The Charlotte News

Tuesday, March 26, 1940


Site Ed. Note: The exposition on the anti-lynching bill in "Time to Yield", while giving ground to the idea that lynching had greatly subsided in the South in recent years, and granting the reality that such a force bill would likely trigger a reactionary climate, nevertheless concludes that the bill might "do a little good", as it treats dismissively the Senatorial efforts at blockage as so much wasted breath on Southern constituents who were no more than ambivalent on the matter by this point.

Times unfortunately by 1954 would change yet again backwards in some parts with the announcement from the Supreme Court of the case of Brown v. Board of Education, holding that segregated public schools could no longer withstand Constitutional scrutiny under the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, overturning the 1896 "separate but equal" doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson as unworkable in practice, resulting inevitably in inherently unequal school facilities. Public schools henceforth must, according to the 1955 implementing decision, desegregate "with all deliberate speed", a problematic phrase which to many in the deep South meant never, as long as they could continue to elect recalcitrant governors, stuck in the nineteenth century, who would hie with all deliberate sloth to the end of frustrating all progress. Indeed, the phrase rings of Morris Sheppard's exhortation to his audience to "make haste slowly", in a broader context, as quoted in "Who's This?" the day before.

For several pieces on the filibuster battle on the Wagner-Van Nuys anti-lynching bill of 1938, see "Freezing the Ball", November 17, 1937, "Caught in the Act", November 23, 1937, "They'll Not Gibber", January 17, 1938, "We Learn About a Senator", January 23, 1938, "Of Time and the Filibuster", January 25, 1938, "No More Carpetbags", January 27, 1938, "Reminiscent of the 60s", January 28, 1938, "Two on a Spot", January 31, 1938, "No Southern Monopoly", February 6, 1938, and "A Lucky Hiatus", February 22, 1938. For a brief history of the anti-lynching bills leading up to this point, see the note associated with "Compromise", January 27, 1940.

The rest of the page is here.

Weird Rule

Democrats Play The Game To Win At All Costs

We are reminded by a story in the paper that the primary this Spring will be the first under the State's new "honest" election laws. Principal changes are that poll-markers shall be strictly limited in the services they may perform, and that the absentee ballot is no longer permitted.

And by that so-called reform we are reminded of one of the grossest pieces of legislation in the State's history. The boldness of the Legislature that passed it is still something to marvel at. For whereas the Democrats may not use the rusty weapon of the absentee ballot against each other in their primaries, no such restriction applies to general elections.

In fine, the party that controls the election machinery has virtual carte blanche to use the absentee ballot as necessary to keep the opposition from electing candidates. Of practical importance in only a few Western countries, it nevertheless is bad governmental practice. It is "building up power which, in the hands of the wrong men, might be ruinous."

Peace Widows

This Bill Would Pension Them With Real War Sufferers

It would be no more astonishing for a small boy to tip off his parents just before Christmas that he knows about Santa Claus than for a veterans' organization to denounce a pending pension bill. As a rule, the American Legion and the VFW, et al., exert themselves only to obtain Federal dispensations, such as the Bonus, not to forestall them.

There must be something exceptional, then, about the American Veterans' Association, that its national commander would dare use such disrespectful phrases as "an election year assault on the Treasury" in speaking of the bill, favorably reported by a House committee, to pension the widows and orphans of ex-soldiers whose deaths had no remote connection with their war service

Election year politics or not, opening wedge or not for the general pension that has been the venal aftermath of all U.S. wars of any consequence, however slight, the man speaks tellingly when he says:

"If Congress is to act upon widows' legislation at this time, let them rectify the $38 pittance now being paid monthly to widows of men who died in battle. Certainly, a woman whose deceased husband returned unscathed from war service--and dies later of a totally unrelated cause, is not to be placed on a parity with the widow of the combat dead."

We should think not, and should think that the organized veterans would think not. But the bill actually contemplates a worse injustice than is brought out here. "A woman whose deceased husband returned unscathed from war service" isn't the half of it. She could have married him at any time prior to May 13, 1938, and if she bore him a child be assured of $28 a month from a grateful Government.

The Gauntlet

Reflections On The Way People Feel About Politics

The last thing most people want is to "get mixed up in politics." And that, since in the literal definition of the word politics means governing, is too bad.

