The Charlotte News

Sunday, March 31, 1940


Site Ed. Note: It is briefly worth noting that each of the three names of James Russell Lowell appears in separate editorials of this date, in reverse order, each in different context. We point it out because a Lowell quote was engraved to the headstone on Cash's grave in July, 1941. Should there be any connection to Cash's death among the names thus forming that of the poet, it is inevitably to be found only with James Colescott, though perhaps, in small part, or a small part of a rationalization, also in reaction to Cash's perisistent defense in these days of Bertrand Russell and the free voicing of his views, an abomination of course to the Klansman of those times, as well to many who weren't the least sympathetic to him.

That despite the fact, of course, as everyone knows, that the Klan was, as was the Nazi Party, a haven for many homosexuals and still is. But that is beside the point.

Such idiots, the Nazis, the Klan, and groups like them, regularly condemn what they are because what they are breeds self-loathing to the point of looking for a rationalized excuse to lay blame for what they are on someone else, whether the self-perceived disparity with respect to their fellow man is socio-economic, educational, intellectual, or physical: If the shrimp are no good at Long John Silver's, then, in accordance with the party line, blame Long John Silver, not the chef kneeding the dough.

And we agree wholeheartedly with "Judge's Logic" that any judge who condemns another person in a court action as immoral, or condemns them sub silentio, ostensibly for conduct, but in fact for what they judge to be immorality, is nothing more nor less than an adherent to the basic principles of the Nazi Party, and, for that matter, too, the Klan, whether active their membership card is or not. Such judges do a grave disservice to the law and disgrace the bench on which they sit for applying the law, of which they are stewards and arbiters, in such a callous and capricious manner. For the public cannot possibly adjust their conduct to adhere to such fanciful interpretations of the law; and chaos ultimately ensues, morality in fact breaks down. The reverse of moral order prevails.

It is that judge who most needs, in the mirror, to examine the issue of morality and leave the rest of us to our own, our morality, as distinguished from genuinely unlawful conduct, being between us and our god.

It is one thing to judge honestly and objectively and impartially before the law particular conduct of a person, and to insure that the person is not being singled out for special treatment under obscure or technically applied laws or rules because of some factor other than their actual unlawful conduct not permitted to anyone else; but to judge a person for their beliefs, thoughts, or expressions, or to allow laws to be specially applied in particular circumstances only to get someone for expressing views thought to be other than that in the "mainstream" of ideas, or to get someone because of subjectively interpreted remarks which an individual deems offensive, is an outrage and antithetical to anything inhering in democratic principles of liberty. It is McCarthyism in full flower.

And, of course, it is running rampant now in our society, and, for the fact that few, for fear, are discussing it, far worse in fact than was McCarthyism. Lives are being ruined, largely at the behest of idiots who are greed merchants, searching for some politically or morally-based rumor to use to defame a person, not so much with whom they disagree politically or morally, but utilizing that as an excuse to get at someone with whom they are in dispute financially, or, moreover, whose pockets present a tempting target to be picked clean; and thus, to seek to destroy that person's reputation and thereby to become wealthy or wealthier off the carrion pickings from the carcass of the person's life. And it matters not to this greasy type of predator bird whether the target be friend or foe. Money is their sole object; and money their soul-object will inevitably wind up being at the final draw.

Why do such persons most usually and inevitably pick on the person who makes sense, not the most commonplace and base-appealing common denominator "smut" (which now proliferates not just in pulp fiction but on television regularly) or the openly available exemplars of what they claim to find disturbing within the popular culture generally, to which the piece below makes reference? Is it that they are just plain stupid, too dumb to realize the utter hypocrisy? We think not. The reasons are plain. First, they wish to find a visible example, one who will not be caught up with the popular imagination, having found that attacking popular heroes or popular books, movies, songs, etc, incurs only the wrath of a large part of the public, breeds unpopularity and their own consequent disrepute and diminished credibility. Second, they themselves are most usually more disturbed by what makes sense than the more commonplace kitsch which they are more likely to dismiss as frivolous nonsense, incapable of swaying anyone to the viewpoint expressed, save perhaps the mentally infirm. And they superciliously dismiss the latter as being susceptible to being swayed by a message inside a matchbook cover anyway.

So, if the message might seem convincing to themselves, they find it most dangerous; it may influence others of sufficient intellectual capacity to understand it and ultimately then seep into the cultural fabric to the point where it is accepted by the masses.

