The Charlotte News
Friday, November 1, 1940
Site Ed. Note: "Big Top" reminds us how racial identification turns "us" into "them", how the acts of a few of a racially identifiable or ethnically identifiable group can become ascribed pervasively to the many of that same group, how it is that the people who are simply earning a living by the sweat of their brows wind up paying all too often for the acts of the megalomaniacal who happen to share no more than the same ethnicity, the same religious identification, the same country of origin, the same racial pigmentation, the same cultural background--and round and round we go.
We are reminded again of this complex when we see the images coming from Iraq and Saudi Arabia of innocent Americans and Pakistanis and others hated only for their skin color or their nationality, or cultural background, etc., held captive, demands read, and then beheaded in a most vicious fashion for the crime of simply living within their own skin. These people are "us". And it is of course a reaction to us identifying "them".
We are reminded that there are two sides to every story when it comes to "them" and "us", theirs and ours. And we are reminded that if we go off half-cocked and do not listen to theirs, then ultimately we will forget what ours is.
Awash in lies, we crusaded to Iraq and those who pay for these lies are, as always before in such Big Lie propaganda campaigns, the innocent, the idealists, those who were true believers, those in whom one can find no real fault other than believing the leaders in whom they reposited confidence, only to wind up having believed in lies.
We hope that on this June 28, 2004, as sovereignty is turned over to a provisional government in Iraq, that both we and they have learned a profound lesson. We hope that they will become successful in their earnest endeavor to do better and to better themselves in the art of living in relative harmony--though complete harmony there never truly can be among humans--after centuries of continuing upheaval. We hope that we will learn to live with our relative success in that endeavor rather than trying to enforce ourselves upon others by way of a cheap militaristic exercise in exporting by force something which has to be attained by those who truly want it through their own action and understanding.
In the end of course, it is all sometimes seemingly like nothing more than one big circus, this world in which we live and daily view. Take most humans and place them alone in a room and talk to them and they will be human, rational, decent, both in thought and action. But put them with two or more people and a dynamic starts from the mutual massaging of beliefs or through emotive disagreement without reason. Sometimes, if the beliefs being massaged are positive or the dissension constructive through reason and conscientious thought, the result can be a good thing. But sometimes, it is not so and it can be a bad thing. In the end, it is nothing more miraculous than the human condition, the choice between conscientious behavior and giving in to the worst emotive motivations within each of us, the weakness to hurt others.
It takes strength and power to help our fellows, truly to help them. Sometimes, it is no more than a compliment or a friendly gesture or smile for which nothing in return is expected. But from bombs and guns and waging warfare or in waging terrorism or any form of violence can come nothing but weakness, regardless of which side is victor and which side is deemed vanquished.
The Allies and the Axis are no more, haven't been for nearly 60 years. They are now only Allies. Let us hope that something of the same order can ultimately be achieved in the Middle East where wars and violence have raged for decades between countries and between cultures within those countries disagreeing over different constructions of time. But that will not come as long as some insist on Royalty, a stultification of time, whether termed benign or not. Royalty in fact is never benign. It is the subjugation of some to enable a small elite to exist in royal comfort at the expense of the many. And until it ends throughout the world, our world will never be truly at peace. And if we make compromise with it, for the simple expedient to run our automobiles, we do not provide the seeds of a solution but merely perpetuate the problem at the heart of it all. That is not to say, however, that we should make war against it with guns and tanks.
For this "new world order" certainly bares a great deal of uneasy kinship to that which the Lindberghs championed long ago in 1940, as once again we have it summed up in "A Program".
We once fought a Revolution to rid ourselves of royal authority...
Now, when we become dissatisfied, we have the simple expedient of the ballot box every four years. But, we must use that simple tool for it to have any meaning at all. And to say that we have no choice and so cynically to deny ourselves completely of the exercise of our rights in some ill-framed protest is to lie to ourselves. We each have the ability to forge change and to forge change in policies adopted by our leaders as well, even after they have been elected. It is called self-expression. They will listen because that is part of their job. And if they do not, there is always the continuing awareness that four or two or six or eight more years will eventually end. Then, it is the burden of history upon their shoulders to justify what they have done for or to the country they led. But all of it, all for which we fought, begins as we draw nigh and face to face with that most precious of tools in a democracy, the ballot box. May we demonstrate peacefully this coming November and through this summer of political convention hoopla the spirit of democracy in action. That, it would seem, would be the best means, and likely the only truly effective one, to teach democracy to others not so familiar with it as we have become--as we learn and constantly relearn it ourselves, everyday of each of every four years. And, next time, should we have to recount votes to insure their accuracy, may we do so patiently and justly, should it take ten days or ten weeks so to do. There is an old bit of country wisdom, "A stitch in time saves nine." If we had taken just a few more days to finish counting disputed votes in the year 2000, we might not be under quite so much the Big Top in which we find ourselves today, nearly four years later, no matter the eventual true winner.
Some Notes Concerning An American Institution
The circus was changing. That was plain. Gone was most of the old dizzy three-ring array of many acts in progress at once which kept you twisting your neck into a knot and always just missing the high spot in every one. The three-ring tradition held on, to be sure. But the business had been simplified all-around. More and more attention was being concentrated on the single act in progress in the center ring. The secondary acts seemed to be mainly left on now to entertain the customers too far away from the center to see much. And all of them were themselves secondary only in relation to the featured act.
