The Charlotte News

Wednesday, March 6, 1940


Site Ed. Note: The little piece from Monroe to the immediate right of the column, comparing North Carolina to a repeatedly rebuffed cowboy stumbling up the stairs, refers to "Diagnosis", February 24, 1940. (Incidentally, should you wonder here in early 2008 why we haven't added the full editorial pages for the bulk of the dates, so far limited to October through December, 1937, January and February, 1938, and May through August, 1938, plus this month, it is simply because we have not yet acquired the full pages for the bulk of the months earlier posted, our resources prior to the .pdf files becoming available in fall, 2005, having been limited to photocopies which could only capture the column itself, plus the immediate column to its right, and even that requiring two copies, one for the top half of the page and one for the bottom, those not being suitable for scanning. But, we are in the process slowly of collecting the .pdf versions of all of it, and shall dutifully put those online in due course.)

Speaking of party machines, the Klan, the Communists, the Nazis, the Fascists, and free speech to all but thou, because thou happens not to be either a Nazi, a Communist, a Klansman, a Fascist, or a dues-paying member of the political machine, we were perusing the latest press clippings in various places on the state of the country today and the late political campaign for the presidency.

There was Senator McCain, embracing his former political opponent, entering the White House, arm in arm, like a couple of old cow punchers out on the range.

Wait. This just in: The President has--wait, are you sure? Check that again. We don't wish to mislead. Yes, okay. We can run with it, then.

You heard it here first. The President has endorsed Senator McCain for the presidency.

What a surprise that is! Whew! And we thought he was leaning toward either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton. Dog, if he didn't endorse Senator McCain, right like that, off the bat, as soon as the delegate count hit the magic number--his bitter rival in 2000. Is that amazing or what? Two people who hated each other's guts eight years ago, who were, to put it mildly, as two ravenous dogs confronted with a big slab of raw sow-belly shimmering in the sun, fit to be sautered for the farmer's simmering hoe-down on Saturday night, but now, anon, locked in a warm embrace, backs to the camera, arm in arm, entering the privacy of the White House. Wonderful picture. Wonderful time.

The cameras were not allowed into the love feast, held behind closed doors. We dare not speculate on what went on or that which was said. All was maintained in strictest secrecy and privacy. It's hush-hush, and on the Q.T. Far be it from us to spoil the affection.

Meanwhile, the Democrats--well, the Democrats are having a friendly and open discussion about issues, such as who raised the most money last month, who got how many delegates on Tuesday, compared to last month, whether to split this delegate or that delegate in quarters or merely half at the convention, looking for Super-Delegates. Super-Delegate--must be someone sort of like that about which today's letter writer, the one who demands more DISCIPLINE among the children, writes, when he refers to the "He-fathers" and "ideal mothers", those parents who provide more DISCIPLINE, spare the rod, spoil the child--Super-Delegate.

The public, the public is hollering for less politics as usual, less traditional politicians, more attention being paid to the needs of the people--something new and different. In short, the public is clamouring for something for which they've never before clamoured, and, as usual, are surely to get it, come election day.

So, as the Republicans go gaily into the White House arm in arm, backs to the camera, affectively sharing love and happiness together, ready to do some cow-punching, the Democrats are wrangling in the wrestling ring still, trying to figure who between the remaining two contenders is the better for the top spot on the bill.

The grassroots, the grassroots, we hear, is clamouring for 90's nostalgia, which has quickly become as hot as 60's nostalgia was in the 70's, and promises to be a hit therefore for decades to come. Trouble is, the only music from the 90's which we can recall was performed by artists big in the 60's; but that's our fault, probably.

It was a time though, wasn't it?--before Terror, before duct tape on all the windows to keep the gas out, before long lines at the airport waiting for the blowing device to muss your hair, before duct tape on your mouth if dared you to utter anything contra the official stance of the Government, before Terrorism, before the mortgage crisis creating record foreclosures, when the ordinary person could hope to make a small fortune in the stock market, before the times when language meant something other than what you meant when you said it because the listener was a paranoid idiot hoping to trap you and make their career off you trying to find things in it you didn't say to begin with, before Fascism, before Orange Alerts, before Terrorization, before Anthrax threatened the nation's Capitol, threatened to wipe us all from the face of the planet that afternoon, the one when the Piper was flying in the no-fly zone, too near the Mall--you remember it, before the Terror of banners being held by high school students in Juneau, Alaska threatening your religion and all that you hold sacred by promoting Terrorizing slogans like "Bong Hits 4 Jesus", before gas went to three bucks a gallon, before we became fully aware that the glaciers were melting at an arithmetic pace, promising global flood and destruction in the process within the next 40 years, before Mad Cow Disease hit England, when you could throttle your engine with impunity and clear conscience and feel the raw horsepower beneath your feet, and drink the milk of human kindness without the fear of Terror--yeah, those were the good ol' days, the 20's--that is the 90's.

But, they say, you can't go back, you can't turn back the hands of Time. Yet, you can sure as hell clean up the mess we all made in the process of getting to the time where we are.

