The Charlotte News

Tuesday, May 13, 1941


Site Ed. Note: "Old Stuff" revives a topic which was beginning to look passé as lynchings had steadily declined over the previous six years from 20 in 1935 to practically none by 1939-40. The reason for the decline appears largely, not from legislation, though its threat may have instilled conscience where otherwise following of old tradition might have held sway, but from the efforts of sheriffs and police in the South who finally summoned the political will and courage to use the incidents of their office to confront the mob rather than to aid and abet or indeed become essentially a part of it as so often previously. Compare, for example, the stories set forth in "North Carolina Faces the Facts", appearing in the Baltimore Evening Sun, August 29, 1935, "Bad--But Better", December 28, 1937, "A Lucky Hiatus", February 22, 1938, "An Odd Omission", June 15, 1938, "A Net Gain", July 11, 1938, "A Word Misused", October 14, 1938, "Masochistic Mob", October 19, 1938, letter to the editor from Walter White, NAACP Executive Secretary, November 6, 1938, "One Comfort", November 22, 1938, "Jim Crow Again", November 24, 1938, "The Greater Danger", December 30, 1938, "Not All the Way", February 9, 1939, and "One Touch of Novelty", that being that the lynched prisoner was white, April 3, 1939, to the converse side of the ledger, setting forth examples and trends ameliorative and preventative of lynchings, as described in "The Halt in Lynching", May 15, 1938, "The Long Break", July 8, 1938, "A Stout Sheriff", October 23, 1938, "Rescue in Georgia", January 5, 1939, "Bold Officers", June 6, 1939, "Less Than Southern", July 4, 1939, "Much Alive", August 7, 1939, "Hoodlum Hunt", January 4, 1940, and "The Solution", January 11, 1940.

"Reminiscent of the 60's", January 28, 1938, "A Little Exaggerated", August 19, 1938, and "Time to Yield", March 26, 1940, likely provided the answer as to why any of it persisted at all.

And to demonstrate that the lynching spirit was not confined merely to the South or the United States or aimed exclusively at African-Americans, see "The Sign of the Fascist", January 29, 1939, on the attempted lynching of a Jew in Mexico City.

Lynchings, or their practical equivalent, and other interracial violence spawned by racial hatred, though typically going through oscillating trends since the end of the Civil War, would continue only sporadically through the forties and early fifties until was clocked again a greater prevalence, in the mid-1950's into the 1960's, in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the sending in of the Army to Little Rock to enforce order as cautious experimental efforts at desegregation stepped forth in 1957, as the "Civil Rights Movement" increasingly came into the vocabulary of the news and consequently the populace at large after Rosa Parks refused her seat at the back of the bus in Montgomery inspired by the brutal murder of young Emmett Till August 29, 1955 in Money, Misssissippi, after the 1956 bus boycott which followed led by Martin Luther King, after the students in Greensboro refused to surrender their seats at the Woolworth's lunch counter in February, 1960, after the Freedom Rides through the South in the summer of 1961 to insure the mere ability of blacks to be served at a restaurant along with whites while en route on an interstate bus, after the efforts of civil rights workers to enable African-Americans to do the dangerously dissident thing of registering to vote, after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawing private discrimination in public facilities engaged in interstate commerce, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, restricting use of literacy tests, following on the constitutional abolition of poll taxes in 1964, insuring the rights of all citizens to vote, nearly a century after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment which provided that right--all these events combined to spark feelings of displacement in the face of change, the desperate need to grasp at the last vestiges of moss by which had clung the subservient minions of the political and industrial captains who wanted none of that change, feelings bred between the ignorant and their puppeteers with emotional insistence--just as Hitler had done in Germany--just as their forebears had done in the South after the Civil War, the old game of accusing a perceived potential competitor in the economic market of that of which the accuser is most guilty, seeding the accusation with remarks laced with emotional invective aimed at stressing in diminishing terms the readily observable characteristic distinguishing the other from thou, that which was by design to incense and provoke; and then if provoked even to mild rather than obeisant response, to haul out the dogs, batons, and fire hoses in rejoinder, while the understrappers somewhere in the stealthy dens of archetypal primitists prepared the ropes for the heads of the troublemakers to be mounted from the old oak and elm trees along the dusted, muddy roads through the pine forest of the crippled countryside.

The man in the ambulance taken out to the "hospital", for delivery instead to the hands of these archetypes whose hands the sheriffs were too often only too glad to shake as they dripped with the blood of the deed, all for preservation of the way things had been for all time in their minds and would continue to be for all time to come--segregated, subjugated, and to the protestor of that status quo, the rope, the chains, the death stare of the ultimately castigated, just as in the Florida case discussed below.

