The Charlotte News

Thursday, April 10, 1941


Site Ed. Note: A study in contrasts, the page today presents: the world seemingly, but not quite yet, in chaos and ruin being the overall theme of the column, with the first piece leading the way; trailed by two letters to the editor, the first making sense, the second, another from the unco-guid of Charlotte, the self-professed moral crusaders who know all, and certainly at least the true "word of God"; that being because they read so well to begin with, obviously, and sure as heck therefore read the Bible with optimal discernment, thus gleaning from it its true intent from its authors who set it down a few thousand years ago, because, after all, God tells them things in the twilight hours which the rest of us need to know, and by law.

A good and generous sampling of how God spoke to this particular individual who authored the second letter follows:

Did Jesus spend his Sundays on the golf links, in the movies, or at a ballgame, speaking figuratively of course? Certainly he did not. How can anyone feel any righteousness viewing movies or on the golf links, especially on Sunday? I think that I like baseball as well as anyone and have been trying to play it ever since I entered high school years ago, yet I know that I could not go on a diamond on Sunday or in the stands to watch a game, and take Christ with me, or expect to find him there.

The Christian people of Charlotte have shown time and again that they do not want an open Sunday, and yet you seem to be doing all that you can to get it open. You continue to express your opinion and beliefs. In a matter so plainly shown by God's word and backed so strongly by the Christian men and women of Charlotte, you have no right to an opinion. The character situation in this town is bad enough as it is, without the editors of our daily papers trying to push it further into the filth and mire of sin.

You have stated that we need an open Sunday for the benefit of the soldiers who will be stationed here. I wish, Mr. Editor, that for just a few minutes you would have to stand on the front lines in battle and face death in the fullest reality. I wonder if then, you would call for Clark Gable, or if you could enjoy the charms of Hedy Lamar or perhaps a timely home run by Hank Greenburg would help you?

The passage speaks with fair certainty the mindset to this day of people who proclaim themselves Christian, and thus posit moral positions putatively from the mouth of God and thus beyond dispute, but who in fact are engaged in nothing more than a campaign to destroy the freedoms of others, seeking refuge, much as such scoundrels often do in patriotism and the flag, in something they label "Christianity". Upon examination, however, this thing which they so label is no more than a cobbled-together system of Biblical quotations taken out of context to verify their own past and present behavior patterns, and which then suffice, not as a guide, but to enable them to avail themselves of handy-dandies upon which to accomplish one-upmanship as a substitute for honest debate on a given issue involving what they deem to be a "moral issue". And, in the final analysis, to such facile minds, every issue, including whether amusement might be had on Sunday, is at base a "moral issue" about which God had something to say as they discern it from their reading of the Bible.

Their interpretation having been rejected and cast aside, they become god or Christ in their own minds and thus have vicariously suffered the same slings and arrows, including crucifixion; thus the rest of us interlopers from the world of luxury and Mammon and pleasureful enjoyment of life cannot possibly comprehend their intense trail of pain and the merciless nails driven into their wrists and feet through time, as the rest of us have never had an opinion rejected or felt any sort of pain at all, only that sinful pleasure incessantly.

Hence, the wish for the editor to have to face death on the front lines, and without a word as to whether the letter writer had himself ever done so, or the slightest knowledge that the editors hadn't.

In consequence of that, this imagined supra-righteousness and self-profession of perfect discernment from on high of all meaning intended within the "word of God", as they have perceived it, they have the right to tell the world that it has "no right to an opinion". For that word and their understanding of its plain meaning have closed the book on any further argument or possible interpretation--in this instance, "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy."

Never mind that it went through at least three translations before entering the English language, and then numerous translations within the English language itself, some tainted by the times' political and social influences, afore the letter writer ever set eyes on it to discern his pluperfectly determined "word of God".

Indeed, what is the true meaning of that word "holy"? Miles Coverdale, who, along with William Tyndale, provided the first English translation of the Bible in 1535, once wrote: "Neyther ought they to thynke any thinge that god hathe made to the use of man to be holyar or unholyar one than an other." If true, a baseball bat made of the ash tree and shapen to man's purpose by the lathe, to be used to play the game of baseball, the integral part of which to be played on a diamond-shaped area carved out of the larger field from which, in that part of it, the grass has been removed, or from parts thereof, and a mound placed at the approximate center, may be deemed of its own use holy. The cross, after all, as was once said, is in the ballpark...

