The Charlotte News

Tuesday, April 23, 1940


Site Ed. Note: ...So onward spreads our wags so vast into the glowing aftermath, where fraught with kile to stand the tooth within the golden living sooth; each trove in vessel’s shell we seek to put at end each day’s spell in bleak, borne through time be its rhyme, its soul, its carrion keep, its toilsome pleasure in vagueness, stark, and roiling, tossing pique-- Onward, vast and glowing, until the time of knowing-bastard’s heath, the tath, our melting, cold-strung, unheeded cathern’s boiling epitaph, which gave its reasons, paid its seasons, and disappeared through cloy’s dullest paths.

"Maze" tells the story of attempting to try to sort out the confusion of the daily dispatches from American reporters in Europe, a state of affairs which would radically change by the time of America's involvement in Vietnam. Some argue that in the latter morass too much news became available from the front, producing at home the inevitable revolt which ordinarily ought to follow from viewing some part, albeit edited, of the reality of war in color as it occurred. The revolt was not only the ordinary but probably the anticipated and intended result—as too much war in less than a generation had already been seen. The purpose was not to show violence and bloodshed. For if people at home will not support warfare, warfare inevitably will cease.

At least, so we believed in those times and in times since, until this Administration and its obstinate policy, now fully in spite of the will of the American people in opposition, came along to challenge verity.

But, after all, why should an Administration originally elected by less than a plurality of the voters find it palatable to obey majority will on something as non-impacting on the people as a whole as waging war in the name of the country with a standing all-volunteer armed forces? Isn't the President the Commander-in-Chief? Aren't therefore the armed forces his to send at will wherever he deems desirable and necessary to the security of the country? Well, of course--and this war therefore, it naturally follows, is no longer the United States against the rebel forces in Iraq, but rather the Administration's forces against them.

We refer you to a documentary we watched back in June, that being "The U. S. vs. John Lennon". Our one complaint on the documentary proper was that, with the exception of Gore Vidal, its interviewed, ranging from George McGovern, to Gordon Liddy, to John Dean, to ex-F.B.I. agents during the time 1969-76, to Bobby Seale, to Angela Davis, to various Beatle friends and acquaintances, to Walter Cronkite, to Noam Chomsky, uniformly talked of abuses by the government of the type targeting John Lennon as being something in the past tense.

This bit of Afghanistanism was remedied, however, by the additional material appended to the documentary, not part of the original documentary released in theaters, which painted the present as being far worse than the period in question in terms of systemic abuses under the Constitution, and especially when measured as a function of the country's apparent tolerance of it.

In part the answer to the current apathy, except when the polls betray the contrary, may be that too few voices which saw closely the ravages reeked on Europe by Hitler are any longer around in prominent positions to set in high relief the architecture of such an attempt--control of thoughts, speech for political power, will to enslavement, death when useless or needed to satiate with example, example en masse finally, the appetite for branded fixe, to feel superior to someone in the face of stripped dignity, or perception of it--as were present in the 1960's and 1970's during Vietnam? Too few remember or understand that earlier time any longer except in the context of movies which show movement of tanks and arms and soldiers against some specific objective inimical to the interests of all who think rightly, for the sake of the plot, but which rarely mention or examine Nazism and Fascism as to their causes and characteristics, for the sake of the present, only their ultimate impact, one conveniently laid off on the past, the old days, but "never again"?

But "never again" can come in a flash when the populace, as we have, sits by lazily eschewing any urgency of the exigi facias, watching its rights being regularly eroded without demand for accountability from an Executive branch which has placed political appeal to the far right of the political spectrum far above every consideration of justice and fairness to the people at large, only a small minority of whom actually hold truly rightist views--probably, by the polls, something less than 30% anyway.

We are too busy after all scurrying to and fro in our ever increasing demand for speed and haste of the wrong sort--against which we find "Eight Minutes" railing in 1940--, the immediacy of schedule to which most appear obsessively wedded and from which no one may depart without penalty; for departure from schedule means time to think, and thinking may lead to speaking one's mind, a singularly dangerous occupation?

