The Charlotte News
Sunday, October 3, 1937
Grammar for Murderers
Thunder and death smite the Whangpoo, despair and treachery trouble the bright cities of Spain, but what the League of Nations needs most acutely is a grammarian.
The problem is how to write a note to the swinish war gods of Japan that will save the face of the League of Nations when the war gods make firecracker paper out of it. Some interesting experiments have been tried.
The word "aggression," for instance, is considered too rude to fling at the polite Japanese. In the Spanish crisis, the League brilliantly comes up with the phrase "foreign intervention" as a delicate hint to Signor Mussolini. At Geneva today, a harassed subcommittee is playing with "violation of international law and contractual obligations," and "illegal blockade," but these are harsh words in view of the delicate feelings of the shrinking Japanese and Italians.
We rise to the occasion. After all, we deal in words, and somebody has to leap in to save this ticklish international situation. Let the League of Nations write a note to Musso and the Mikado referring to "...doubtless an oversight on your part that your valuable military drills are trespassing on posted land." Thereafter, mark the note with such phrases as "long past due," "unfortunate occurrence," "we regret to remind you"--stultifying stuff, really.
We might add: "slightly exaggerated ambitions," "overzealous salesmanship," and wind up with that weakest of all protests, "We deplore it."
In the meantime, thunder and death smite the Whangpoo, despair and treachery...
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