you read "Mob Maker" and be reminded as to what real racism was--and sometimes tragically still is. And that it is not good faith statements of one sort or another, awaiting someone's hypersensitive trolling trip wire, akin to that magnetic mine described below, for some subliminal racial symbol or overt symbol misunderstood and twisted backwards, or other like nonsense to pass through the field and explode. Likewise, neither is it traitorous or anti-patriotic to say "goddamn America" in the context of condemning three-strikes laws and like laws which place a disproportionate number of African-American males in lock-up for the rest of their lives--a practice, in its application, not without comparison in fact to Nazi Germany. In that, we wholeheartedly join the Reverend. And it is true, as he has also said, that Senator Clinton has never been called a nigger, and thus could not appreciate fully the experience of an African-American. Yet, we have to rejoinder, too, that we know for a fact that she has been called, along with her husband, nigger lover, among other verbiage. A Senator named Helms even once registered a threatening remark to her husband about not coming to North Carolina if he knew what was good for him, which from ordinary white trash folk would have resulted in a call from the Secret Service probably. Moreover, it was John Lennon who said in 1972, "Woman is the nigger of the world..." And so--.

And so, read that letter to the editor of this date, even if in jest, and try to disagree on that notion, when given deliberative thought a little more seriously.

Incidentally, we just found out today that our professor of constitutional law from many years ago, William P. Murphy, passed away last September. We therefore say a belated goodbye to him. He was a gentleman professor of the old bow tie school, but one who could give a racist hell in as polite language as you could imagine, with a reserve seething underneath the humorous jabs as he took them to task and eroded their emotive "arguments" to mincemeat. He had lost his first job as a professor, you see, at the University of Mississippi in 1962, after nine years; and that because he refused to acquiesce to the pressure of the Citizens Council and kindred groups to teach constitutional law as they would see fit--in other words, ignoring the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments altogether, and insisting that Brown v. Board of Education was but a chimera to be circumvented by sophistry, circuitous logic, and delay to the vanishing point of its implementation and impact. For refusing this regimen of dumb-speak, maintained by the Three Monkeys, for upholding civil liberties in his teachings, he was an atheist, a Communist, a traitor to his native South and the State of Mississippi. For so daring to stand against the tide of all history, that tide adduced of the White Race, Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorra, Segregation Faweva, he was all these things and more to the good white church folk who populated the Christ-like Ku Klux Klan, that is to say, in short, a low-down, dirty, trouble-making, outside agitating, nigger lover. So he was fired from Mississippi in 1962, as James Meredith was seeking his admission as the first African-American at the University, amid riots and teargas and threats of death to those who contested the established order of things, including the President of the United States and the Attorney General of the United States.

He then went to the University of Missouri and, upon questioning the abuse of Presidential power in sending men to Vietnam without Congressional approval and formal declaration of war, he was once again chastised after another nine-year tenure.

He resigned in 1971 and began his long 19-year career at the University of North Carolina.

He was, in his soft Southern tones and unaffected manner, a joy to hear in a lecture on constitutional law (and, in the bargain, we got a breather from the pressure of the Socratic method). Whatever remarks which might impress you here and demonstrate any acumen we might have on the topic, alight on us from his guidance, the rest being the result of our own wandering imagination, probably somewhere around the Eleventh Amendment. We hope the former outweigh the latter. If not, it was not his fault but our own.

So we say goodbye to Mr. Murphy and godspeed to his spirit. His memory shall live on in those who were his students.

Fire Lesson*

Tragedy At Guthery Shows Need Of Safety Requirements

The tragedy that struck at the residents of the Guthery Apartments last night, with a toll of seven lives, is an illustration of the dreadful hazard of fires that start in the quiet hours of the night. It is too late to restore the lives of these dead persons, but perhaps the horrible event may serve a purpose.

What it does plainly call for is a check-up on the other apartment houses and hotels in the city. Aren't there other establishments which have no fire escapes or no adequate ones? We have the very definite impression that there are. In fact we know there are.

Moreover, it certainly raises the question as to whether the prevailing City standards of what constitutes adequate safety for apartment houses and hotels ought not be re-examined. Those standards were drawn up, it is to be remembered, when the usual apartment house in Charlotte had only a few families to the floor. But nowadays the old big apartments have been generally divided up into smaller ones, each of them crowded. We know of one apartment in an old and eminently respectable apartment house in the city which is actually operated as a sort of boarding house--shelters some four families, with three or four people to a room. And even one-room bachelor apartments sometimes hold four people in the downtown areas. Such apartment houses are really dormitories.

And in view of this great congregating of humanity in them, is it reasonable to suppose that a single fire escape, located at the end of long hallways bisected by stair wells and elevator shafts, is adequate safety provision? We know a good deal more about the behavior of fire now than we used to know; elevator shafts, stair ways, and hallways all act precisely as chimneys act, and a fire, once having got headway, sweeps through them with lightning rapidity, consuming woodwork at an incredible rate and laying down an impassable smoke screen with the efficiency and precision of a battleship. The people in the burning establishment hardly have time to become aware of the danger before it is too late to escape down a long hall.

To be really safe, apartment houses and hotels, where great numbers of people live and so necessarily multiply the risk, must be built as though there were a probable and even almost an inevitable contingency, instead of an incredible possibility.


How The Magnetic Mine And Its Jonah Work

When the Queen Elizabeth appeared in New York harbor a few days ago, the reporters were not long in publishing stories about her new "magnetic girdle," a device for dealing with Germany's much advertised magnetic mines.

