The Charlotte News

Wednesday, March 20, 1940


Site Ed. Note: Close your eyes a minute. Voila!

It's 1940, a presidential election year. The news this day is full of a high-handed Governor of a Southern state threatening to call out the National Guard to resist a Federal Judge's order, even to the extent of protecting the Governor from jail against a contempt citation by that judge for violation of the order. Move down the column.

The FBI is ordered to desist from wire-tapping by the Attorney General. The practice of wire-tapping is labeled by the editorialist as an OGPU or Gestapo tactic. Might lead a dictatorial Administration to use wire-tapping to get at its political enemies. Meanwhile, another editorial columnist steams with regard to such charges anent the G-Men. Why, whoever heard of such a thing as that? Gestapo! Hurumph and double hurumph! Such as those who charge OGPU are themselves Communist! Smear campaign! The editorialist responds by labeling that a smear. Move down the column yet more and up the next.

Dogberry charges against the President, that should he have actually made the statement attributed to him, the implication that he was thereby bowing to, even fostering, prejudice against Catholics by suggesting the reality that, for existing prejudice, a Catholic would find tough sledding to the Vice Presidential nomination, that such a nomination would adversely impact the Democratic ticket's chances in the fall, far from equivocating, was no more than evocating reality. Says the editorialist, next they will charge that because the President also agreed with the potential nominee, who happens to be Catholic, that every parent of every infant ought be able in the United States to recognize in that infant's eyes the hope and opportunity to be President one day, the President thus wants a Negro to become President. Or, did the editorialist deliberately leave out is in the latter clause of that sentence? Move down the column even further on the left.

Charges and counter-charges over the wisdom of public housing for the poor, that it may mean keeping wages artificially low so that they might qualify to afford themselves of the affordable housing, while the low wages equally keep these from affording something better than the low-cost public housing. Yet to the end, now.

Knight-errant and Squire Sancho jousting, ever jousting, at the twirling blades of time.

Close your eyes and turn around again, and it is, neither 1940 nor 1540, but another election year, 1956.

Yet again, and it's 1960, and again, 1962.

Turn around more. It is 1968, 1972.

Close your eyes and blink them three, four times, it is 2000.

It is 2008. Is is is, or about to be, at long last?

Ah, everything changes, but all tends somehow yet to remain largely the same. Yet we advance by the increments of generations and portions thereof, and evolve and set foot cautiously forth some more. Yet we muster, yet we achieve, yet we falter, and yet we move forward again.

The central question being that one, posed by Cash himself November 13, 1928: should not every parent who bears a child pursuant to the Constitution of the United States be able with clear hope and dream to look upon that child as a potential President of this country? Is not that the ultimate role model, not from that shadow cast by an individual, which inevitably includes the clay feet, but that of a dream?

And again we ask: how does this collision of issues on one day's editorial page cast such a long and dark, and also lengthy and light, penumbral shade to the future of the Republic? Was J. Edgar Hoover, as he did at least one day in 1937, still reading the editorial page of The News in 1940? In 1960? In 1962? In 1968? Were others--the nefarious, the beneficent? The lowly, the great, the highly educated, the not so?

Who? When? Where?

Which way doth the wind blow?

Who made the grade that day in the life of The News?

Mighty Bite

Using Force On A Federal Judge Could Be Risky

Little Ed Rivers, Governor of Georgia, continues his Gilbert and Sullivan defiance of the courts of the State and the United States. Judge Deaver refused his demand to be allowed to appeal directly to the Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans, ordered him to appear in person at Macon to answer charges of contempt.

To which Little Ed retorted, according to a newspaper correspondent close to him, by saying that he'd post 6,000 National Guardsmen about the courthouse in Macon and have them rescue him if the judge sent him to jail.

Little Ed, observing the uproar set off in Georgia and other American points by that story, hastily announced that he hadn't made the statement. However, the newspaper man sticks to his report.

It is likely that even Little Ed has a certain amount of discretion and so won't really attempt it. But just in case he has any doubts, he might look into the Federal Code before he moves. First, there is the army at Fort Benning to enforce the judge's decisions and to give him protection, if the judge deems it necessary. Secondly, the United States War Department can order the National Guardsmen to hand over all clothing, food, and equipment--the property of the United States--and enforce it with the bayonet. And, under Title 32, Section 81a, the National Guardsmen themselves may be mustered into the army, ordered to disperse or aid in the incarceration of Little Ed, under penalty of being dealt with as mutineers if they refuse.

Quite a chew for a man called Little Ed, when you think about it.

No Snooping

Wire-Tapping Order Has Good Logic Behind It

Attorney General Jackson has settled the wire-tapping uproar by issuing blanket orders to J. Edgar Hoover's FBI not to use that method of gathering evidence under any circumstances.

