The Charlotte News
Monday, December 30, 1940
President Takes Off Gloves For Axis and Isolationists
The President last night was a good deal more vigorous and frank than he has yet been about the war. The Axis was branded for what it is, a criminal conspiracy against civilization, and notice was served on it that its threats are entirely useless so far as the Administration is concerned.
But the speech was perhaps less concerned with that than with the President's obvious fear that the greatest danger at the moment comes from within--not from Nazi and Fascist Fifth Columnists for the most but from such groups as the America First and No Foreign War Committees. Some of the people who make up these committees, as the President said, are plainly somewhat less than well disposed toward democracy, would like to see Fascism established here.
Most of them, however, are apparently well-meaning sentimentalists or people who are so frightened by the grim prospect in front of us that they want to duck it by pretending that it just doesn't exist.
Fundamental delusion of these people is contained in the huge advertisements with which the No Foreign War Committee, ostensibly invented and run by a small town editor from the Middle West, is flooding the land. It is that the war now going on in Europe is a foreign war and that all we have to do to be safe is simply to make up our minds to keep out of it.
The President devoted a great deal of time to exposing the plain nonsense of that attitude. The record, as he said, shows conclusively that what is going forward is conceived and intended by the Nazis as a world revolution under which democracy will be destroyed and a slave society established, with Germany furnishing the master group. The record shows also that Hitler not only intends to penetrate the Americas but is already in the process.
Our sole choice is one of backing England to the hilt in the effort to save democracy, or to resort to appeasement. And the record shows, as the President said, that appeasement of Nazism is impossible save by the sword.
If we resort to appeasement, we are certainly abandoning democracy. And the chances are overwhelming that it will profit us nothing, that in the end we will have to fight--alone and with the odds terribly against us.
All this was already clear enough to most men who have thoughtfully examined the case as it has developed. It was high time that the President drove it home to the country. The appeasement committee seemed to be well supplied with funds, and there was definite peril, still is definite peril, that they might be able to whip up the hysteria which would completely cripple aid for Britain until it was dreadfully too late.
Whatever the intention of these committees, the President is right in saying that they are in practice playing the Nazi game straight down the middle. And the country should be put on its guard against them.
The President was more frank than in the past in confessing that the course we take has its risks--may mean all-out war. Even so, he is right in saying that the risks displayed are vastly smaller than in the appeasement way.
Weakest point in the speech, perhaps, was a certain mealy-mouthed attitude toward the sacrifices labor must face. Quite possibly, it was intended to offset the demands of the Howard Smith group. This group represents the worst labor-baiting elements in the country, and nothing could be better calculated to stir suspicion and stubbornness in labor than demands from it. Labor has a right to expect that sacrifices shall not be for the benefit of private capital and that they shall not be used as a wedge for the destruction of the unions. But sacrifices it must make if it is not to be exposed to Nazism. And the sooner it is made fully aware of it, the better.
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