The Charlotte News

Monday, March 25, 1940


Site Ed. Note: For a tempest in a teapot, see the letter to the editor this date from Colonel T. L. Kirkpatrick, suggesting that "Manager Wanted", March 21, 1940, had displayed intolerance to Catholics by suggesting that the motivation of the statement attributed to the President, a statement which, after two weeks of press, FDR disavowed--that Jim Farley as the Democratic nominee as President or Vice-President was a long shot for several reasons, among them that he was Catholic--was merely to state a reality, not indicative of prejudice, as FDR critics were then charging. The Colonel's suggestion is belied, as the editorial reply below the letter indicates, by the editorial of March 20, "Much Ado", which takes on the very notion conveyed by the Colonel as being emblematic of the motivations of the anti-Roosevelt forces seeking to brand the President anti-Catholic. That first editorial merely stated the stark reality in 1940, hearkening back to the Presidential election of 1928, that no Catholic could then yet hope to be elected to the highest office in the land. It obviously did not seek to say thereby that no Catholic should be President.

To state a reality of discrimination is not only not to condone it but usually to condemn it, as was the case of the editorials questioned by the Colonel. But, not to carp at the Colonel too much or paint him as a Dogberry for the criticism, even if misplaced--for it is a better thing to discuss the issue openly than to let it lie there, potentially misinterpreted by other readers, and seethe, unaddressed. The very debate in an open press between apparently sympathetic points of view is one conducive to change. And change there would be in the ensuing two decades, even inclusive of the deeply Protestant South with regard to Catholicism. It was a beginning to an end of intolerance based on religion or race or other manifestation of difference from that considered the norm of acceptability in society.

And, Judge Ervin banned the slot machine from Mecklenburg, says "Puny Victory". Eventually, he would ban cubulo from the entire nation, in a victory not so. Nevertheless, probably in both instances, the losers held up high the "V" sign, probably standing in both instances for "vice", a word sharing a common etymological root with "vicious".

Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas, mentioned in "Who's This?", would die in 1941, prompting the necessity of a special election on June 28. It was New Deal Congressman Lyndon Johnson's first run for the Senate, one, despite FDR's personal support, that he would lose by less than a thousand votes to Governor "Pass-the-Biscuits" Pappy O'Daniel and his hillbilly band--the landslide for Pappy Lee having come in by way of the midnight graveyard "lost votes" out on the grapevine, overtaking Johnson's 4,000 vote lead in the waning hours of the count on Monday, June 30. Pappy was declared the winner July 1.

Not only were there "lost votes", but a confusing ballot, requiring all except the candidate chosen to be marked, resulting in several thousand ballots being discarded in counties heavily favoring Johnson.

Not to be outdone in slim margins, Johnson was finally elected to the Senate in 1948, his own victory having come by 87 votes, prompting the moniker "Landslide Lyndon".

By 1964, however, the label was no longer an irony.

For more on Jimmy Cromwell, the subject of the first piece, see "Alger Story", January 9, 1940, "Liberal, Eh?" April 22, 1940, and, announcing the first hint of his Senatorial timber, the growth of which having been fertilized by a healthy $50,000 contribution to the President's campaign in 1936, "To Be Eligible", November 20, 1937.

Idealist's Pal

This Name Jars In Talk Of Liberty And Freedom

Washington hears now that Jimmy Cromwell, Doris Duke's husband and minister to Canada, will resign and run for the Senate from New Jersey. Jimmy got in hot water at the State Department, as everybody knows, by making an undiplomatic speech in which he said that the Allies were fighting to preserve individual liberty and freedom.

The State Department doesn't, in all likelihood, disagree with what Jimmy said. It merely denies one of its agents the right to make so partial a public statement.

If Jimmy does resign and run for the Senate as a New Jersey Democrat, it will have to be with the blessing, if he hopes to get anywhere, of Boss Hague, Mayor of Jersey City and vice-chairman of the Democratic National Committee. They have talked it over before.

And it is one of the absurdities of this thing we call Democracy that a man like Jimmy, with such swelling ideals about liberty and freedom and decency and all that, could team up with a man like Hague, who is a symbol in this country of corruption, graft and rule by ring. Yet the deal, if it is consummated, will be evident on its face--the votes of Boss Hague and his minions in return for some of the Cromwell-Duke jack.

Jimmy's aims are honorable, we may concede: but, ah, the company he will have to keep is hardly wholesome.

In Earnest

Norway Means Its Protest Against British Trespass

Norway's note to London citing the violation of neutral waters by British warships, is probably in all respects a highly earnest protest. What Norway wants most of all is to continue at peace, and if this precarious state be further jeopardized by the trespassing of British torpedo boats over into Norwegian waters, it must be stopped.