Of course, if our analysis is correct, as a practical matter, their logic on both of these two counts is correct. But that does not make the premise or the philosophical assumption underlying it any the more sound. It is at base still an attempt to make subjective and emotive moral issues the rationale for application of law, and it is that ultimate premise on which Nazism was based. It was logical, after a fashion, to reason that if you locked up in concentration camps or exterminated all the Jews in Germany who did not depart voluntarily when they could, you would eliminate Judaism from Germany. That did not, however, excuse the judges who took away property rights, extinguished all but the most pro forma recognition of human rights, from those before the bar of justice in Nazi Germany, condemned only for their religious heritage and ethnicity, that conveyed by birth.

It excuses no less such judges as discussed below who would pervert the law to prevent a person from teaching or engaging in any other profession, merely for the fact of that person's expressed opinions, and regardless of whether they intended to teach them or express them in the particular occupation or not. We all enjoy those precious freedoms, at work or at play. It is what, at the end of the day, is left, sometimes perhaps as the only refuge, when a resident of a foreign dictatorship asks you to distinguish the United States from their own land, lacking in that basic freedom. Take it away, and as heavily bureaucratized as the country has become over the last hundred years, we are indeed left stumped and dumbfounded to provide that person's question more than a perfunctory, empty and crude response: Perhaps, baseball? But, even then, they could, with credulity, retort: Cuba.

And, was the Dorothy Thompson piece on the social milieu of the French village, as depicted in "The Baker's Wife", not simply a comment on the saving graces of French society and thus why the French should be maintained, free from the Nazi, but also yet another sub rosa inditement on the Russell judgment? Is it dissolute to raise the subject of dissoluteness and discuss it openly, even if taking a non-traditional stance that to some favors dissoluteness? Or, is it better to hide from the topic and continue to bake the bread which no one will break for its distracted preparation?

Koo-ku, coo shoe.

--Or Bust*

This Census-Taking Is An Exciting Event For Charlotte

On Tuesday morning, Uncle Sam's enumerators will start out to begin the job of counting the inhabitants of a place called Charlotte in North Carolina. It's going to be, we think, an altogether pleasant, if perhaps somewhat tedious, process, for despite the effort to make some of the census questions that seem overly inquisitive and too personal, the Census Bureau's interest in the answers is purely impersonal.

Besides, people love to talk about themselves, and if the census men will listen...

But over and above all that there is present in the counting of the people of this place called Charlotte in North Carolina a distinct, just-before-the-kick-off excitement. We all know why. In 1910, 34,014. In 1920, 46,338. In 1930, 82,675. In 1940?

The last census showed 93 cities in the United States with more than 100,000 population. (Lowell, Mass., barely got under the wire with 100,234.) No city in the Carolinas has yet broken into that group, and for Charlotte to lead the way will confirm what all of us have been certain of for a long time: that we've a thriving, coming city of the Southeast on our hands, the record of whose growth will itself, accelerate that growth.

Judge's Logic

Russell's Opinions Bar Him But Smut Is All Right

Justice McGeehan, of New York's Supreme Court (corresponding to our Superior Court) had already openly pre-judged the case. And so it is not surprising that he finds Bertrand Russell "immoral," orders City College of New York to revoke its appointment of Russell to a chair of mathematics. Fortunately, there is still the New York Court of Appeals, a tribunal of learning and intellectual dignity.

Russell's "immorality" is exactly of a piece with that of Plato and the chief authorities in the field of psychiatry. He doubts the conventional marriage code and the treating of homosexuals as criminals instead of unfortunate psychic cripples.

Follow the logic of this order through and the schools would be stripped of a good part of their curriculum and most of their brilliant men, the professions would be crippled, and two-thirds of the libraries of the world would have to be burned. For no man could teach, no book could be distributed, which did not simply echo conventional ideas. Worse, the logic of the order would have judges deciding precisely who should teach in our schools and what should be taught--would bring education absolutely under their control. The order is strictly in keeping with the theory and practice of Adolf Hitler.

What makes it doubly ridiculous is that it is issued in a country where smut can be bought by the carload in the pulp magazines, and where suggestive songs enjoy a vogue. Lord Russell's ideas are set forth in heavy books intended for people of a high intellectual order. The average young person cannot understand them and doesn't try--would never hear of them were it not for the Justice McGeehans. But such a young person can jolly well understand the prurient smut that circulates freely in the popular media .