Mr. Liddy, in this documentary, made the probably accurate point that the "new media", the right-wing oriented news programs, talk radio, and the internet, have in the last decade or so counter-balanced what he perceives still as the left-wing bias of the old media, that which Ron, Bob, John, Spiro and all the rest consistently excoriated, at the beck of the commander, as the cause proper of the revolt, seeking excuse then from it for rank abuse of power, destruction of Constitutional rights, and ultimately common criminal conduct, perpetrated to protect some shadowy notion of "liberty" from the perceived abuses of this left-wing media inspired hoodlum force of effete elitists, you see, a cabal putatively stimulating revolting causes in conspiratorial fashion, all to bring down the populist oriented folks in Wixom—pardon our elite effetism, the tane, the Tone, the One, the only Nixon WH.

Notwithstanding the eventual outcome, Mr. Liddy continues to protest and revolt: "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you." A left-wing conspiracy, in other words.

But of course we might rejoinder that, while that axiom may be true in some circumstances, if the reason they were out to get you was because you were out to subvert democracy at its foundation pins, the sanctity and vitality of a continually blossoming two-party political system, eliminating all major competition to your one particular view of "liberty", the One, then not only the paranoia but most certainly the stimulus for it are equally justified.

So, is it today that people are jaded after all of that, thirty-plus years ago now? All of that business over some third-rate burglary? Been there, done that. Didn't change anything. No need to try that again. Instead, get even. Get that left-wing crowd for doing all of that in the first place—which is why we had the right-wing conspiracy to contravene the left-wing one, you see.

Is it, instead of pure ennui and frustration with it all, that a large segment of the country is simply afraid any longer to speak their minds for fear of retaliation, if not officially by the government, privately by economic coercion, as in the old days of the McCarthy era? --If the Boss don’t get you, the boss will. So keep your mouth shut, your eye on the wheel, and get your mind right.

Who knows at what station the awl will finally prick the mass at the critically unstable point of friction?

We shall remind again that we are properly constituted as a liberal country and society, among the most liberal the world has ever known--not as "conservatives". The Bill of Rights, that revolutionary document which inspired France, among others, to revolt against despotism and privilege, does not present itself by way of exceptions--except for the Lords and Ladies, the King, the Queen, and their Royal retinue with direct blessings from God, for instance. Instead, it speaks of "citizens of the United States" and of the "several States", and places strict limits on what the government, Federal, state and local, may and may not do, the rest reserved to the citizenry. The meaning could not be more clear. Yet, instead, in the current climate, where for decades preceding, small groups with money and influence having manipulated the electoral process and, with it, the judicial selection process (from within the stall, so to speak), we have limitations being placed on speech, for instance, the most precious of all rights, the one from which all others flow, without violence to enforce them, that is, to the point where even lawyers reasonably well-versed in the Constitution must, to avoid trouble, stop and consider whether what they say, and even how they say it, is "appropriate" within the meaning laid down by our New Royalty, the latter-day Wixomites, the pursed, the privileged. We shall say it again--there is only one reasonable limit to freedom of speech to be enforced by the state, under any setting or circumstance, school, park, government ground, or else, lest it become a hollow phrase--that is, the classic one, that when viewed objectively, and in view of the actual words conveyed, in their ordinary meaning, there is a clear and present danger to arouse the listener to immediate violence or, by violence, to overthrow the government. When so many exceptions are placed amid parsed facts, as they are being now, to carve it up and distinguish situations, almost case by case, without any coherent standard set forth by which conduct may be, predictably and with assurance of impunity, self-governed, it begins to appear that the reason ultimately for all of the ad hoc paper-cut exceptions to the ordinary rules is to chill and kill the First Amendment, as therein lies the danger to the Wixomites. The Wixomites counter, of course, with a lee behind the Second Amendment, couching it in unwritten and untried terms of absolute rights to bear arms, freed from the fetters of the plain words in that amendment--building on that a stalking horse behind which to hide by claiming "liberals" are seeking to steal those "rights" from them. (When will the Supreme Court finally hear a case to adjudicate the meaning of that amendment after 218 years since ratification, with only a common sense in place (among gun-toting lunatics) as to what it actually means?)

All of it, the entire document, is of a piece. We recommend to the Wixomites that they read it sometime, beginning to end, and then put it all together, all at once, quickly. And then to realize, that if you cannot put it all together, it is because you did not read it properly and comprehend it well enough the first time. So read it again when you are less tired. It will do you no harm.

