The Charlotte News

Friday, June 20, 1941


Site Ed. Note: Should we not know that Cash had departed his post at The News three weeks earlier, "Eyes to See", on the inability to co-exist in the world with Nazis bent on sabotage, espionage, and economic disruption from within the country, would easily suggest itself as a Cash piece. The editorial treats the numerous Nazi actions against the country, singly and in combination, as acts of war--which they were of course. Making it all the more silly for some modern historians to postulate that FDR allowed the attack on Pearl Harbor to occur without sufficient warning in order to drag the country, kicking and screaming, into war. It simply is illogical to so suggest: From the sinking of the Athenia by the Nazis at the beginning of the war in September, 1939, or before that, the Panay, by the Japanese in December, 1937, right on up to the more recent acts of the sinking of the Robin Moor and the Zamzam, there were plentiful incidents which the President could have used as excuse for declaring war on Germany or Japan or both if that is what he wanted to do. When, in April, 1941, the President was given the authority to convoy, and with it the increased risk to incite a shooting war with the Nazis, he used his broad discretion to decline to use that authority, instead opting for less risky patrols to report Nazi surface ships, submarines and planes to the British.

The hesitancy to enter the war, despite the many instances of provocation during the four years before Pearl Harbor, had numerous reasons underlying it. For one, of course, as the editorial indicates, FDR did pledge in his 1940 campaign to keep America out of war unless directly attacked; but moreover, there was the continuing fear that declaring war on one of the Axis powers, was, for the mutual assistance pact between them, to declare war on all of them, and that our military capability, naval and air, was not sufficiently ready to fight a two-ocean war, even in combination with Great Britain and the Free French forces of DeGaulle. The longer the country could wait therefore to get involved, the more time the emergency measures recently begun in 1941, Lend-Lease, OPM, OPA, the declaration of a national emergency on May 27, gas rationing, the newly declared policy, with teeth from the combined draft deferment, of intolerance to strikes in defense industries, could begin both to enable the production capability necessary to lend and to field such a military apparatus and to condition the thinking of the country's population to sacrifice so soon after it had more or less emerged from the dreary nightmare of the Depression, so soon after the previous European war. And, of course, he feared tearing the country apart with a controversial war which still half the country saw as not directly impacting them, even if now the majority clearly favored aid to Britain as long as it did not entail provocation for a shooting war. The President understood that without the backing of the overwhelming majority of the population, such a war, with its necessary call-up from the draft eligible and the huge economic sacrifice to be made, could not be waged effectively.

For the President to delay for as long as possible direct participation in the war, was, however, a different notion from that at the time advocated by the isolationists, not merely to stay out of war, but moreover not to send military aid to anyone else for fear that doing so would both deplete our home defenses and give cause for the Axis to attack directly. That hamstringing of the Administration's favored policy for so long prior to 1941 nearly cost the world its freedom, certainly probably led to the sacrifice of far more lives, both British and American, than would have been otherwise. As we have suggested, more aid to Britain by early 1940 might well have prevented the debacle of Dunkerque.

But we don't know. What we have is what happened. We may only learn from it.

The corner-mouthed "Side Issue", expressing ambivalence over the propriety of poll taxes, strikes us as a little odd in its reasoning, even if stated no doubt with a good deal of sardonism: that because barely half the people of North Carolina, having previously abandoned its poll taxes, exercised their franchise in the 1940 election, it was of little, if any, consequence whether one had to pay to vote or not. We say that--even though the piece no doubt sought to encourage the recognition that voting was a precious incident of democracy which too few found time enough or care enough or relevance enough to their daily lives to enjoy-- because ultimately the goal of poll taxes, as with literacy tests, was to keep the poor away from the polls, especially blacks. To suggest therefore, even sardonically, that it didn't much matter was simply to give fuel to the machine pols and their Kuku henchmen in the deep South, where poll taxes still thrived, to continue what they had done since the Civil War to frustrate the intent of the Fifteenth Amendment. The truth is that it did matter.

But the piece also makes a valid point, valid to this day: it only matters if the right to vote is exercised by each citizen.

Otherwise, yo jus' a slave on de plantation o' massa a-doin' ol' massa's work faw 'im, haulin' de cotton to de mawkit faw 'im, grinnin' dem teeth faw 'im real white and wide, shinin' massa's shoes faw 'im, nice and shiny.

Step 'n' fethchit, baw. Dat a good baw. Don't yo vote, now, and worry yo fool head about udder people's bu'ness. Yo listen to ol' massa, now, not dem bad ol' outside agitatas. Yo be a good baw.

In any event, poll taxes were expressly made unconstitutional by the 24th Amendment, passed and ratified in 1962. And, parenthetically, we note that it is a right, as expressed in the Fifteenth Amendment passed in the wake of the Civil War, not a privilege, as the editorial suggests; for a privilege in the law is one subject to license by the state, which is not the case with voting, even if the right is subject to some reasonable regulation by age, residence and citizenship.

