The Charlotte News
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1937
The action of the Japanese government in recalling Rear Admiral Mitsunami is at least clever poker playing. It was being freely predicted on all sides--Miss Thompson says as much in her column today--that the promises of Tokyo to punish the high officers responsible for the bombing of the Panay would come to nothing. But the little brown man has most cleverly spiked all that with this action.
But there is perhaps more than mere poker playing in it. We need not believe that the Japanese government has suddenly succeeded in establishing discipline over the army and navy. On the contrary, it is far more probable that Mitsunami was recalled only with the consent of the chief officers of the navy, perhaps including Mitsunami himself. But if the naval chiefs consented, then it stands to reason that even they were at last alarmed by the possible consequences of their headlong actions. Make no mistake about it: the Chinese front is right now the highest post of honor in the Japanese navy, and for a rear admiral to be recalled from it is no mean punishment for him. For the naval chiefs ever to have consented to visit such ignominy upon one of their number, they probably had to be sincerely convinced that they all were in a jam.
And that they were in a jam, that their naval aviators had deliberately, knowingly and brazenly set out to demolish the Panay as well as the Standard Oil vessels and all who on them were, appears to be conclusively established by the story of the survivors. First the Jap planes flew over low, reconnoitering. The day was clear and visibility was "excellent," so that the American flags broken out "everywhere" on the Panay and the commercial craft were to be seen clearly. And having had a good look at their targets, the Jap planes wheeled and began lining up for the bombing. Said one chap who had been on the Panay: "I knew what was coming. I ran inside and dived under a table."
And the Panay, too, knew what was coming; for she was ready with her deck guns and returned the planes' fire from the start until she went down. And the Japs attacked repeatedly, flying low.
Note On Our Heritage
Colonel John Wilson, Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1837 was "in every respect an amiable man." For that we have the word of the forgotten reporter whose dispatch of December 15 in that year we published Wednesday in "Earlier Days." But the Colonel had one weakness, that, like many other men on the American frontier, he was a little "violent in his feelings." So when a member of the House, Major J. J. Anthony, passed some remarks, down came the Colonel from his seat with a bowie knife. A moment later the Major lay dead on the floor, though not without having practically sliced off the Colonel's arm beforehand.
Whatever happened to the Colonel thereafter, beyond the fact that the House suspended him as Speaker, we don't know. But we'll bet a dollar to a moth ball that he neither hanged nor went to jail. Men in that country in those days never did hang for such killings, and rarely went to jail except as honored guests. Old Judge Joseph Glover Baldwin reported, indeed, that they didn't even have to stand trial unless they themselves had a nice feeling for form and insisted on it. It all was a matter of honor to be settled privately--which was why, said Baldwin, the Southwest was then the most violent country in the world. And, come to think of it, may be that tradition of honor is one of the reasons that the Southwest remains one of the most violent countries in the world--the most violent part of the United States after the Southeast, which also had that concept of honor in its mores.
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