This tension and violence gathered arithmetic strength from itself apace in the 1950's and '60's as news of it spread instantly across the land now on the new device in the living room, eventually in living color by the mid-60's, to spawn emotion on both sides of the lines with an immediacy not theretofore known, spilling such sudden shock then to the sensitivities of the mind--a child laying in the street in his blood, the hoses and dogs of Bull Connor fiercely attacking as sheep peaceful demonstrators merely marching for their rights and dignity as human beings, the mugshot photographs of three missing young civil rights workers, two of whom were white, spread like playing cards across the screen from Mississippi--that the sensitivities thus assaulted, laying more or less dormant for three decades since the Depression's common poverty and the War brought some semblance of recognition of parity for mutual benefit, were nearly foreordained to be vented in the streets, culminating then in the riots of defeated and frustrated expectations, those of Detroit, Watts, and most other major cities in varying degrees during the hot summers of 1965-67.

Yet, through it all, all of those dark times leading to the present, as the dim light of the future shone through the haze to those unwilling to aid and abet the violence which spawned the violence, who resolved not to follow the pols who spewed the bile of division and mutual distrust, who refused to accept the defamatory slings from the reactionaries toward anyone seeking change, change so simple and obvious as mere conformity with the actual precepts of our Constitution--something fought about for two centuries through civil war, through litigation, through the blood, tears and toil and sweat--somehow through it all, change would occur.

And now, forty years later, an African-American and a woman vie head to head down to the wire for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

But we should never suggest for a moment that lynching is dead and done for, that the promise of equality and rights assured to all is actually daily enjoyed, for as soon as we do that, someone somewhere will seek to disprove the thesis and with emphasis on the antithesis.

The rest of the page is here. Both the Dorothy Thompson piece--as Stalin finally elevated himself to premier from only Party chairman, on the Russian dilemma whether to join Hitler and take the sucker's prize of Iran and the way through the Persian Gulf to the Bay of Bengal and India while letting the Nazis have their way in Turkey, Iraq, and the Suez, or to wait further and see what the United States would do about the tenuous circumstances which Britain now faced--, and the Raymond Clapper piece on the problem, as he saw it, with either cutting off oil to Japan or bombing Tokyo, as proposed by Senator Pepper a few days earlier (receiving praise from The News) and probably quite prophetically viewing it with 20-20 hindsight--provide insight to the complexities of the puzzle confronting the country and the Congress and the President. To convoy or not. To patrol the far reaches of the Atlantic or not. To risk the annihilation of Britain and the grabbing up of its navy and consequently the whole of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic by Hitler, or to provide aid and needed protection for its transport across the vast stretches of the sea, thereby running the risk of an engagement which could trigger war with the United States. To provide bare necessities of daily life to the Japanese, even on the naive assumption that these supplies would be for civilian consumption and not to fuel the military machine, or to enforce an absolute trade embargo which would necessitate their turning to the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, and Malaysia for their raw materials. These were the problems. Just who would align themselves with the tripartite of Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo, and whether in the end the moderates or militarists would dictate policy in Japan with respect to the Pacific, suffused the debate with sufficient uncertainty as to make the times strange, tense and dark with foreboding dread--times when pigs could fly, but by such conjuration and legerdemain widely afoot in the world, a time also when the discussion had turned beyond mere shoes and ships and sealing wax to the dead, the dying, and gealing attacks.

A Little Smoke*

Which, We Predict, Will Soon Be Wafted Away as Usual

At the risk of having to eat the words, we want to say that it is highly unlikely, just because the numbers game is in the headlines again, that anything drastic is going to come out of it.

Everybody knows, of course, that the butter 'n' eggs boys circulate freely all over town, taking up bets and paying off. Everybody knows that a great many people play the game at lopsided odds, and get some fun out of it, at least. And everybody knows who the big shots are, for that matter, and who their lieutenants are and something of how they operate.

The police know it too. But the [indiscernible word] or unwillingness of the police to do anything about it is one of the grandest law-enforcement fiascoes of our time. The only one to rival it is the bootlegging mystery, where likewise the big wigs are known--and likewise operate with evident invulnerability to arrest and punishment.

Let it be said in excuse for the failure of the police that they are not exclusively to blame in either instance. A considerable public opinion tolerates petty gambling and liquor-selling, and as long as the morality of the State exceeds that of the citizens individually, there will be enterprises of this kind, operating outside the law, to cater to the tastes and appetites of the citizens.

About all the police can do is to harness the moneyed proprietors of these enterprises and make it either so expensive or so troublesome for them to do business that the game won't be worth the candle. But don't look for that to happen. The record of the last seven years foretells that it won't.

Old Stuff

Lynching in Florida Follows a Familiar Routine

The lynching at Quincy, Fla., last night followed the standard pattern--in essentials if not in detail.

First, the sheriff allowed himself to be "overpowered" at the jail by a number of men.

Then when the victim was left for dead and the sheriff discovered that he was still living, he placed the wounded man in an ambulance and sped out along the country roads. When the masked men appeared again and held up the ambulance, the sheriff gave him up without resistance.

Florida arms its sheriffs, and the latter are usually pretty handy and free with their guns. But of course a sheriff would never have a gun handy when a man was breaking into his jail.

