The Charlotte News
Monday, May 6, 1940
Site Ed. Note: Some of our far right friends today might benefit greatly from the advice being suggested in "Unyielding". We are, after all, a liberal country founded on liberal, maybe even radical, ideals. And it was, not surprisingly, Proverbs which stated that it is the "liberal soul" which is blessed. And when it comes to that, we should not really parse our words too much, lest we be perhaps guilty of the proscribed practice of adding to it or subtracting from it. We've yet to run across anything in there which talks about the blessed "conservative soul". But you never know. One thing we can say with considerable certainty, however, is that were it not for progressive voices on both sides of the political aisle in this country, this country would not be a country at all, and most likely we would still be fighting with one another hand and fist to avoid encroachment on our individual caves. And so...
This Probably Belongs to The Propaganda Front
One thing we have continually to keep in mind about the war in Europe is that there are two fronts--the military and the propaganda. And that, so far as the Nazis go, the latter remains the more important to date.
It is barely possible, of course, that the Berlin claim of Nazi dive bombers having sunk a British battleship of the Warspite class and a heavy cruiser last Thursday may be true. But it has never been probable. The German explanation that they waited more than a day to announce it in order to give Mr. Churchill a chance to do it first had all the earmarks of a phoney.
Such restraint is totally uncharacteristic of the Nazis. Moreover, the statement, which appeared as an afterthought to the original announcement, that the ship sank in three minutes, suggested very strongly that the story belonged to the realm of fiction. It would be a record time for the sinking of a battleship.
What we probably have in this story is an attempt to pile Pelion on Ossa and Ossa on Olympus, by way of stampeding the neutrals and Italy--persuading the former that the British are being overwhelmed and that the only safe thing to do is to throw in with Germany, and the latter that it would be entirely safe to risk a battle with the British naval power in the Mediterranean. And perhaps also to convince the British and French peoples that their cause is doomed.
Adolf Hitler himself laid down the rule in "Mein Kampf": lying is the best of all policies, and when you lie, tell a big one; then most people, incapable of imagining themselves telling such a whopper, will be inclined to believe it out of sheer astonishment.
Hamsun's Personal Spite Produces Weird Advice
The artists and intellectuals of our time have generally turned out in the current world crisis to be as loyal to civilization as artists and intellectuals have always been. A Thomas Mann exiles himself to be free to fight Hitlerism. And even those American, British and French artists and intellectuals who formerly flirted with Communism have hastily shifted their ground since Stalin showed his true colors.
But there are sad exceptions. Richard Strauss writes music to celebrate the new barbarism. Old Bernard Shaw continues to speak kindly of the Nazis and Reds. And--Knut Hamsun roars into print to advise all Norwegians to lay down their arms and receive the Nazis as liberators from British tyranny!
In part, Hamsun's astonishing course is perhaps due to senility; he is 81 years of age. But in the main, it is a product of personal bitterness.
Hatred of democracy is no new thing for Hamsun--who, ironically enough, came from the common people and has always written of them. In the 1880's Hamsun emigrated from Norway to the United States, stayed here a number of years, working various jobs, including that of a streetcar conductor in Chicago. But he failed to get rich, and, as a result of privations and unpleasant experiences, acquired a variety of neuroses. In 1889 he shook the American dust off his feet, went back to Norway, and shortly afterward published a book which denounced the United States in no measured terms. It is that same bitterness which now makes him believe that abject slavery for his people for all time to come would be a cheap price to pay for the destruction of democracy. In such fashion can even the most brilliant minds be twisted by hate.
This Move Probably Means Only Loss for Chamber
The United States Chamber of Commerce apparently means to stand by its guns even if the ship founders.
Ever since the beginning of the second Roosevelt Administration at least, the organization has been one of gradually declining influence. In the days of the Liberty League, it had been far out in front as a leader of the opposition to the New Deal. The election of 1936 pretty well demonstrated that its position was far too far right to gain the confidence of the American people in general.
It has shown little inclination to learn. Recently, indeed, it has shown a little less tendency to denounce the New Deal in toto. But it has displayed no grasp of the fact that most of the New Deal reforms are probably here to stay--in principle at least--and is still busily denouncing the Wagner Act, the Wage and Hour Act, the SEC, and so on, as legislation which must be repealed. Result is that it has got itself solidly established in the popular mind as the very citadel of reaction.
And now it has selected as its new president James Scott Kemper, of Chicago--a man who has been very active in Republican politics. Result of that is almost certainly going to be to identify it in the public mind as simply another organ of the Republicans--and of the Old Guard Republicans at that.
It may be splendid to stand by a position like that. The Bourbons of France, Spain, and Austria have been splendid that way, too. But it is the facile English Tories who long ago decided that their best bet was to beat the left-wingers to reform, and not the Bourbons, who remained powerful and prosperous.
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