"Boycott" misunderstands the application of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. It could certainly not have been applied to prohibit or punish an informally or formally organized boycott by the church ladies against businesses which opened their doors on Sundays--any more than it could have been applied in Montgomery in 1956 to arrest those responsible for organizing and participating in the bus boycott.

The Sherman Act applies to "[e]very contract, combination...or conspiracy" in restraint of trade, true enough, but only as organized by or at the behest of those in direct competition with the business so impacted. If, for instance, it was proven that some of the ladies, or their husbands, organizing the boycott owned businesses which in some way profited by the boycott, and there was shown to be a direct nexus between the boycott and the profit sought such that intent to accomplish same might be imputed to the ladies, then perhaps the boycott would have fallen within the purview of the Sherman Act. But, moreover, in order to come under the jurisdiction of the Sherman Act, assuming no similar legislation is extant in a given state, the particular conduct must have a substantial impact on interstate commerce; else, the Commerce Clause, by which Federal jurisdiction is acquired for original passage and enforcement of the Act, would not be imported.

And even apart from that, the Sherman Act has been held not to apply to matters protected by other Federal laws--for instance, union activities, strikes and collective bargaining protected by the Wagner Act--or by the Constitution. Thus, in the case of the church ladies, their freedom of religious belief would be a proper First Amendment ground, if so asserted, for organizing to boycott those businesses open on Sunday. The organizing itself of such a boycott would be protected free speech. Since the motivation for the conduct is not one to restrain trade for the purpose of gaining unfair advantage in competing trade, this type of activity simply is not one in "restraint of trade" such that anyone could be prosecuted or fined under the Sherman Act or any other constitutional state or local law.

As the editorial reports the conduct, incidentally, it was even more innocuous than a boycott of businesses: a "boycott" of the City Council--though we fail to understand precisely how that was to work out in practice, and perhaps derived simply from a further misunderstanding by the editorial writer of the target of the boycott, or at least based on an erroneous reporting of same. Regardless, anyone may "boycott" the government under the First Amendment, if by that is meant that, in an effort to protest some government policy, one would refuse to use government services. But that as a protest suggests itself as a little strange, as most services offered by the government, when available, are far cheaper than those offered by the private sector. Were the ladies determined not to use the new hospital built with city finds? The library? The streets through the city? The parking spots equipped with parking meters which paid for upkeep of those streets? The city sewage and water treatment facilities? Well, the list would likely go on.

If, on the other hand, by "boycott", the ladies meant that they would pay no city taxes, of course that would not be legal.

But if they had refused to ride city buses, for instance, until the Council returned to Blue Laws, that would have been quite alright. Refusing to shop at the stores which did not recognize Blue Laws would have been quite alright. Refusing to sit at lunch counters any day of the week should they have stayed open on Sunday, would have been quite alright. Refusing to shop at Woolworth's, should Woolworth's have stayed open on Sundays, would have been quite alright. Not reading The News or The Observer should either have published on Sundays, would have been alright.

But the question we have is whether driving to church on Sunday morning is not a form of work. All that thinking, stopping, starting, steering, yielding, expends a powerful lot of mental and physical energy. And such, therefore, might be deemed in ancient quarters of Biblical exegetical wisdom tantamount to work. Better walk instead, ladies. But, come to think of it...

Le pas d'action characterizes now young Jan's quest for Red revolt, as set forth in installment 17 of Out of the Night: first, quoth the Raven, to the blackjacking young Nazis assembled to hear Herr Hermann's lactational frenzy to them; then, no sooner than you could utter brouhaha mêlée, Jan, after attending Nautical School with nothing but Nazis, is, by order of the Central Committee of the Party, forced reluctantly to join his Nazi anti-comrades to disrupt the dratted Social Democrats.

That which he describes in the latter-going appears not without kinship to the notion: "I know where we can get a bunch of Teamster-types to infiltrate them and break them up; you know, Bob, some real thugs."

Meanwhile, the backseater says, to the effect: "'Hoose!' repeated the driver, 'ca' ye thon a hoose? Thon's gude Glenfern Castle';" and, "I didna mak verra muckle o' the farming up-bye thonder.

Olive is sick, in more ways than one. (Girl, listen, that Mermaid-skin outfit is just not for you. Then Popeye can stay out of one of those cute little Merman outfits that are so popular now down in the waterfront bars.)

Easy is still tied to his big brass bedstead. But wait; he's a solution. Easy's on the toes.

"Five-Ace Jack received a liberal percentage from the three card-monte men who entertained these innocent folks." But, "[t]he idea of--er--pledging the pearls at the local Mont de Pieté was, you will readily understand, repugnant to us."

Anyway, we'll bet that parrot was nailed to its perch.

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