But how does it work? To understand that is first necessary that the magnetic mine does not work, as popularly supposed, by being drawn to the steel of the ship as iron filings are drawn in an ordinary horseshoe magnet, until contact is made, the trigger thus tripped, and an explosion set off.

The mine actually works by using an electro-magnetic coil which generates a fairly wide magnetic field (an area of the wave motion of magnetic forces) about it.

All bodies have such a field, though it is often inappreciable in practice. The earth, for example, is a weak electro-magnet, surrounded by a magnetic field. And steel is always a fairly active radio-magnet surrounded by such a field. Steel ships are great floating electro-magnets, moving in the middle of a field the strength of which depends upon the position of the ship with relation to the direction of the magnetic pole.

But now, one magnetic field will interfere with and distort another. Normally, all fields which co-exist in a given area quickly reach a balance among themselves and with the earth's field. But a new one coming into the area will for a time disturb the whole magnetic geography.

Which brings us to the point. When a steel ship passes over or near a magnetic mine, its magnetic field disturbs the equilibrium between the fields of the mine and the earth, according to a foreseen pattern--which is what trips the trigger and sets off the explosion.

And the magnetic girdle? It is merely another electro-magnet designed to produce a field which will disturb the equilibrium between the mine and earth after another pattern than that the Germans intended. To be more specific, it disturbs that equilibrium so as to set off the mine before the ship reaches it.

Mob Maker

Evidence In Atlanta Bears Out Previous Klan Record

When a gang of masked hoodlums flogged a barber to death in Atlanta, the Ku Klux Klan hastily came out with a statement that it had nothing to do with it, did not encourage flogging and intimidation, would aid in apprehending the criminals.

But when the available evidence was placed before the grand jury by the prosecuting attorney, it sounded a little differently. County Deputy Sheriff W. W. Scarborough had confessed that he was Grand Cyclops of the Kukus in Fulton County. Two other deputies and a suburban policeman were identified as members of the outfit. And--a farmer named W. C. Wright identified one of these deputies and the cop as members of the gang who flogged him in 1938.

More, another victim, also beaten in 1938, exhibited his scars to prove that he had been flogged by the same leather strap found near the body of the murdered barber.

The Klan always comes out with these denials. It came out with them in the Mer Rouge murders. It came out with them in the recent kidnappings and whippings at Anderson, S.C.

The facts about this organization were established long ago. It is not, as it attempts to assert, merely another harmless fraternal order. It is a criminal racket which rifles the pocketbooks of the gullible, inculcates Fascist ideology, incites to mob action by assuring fanatics (all the accused in Atlanta are described as "church-workers") that their sadistic itch for brutality and murder is justifiable moral and religious fervor.

There is every ground for extirpating it root and branch by making it a felony to belong to it. And until it is done, these lawless outbreaks are going to continue to plague the South.

Site Ed. Note: For more on the Anderson incidents, see "Hoodlum Hunt", January 4, 1940, "Crackdown", January 8, 1940, "At the Source", January 9, 1940, and "Math Exercise", September 10, 1940. Relative to Dragon Adams mentioned in the latter piece, see "Klan Column", May 26, 1940, and "A Confession", January 17, 1941.

Adding to the math equation, Cash set forth the following in the book:

And when to all this was added the fact that the Communists had succeeded in horning into the situation at Gastonia, of course the strikes were doomed. After that catastrophe had been allowed to happen, the AFL union hastened to come upon the stage, and nowhere else did the strikers have anything to do with the Communists. But that made no difference. Probably it would have made none in any case, in view of the fact that labor unionism was already strongly linked up in much of the popular mind with the idea of Red and alien menaces. But Gastonia did serve to clench the matter, to fix solidly in the minds of the great mass of Southerners the equation: labor unions + strikers = Communists + atheism + social equality with the Negro--and so to join to the formidable list of Southern sentiments already drawn up against the strikers the great central one of racial feeling and purpose; and, in fact, to summon against them much the same great fears and hates we have already seen as giving rise to the Ku Klux Klan.

--The Mind of the South, Book III, Chap. III, "Of the Great Blight--and New Quandaries", Sec. 3, pp. 361-362, 1969 ed.

Greek Gifts

But Rumania May Last A Little While Yet

If the record means anything, it would be about time for Rumania to begin to prepare for the worst--if it were not for certain practical considerations.

The Nazis are loudly letting it out that they have "intervened" on behalf of the little Balkan and secured Russia's "pledge" that Carol-land shall be inviolate come what may. By all the pattern of the past, that should be interpreted as equivalent to the Wolf's snuggling up to Little Red Riding Hood. When Nazi Germany begins to "intervene" on behalf of little nations and to give them "solemn pledges of inviolability," their goose is usually about cooked, as the cases of Poland and Finland all too well prove.

What it undoubtedly means is that Nazi Germany is preparing to demand (since this was written she is already demanding it) that Rumania come into the Nazi-Red orbit, quit playing along with the Allies, and consent to have her economic reorganization taken over by the Nazis with a view to making her a better base of supply for the Nazis--in return for all this Nazi disinterestedness and this noble Red abnegation.

It is entirely possible, however, that Nazi Germany really does not, for the present, intend to attempt to gobble Rumania up whole, but merely to make her a satellite. For to attempt the former right now would be a dubious adventure. If the Reds aided, that might drive Mussolini into the arms of the Allies--might drive him there even if only the Nazis moved, for he plainly dislikes the penetration of any power southward into the Balkans. Moreover, the campaign would necessarily have to be a successful Blitzkrieg. If it didn't, then the Nazis would be likely to find the British and French in front of them, and striking hard for the German backdoor.

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