The other common element of this type of mindset is the incessant propounding of the straw-man argument, the unspoken assumption that the world is out to destroy the law-giver's religion and take away his ability to attend church and believe as he wishes, and simply because someone advocates the abandonment of legislation of morality, legislation which this mindset promotes and favors, and with such fervor as at times to be positively virulent in its ultimate effect. Such a religion, in other words, reduced to what it in fact is at base: the quest for authority over the behavior patterns of others, having nothing to do with morality in the sense of adhering to certain values and patterns of behavior which insure the society of man without the harbingers to war, pestilence and want.

If such a religion were worth anything, then its supplicant would have no problem with the concept of allowing others to conduct themselves, so long as within the basic reasonable laws and rules of social propriety, that is without fisticuffs and brickbats, snapping the milk bottle, bread and popcorn and peanuts and crackerjacks from the jowls of hungry babes and the like, on Sunday or any other day, as they well pleased to do, whether engaging in conduct meriting the approval of someone professing to be Christian or not. For the chief tenets of Christianity are forgiveness of sin and the Golden Rule.

While we seem to recall that Jesus chased the money-lenders from the Temple with a pretty good showing of hubris, we do not remember the parable of the closing of the bazaar on Sundays, or the one where Jesus went among the merchants' various carts full of silk and fruit and jewels and myrrh and frankincense and overturned them in the street for their violating the holiness of the Sabbath. But perhaps we just haven't run across that one yet.

And, of course, there was, we are told, wine consumed at the last supper, hardly, it would seem, necessarily conducive to holiness and temperance in such a profound moment. But that was on a Thursday night.

Candidly, we don't understand the letter writer's inability to find anything of his religion in the ballpark on Sunday, that he apparently must have complete and utter quietude to practice his religion. If religion is integral to a person, as by definition it ought be if professed at all, then it would be as thusly to be found as would the person's physical being, and the lessons imparted would carry into any realm of activity, regardless of the day of the week on which the activity is practiced.

And yet, despite his exhortation to stay away from the golf course, the baseball diamond, and the movies on Sunday, he advocates that the editors stand before bullets in battle to find their religion as he sees it. Wonder if that included a Sunday in Hawaii.

We ourselves, we are told, were conceived on a Palm Sunday. Perhaps, to such individuals as the letter writer, any such activity as conception on the Sabbath would be blasphemous. If that's what you believe, you are entitled to it; but in order to be consistent, then, one must refrain from eating, drinking any liquids, or anything else which might be considered pleasureful, including sleep. Don't dare therefore let us catch you at it on a Sunday or we shall label you a hypocrite and Pharisee.

One should, in fact, to be entirely consistent with this belief pattern, don a hair shirt, go into the woods every Sabbath day, and there proceed to flog one's self mercilessly, hoist one's self to the nearest tree, and, in lieu of the better, more fulsome partaking of the pain occasioned by the hammer and nails, at least tie one's wrists and ankles for the duration of the day to the branches and trunk respectively. That will show who is godly and holy.

In any event, given that Easter was so early this year, we'll have a second one during the time in which it is more apropos to tradition, regardless of the moon's trek through the sky to announce its annual coming. Perhaps, to such individuals as the letter writer, that, too, is blasphemous. But then, so, also, it might be thought to call the day commemorating the crucifixion, "Good" Friday.

