The Charlotte News

June 6, 1940


Devil Horns

City Has a Law Against Them That Ought to To Be Enforced

Away up here in the ivory tower, with the air-conditioning machinery making only a faint and unnoticeable hum, we are insulated against the noisy assaults on the nervous system that have to be borne by the poor wretches in the streets down below. Only, every now and then out of this muted cacophony comes up even as far as the tower quarters a piercing, strident, fiendish noise which our intuition tells us is made by an automobile horn.

The device is miscalled horn, for horns blow. These extra-special things blast. Horns emit a note made by the vibrations of air in a tubular column. These super razzle-dazzles give off the sound, magnified a thousand times, that the cat makes when somebody steps on its tail--and stays there.

And so we decided to frame up an ordinance against these ear-splitters intending to submit it to the City Council for consideration. But lo, it turned out that there is already an ordinance in the book. It has lain there unnoticed, at the least unenforced, for ten years:

Section 470-A. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation, to blow or cause to be blown any horn or sound-making device which emits an excessively loud, unnecessary noise or signal upon any motor vehicle upon any of the streets of the City of Charlotte, excepting, however, the ordinary and usual motor vehicle signaling device.

The kind we are talking about are not ordinary and usual; they are unusual and cruel instruments of torture to the nervous system.

Not Too Smart

A Celebrated Psychologist Indulges in Two Blunders

Adolf Hitler gets general credit for being a master of psychology. And in fact, he is probably the greatest adept in manipulating the worst passions of man, terror, greed, spite and hate, whoever disgraced the planet.

Nevertheless, Adolf still has some share of that curious square-headedness which so often defeats the German. He has obviously made a very bad mistake in those boasts about what he was going to do to England which he turned loose, in person and through his stooges, at the height of his success in Flanders. So far as they were not the mere product of German bumptiousness, they were certainly designed to completely wreck the British morale, which was plainly in no very good case--to stampede the British people into panic and surrender. Actually, they simply got the British dander up, with the result that Adolf was cheated of his triumph and the British morale put into first-class shape to stand anything in the cool confidence of ultimate victory.

So also with his bombing of Paris. That may serve to impress the jackal in Rome, though even now it is far from certain--seeing the contemptuous coolness with which the city accepted the raid. But it was about the best thing for French morale he could have thought up. To every Frenchman Paris is a sort of holy city. Or to put it more exactly, the fairest of all fair women. Take the swelling pride which Georgians generally exhibit in Atlanta, raise it to the nth power, and you have it. And regardless of French Government admissions that the Nazis made only for military objectives, the news that bombs have fallen in the heart of the great town is perfectly calculated to call forth all the cold anger and ferocious resolution of which France is capable.

Any Old Port

In a Storm You Can't Stop To Be Too Squeamish

The British effort to make friends with Russia again will set the isolationists and other people eager to prove that the Allies are as bad or worse than Hitler, to denouncing again. And it would not be pleasant to think of the assailant of Finland as a partner of the democratic powers.

Nevertheless, it is impossible to blame England. There is some reason to believe that the move may succeed. Stalin had not counted on a quick knockout of the Allies by Hitler but on war of stalemate in which both sides would be exhausted. And the prospect that Adolf may win quickly and become the master of all Western Europe must scare him into fits.

He cannot have forgotten the passages in "Mein Kampf" which referred to the Ukraine. And he knows well that Hitler is going to need that wheat reservoir to feed a Europe which cannot produce enough grain to feed itself.

On the other hand, he may judge that Hitler is bound to win and that therefore the only reasonable thing for him to do is to sit still and hope to be overlooked at least until the new Attila has helped himself to richer prizes--say South America and Canada.

But if he could be lined up, he might have a considerable value to the Allies. Not that he is likely to risk a backdoor attack on Nazidom itself, but because he might very well immobilize Mussolini. And when a robber has you by the throat, you do not stop to inquire if the passerby who might aid you has always gone to Sunday School.

One ideological comfort, at least, there would be: even an American Communist, forced to change the party line overnight again, might suddenly take to laughing himself to death.


Which We Are Following With Great Zeal

The dropping of Daladier from the French Cabinet probably heralds the final elimination of the appeasers in both France and England. For the English people also are reported to be clamoring for the firing of Chamberlain, Halifax, and the other holdovers from the Munich epoch.

The wonderful thing is that they could hold on so long as they have. For they are the most colossal failures in the history of Western Europe. And it is not, either, as though the facts had been obscure. Adolf Hitler had given the world a blueprint of his plans, was plainly carrying them out to the letter--had three years been systematically building up arms for the cool purpose of overrunning the world and destroying civilization.

But at that, the United States scarcely gets on to scoff at the English and French peoples for their obtuseness. Chamberlain, Daladier & Co. were enabled to carry out their schemes and stay in power precisely because the people themselves were all too eager to listen to their assurances that there was no danger and that their plan was guaranteed to keep them out of war.

Today we are repeating exactly the same error. The people flee from facing the fact, go on indulging in wish thinking. And snide politicians, ambitious columnists, and other manipulators of the public go right on telling them what they want to hear--that there is no danger which we cannot meet by preparing to "defend" ourselves--though how we are to "defend" ourselves against revolution in the Latin countries around us is a dark mystery which they do not attempt to explain.

Ship Names

How the Navy Christens Its Various Vessels

With the battleship Washington just launched and the North Carolina due to come off the ways in a few days, it is interesting to recall that naval ships have a regular system of nomenclature.

As everybody knows, the battleships are named for the states.

Cruisers are named for the larger cities of the country, without regard to the class of the cruiser. Examples are the Brooklyn, Rochester, and Houston.

Destroyers and mine layers take their names from famous men in American history, as the Yarnall, Faragut, Mahan.

Submarines are named for fish, as the Squalus (i.e. shark), Dolphin, etc.

Gunboats are named for cities also, usually the smaller ones. Thus the Asheville, the Albany, and so on.

The river gunboats used in the East, however, are named for U.S. Pacific Islands, as the Guam, Palos, and Panay.

Mine sweepers take the names of birds. The Penguin, Gull, Heron.

Aircraft carriers get their names from battles or vessels famous in American history. The Yorktown, Lexington, Ranger.

And by a quaint work of somebody's imagination, colliers, the black stevedores of the navy, go by romantic names out of Greek mythology, the Jason, Nereus, Proteus.

There are other classifications of ships, of course, but these are the most important ones.

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