The Charlotte News
Thursday, May 14, 1940
Site Ed. Note: Neither Vandenberg nor Dewey would capture the Republican nomination, though the young, dapper trust-busting Dewey would garner the crown in both 1944 and 1948. This time, a converted Democrat, Wendell Willkie, of Elwood, Indiana, would be the choice of the G.O.P., though he would fall far short of preventing F.D.R.'s election to a third term in the fall.
And as bad as things are in the land in the wake of September 11, 2001, it only takes a moment's reflection on history, and what was yet to come, to realize that on this day in May, 1940, as Cash reminds his readers darkly, times were far worse and more foreboding than anything we have known since.
The Dictators Won't Get Red Cross Funds
There seems to be a general fear that funds contributed to the Red Cross for war relief work may be cabbaged in Germany, Russia and Japan by the Governments of those countries and turned to the purpose of making them stronger for their adventures in brigandage and murder. But it is without foundation.
The Red Cross organizations of all three of the countries have informed the American Red Cross that they are taking care of their own needs and do not want American aid. Hence, no part of the money contributed to the war relief fund will go to any of the three.
However, if you desire, you can specify the country in which the contribution is to be spent. But, saving cases where there are personal reasons for thus earmarking the funds, it is perhaps better not to do it. For with Hitler on the loose, Mussolini rattling the sword, and Russia threatening the Balkans, new areas of distress are likely to appear suddenly and constantly. A month ago it was Norway, last week it was Belgium and Holland, next week it may be the Balkans. And of course the funds ought generally to be free for use at the place where they are most imperatively needed.
Vandenberg Offers to Manipulate the Future
Senator Arthur Vandenberg, who began his race for the Presidency by announcing with great dignity and coyness that he would accept the Republican nomination if it came looking for him, has now climbed down to earth and is busily pursuing the prize with all the devices of publicity. Not that he wants it merely for itself. Not at all. He wants it, he says, because he alone can guarantee to keep America out of "alien wars."
Tom Dewey has promised to guarantee that also. But Senator Vandenberg disposes of the gang-buster by saying that the times "demand seasoned timber." The Senator, it appears, is the only man who knows that there is a great international plot to drag us into an "alien war", who has fought it for years, and who knows how to foil the dastardly plotters. Upon his shoulders, he says proudly, properly descends the mantle of Senator Borah.
In fact, the man is quite as complete an "isolationist" as was Borah, who knew so little about the actual nature of present-day international affairs that he told the President confidently, one month before Hitler marched on Poland, that he was sure there wasn't going to be any war.
No man can guarantee to keep us out of war. All he can guarantee is that we shall not go to war unless it is clearly necessary in order to protect our interests. And all these "guarantees" by the Vandenbergs and the Deweys would simply be an open invitation to the gangster nations of Europe, if either were elected to office. If they are sincere, they reveal a total lack of comprehension of what is going on in the world and our inevitable relation to it. And if they are not sincere, they prove conclusively that neither man is to be trusted to put the interest of the nation above his own advancement.
We Shall Have to Think About It Before Long
It was a fair morning in Charlotte. And the people went to work cheerfully. Delivery boys whistled. Women and girls called up to one another brightly. The street-hawkers still had their arms full of the papers. Obviously, nobody wanted to read them and think about the disagreeable tidings they contained.
After all, it was so far away. Something in a land which for most was only a name, remembered vaguely from its connection with the last war. They had always been fighting over there, hadn't they?
But it was real enough in fact under the bright Spring sky of France and Belgium, the rolling white clouds of the Netherlands. There, in the lovely toy lands, were remorselessly transpiring things which were important for every man and woman and child in Charlotte also--things about which they would have to think, and perhaps before long, however they wished not to. A new Attila had come out of the east--an Attila who had added to the cunning and ferocity of the first one all the knowledge of civilized man. And the fate of the West was certainly as much at stake as at Chalons and Tours. If this man and his horde won --
It looked more and more that he might well win. Sedan had fallen. A comparatively small town, Sedan, with 16,000 people. But the key to the French Ardennes. Its fall meant that the way was open to the Little Maginot Line of the French--far lighter fortifications than those on the east. Here, on Sept. 2, 1870, Napoleon III surrendered to the first of the German hordes of modern times, and France was reduced to the status of a second-rate power for more than a generation.
One hundred and sixty miles southwest lies Paris. A long way for an army to move, but not long as the Nazis have been moving.
He had not won yet, no. The host of the Kaiser had gone much farther than had the new Attila's, only to be stopped, only in the end to be whipped and hurled back. But that was only something to remember and hope for again.
The fact was that the Nazi horde was rolling along and all the efforts to stop it were so far failing. The fact was that the day was the darkest for the Western world since the early Middle Ages.
And there was no doubt at all that if he were not stopped, the world of every man, woman, and child in America would be inexorably changed. Perhaps the new barbarism could be beaten back from American shores. Perhaps not. It did not come openly but like a thief in the night, and some of its weapons, subtly corrupting the mind, were not to be met with arms.
But in any case, the world we would know if he won would be a world unimaginably different, crueler and harder, than the one we have known.
In the streets under the sun of the fair morning people did not think about it. After all, they had always fought in those far away lands, hadn't they?
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