The Charlotte News
Friday May 9, 1941
Site Ed. Note: We include, in addition to the editorial page for today, another page from this day's News, regarding the dedication of a memorial marker to the last Confederate to die in Mecklenburg, Thomas Alexander. Since Mr. Alexander was referenced several times in the editorials, we thought it appropriate to include it.
The page is also interesting for its piece containing the statement by the President's eldest son, James, a captain in the Marines visiting Egypt, that America was already, save for actual troop commitment, in the war in Europe. Jimmy, as he was called sometimes in the press of the day, came in for criticism in the news in 1938 on the charge that he had profited in his insurance company from the fact of being the President's son. (See, for instance, "J. Roosevelt, Insurance", July 2, 1938, "If You Please, Jimmy", July 10, 1938, "Jimmy's Income", August 12, 1938, "The Practical Son", August 23, 1938) James should not be confused with Elliott, who also garnered a bit of negative press on occasion for expression of controversial opinions. (See "Family Row", March 27, 1939, and "Booby Trap", July 18, 1939) But, Presidential family members also enjoy freedom of speech and cannot avoid who they are. And in the case referenced from this date's paper, James was of course correct in his assessment, even if asserting it, given who he was, draws into question his good judgment, assuming the intent of the Administration, as it appeared to be, was to keep America out of the war. President Roosevelt had authority for convoy and withheld exercise of that authority because of its likelihood of provoking a shooting war. The statement of the President's son that, save for commitment of soldiers, we were at war, could not have helped but to put pressure toward that commitment or at least on convoy. It does serve again, however, to demonstrate the extent to which the President sought to avoid the war, short of direct attack on the United States or its territories.
The Cabinet Men All Avoid Point-Blank Statements
Mr. Wickard last night talked all around the subject without ever once going straight to the point. He apparently believed that convoy and naval notion are necessary and that the United States is inevitably bound to get into the war to the hilt. But he did not ever say so directly.
He need not have been so cautious in these parts. The greater part of his audience was probably far out in front of him, for all the local polls have shown that the people in this section are resolved to whip Hitler, even though it means shooting.
But he was merely following what seems to be the established rules for Administration spokesmen. Secretary Hull, Secretary Knox and Secretary Stimson have all seemed to say that convoy and a lot more is necessary if Hitler is to be stopped, but not one of them has ever used specific terms.
Perhaps all that is necessary; perhaps the Middle West, which still clings to isolationism--though late reports suggest the tide is rapidly turning--has to have the news broken to it by Congress.
And one understands why the President plays Hamlet these days. It is a frightful decision he faces, one to make even the most assured man tremble. It almost certainly involves American blood and beyond any doubt it involves the fate of the nation. It is natural, therefore, that he should want to make sure that the people understand and are back of the decisions he must make.
Even so, it is still permissible to wonder if the best course is not for the President once for all to make up his own mind--as he must--and himself face the people with all the facts and the necessary choice, bluntly and unsparingly.
Site Ed. Note: As pointed out in our note associated with "Omissions", March 6, 1940, Senator Minton, for his having sponsored in 1938 a bill, eventually withdrawn amid a storm of editorial protest, to make it a crime to publish a "known" falsehood, was not a favorite of The News. Thus, it is not surprising that he gets a thumbs down on his appointment to the Court of Appeals, starting his ride which, through the appointment in 1949 by President Truman, would land him on the Supreme Court for seven years. Those seven years, as they turned out, were largely without note. Even Justice Minton himself at his retirement stated prophetically that there would likely be more interest in his successor, who turned out to be long-serving liberal William Brennan, than in his own record of accomplishment. Minton had replaced liberal Frank Murphy who died in 1949 after only nine years on the Court.
