The Charlotte News
Saturday, December 14, 1940
Some Notes on What the People Are Saying
"I hear," said the middle-aged matron to her companion as they walked toward Independence Square, "that the British have got 20,000 Italian prisoners."
"Yeah," said the other middle-aged matron, "what they going to do with 'em?"
"I dunno," said the first: "I hope they kill 'em!"
"What old Hitler doing?" inquired the second matron. "I didn't have time to hear before I left home."
"I dunno," said the first, "but I bet he ain't happy. It's gonna be his time next. I hope they hang him."
The young man in the restaurant was quite emphatic in his pleasure over the British victory in Egypt.
"Did you see that Herblock cartoon with Mussolini asking Hitler, 'How long were you in England on September 15, Boss, and how did you enjoy your stay?' "
"I hope," he continued buoyantly, "that he has to run to Hitler and that Hitler hangs him to the yard-arm."
The scenes on the screen were from burned and gutted Coventry. And the sneer on the face of the German aviator, who had been shot down and was being cared for by English women, was very insolent.
Spontaneously voices spoke out of the dark:
"They ought to kill him!"
Who Minds the People on A Road at That Hour?
It was 5 o'clock in the morning. And at that time of day the Mount Holly Road isn't exactly crowded. Nobody important on it. No big cars, except for that of an occasional bootlegger. All the important people and the owners of big cars are snoring happily at that time of day.
Just some working people, coming in from out that way in their small faded automobiles. A sprinkling of Negroes among them, in limping jalopies. Perhaps a dairyman. Or a farmer or two, anxious to get into town early and sell their produce so that they can get back for a day of puttering around the farm, doing Winter jobs like mending fences--or maybe to do a little hunting with the family larder in mind.
Nobody important, you see. The fathers and husbands and brothers and sons of other people who don't matter, but who'd have a tough time of it if they were suddenly taken off. And so it was a matter of no moment, of course, when, Thursday the cops spotted a bootlegger and proceeded to chase him--at 100 miles an hour.
Old fogeys call that a risky speed, of course. The people do almost that well down South Tryon Street sometimes, including the cops. And out there on the Mount Holly Road you might not meet a single car in the whole run. And if you did and somebody's brain and hand missed by a hair in the split fraction of a fraction of a second of time he had to gauge the margin of safety--oh, well, the dead cops would've been taking the risk willingly. And the other dead didn't matter.
Not against the great goal to be achieved anyhow. One hundred and fifty gallons of white corn liquor. True, that was only a teacup-full withdrawn from the Atlantic of Charlotte consumption. But it helped bolster the illusion that Prohibition could be and was being enforced. And as against that, always the risk of unimportant lives?
She Was a Person of the Truest Distinction
There are in this world a few persons whose appearance and manner at once identify them as belonging to a true aristocracy. Such a one was Florence Thomas, to whom death came this week.
Miss Thomas, a member of the Central High School faculty for these last eighteen years and for a third of that time this newspaper's special writer on home economics, was as little obtrusive as a person may be, yet bore an unmistakable distinction. It came, perhaps, from the beauty and grace and quiet dignity that were hers and that blended into a sort of ineffable sweetness. That, in a word or two, was Florence Thomas.
Fascist Terrorism May Prove Fatal for the Regime
Possibly Editor Ansaldo and Gayda have taken the bit in their teeth and are acting on their own. After all, their necks are at stake. But if their insinuations that "defeatists" in Italy are to be put down by strong-arm tactics on the part of the Fascist Party plug-uglies actually heralds the intention of their master, Mussolini--why, then Benito would be well advised to take a second thought.
That course was easy in Italy in 1923. The Fascists had arms, the people were unarmed and apathetic and disgusted with the old regime, and the skeleton army was in sympathy with the Fascists for the main. It worked all right in Rumania recently, too, because of the same reasons.
But the situation in Italy today is quite different. The evidence grows that this "defeatistism" is the defeatism of the masses generally. Worse, the army is not predominantly made up of members of the Fascist Party. The body of the fighting force is composed of the simple sons of the peasantry and the proletariat. And the lackadaisical way in which they have been fighting, the wholesale way in which they surrendered to the Greeks and the British, indicates all too clearly that disaffection extends to their ranks also.
True, the commanders of the armies are mainly high Fascists, but commanders get scant regard from disaffected armies. And if Mussolini is fool enough to attempt to strong-arm the public into silence, it is a pretty good bet that these peasant and proletarian lads are suddenly going to remember where their real sympathies lie and that they have guns in their hands.
Strong-arm tactics now may well initiate a revolution and a wholesale purge of the Fascist Party bullies. That would be an excellent thing from the standpoint of civilization, but naturally Benito and his Fascist followers don't want it.
Weygand Apparently Ends Any Chance for Revolt
I am very displeased at the trend of the British and American propaganda... What I object to in this propaganda is the intention behind it to create the impression that there is a lack of harmony between Marshal Petain's policies and mine. I am here to serve my country. That country is Marshal Petain incarnated. I have been delegated to command all French Africa... Africa is one with France and General Weygand is one with Marshal Petain. --General Weygand to Jay Allen, North American Newspaper Alliance correspondent as printed in the News for December 13.
If General Weygand planned to go over to the British side when and if the opportunity arose, he would of course talk like that in the hope of misleading the Nazis. But that is only a possibility. On the face of it, he has apparently disposed of all chance that he will ever raise the standard of revolt against the Nazi conqueror and hurl the African armies against him.
In all probability, it was wish-thinking all along--the hope that he would revolt. He is a strong Royalist, hates democracy. Except for the racial superiority of the German, the Nazi ideas are very much his own. And undoubtedly his personal loyalty to Marshal Petain is very great.
Petain shares his ideas, and it is far from certain that if he thought the rescue of France meant the restoration of the Republic, he would move his finger for it. Moreover, Petain is a defeatist and always has been one. That Verdun slogan, ils ne passeront pas, has given most Americans a totally false notion of his essential character. If Petain is France incarnated, and Weygand is one with Petain, then about all there is left to say is: God help France!
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