Stopped, that is, not for the reason that Norwegian lives or property are endangered by these actions, or even because Norwegian interests are directly threatened. Not by Britain, at any rate. After all, the nation which sends its ships into your territorial waters and there sinks the enemy's ships may be violating your status as a neutral, but a nation which sinks your own ships, wherever it catches them, is much more to be feared.

Some 500,000 tons of neutral shipping has been sent to the bottom since this war began. By far the greater portion of it was Scandinavian, and it met disaster almost entirely at the hands of the German navy and air force.

This violent treatment of a neutral is not to be compared with Britain's non-malicious trespass, yet it explains, precisely, the Norwegian note. That could well have read: "In Heaven's name stay out of our neighborhood! It may infuriate Herr Adolf against us."

Puny Victory

The People's Law Gets Ahead Of The People's Behavior

Judge Ervin, in his opinion on slot machines last week, not only turned thumbs down on the contraptions but put his foot down on them too. Judge Howard's ruling in County Recorder's Court had been that the machines might be operated, even if equipped to pay off, provided they were not connected to pay off. Judge Ervin went further than that.

If they were "adaptable" at all to pay off, or bore any combination of numbers or symbols that hinted of reward, they were illegal.

To us who have escaped the lure of the slot machine in all its gaudy phases, the decision is a wholly abstract development. Its chief effect would seem to be the saving of many nickels and dimes to the gullible who, out of the kindness of their hearts or their trusting optimism, stand before these tables and manipulate the plungers for 50 cents' worth, usually while snatching a 25-cent lunch.

There seems not to have developed along with slot machines, as with liquor and the butter 'n' eggs, an unholy concentration of money and power in the worst hands. To the contrary, the business appears to have been lucrative enough and respectable enough to afford considerable competition, and for that reason lacked the sinister aspect that has brought the other two forms of entertainment into disrepute.

Nevertheless, it is wise to keep perspective in these brushes between the law and man's old, unbating urge to gamble. Truth of the matter is that slot machines, while they may have given encouragement to a minor vice, were not in themselves essentially vicious. The further truth is, perhaps, that here again our public morality, as expressed by law, is away ahead of our private morality, as expressed in the codes of the people who make up the public.

Still, to us, who have never seen the fun of the danged things, it is entirely agreeable that they be banished from their stands. But it remains a distinctly minor triumph for the forces of righteousness.

Who's This?

Advance, John Garner, And Give The Countersign

Whoever puts over old Jack Garner as a burning Liberal is going to have a whale of a job on his hands. Senator Morris Sheppard, a fellow Texan, had tried it in a speech delivered Saturday night, and the picture he painted was of a statesman panting for the people to enjoy the benefits government might bestow on them, but cautioning "make haste slowly" lest impetuousness imperil the program.

In the sense that a "Liberal" is a person who believes in playing fast and loose with other people's money, old John has, it is true, a record of sorts. When President Hoover was trying to hold appropriations in balance, back there during the first days of the depression, it was Speaker Garner of the House who insisted (a) on an excessive number of millions for the relief of the drought-ridden farmers of Arkansas, and (b) came down from the dais to harangue against the only tax in sight that might have balanced the budget that year and others.

John Garner has his points, and they are points that may be admitted to give him standing for the Presidency. He's wealthy in his own name, which is equivalent to having "met a payroll." He's a strong party man, which means that he would help other Democrats, regardless of their stamp, get elected. To John L. Lewis, it is true, he's an "evil, whisky-drinking old man;" but, still, he goes to bed early, and the lack of an endorsement from the head of CIO is no drawback in quite a few quarters.

But a leader in the fight for Liberalism? Advance, John Garner, and be recognized.

New Assets

A Hard-Pressed Treasury Can Sell Its Souvenirs

The Government draws a sharp line between Congressmen who award postmasterships for political services rendered and Congressmen who award postmasterships for cash on the line. It's all right for a Congressman to bestow this plum on some faithful campaigner, all wrong to sell the job for money, even for campaign funds.

And so Representative B. Frank Whelchel of the Ninth Georgia is under a Federal indictment on seven counts. He is charged with having accepted $1,100 each for appointing two rural mail carriers, at Ball Ground, Ga., $500 for the postmastership at Tate, Ga., and $1,500 for his promise to deliver the postmastership also at Ball Ground, Ga.

The remarkable thing about these alleged transactions is not that a Congressman would stoop to such practices--among a body of 435 men (and 96 supermen) a few dishonest ones are almost certain to be found. No, the remarkable thing is the prices that rural routes and less choice postmasterships are bringing in the market.

There probably hasn't been so much money offered for anything in rural Georgia since Gerald O'Hara went to Atlanta and bought a set of house slaves for his mistress at Tara. Why, the Government is downright rich! With thousands and thousands of postmasterships at its disposal, some of them prime, and with $500 to $1,000 the prevailing price for cutis, Mr. Morgenthau may yet find a way to pay the cost of the New Deal.

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