For it cuts down the number and quality of citizens who are available for public service, with the result that many people feel, rightly or wrongly, that they are governed by their inferiors, by second-raters who have taken to politics for what they can get out of it rather than what they can put into it.

Most men who amount to anything, however, feel a keen interest in public affairs and a desire to serve in some way, so long as it does not require them to truckle to the voters and to go through the business of "running" for an office they'd just as soon not have in the first place. The days when good citizens "offered" and were promptly elected, appear to have departed.

Indeed, and without casting any gratuitous aspersions on politicians in office, about the only way you can get best men to take a public assignment these days is to appoint them, which may be done out of hand. Sometimes we think it might be a good idea to forego campaigns and elections for awhile and simply appoint good men to office.

Oh, yes--we nearly forgot. These reflections were brought on by the appointment of Messrs. Whitton, Pease and Peeps to the new Fire Prevention Bureau and Mr. John Tillett to the vacancy on the Housing Authority. Good men, all.

Time To Yield

Lynching Bill Has Assumed An Inflated Importance

The anti-lynching bill went through the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday with a favorable report of 10 to 3. The only three Senators against it were Democrats Connally from Texas, Miller from Arkansas and Happy Chandler from Kentucky.

The bill has already passed the House in a walk, and in the Senate it commands enough support to assure its enactment into law--provided a vote can be reached. Arrayed in opposition to a vote, however, is a little band of Southern Senators who promise that the Mannerheim Line defense of the Finns was as nothing to the battle they are going to put up to save the South from the anti-lynching bill. We wonder if it might not be better to reserve their valor for something else that matters more.

There is a good deal of pretty rank politics, to be sure, on the other side. The anti-lynching bill is as much a bid for the Negro vote as it is a bona fide attempt to put a stop to lynching. There is no special virtue in the bill itself which warrants the support of the entire Republican membership in both houses of Congress, and the same is true of Democrats from sections other than the South, in particular from metropolitan districts with large Negro populations.

Most strikingly of all, the need for an anti-lynching law is decreasing rather than increasing. There were only six authentic lynchings in 1938 and only three in 1939. The lynching lust still survives, but there were dozens of lynchings prevented by officers of the law, and the mob spirit will not long endure in the face of stout cops armed and prepared to shoot in defense of their prisoners.

One almost suspects that the chief proponents of the anti-lynching bill are impatient to pass it and anoint themselves with credit for it before a lynching-less year in the South makes their efforts anti-climactic.

But if the motives of the anti-lynching bloc are far from admirable, the motives of the Southern Senators are not themselves calculated to send a thrill to the heart of every true son of Dixie. Talk of states rights, for instance, comes with exceeding poor grace from Senators of Florida and Mississippi, the worst lynching states, where states rights seems to mean the right of white men to kill black men without incurring the vengeance of the law.

And talk of defending Southern womanhood is simply so much fustian. Rape has long since ceased to be even a prime cause for lynchings. The Southern Women's Association for the Prevention of Lynching, in contrast to male politicians of the South, has had the intellectual honesty to examine the causes of lynchings and to show, graphically, that this heroic defense of womanhood is an outright pose and an anachronism.

Furthermore, the white man's courts are fully competent now, where once, long years ago, they were indifferent, to punish rape with death. The courts, too, as contrasted with the mobs, have this in their favor: they are careful not to kill innocent men.

The anti-lynching bill, it is true, is a sort of indignity upon the South, which has been making progress slowly but surely in the solution of what the late Senator Borah once called the most difficult race problem in the world. Yet, the chief danger of the setback here lies in the possibility that passage of the bill would have upon the people of the South the exacerbating effect its proposal has had upon Southern Senators.

There is no slight evidence to show that it would or that the Senators are not gallantly defending a position which the mind of the South has already evacuated. There is evidence to show that Southern Senators are prepared to fight and bleed and grow hoarse in a cause which finds most of their constituents interested but not greatly concerned.

It is a poor thing, this anti-lynching bill, and there is not much lynching left for it to prevent. Even so, it might do a little good, whereas a long drawn-out wrangle in the Senate of the United States undoubtedly would add to the discord that blights our times and hinders the consideration of more vital business.

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