The Charlotte News

Sunday Morning, December 22, 1940 1



Site Ed. Note: Want a rousing Christmas with a little Irish? We recommend "Christmas" by the Clancys, recorded in another time of war, both in Ireland and in Southeast Asia, 1969. If they could sing it then, we can surely do it now. Not much more rousing a version of the Jingle song will you ever hear than "Buala Bas". And another just out, in yet another year of war, 2003, is "Go Tell It On the Mountain" by the Blind Boys of Alabama. Then there is always "The Bells of Dublin", by the Chieftains, recorded in 1991. There are many others, of course, (Bing Crosby's Armed Forces Radio broadcast of 1944?), but these three tradition laden, non-traditional sounds make Christmas hard put not to bring a smile, at any time, even the grimmest.

After Christmas, you can cogitate some on "Bold Threat" and read Cash's interesting notion that if half the Fleet had been moved to the Atlantic from Hawaii and left the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines abandoned for the time being, then Japan's "teeth would be pretty well pulled". "To attack Hawaii she has to cross 4,000 miles of water, nearly the cruising limit of a battleship. Half the Navy would be quite adequate for the defense of the Pacific. The defense of Australia would offer some difficulties, but Japan's hands would be pretty well full with her new conquests for some time to come." An interesting concept to have allowed Japan to tie its own hands with temporary conquests, the attempt at which appeared to Cash inevitable. And then the other half of the Navy, Cash posited, could finish off the flagging remnants of the Italian forces and bottle up the Nazi in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. It wasn't done this way. Had it been, who knows? But come across the 4,000 miles under veil of cloud and fog the Japanese navy would 350 days hence. Cash was gone before it.

But always and always, regardless of matters of war and death comes the rebirth of Christmas. Buala bas, a buala bas, a buala bas...

As always, all we want for Christmas is our two front teeth.

"O, Sing!"

A "Must" for Those Who'd Truly Observe Christmas

Sing, choirs of angels,

Sing in exultation,

O, sing, all ye bright hosts of heav'n above;

Glory to God, all glory in the highest.

The words of this favorite hymn "O, Come, All Ye Faithful," manage to transmit some of the joyousness of it. But the printed letters are mute and cold in contrast to the triumphant spirit that wells out of the high and sustained mood of the music.

The most marvelous opportunity to sing and to listen to transporting music of the season has been made possible in Charlotte's Community Christmas Service. Begun last year as another of the fruitful ideas of Mr. David Ovens, the Christmas service was so immediately a success that it had acquired institutional status even before the first concert was over. Tomorrow afternoon (at 3 in the Armory-Auditorium) that will be confirmed by a second joyful occasion.

What's more, it is absolutely free, except for a collection discreetly taken up for The News Empty Stocking Fund. But there is, come to think of it, a sort of stipulation as to who shall be admitted.

A first requirement is that those who come shall either be possessed of the Christmas spirit or receptive to it. And they shall be of good cheer. And they shall let themselves respond to the artistry of soloists and chorus and orchestra without stint, and shall be warmed by a kindlier feeling toward themselves, their loved ones and all their fellow men.


Hal Kemp

A Boy Whose Career Came Effortlessly and Agreeably

Just about as admirable a fellow as you could find in a month's journey was Hal Kemp, whose death has shocked a whole host of friends and admirers. Fame sat on him lightly and becomingly, nor affected the friendliness that made him one of the most popular of all celebrities.

His career was amazing as much for the apparent effortlessness of it as for its success. He simply started an orchestra of high school boys, and it was natural that he who was its best musician and a stickler for excellence, should be its leader. And after high school came college and another, better orchestra under the direction of Hal Kemp.

From then on this single-minded musician, now a professional, moved upward and acquired a name in the field of dance orchestra. Kemp's rhythms and arrangements were as distinctive as his soft-voiced way of talking, which both identified and endeared him.

And now the boy who was plainly destined to eminence in his profession is no more, and that is saddening. But there is this consolation--that in his limited years he contributed to the enjoyment of hundreds of thousands of people of all kinds.


Trouble Spot*

Quarrel Between Ford and Unions Needs Settling

One thing the Administration should lose no time in tackling is the labor situation in the Ford Motor Company. The Ford plants are potentially one of the greatest producing units for machines directly useful for defense.

Now, however, the United Automobile Workers (CI0) is threatening a strike in Detroit to tie up the whole Ford organization. Reason, it says, is that it has asked for a collective bargaining election and has been given no answer. But yesterday the Associated Press reported:

I. A. Caprizzi, Ford counsel, said the company would not agree to an election because it believes the union did not have a majority.

Which is certainly an odd argument. The election is held, of course, precisely to see if the union does have a majority.

But no matter who is right or who is wrong, no delays due to union labor disputes should be tolerated at this critical time. The status quo should prevail. Labor should restrain itself from pressing for new reforms and should be restrained from using strikes to extend its organization or bargaining power. And management should in turn have to accept the law of the land as it stands which includes the Wagner Act.


Site Ed. Note: This editorial's implications pretty well nail to the floorboards those who foolishly believe Roosevelt allowed Pearl Harbor to occur as pretext to drag us into the war; if he had wanted to provoke an incident, there were ample opportunities much earlier to do so with far less risk of the enemy inflicting a crippling blow. Congressional authorization for a two-ocean navy would not come until summer, 1941; at that time, for instance, the United States had seven aircraft carriers to Japan's ten and most military experts doubted that even the combined force of the British and American navies could defeat the Japanese force in a head-on battle. (For a look back at the situation as viewed through earlier editorials, see "Behind the Face of Japan", book-page editorial of June 7, 1936, "The Ships We Scrapped", March 21, 1938, "Hiram Looks at Guam", March 11, 1939, "Pearl Harbor", September 28, 1939, "Facing Facts", May 12, 1940, "Indo-China", June 23, 1940, and "Squirrel Cage", July 21, 1940.)