Brennan, unlike Minton, would join the Court's majority direction, carefully forged by Chief Justice Earl Warren, appointed also by President Eisenhower in 1953. That majority, also formed of William O. Douglas, Hugo Black, John Harlan, and usually Felix Frankfurter, would take the Court in the direction of expansion of civil liberties about which conservatives carp unto this day--such quaint notions as insuring that the state will appoint a lawyer to represent an accused in any criminal matter where personal liberty is potentially at stake, that upon an arrest a person must be advised of his or her basic rights under the Constitution before making any statement which will be admissible in a Court, that persons could not be routinely rounded up and arrested under vague statutes purporting to outlaw "vagrancy" or other purely status offenses, or that the government cannot go on fishing expeditions through wiretaps or other intrusive means initiated on hunch without probable cause or a warrant as required by the Fourth Amendment. Of course these results were merely logical extensions of procedure to protect long-standing recognition of the underlying Constitutional rights at issue, to provide some enforcement mechanism to insure that fundamental liberties were not denied in a time when practices of chicanery were evident to try to circumvent due process and fair proceedings, such practices as confessions extracted by force at the police station, persons railroaded through the criminal justice system without benefit of counsel, or breaking the law to obtain evidence.
In any event, both his predecessor appointed by Roosevelt and his successor appointed by Eisenhower appeared far better fitted to the bench than did Minton. Thus, this editorial was fairly prophetic, even if the News editorials on Hugo Black, for his own appointment based on New Deal support while a member of the Senate as well as for his brief membership in the Klan, turned out quite wrong in their assessment.
Minton Qualifies as a Judge Purely by Political Route
The President has nominated former Senator Sherman Minton of Indiana to be a judge of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Circuit Courts of Appeal rank next to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Well, and why this nomination? Because Minton is a learned lawyer and possesses a high degree of the judicial temperament, the instinctive integrity which properly belong to judges? Not at all.
He is a professional politician and only incidentally a lawyer. In the course of his career in the Senate, his manipulation of Federal spending in Indiana for his own political benefit was as cynical as that of any sitting Senator. And over and over again, he proved himself both the opportunist and the bitter, unrestrained partisan.
The President might conceivably have done a little worse--say, by appointing Robert Rice Reynolds to the Circuit Court bench--but not much. Sherman Minton not only isn't qualified to be a judge, he is notably unqualified.
The sole reason that the President appointed him was that he is a dead duck who in his time played ball straight down the middle with the New Deal. The President, that is, was paying a political debt--that and nothing else. And the Senate, knowing well that he is unfit, will nevertheless promptly confirm him as a former member of the guild.
At times Mr. Roosevelt is completely irresponsible, and nowhere has he shown himself more so than in his use of judicial appointments as mere pieces of political pie.
Site Ed. Note: Perhaps those vandals discussed below were just engaged in eight month early tire rationing to save the government the trouble through OPA, to lend to the scrap rubber heap, necessary for defense, some 20 new recruits. Every cloud has a silver lining, and many tires have also rubber inner tubes. In any event, should they have ever been caught, these rebellious boys in question, we trust that they weren't stoned by the hoppers.
Whatever the case, we are sure that our future Vice-President and President, in the course of his first government position rationing tires at OPA, was able to make good use of those twenty products of vandalism created by these creeps.
In fact, eventually, he may have employed these cranks at the White House.
These cranks given to pranks, of which there were plentiful numbers necessary to get the movement started, after all, in that Society. (What was it they called that? Poplar? Larch? Somehow those don't quite ring the bell, but something like that. Some tree anyhow, where only boys, birds and monkey men climb.)
But it all evens out somewhere, we suppose, as that car door fatefully, subito, opened in Greensboro in August, 1960, bunging up the V-P's knee, laying him up at a crucial juncture for several days, causing him to fall woefully behind on the campaign trail, eventuating in his being forced to electoral-rich Alaska in the closing too-close-to-call days in order to fulfill his pledge to visit all 50 states. Just think of all the history, therefore, that undoubtedly was altered by one youngster in Greensboro opening one car door just an inch or two too far.
My. My. How change in history doth obtain regardless of on or off cuff or fame.