Also from this documentary, we learn for the first time that it was Mr. Cronkite who was ultimately responsible for bringing the Beatles initially to the United States, introducing the idea to an inquisitive Ed Sullivan, at a time when we of a younger generation sorely needed relief and escape from the sadness of those times, the sadness, the resignation, in our parents’ eyes, in late 1963, early 1964.

The escape, for the time, was most timely, and we belatedly doff our hats to Mr. Cronkite for it.

And they all passed the audition--except maybe Ron, Bob, John, Spiro, and the rest, Strom, Lester, and Jesse, and the Blue Mountain Boys, strumming second fiddle in the back-up band down south.

If it all needs a name at this junction on the rails, then call it the Orange Bloom Special, a-rovin' on down the line.

Ho, Hum*

What's A Few Dozen Billions Between Friends?

Don't look now, but the deficit for the seventh year of the New Deal has just topped $3,000,000,000. This in spite of much bigger income taxes than had been estimated. But expenditures are running some $300,000,000 ahead of last year.

The funny part about it is that nobody seems to give a hang. Conservatives know that there's nothing they can do about it. Liberals, on some naive theory that the more of other people's money you spend the more liberal you are, don't want to do anything about it.

And the mass of people who are without any fixed conservative or liberal tendencies have been sold on President Roosevelt and put their trust in him somehow, someday to make the Government's money matters come out all right.

Meantime, we don't know where we're going, but we're on our way.

Eight Minutes

For That Thirty People Pay With Their Lives

She was eight minutes late, and the engineer was playing Casey Jones and making it up. Probably under orders. Crack fliers like the Lake Shore Limited must come in on time, or else. At 50 miles an hour, twelve miles faster than the supposed limit, she hit a curve at Little Falls, N. Y., and--the laws of physics held.

For eight minutes 30 people are dead and a hundred more are injured. For eight minutes that meant nothing to anyone. It is impossible to believe that would have mattered in the least to any of the passengers if the train had rolled into the station at Chicago eight minutes behind scheduled time. If it had been so, such passengers would have taken the plane in the first place.

It happens only now and then by train. It happens on the roads and the streets every day. Over and over again it has been demonstrated that the main cause for the great death toll among motorists and pedestrians is the national mania for speed. But, as a people, we are determined not to admit it. The average motorist indeed is apt to display peevish rage when he hears the proposition set forth. What we really seem to demand is that pedestrians and all other motorists shall be infallible, so that the streets and the roads may be used for speedways.

And for what? We haven't any notion. Most of the people who dash so madly about have nothing to do when they reach a destination but to be bored to the point of rushing out and getting into the automobile again, to go speeding away to another entirely pointless destination.

Site Ed. Note: The picture below properly belongs to "Weather Notes" of January 24, 1940, the date on which it was taken in Liberty, N.C. by a friend of Cash’s brother-in-law, Charles H. Elkins, the latter remarking on its back that the eighteen-inch snow was the deepest for Liberty since 1927.

It takes us time sometimes to receive these photographs from kind readers.

We take our time; for, at times, it is better to be a little late than to be the late Casey Jones Riding that Train, right on Time.

The engine, No. 444, the back of the photo also tells us, belonged to the Atlantic and Yadkin Railway, which was a subsidiary of the Southern Railway, running a line from Sanford through Greensboro to Mt. Airy in those days.

Christmas time is here again.

And, we suppose we'd be remiss this Labor Day weekend, 2007, should we not point out that we got to know Mr. Elkins there a little, and he became a good friend in fact. Once, in early December, 1965, right around the time we got a new red sweater, he even bought for us, at our request, at Rich's Department Store in Atlanta, a brand new album by that same singing group, to whom, we recall, he didn't cotton that much--at first at least, until we played him a few of the songs, that is, at especially loud volume; and let him know that the one he had liked so much from 1964 from the radio, the one with the violins, was by the same group. After a time, he took to liking it some. We made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Sales Boost

Local Merchants Benefit From The Russell Case

Announcement that the New York education board, which hired him in the first place, plans to appeal the Bertrand Russell decision, probably with the active collaboration of Lord Russell himself, reminds us of an amusing and perhaps enlightening local angle on the case.