Glass House

Thomas Dewey Goes In For Walking On Eggs

Somehow, we have the feeling that Thomas E. Dewey is in danger of getting his neck too far out ever to get it back in again before the Republican convention.

En route to Chicago, Thomas delivered himself of this one:

"It will be a pleasure to examine the corruption of the New Deal in Chicago, where the Kelly-Nash agency has made that science a fine art."

Which was to leave his jugular extended and exposed. Perhaps Thomas can actually make out a case for "corruption" against the New Deal on the ground of its deals with the Huey Long crooks in Louisiana, its winking at Boss Hague, its use of WPA workers in politics, its alliance with the Kelly-Nash gang, etc. But corruption is hardly the word one first thinks of when he sits down honestly to criticizing the New Deal. In fact, it comes in far down the list.

As for the Kelly-Nash gang itself, why there, surely, Thomas would have a neat target.

And still it seems to us that he is sadly inept at practical politics. That word corruption is perfectly calculated to start a lot of people to remembering little black bags and good Republican names like Albert B. Fall and Teapot Dome. And unless Chicago has got less sardonic than it used to be, somebody is certain to remember the good old Republican days of Big Bill Thompson, when Al Capone was in flower and Cicero made the front pages daily.

Moreover--doesn't Thomas mean to go to Philadelphia at all?

Sucker Bait

Dr. Goebbels' Latest Will Hardly Fool Anybody

There is little reason to doubt that the German white paper, made up of purported extracts from the correspondence of the Warsaw foreign office, is as fraudulent as the President, Mr. Hull, Ambassador Bullitt, and the Polish Ambassador at Washington say it is. The methods of Dr. Goebbels are written all over it.

And its purpose is quite plain. It is intended to stir up the isolationists among us and set off a loud uproar against Mr. Roosevelt, to further divide and confuse us about the issues of the war, and so in the end to make us uncertain where our interest lies.

Quite possibly, of course, there may be some real small basis of fact behind it. If the President, Mr. Hull, Mr. Welles, or Mr. Bullitt did not at some time or other blurt out their conviction to foreign diplomats that Nazi Germany was a menace to the existence of Western civilization, then they were inhuman marvels of self-control.

But, in any case, the attempt to have it that we or our officials are partly responsible for the war is puerile nonsense. One nation and one nation only bears the whole responsibility for this war. It carried out a policy of systematic aggression and tyranny over one of its neighbors after another. So much was clearly established long before war censorship and war propaganda began--on an overwhelming mass of indisputable evidence piled up in peacetime.


Klan Stands Condemned By Wizard's Own Testimony

At Atlanta, James A. Colescott, Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, turned some of the records of his outfit over to officers investigating the murder of a barber by hoodlums wearing the costume of the order and many other crimes committed by the same sort. And tells reporters:

"If the fiery cross of the Klan was ever burned to intimidate or coerce anybody, it was in direct conflict with my specific orders."

It sounds a little hard to believe. What else, when you think about it, could the burning of the fiery cross be intended for, save intimidation and coercion? It was burned for just that and almost nothing but that even in the old days of the early 1870s, when another Klan, led by another sort of men, was briefly justified.

But give him the benefit of the doubt, and his own words still add up to a conclusive condemnation of his rhetoric. The plain fact is that the hoods, masks, robes, and general secrecy of the outfit make it impossible for him to enforce his orders or to know whether they have been carried out or not. There is ample evidence that men dressed as Klansmen have indulged in violence and intimidation on a wide scale recently. The evidence suggests pointedly that they were Klansmen. But if they weren't--

The disguise and secrecy of the outfit enable Klansmen to defy orders and indulge in violence and intimidation and then charge that it was done by outsiders dressed up as Klansmen. Or it enables non-Klansmen to don the dress of the Klan, commit their crimes, and lay them to the Klan. In any case, the existence of the order serves to make the execution of crimes of violence and coercion easy and relatively safe, and hence directly to encourage and incite such crimes.

Site Ed. Note: Incidentally, the Thomas Dixon books we referenced two days ago are actually entitled "The Leopard's Spots" and "The Clansman", but by any name or color, they are still dark, masked, and spotty.

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