Of course, we would be remiss not to point to the fact that a good deal of the carping on the editorial page in these days aimed at the personal morals divined supremely from the expression of opinions of the editor, unlike earlier times, was likely occasioned not so much by disagreement with editorial positions, as those had been amply voiced earlier without arousing so much as a whimper aimed personally at the author of the column or the notes attached below letters to the editor; but rather, it was likely fueled by the concomitant perceived blasphemy of the publication of that book in February authored by the associate editor who was most responsible for the editorial comments on the editorial page. And that book, it is well known, and notoriously so since, certainly contained things which were outrageously blaspheming of the Lord of Hosts, such as the denunciation of lynching, even on Sunday; and including even knocks at his most revered Servants here on earth, the captains of commerce and the colonels within the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States, even, yea, from the great states of Mississippi and Alabama, even to the hallowed graves of those revered patriotic sons of South Carolina and North Carolina, too. That, on earth, shall not be tolerated by those who have read and thoroughly discerned the true meaning of the one true God and as well Satan's ways, as explicated through the divinely gifted reading skills put to such profound exegetical employment as perusing both the Bible and The Mind of the South, truly painful experiences, probably both of which therefore engaged only on Sundays.

But, through it all, at least The News got the disputatious booby to read something of note, we suppose.

In any event, sooner or later, the War got won.

Good Friday

Crucifixion Service Is Particularly Fitting Now

The annual Community Crucifixion Service, which will be held this year at the First Methodist Church from noon until three o'clock tomorrow afternoon, has become an established institution in the city.

But what it symbolizes was perhaps never more real than at present. If western humanity has ever had a Passion Week more devastating than this one, we do not recall it. In Europe a madman, followed by a horde of madmen, is engaged in crucifying the people who founded the western tradition, dragging along with them to aid in the crime the people among whom Christianity first took root in Europe.

The helpless city of Belgrade, in Serbia, is described as charred ruin, its streets choked with the bodies of murdered men, women, and babies. A like fate for Athens does not seem improbable. And the cause of England, with which is bound up our own fate, is in increasing and deadly danger.

It is especially fitting, therefore, that the Crucifixion should be commemorated this year. For the Crucifixion was followed by the Resurrection.

Not Lost

Hysteria Over British Outlook Is Still Not Justified

Despite the grim situation in the Balkans and Libya, the hysterical gloom which, if Charlotte is typical, swept America yesterday is far from being justified as yet.

Most unjustified of all, in the absence of evidence, was the bitter denunciation of the British for having "abandoned" the Greeks and their Serbian allies. This rested on nothing but the report from Berlin, later confirmed from London, that British ships, or some British ships in the harbor of Piraeus (Athens) had been ordered not to sail. Under any view of the case, that is only a sensible precaution.

Any sane commander must take into consideration that the British are out-numbered and outarmed and that if these troops were defeated it is far better to re-embark them than to have them surrender or be butchered. They represent veteran crack troops, and their arms are immensely valuable booty.

The popular notion persists that the object of armed attack is the occupation of cities. In fact, it is always the destruction of the enemy's forces. Until the Nazis have destroyed Britain's land and sea power they have got nowhere, no matter how much territory they occupy.

And to charge that the veteran Australians are cowards simply because they were not found in the advance guard of the defense is nonsense. Whatever dispositions were taken were certainly taken with the full consent of the Greek commanders themselves, with an eye to military necessities.

And today there is some evidence that they may have been well taken. The British have met the enemy. The Germans claim to have destroyed a Greek army of 300,000 men. But the Greeks say that it is in fact intact and is falling back to join with the British on new lines west of Salonica. Certainly the Greek forces in the west and the British are forming such lines. This is addressed to the maximum British objective of maintaining a foothold on the Continent until the time comes to use it.

But it is also addressed to the minimum objective. Italy confesses frankly that the Nazi drive is a pincer one against Suez. The eastern pincer must approach through Turkey and Syria, while the western comes through Egypt. That is fair warning to Turkey and Russia that Mr. Churchill was telling the truth yesterday. If the British can hold long enough for the Turks to get ready to defend the Dardanelles, the result will be favorable even if Greece has to be wholly evacuated.

As for the Nazi advance in Libya, that country in itself counts for nothing. It is worthwhile only as a leaping-off point for attack on Egypt and Suez, and there again the Nazis are far away from their objective.

The fall of Marsatia releases a large English army for the defense of Egypt, and the Fascists themselves have rendered the Libyan ports useless, so that the Nazi supply lines must reach across a thousand miles of desert. The British on the other hand will be close to their bases.