Outside in the cages a wild creature now and then still paced madly back and forth, its eyes hurt or bitterly angry, and there was an odd little bear from India whose melancholy glance held all the world's woe and resignation. But the cages were clean now as they had not used to be, and gone was the old feral odor which once assaulted your nostrils from afar. And the old-stagers among the animals, the elephants and the lions and the apes, were obviously enjoying it. Even Gargantua's raging gloom was manifestly that of an exhibitionist.
A loud youth among the spectators kept on voicing his hatred to the little black-headed men in the balancing act. "But they're good," his female companion objected. "I don't care," he yelled, "they're Japs and I hate 'em." In fact, they seemed to be Filipinos. And the little Japanese performers, so traditional in the circus, seemed to be few and far between. The little people who gathered, the little people who cared nothing for politics and only wanted to make a living, were having to pay the bill for the deeds of the brass hats and politicians in Tokyo and Shanghai.
Could Mr. Wallace Be As Slow To Get It As This?
One thing Henry Wallace plainly needs is a sense of humor. It would preserve him from such remarks as that which he made last night in Madison Square Garden, the prize zany so far produced in the campaign:
"It is difficult for me to understand why inference has been drawn of conflict between the New Deal and industry."
If that is true, then Henry must also find it difficult to understand why the inference is drawn that two and two make four, and he must have been locked up tight in a dark room for the last seven years.
Didn't Henry ever hear of that speech made in the Madison Square Garden four years ago, about "we have already proved their equal, we shall be their masters?" Or are the names of Thomas Girdler and Ernest Weir unknown to him? Has he never heard of the sit-down strikes and the solid denunciation of the New Deal by industry? Hasn't the view seeped into his sanctum that a good many people who look exactly like industrialists don't like the Wagner Act and the Wage and Hour Act? Doesn't any part of the tons of literature put out daily by the National Manufacturers' Association and the Chamber of Commerce of the United States ever get to Henry's desk? Hasn't he heard business men talking in the smoking car?
We are not here concerned with assessing the blame, but with the fact that conflict between the New Deal and industry does exist just as obviously as the nose on your face. If Henry had a sense of humor, he wouldn't indulge in anything so silly as trying to exorcise noses by a mere denial that they exist.
But Laval May Turn Out To Be Right Yet
Pierre Laval's certainty, as expressed yesterday to Roy P. Porter of the Associated Press, that democracy is dead in the world and that England is going to be crushed to a "grease-spot" is understandable enough. It is born of wish-thinking and the desire of Pierre Laval to convince everybody that it is so, to the end that resistance to the Axis may rapidly collapse.
Pierre Laval has his pressing reason to hope and pray that it may turn out so--in brief, his neck. If England wins, old Marshal Petain may escape with his life in view of past services rendered the Republic of France. But several of the members of his Cabinet are certain to die of the guillotine, with Pierre Laval at their head. The French do not deal kindly with treason.
When all that is said, however, there is still no reason for the smug assumption that democracy is necessarily safe and that Laval is on the way to extinction. England has halted the march of the Axis temporarily and has shown that she at least is not decadent. But the kind of thing which has been going on in the United States recently, playing politics with the national destiny by both sides in the campaign, is all too reminiscent of the sort of thing which heralded the collapse of France and made the machinations of Pierre Laval possible.
What Is Contained in Claims Of Charles A. Lindbergh
Charles A. Lindbergh, the ex-hero, is within his rights in setting out to launch a nation-wide student movement "to oppose our intervention in the European war." But it is important that the students should understand clearly what it is he really proposes.
Lindbergh takes the line of arguing that we have nothing to fear, that we have no stake in the outcome of the war, and that it is mere hysteria and party politics to suggest that we have.
That is uncandid. Fact is that Charles A. Lindbergh has highly developed Fascist sympathies. He comes by them partly from his old patron, Dr. Alexis Carrel, with whom he lived for a number of years on an island off Brittany. But he also got part of them from direct contact with the Nazis.
And the people who are working with Lindbergh in the American First Committee are mainly tarred with the same brush. Among them are the names of the chief intellectual leaders of Fascism in America.
What they believe is what Anne Morrow Lindbergh, an echo of her husband in this matter, explicitly said in her recent book--that democracy is out-worn, represents the forces of the past and that Nazism is the necessary new order, represents "the forces of the future." What they propose is precisely what Adolf continually asked for--that the United States shall accept Nazism as the master of Europe, abandon England, and enter into active collaboration with it by "making the necessary re-adjustments for a new world order." That last is vague, but, and though Lindbergh and his co-workers try to avoid confessing it, it can only mean the adoption of Fascism for ourselves.
If you accept all that, if you don't mind human slavery, then it is quite true, as Lindbergh says, that we have nothing to fear. But it is not true under any other view of the case.
He's Good, Provided The Foe Is Entirely Helpless
The Greek Government now reveals that a great cruiser which was sunk in Greek waters Aug. 15 was the victim of Italian torpedoes. The fact was quickly established after the event, but was not revealed until after the Italian attack on Greece had begun. Reason, of course, was fear of giving the Italian Government offense.
At Patras Italian planes flying Greek colors flew over crowds innocently watching them and proceeded to let loose 200 bombs.
There is nothing new in this, of course. The Italian submarines regularly torpedoed Greek, English and other neutral freighters bound for Spain during the Italo-Nazi subjugation of that country, though Italy claimed not to be a party to the war.
And all of it is in the name of Bruno Mussolini who boasted of bombing helpless crowds of unarmed Ethiopians and expatiated on the beauty of their torn bodies hurtling through the air. It was, he said, like watching the opening of a rose.
The Italian soldier came out of the last war with an ignominious reputation. But he promises to come out of this one with the most contemptible one ever acquired by men in any uniform.
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