Before the uproar against his election to a chair of mathematical philosophy and logic had come up, we had been from time to time vaguely aware of a number of copies of his controversial writings on marriage and other social topics adorning the counters of some of the local booksellers, particularly the drugstores. They had been there a long time, we remembered once in a while--so long that their pages were definitely yellow, their dust covers heavily flyspecked and soiled, the glue in their hinges beginning to crack.

We looked again the other day and they were all gone, save a single copy which was spavined, cock-eyed, and afflicted with lumbago and the last stages of senile dementia. After all, you can order 'em for a dollar a copy.

The branches Dr. Russell was supposed to teach at City College are so recondite that only graduate students and the most brilliant upperclassmen could have got into his classes at all. His presence might have stimulated City College undergraduates generally to read his half-begotten social tracts, maybe not. At any rate, the battle against him seems to have revived those books all over the country and to have insured that they will be read by many people who had before never heard of them.

Efforts at suppression or punishment of ideas usually end that way. Only a few very literary people had heard of James Branch Cabell until Jurgen was banned as a dirty book. The same sort of thing has got James Joyce's Ulysses into the hands of all sorts of people who can read no part of it but the bawdy soliloquy of Mrs. Bloom. And the effort some years ago to ban such old spicy classics as the Decameron, Rabelais, and Voltaire's Candide, so advertised them that you can now find them on any drugstore counter.


Nobody Can Evaluate All These Claims Accurately

The bomber has proved to be the master of the battleship. The bomber has utterly failed against the battleship. The British have sunk half the German Navy. The Nazis have turned the British Navy into a minus quantity.

The British have closed the Skagerrak and the Kattegat. The Skagerrak and the Kattegat are wide open and German transports are going through not only to Oslo but to the western Norwegian ports with impunity.

The British have landed at Narvik--an Associated Press reporter saw them there. The British have not landed at Narvik, and are preparing to bomb it.

The Allies have landed at Namsos and Adaisnes and Alesund. The Germans have bombed them into flight in all these places. The Germans have bombed the places but inflicted no damage on the Allied armies, lost a good many planes.

The Germans have closed the Thames with mines. The Germans have not closed the Thames with mines but have been driven off with great loss.

The Allied armies have swept across Norway, taken Hamar and Elverum, made contact with Sweden. The Nazis are about to throw the Allied armies into the North Sea.

And so on and so on.

What to make out of all of this oscillating mass of claim and counter-claim, neutral report and counter-neutral report? Up here we ourselves, whose business it is to deal with news reports, are often bewildered, and from the reaction of our friends we gather that most people are worse than bewildered, alternate between confidence in the Allies and black depression over the firm expectation that the Nazis will win.

Actually, it is to be observed that these reports are offered the American people by American reporters abroad, not as truth but as simply what they are told. Our own rough rule for determining their value is to assume that all dispatches from Berlin are fiction unless there is proof to the contrary, that Allied dispatches are apt to be least 50 per cent fiction, and that neutral reports are generally no better--being near rumors often inspired by wish-thinking in a hysterically uneasy population. In cases where two or more of these sources agree, their claims of course become more probable.

But when all is said, all it really adds up to is that the forces battling for Norway are so equally balanced that the outcome may not be decided for a long time, and that we don't and probably won't know much about the actual progress of the fighting until a decision has been reached.

Fair & Warmer

Spring Fever Brings Into Use A Labor-Saving Arrangement

It may be due to the weatherman's prediction of fair and warmer, which hasn't come true yet. Anyhow a number of matters we had set aside for editorial comment seem somehow suddenly to deserve briefer treatment than had been intended for them.

Or such as Senator Pat (for Patronage) McKellar's triumph in side-tracking an appropriation of $4,000,000 to cotton co-ops, which he attacked as "a gift from the Treasury."

That's funny. When the Hon. Pat defends the Public Purse, it must be because the wrong crowd is dipping into it.

Or such as the County Commissioners' notion to place benches along the broad walkway from Trade Street into the Courthouse grounds.

That's nice. After all, the city has no uptown park, and people do like to sit down occasionally.

Or such as the Community Concert Association's announcement that next season it will present Heifetz, Tibbett, Iturbi and other artists of top rating.

That's exciting, and a feather in the cap of the town and the association too.

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