So to all the future candidates, we advise, watch where you're stepping, with your eyes; to all the kids, give pause to lucky sly kicks' vixen's tease and fun, and watch how you open those car doors. (And again we declare that we were nowhere near Greensboro in August, 1960, even if we did go out nearby on Halloween in the rain dressed as a witch.)
They Need a Lesson in the Civilized Values
The people who owned those automobiles which were parked alongside the Poplar Apartments Wednesday night are hopping mad. And we don't blame them. Mad enough to hop we'd be ourselves if somebody came along and deliberately punctured the two rear tires of our automobile. Somebody did come along and deliberately inserted an ice pick into the rear tires of ten of those cars.
Possibly, it was an adult full of malice toward anybody able to own a decent automobile. Or a crank with an itch for destructiveness. More likely it was simply a boy, or more likely still, two or more boys, full of the cruel urge for destructive pranks which is often characteristic of boys, and particularly those who like to picture themselves as tough.
In any case, the matter is worthy of the attention of the police. They should extend themselves to round up and punish the offender. For carried out on any extended scale, this could add up to an infernal lot of inconvenience. And we shudder to think what the wear and tear on tempers would make life in the town like.
Priorities Amendment Aims To Hamstring Roosevelt
Old Gene Cox of Georgia has spent most of his time in the Congress of the United States whooping for lynching as the shield of Southern womanhood and rigging up schemes to destroy labor unions.
Ordinarily he has amounted to nothing, one way or the other, save another ranting showman to shame the South. But his spite toward the Administration yesterday took a turn which deserves close scrutiny.
The amendment which he tacked onto the priorities bill, which was passed by the House, constitutes a gross usurpation of powers.
In the first place, it attempts to vest ultimate control over priorities in the hands of an Army and Navy board, regardless of Mr. Roosevelt's civilian OPM. That flouts the Constitution of the United States which makes the President the supreme executive of this nation, both military and civilian. It flouts the sound rule which has always prevailed in this democracy, that military authority must be kept under the control of the civilian executive power. And it flouts common sense, for it is plain that by and large Army and Navy officers know less about business than business men.
In the second place, the Cox amendment sets up the job called Director of Priorities; and Cox confesses quite candidly that his purpose is to "freeze Edward Stettinius in the post..."
How that is to be done does not appear, but it is plain that it is an attempt on the part of Congress to dictate the personnel of the defense set-up.
Vandenberg Uses Land Figures To Create False Impression
Arthur Vandenberg is both an old isolationist and a bitter-end partisan Republican.
So he was full of glee when he wrote Chairman Emory S. Land of the Maritime Commission and got back a letter saying that only twelve of the ships which left United States ports for England from January 1 to April 30 had been sunk. That was material exactly to Arthur's purpose of discrediting the Administration and throwing a crimp in aid to Britain. It proved, he trumpeted to the Senate, that exaggerated figures had been circulated to bolster the idea that convoy is necessary if Britain is to survive.
And so it might, if you accepted Arthur's bland assumption that this represents the whole picture and that it is negligible. But isn't it a little odd that Chairman Land himself has come all out for convoy? Is he a liar and a scoundrel out to betray the American people into a useless conflict?
Nobody who is not blinded by spite believes it. The fact is that Chairman Land knows that the twelve vessels represent about fifteen per cent of the shipping from U.S. ports--a terrific rate of loss. He points out that these are simply the ships positively known to have been lost, that others undoubtedly must be added. He knows also that these figures take no account of the great number of ships which sailed from Canadian ports with U.S.-made goods and were lost. And finally, he knows that the greatest loss of shipping occurs on the west-bound journey when the ships are often not convoyed.
It is this loss of shipping which is the crucial point. And all the responsible authorities bear out the assertion that this loss is running to five million tons annually--a loss which cannot be long endured.
All Vandenberg has done is to draw a red herring across the trail and add confusion to what, for the national safety, ought not to be confused.
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