That seems to us to be the most convincing challenge here for the next eight years and onward, and aimed not just at the mess of the last decade, or two, or three, but maybe the last 150 years or so, maybe the last 2,000. It's a hell of a challenge. But we best be getting on about doing it.

And, in the spirit of the thing, we look forward to an open and thorough debate in the next eight months between the Democrats themselves, and, eventually, between the Republican nominee and the Democratic nominee. We hope to see some five-hour debates, real barn-burners of the type they had in 1858 and 1860. Only, we hope it doesn't lead to civil war this time.

As we have commented previously, it has been awhile since there was real suspense in the air by early summer as to who the nominee of either major party would be in the fall. We would have to return forty years to June, 1968 for such a point in time--and of course that turned dark and tragic. We have a chance to do it right this time, to steer clear of party machines which in the end chew up everybody, candidate and constituency alike, as the machine takes on a life of its own in the end and grabs the handiest person by the cuff and runs them through the mill the same as the cotton fiber being processed. We have a chance to avoid that mess, to let the people decide, though democracy in action is never neat and pretty, and leaves no one completely happy, but neither leaves many, if any, completely on the outside and sad, in pity. We have a chance to do it right this time. Let's hope that the challenge is met.

In any event, no one may carp this go-round that there is no choice, that it's the same old faces and the same old tune, with the same old machines calling the shots.

Except, we wish to hell the major news outlets would stress a little more what the candidates actually stand for than who is leading in the money-raising race and who has more delegates by midnight last night, and at three o'clock this morning. We can't blame the candidates for that problem.

Where is Spiro Agnew when you need him?

We have a reasonable solution, we think: Send all the news pundits, and their advertisers, for a good, long, and lost weekend, all expenses paid by each participating taxpayer, to the clinic which goes by the name, "Count Less Incommensurable Crayonic Kowueles to Incommode Tardidation and Turn Irresponsible Cushie-doo Kowschot Errs Tacheless", (acronymically k.a., CLICKIT TICKET), and think on your own for a change.

It will do you no harm.

The Terror will soon pass.

And, to top it all, a comedian is running for the Senate in Minnesota on the Democrat-Farmer-Labor ballot. But he's serious, and he went to Harvard. And, so are we, though we didn't go to Harvard. But we like its library a lot.

Don't forget that in February, 1937, right after the largest landslide in history for the presidency, giving the New Deal nearly carte blanche to do with the people as it pleased, the people of Hibbing got together and constructed an ice bust of Will Rogers. It, too, was a time. You should have been there.

We once helped build an igloo, too. But that was back in the sixties, when all was love and peace and kindness.

The Challenge

Housing Authority's Report Lays Out A Job To Be Done

Call them sub standard houses, and they don't sound so bad. It's just that people haven't as livable weather-tight dwellings as they'd like to have, and probably ought to have, and maybe in time something can be done about it. But there's no emergency.

Put it this way, however, and you put a different face on it:

5,044 dwelling units in Charlotte have no indoor flush toilets. That's positively insanitary, holding epidemic possibilities which are hazardous to us all.

10,405 units have no bathtubs. No wonder there is uncleanliness, and uncleanliness, you know, is next worst to ungodliness.

4,317 have no running water. That is primitive.

4,350 have neither electricity nor gas lighting. That means oil lamps, and oil lamps are dangerous, particularly dangerous in these firetraps.

6,616 are unfit for habitation or need major repairs, and that's shameful.

Altogether, these are depressing statistics that the Charlotte Housing Authority has presented in its first (and thorough-going) annual report. But they are stimulating in a way, too, for they show quite clearly what ought to be the line of the city's greatest endeavor over the next few years.

That's better housing, and the elimination of the breeding places of delinquency, crime and disease.

Test Case?

British May Be Bent On Smoking Duce Into Open

England's shutting off of German coal from Italy may very well have more important meaning than appears on the surface. Certainly, it is a move to force Italy to abandon the role of a base of supply for the Nazis.

But it may also be designed to smoke Italy fully into the open. All along Mussolini has been playing a double game, with the obvious purpose of jumping in on the side of the Nazis if it looked as though they had a chance to win and smash up the British Empire, and if the embarrassing business of the Nazi's alliance with Red Russia could be smoothed over and hushed up.

And with the just as obvious purpose of getting the best possible price from the Allies for his neutrality or aid if it looked as though the Allies were going to win.

Until now the Allies have acquiesced in that game, in the hope of winning Italy to their side. But it may be that they are growing restive under the arrangement and want Italy aligned one way or the other.

In the past few weeks, there have been rumors of impending operations in the Far East--an Allied offensive against the Russian oil wells in the Caucasus or even an Allied attack along the Danube and through Rumania against Germany's backdoor. But if any such plans are actually being entertained, then it is necessary first to make certain of Mussolini. It lies in his power to disrupt lines of communications to the East to a great extent, at least--perhaps decisively, with the British Navy on blockade station in the North Sea. And the risk is far too great to be undertaken until his stand is clearly settled.