Thus, Roosevelt's options were limited: leave the entire Fleet at Pearl for maximum protection of the Philippines and the valuable oil and tin reserves of the Dutch East Indies--a dangerous poker bet that Japan would be deterred by it and the potential build-up which would inevitably follow any form of substantial aggressive movement despite Japan's then current superior naval strength--as well as for support against Japan's China and Indo-china offensives; or go a course along the lines of what Cash is suggesting, dividing the navy in two for support of the British in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. In the end, either option meant war, of course--especially as the isolationists in Congress balked at nearly every move by the Administration to increase defense spending. The question was simply when, where, and on what terms of preparedness by the U.S. war eventually would come and whether it would soon or late, after the British had been vanquished leaving America to fight alone on two fronts. But war with Japan at least still was not seen as an inevitability in Washington even as late as fall, 1941, as the hope continued to be to woo Japan into rapprochement, inducing them to back off their Asiatic offensives in exchange for some form of ease of the crippling trade embargo imposed by both Britain and the U.S.--a strategy which nearly worked in the darkening autumn days of mid-November, 1941--almost, but ultimately proved unacceptable to the Japanese warlords in the high command in Tokyo.

Bold Threat

Nazis Plainly Begin To Be Worried by Aid for Britain

Yesterday at Berlin a German Government "spokesman" told the Associated Press--

"The question of continued peaceable relations between Germany and the United States hangs in the balance as the German Government awaits reaction to the Cross shipping proposal... That proposal is nothing other than inciting America to commit a warlike act. I speak with tremendous earnestness in my capacity as your official informant and spokesman."

The reference was to the tacit request of Ronald H. Cross, British Minister of Shipping, that German and neutral ships (of nations seized by Hitler) now in American ports be turned over to Britain at once to balance out her shipping losses and hurry American goods to her. These ships are the only ones now available, the only ones which will be available for at least a year, save for those of our own merchant marine.

What the spokesman has to say constitutes the most serious threat with which we have been confronted since the war began. In substance, it is very nearly a bald pronouncement that Germany will make war on us if we hand over the ships to the British.

Considered separately, the act of taking over the ships and selling them or giving them to England would be legal under international law. All sovereign nations have the right to condemn ships which enter their ports and use them for their purposes, provided they are duly paid for after adjudication. And the sale of ships is quite as legal as the sale of guns--or cotton cloth. But, taken together, the two acts would certainly violate the spirit of international law.

However, it is to be observed that it still would not violate one-half as much as did the transfer of the fifty destroyers--for the sale of warships to belligerents is a flagrant act of war under all codes. Yet Germany swallowed that in silence. That is the dead give-away that Germany's standard is purely one of expediency.

What we have here is a move designed to be taken as a threat to this country and frighten us into greater caution. It is just possible that Germany actually means it. But chances are that she is bluffing, as was Japan some months ago.

To bring the United States into the war by an act of her own would be blind folly. It would guarantee that the American industrial machine would go into high gear for the quickest possible production of such quantities of war machines as would eventually dwarf Germany's effort. She might risk that, to be sure, on the theory that she could knock Britain out before we got in motion.

But there is an appalling immediate consideration for her. Its name is the American Navy, the most powerful sea force in the world.

But what about Japan? She is a member of the Axis and would be sure to attack in the East? It is to be remembered that Japan is moved only by her own ambitions, not by any love for Hitler.

If we attempted to defend the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines, the bulk of the fleet would have to stay in the Pacific, of course. But if we abandoned them for the time being, Japan's teeth would be pretty well pulled.

To attack Hawaii she has to cross 4,000 miles of water, nearly the cruising limit of a battleship. Half the Navy would be quite adequate for the defense of the Pacific. The defense of Australia would offer some difficulties, but Japan's hands would be pretty well full with her new conquests for some time to come.

A very considerable part of the Navy could certainly be transferred for action in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Italy's doom would immediately be sealed. And Hitler's sea war would face far heavier odds.

All this is well understood at Berlin. And so it is likely that the threat is a bluff. We should understand, however, that the move of the transfer of the ships will definitely take us nearer eventual entry into the war. On the other hand, our only choice is to retreat from the position we have already taken of granting Britain aid as our first line of defense. Upon these ships that first line of defense undoubtedly greatly depends.


1 In passing, we note that without any apparent reason, this and November 24, 1940 are the only Sunday editorial spaces for the News ever headed "Sunday Morning" as opposed to simply "Sunday". On Monday, November 24, 1941, the Japanese Fleet was under full sail and, having been detected moving south, Admiral Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, would brief Admiral Kimmel, Commander of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl, and Admiral Hart, Commander of the Asiatic Fleet in Manila, that peace negotiations in Washington, between Secretary of State Hull and Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Nomura and special envoy Kurusu, were not likely to succeed, that a surprise attack on the Philippines or Guam was possible. Two days earlier, November 23, Tokyo time, Vice Admiral Nagumo, Commander of the Japanese First Air Fleet had announced for the first time openly in a special meeting of the captains and staffs of the ships of the Fleet that their mission target was an attack on Pearl Harbor. And the following day, Takeo Yoshikawa, Chancellor of the Honolulu Consolate had dispatched to Tokyo the word that the U.S. Fleet's submarines would likely be in the harbor, not out on patrol, on Saturday and Sunday. Ah well, stranger than fiction, a' times.

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