It promises to hamper the FBI to some extent, since the evidence in several kidnaping cases was admittedly gathered by tapping wires. Moreover, there is no evidence that Mr. Hoover's men had actually used tapping of wires for any but legitimate purposes. A guilty conscience perhaps had a good deal to do with the concern of at least some of the accusers in that case. "The wicked," observed a not-unshrewd man many years ago, "fleeth when no man pursueth."

Even so, the order is a wise one. Wire-tapping is ultimately of a piece with opening the mails. And it opens the way for a high-handed and dictatorial Administration to eavesdrop privileged communications between those who oppose it, to punish secret recalcitrants, etc.--in short for an OGPU or a Gestapo.

A silly fear? Perhaps. But it is better to lean over backward in such a situation than to be taken by surprise.

Much Ado

Statements Of Fact Do Not Endorse Prejudice

Whether the President said it or not we don't know. There is a convention in use among statesmen and politicians which allows the highest placed persons to deny the truth on occasions when it threatens to make too much trouble. All the smaller fry make bold to use it constantly, too.

On the other hand, there is undoubtedly much stealthy effort to knife Roosevelt even on the part of politicians who pass as New Dealers and strong Roosevelt men. And so it may well be that somebody lied to Columnist Ernest K. Lindley in telling him that story about the President's thinking it inadvisable to nominate Mr. Farley as Vice-President because it would stir up religious prejudice.

In any case, it is difficult to understand what the shouting is about. Anti-Roosevelt columnists have done their level best to create the impression that the President endorsed the prejudice against the Roman Catholic Church, without explicitly charging as much. But his whole record shows that such an insinuation is nonsense. He has appointed Catholics to office freely, and in season and out has stood for tolerance.

If he said anything, he said, according to Mr. Lindley himself, that the prejudice against Catholics existed and would inevitably hamper Mr. Farley--probably kill the Democratic chance of victory. And that is a statement of plain fact, in the same class with the statement that two and two make four or that the whole is greater than the part. It is lamentable, and we despise it. But a fact it was in 1928, as everybody knows. And nobody who has at all understood the reaction to the Spanish war will suppose that it is much less today.

To say that the President's recognition of such a plain fact would constitute endorsement of the prejudice is far more idiotic than to say that his endorsement of Jim Farley's statement that American ideals ought to mean that every father or mother, regardless of color or creed or race, should be able to regard every newborn child as a possible President of the United States--to say that this means that he wants a Negro elected President. We shall probably hear that one too, and in short order.

Double Damned

Housing Authority Gets It Going And Coming

The poor Charlotte Housing Authority. It is damned if it do, damned if it don't.

See if it is not so.

Wrote the Property Owners Co., Inc., in a letter published Sunday:

"The 53 per cent of our citizens in the lower income brackets will thus not be financially able to live in the properties the Housing Authority has under construction, as not over twenty per cent of the income of any renters should go to pay rent."

Spoke another citizen to the Engineers Club on Monday:

"Some of us have colored servants who will want to live in the new Fairview Homes, and we will want to help them there, but some folks might use the idea as an excuse for not paying them more by saying, 'If I pay you more, your income will be more than five times your rent, and you'll have to move.'"

These critics ought to get together. There may be valid objections to public housing, to be sure, but it seems hardly fair for one side to condemn the Authority for charging such high rents that people can't afford to pay them, and another to condemn it for charging such low rent that people can't afford to be found paying them.

On, Rosinante!

Concerning A Heroic Charge For An Empty Cause

And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain.
Up which a lean and foolish knight forever rides in vain.

It is all a jousting at windmills and a battle of the wineskins. And the fact that Senator Tobey has inveigled old Senator Bailey into joining him in the fight on the census questions as to income, etc., merely makes us suspect that Tobey is a waggish fellow who relishes a sly grin at the expense of very serious Democrats. Tobey is a Republican and has his reasons for his stand. But Bailey?

If these questions constitute an invasion of the liberties of the people, then so do the questions of the income tax office. The Government already exacts precise information on incomes from a thousand dollars up, under penalty of the hoosegow. What's wrong with doing the same thing to other incomes? The information is undoubtedly needed to arrive at correct estimates of unemployment, etc.

But the census-takers will blab to the neighbors and local politicians? The income tax men have never blabbed save when they were forced to do so by a stupid law. And the census-takers will be seeing hundreds of people, will undoubtedly approach them with bored impersonality. Moreover, there is a penalty hanging over the head of the census-taker if he blabs.

Even the proposal of the Census Bureau to allow people to answer these questions in franked envelopes mailed direct to Washington seems wholly unnecessary. If our own territory is typical, we do not believe that the people are in the least disturbed by this hypothetical invasion of their liberties--need no appeasing. The gesture will merely serve to appease Senator Tobey's partisanship.

As for Senator Bailey, he seems to have got himself into the position of serving as a tail to a Republican kite.

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