Beasley’s Farm and Home Weekly, Charlotte, N.C., July 31, 1941
Dr. Lingle, late president of Davidson College, published an article in the current issue of the Christian Observer, giving documentary accounts of suffering in the South just after the Civil War. There was a philanthropic couple in New York who undertook to aid to the extent of their ability people all over the South who were in dire need. This did not apply to the colored people who were the proteges of the Federal government. They were the white people, poor before the war, but left like Scarlet O’Hara, on the land with nothing to eat. Letter after letter is given from Southern people, merchants or others of known probity, who told of such lack of food that in some cases amounted to starvation.
Well, we must have the hardships of war, even before we have actual war. In some of the countries which have had or now have war, people are begging for bread. And right here in our own beloved land we are threatened with a shortage of silk stockings. Of course people do not eat silk stockings. But Shylock said, “You take my life when you do take the means whereby to live.” And that being so, people in America who might find life unbearable without silk stockings may face the stern necessity of shuffling off this mortal coil.
Of course the soldiers of Washington at Valley Forge had no silk stockings. Many of them had no stockings at all and a good many of them had no shoes. But times are different now. What were then unheard of luxuries are now necessities. The government may find it necessary, in warding off the attempt of Japan to stab freedom and democracy in the east while Hitler is murdering it in the west, to forbid the shipment of silk from Japan to this country. That means no silk stockings, for all the silk that we can get will have to go into parachutes to save the lives of men who find it necessary to jump from death in the air. You can’t make parachutes out of cotton. Can you make stockings of cotton? No, not silk stockings, and who would scratch his or her legs with cotton or wool socks? Therefore, the people representing the silk stocking manufacturers will endeavor to show the government what a suicidal policy it would be to prohibit the importation of silk from Japan. And we do not yet know how large and powerful a silk stocking block may arise and exert its pressure upon the government.
Freedom and democracy are nice, if they do not cost anything. But when the necessities of life must be given up in their behalf, that is something to talk about. Would America give up silk stockings for freedom? Would America give up anything for freedom?