A Candid Man Neglects To Tell Quite Everything

Senator Sherman Minton & Co. are at least partially candid about their reasons for fighting the extension of the Hatch Act to apply to state employees who draw part of their pay from Federal grants--and even about wanting to cut down the present provisions of the law so as to allow "voluntary" activity on the part of the Federal employees.

Minton says frankly that he fears that it will destroy the state party organizations ("machines" in popular parlance) and cause the defeat of the Democratic Party in 1940. And his fellow workers in the Senate echo the sentiment.

These organizations, they say, have a perfect right to exist. Of course political intimidation is wicked. But it is just as wicked, they say, to deny Federal district attorneys and all such good fellows the right to get out and whoop it up for the Congressmen and Senators. And even more wicked to deny the enthusiastic little fellows all down the line the right to kick in their cash to help the noble cause, lest they land in the hoosegow for political activity.

Senator Minton's heart just bleeds and bleeds at the thought that a Federal jobholder who wants nothing but to go up to see another fellow jobholder and have a drink of sarsaparilla and talk over old times is scared to do it for fear the Gestapo may get him for political activity.

However, Senator Minton neglects to be entirely frank about some things. He neglects to tell us, for instance, that he himself is a beneficiary of a particularly notorious "party organization"--that in Indiana. And as to how just the Two Per Cent Clubs of that "party organization"--clubs under which each State jobholder kicks in with two per cent of his salary, under peril of being adjudged incompetent--are to be reconciled with that word "voluntary."

Site Ed. Note: As we have pointed out previously, Senator Minton,--notorious among newspaper men for his sponsoring a bill to make it a crime for a newspaper to print a "known" falsehood, a bill perceived as a device by which freedom of the press would be stifled through accusations based on what was "known" by journalists and when they did know it, (see, e.g., "Now, What Is A Liberal?" November 6, 1938, "Hold Fire!", September 2, 1938, "Minton's Background", May 22, 1938, and "Words Without Deeds", May 10, 1938), as well as his having been a snoop into income tax records of perceived enemies of the New Deal, (see "Winborne to Winborne", June 1, 1938, (possibly, in part, being responsible therefore for a later Republican President, guilty of the same practice, cynically to carp, with some credibility on at least this part of the defense, that "they all did it; I just got caught"))--eventually was appointed in 1949 by Harry Truman as a Justice to the Supreme Court, where he served a more or less lacklustre tenure until he retired in 1956.


A Close View Of The Logic Of Our Foreign Policy

Just what sort of sense there is in our present foreign policy, or lack of one, is well illustrated by the War Department's offer to sell several hundred million dollars worth of weapons held over from the period of the first World War.

These weapons are to be sold only to neutrals. Finland is specifically barred because she is at present engaged in hostilities, though at the State Department her status is technically that of a neutral.

Finland is engaged in hostilities through no fault of her own, just as China is engaged in hostilities through no fault of her own. But China can and does buy weapons here. England and France, which are engaged in hostilities, can and do buy weapons here.

More, Japan, which is engaged in hostilities because of her own act of wanton aggression, can and does buy here enormous quantities of the raw materials out of which weapons and shells are made, with which to carry on her aggression. So does Russia, which is engaged in hostilities because of one of the most wanton acts of aggression in history.

Theoretically, of course, Finland can buy weapons here, too--from private sources. Actually, in view of the fact that the market is already hogged by others, she can't to any considerable extent. These old World War weapons represent about her only real chance to get anything from us.

We are on record over and over as being against aggression. But we cheerfully aid the Reds and through the Reds the Nazis, and Japan. We carry out exactly the policy laid down by the Red-Nazi combination in this country, and set up a proposition which amounts to saying that Finland is somehow blameworthy for not having yielded herself to Russia without a fight.


But Such Nonsense Does Not Excuse The South

Senator Van Nuys is right in his dismal prophecy of the effect on the anti-lynching bill of the appearance of the Negro Communist, Benjamin Davis, associate editor of The Daily Worker, in the Senate hearing yesterday. If the most rabid Southern opponents of the bill had searched the earth and all points south for a witness, they couldn't have found one who would have served them better in building sentiment against the measure.

Again, Senator Wiley was entirely right when he charged that the witness was interpreting the right of free speech as the right to slander. The Bolos, who hate free speech, except for themselves, always do interpret it to mean that. As for the witness's statement that the principles of the Communist Party are those of Jefferson and Lincoln--he was simply lying brazenly.

And yet--. He might have had an all too-telling answer for many of these charges. If he interpreted the right of free speech as the right to slander, Martin Dies and Joe Starnes have interpreted it much the same way, behind the dignity of Congressional immunity.

And there was that report which the Negro Congress presented yesterday also, on the activities of the Ku Klux Klan in South Carolina--a report which was all too true.

The anti-lynching bill is dubious. Some of the witnesses who appear for it are fools bent merely on raising hell. But none of that will save the South from an anti-lynching bill eventually, if it continues to tolerate such activities, as those of the Masked Hoodlums in South Carolina.

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