None of this is to encourage false optimism. The British and their allies are in deadly peril of defeat. But the assumption that all is already lost is quite as foolish as the assumption that the British are bound to win.

Site Ed. Note: The death of Morris Sheppard, Senator from Texas, would not only usher in Robert Rice Reynolds as Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee, but would also prompt a special election to be held on June 28, in which the young Congressman Lyndon Johnson would vie with Governor "Pass the Biscuits" Pappy Lee O'Daniel. Johnson would lose his first Senate race in the waning hours of the count on July 1, by less than a thousand votes, based on "lost ballots" being suddenly found in Pappy's territory and several thousand mismarked confusing ballots being discarded in Johnson-carried counties, the latter having been mismarked because of the requirement that all except the candidate selected be crossed off. Sheppard, incidentally, had been one of the key proponents of the Eighteenth Amendment, ushering in prohibition in 1918.

Key Figure

Elevation of Reynolds Will Be Unhappy for Nation

The death of Senator Morris Sheppard turns out to have been truly awful for the nation. For, under the rule of seniority, it means that Robert Rice Reynolds will become chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee.

The assignment is of the first importance always. And a series of more or less incompetent and short-sighted men in the post in the last twenty years is one of the main explanations of why we find ourselves in deadly peril without an army and without arms to equip an army properly.

But at the present time, it is one of the two or three more important assignments in the Senate. In the nature of his job, the chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee wields great power over the policy and destiny of the nation in time of crisis. And that the post should fall to a man who is so ignorant that, though he has traveled widely, he mistakes French for Spanish, who is by nature trivial-minded save where his own towering ambition is involved, who is full of opinions on matters about which he is totally uninformed, is a tragedy of the first order.

More tragic still is the fact that the post goes to a man who has himself set up to preach in this country the same kind of division and hate which has everywhere distinguished the rise and growth of Fascism. And who has made himself the chief and mouthpiece of a gang of ignoramuses devoted to the spread of division and hate.

Reynolds' alien-baiting is fundamentally indistinguishable from Coughlin's Jew-baiting, and in fact is often fully of a piece with it. Both use the same catchphrases.

Fortunately, few members of the Senate seem to have much respect for Reynolds. But any stuffed shirt pushed into a high post tends to take on added importance and weight as time passes, even in the eyes of those who began by holding him in little esteem. And the exigencies of what is called practical politics in the Senate makes it necessary for the ambitious to pay a great deal of regard to what is wanted by a man so powerful as the chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee.

The committee concerns itself with a great many matters outside the purely military sphere, including, precisely, bills dealing with subversion, aliens, etc. And it is happily true that Reynolds can find Army officers who agree with his views and who would like to see the most repressive legislation against aliens, without regard to guilt or innocence--legislation easily extended to natives. And at least some former Army men, like old General George Van Horn Moseley, are as eager for Anti-Semitic bills as ever Ludendorff was in Germany.

As yet, they have got nowhere. But it is far from certain that as hysteria continues to mount, they won't. Surely, it is disquieting to see a man as chairman of this key committee who sympathizes and runs with this crew rather than what is likely to be needed, a man who will exert his influence to hold back undiscriminating popular hate and rage.

Minor Accident

Which Still Serves To Point Up Traffic Problem

Tuesday a somewhat dilapidated hurriedly-driven truck side-swiped an automobile. It was a minor accident. Police Chief Harry M. Joyner will probably never hear of it officially. But, in view of his decision to study local traffic problems, it should be of great interest to him.

The accident occurred in the mid-section of the S curve at the south end of Brevard Street, that little flip of pavement with which the narrow street greets the intersection of Morehead and South Boulevard. The truck, heading north, tried to cut across the double curve the short way instead of following the natural curve of the road, squeezed a southbound sedan against the curb with a great clatter. Traffic was tied up.

Site Ed. Note: As we have previously mentioned, we have had it befall us on an occasion or two, a traffic mishap of a minor nature. Never mind the irritation of that of the moment though, for, when studied closely, they may be elucidative of some curious and interesting matters within the nature of time and the universe.

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