And of course it would not occur to him that it might be a good idea to take along his gun and some armed companions when traveling through lonely country with the intended victim of murderers--a victim they didn't want to talk.

As usual, too, the sheriff hasn't the faintest idea who the members of the mob were, though in Florida, as in other Southern states, the sheriff easily knows the face and voice of every voter in the county.

This is the first lynching in the South for this year. There need not have been any if the people of all sections of the South had demanded that it be that way, and had insisted on a decent responsibility in their police officers.

The Toll

Cautious Italian Admissions Don't Fit Hitler's Claim

Italy tells us, of course, only what she wants us to feel or what she feels she has to reveal in order to maintain any semblance of probability for her reports.

The figure of 96,925 Italians killed, wounded, and missing for April, as just now announced by Rome, seems to belong in the latter category--a sort of [indiscernible word] admission that after all even [indiscernible words] will bleed if you prick him.

That casualties were actually far higher than the figures released seems more than possible. For instance, we are told Italian naval losses from [indiscernible word] 1939 to the end of April total ten men killed. Yet in one action alone, one in which three cruisers were sunk in total darkness with virtually no rescue, more Italians than that necessarily died. And the claim that only 1,318 Italian soldiers have been killed in North Africa seems a good deal less than credible.

However, the Italian propaganda chiefs had better watch their step, even with such half-admissions as these. If half-hearted Italian efforts admittedly resulted in heavy casualties, what was the toll among the Germans of the all-out Nazi effort in the Balkans and elsewhere? Some American reporters who saw the action estimate as many as 50,000 casualties for the Germans in Greece alone.

The Nazis themselves are still busily trying to maintain the superman myth. Adolf himself told his people in his last speech that the whole Balkan campaign had cost only about a thousand men.

Site Ed. Note: Ace flier Rudolf Hess, to whom Mein Kampf had been dictated as he shared a cell with his pal Adolf for nine months in 1923 in Landsberg Prison for their combined role in the beerhall putsch, had been Deputy Reichsführer, second in the line of succession behind Goering to Hitler, when he stole a plane and flew it from Augsburg, Germany to Scotland, seeking ostensibly political asylum, but also attempting rapprochment between Germany and Britain. After the war he was convicted of war crimes by the Nuremburg tribunal and sentenced to life in prison. His erratic behavior during the trial suggested speculation that he was non compos. He died, the last prisoner at Spandau Prison, by hanging himself in his cell in 1987. Some suspected murder by the guards; but the autopsy results and photographs were consistent with suicide in that the pattern of ordinary údema and contusion on the neck occasioned by the strangling cord did not form a complete circle.

It is too bad that the Mexican autopsy of Cash, supposedly performed July 2 but of which there are no available records, lacked sufficient expertise apparently either to close that circle or not for us. But that was Mexico--when in flying squadrons pigs had wings.

Whereas here we have the freedom to speak of many things.

Cuckoo Turn

Hess Flight Looks Like Good News for Allied Cause

The fantastic quality of this war has often been noted before. But the flight of Hess takes it definitely over the border into the realm where the sea is boiling hot and the pigs have wings (no pun intended).

In any case, it appears to be good news. That he could be bound on any Trojan Horse mission is improbable, because everything he says will inevitably be subjected to microscopic examination.

The Nazis are obviously troubled and frightened, as their bawling about insanity proves.

Perhaps he is insane. But his actions suggest that he is the first Nazi who has had a lucid moment for a long time past.

His motive, sane or insane, we do not yet know. Perhaps he suspected or knew that he was in for the same fate as Captain Roehm, that Goering, Goebels and Himmler had persuaded Hitler that he should be purged. The rumble-bumble about his long bad-health and the admitted orders of Hitler to keep him out of the air suggests strongly that this is the most probable explanation.

But there are other possibilities. He began as a convinced and determined anti-Communist, and it seems likely that Hitler's cold opportunism in making up to Stalin must have offended Hess all along. Perhaps he just couldn't stomach the new Berlin-Moscow deal which is obviously making.

Another possibility is that he had been brooding on the growing determination of the United States and, as an old soldier of the last war, foresaw that Germany would not be able to win in the end. Maybe he merely wanted to try to insure the safety of his own neck. Or maybe the Germans are saying the truth when they claim that he hoped somehow to come to some understanding with the English. It must be plain to sane Nazis (if any) that if Hitler doesn't win this Summer, what he has done is to lay the ground for the total destruction of the German nation.

At least, it is clear that the theory of the "fanatical devotion" Hitler is supposed to inspire in those about him has been pretty well blown up. Hess had constantly been represented as the most devoted of them all. It is obvious, therefore, that the devotion Hitler inspires is simply that of fear.

What the flight will do to German morale remains to be seen. It would be easy to exaggerate that. Nevertheless, it plainly is going to plant fear and suspicion in the mind of the German people as the news leaks through. And also it is going to plant more fear and suspicion in Hitler and all his gang.

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