The Charlotte News

Saturday, March 29, 1941



Site Ed. Note: "Berlin's Piper" tells of a fateful meeting which probably solidified the plans to attack Pearl Harbor or at least laid out a contingency for same, either mediated as an exchange for the Nazis taking out Russia and thus leaving China to the control of the Japanese once Shanghai was placed in check, an easier thing to contemplate without the interference of the United States Navy aiding the British, and even easier still if Britain could be brokered to the peace table by the U.S. after an attack on its own navy promised a two-front war for which it appeared ill-prepared.

And yesterday in history, Virginia Woolf committed suicide in England by drowning herself in the River Ouse, near her home. She left a note, explaining her fear that she was descending into madness and that the effect would be too troubling to her husband, Leonard. She weighted herself with stones and passed beneath the waters.

"You must sing a-down a-down,/ An you call him a-down-a/ Oh how the wheel becomes it!/ It is the false steward, that stole his master's daughter."

Was her death that of Ophelia or was it self-immolation, a self-imposed Trial by Ordeal from the medieval? We cannot propose to say, nor dare we meddle in such intimate affairs of chosen death. What is a little ghostly to us, however, is that when we wrote the note accompanying yesterday's editorials, we didn't realize that it was for the editorials appearing in The News on the date of Ms. Woolf's death. Because we had looked at that date for a reason once upon a day, back in 1991, as we read her last novel, Between the Acts, while doing research on W. J. Cash, one might say that it was merely a sub-consciously stored thing, one only awaiting a float to the surface of consciousness. But that wouldn't explain the nimiety of seemingly concordant events either. For we also wrote that note in the blind on March 16, not knowing where we would place it--not the way we usually set down these thoughts. The editorials of March 28, among the remaining March dates--dictated in February, 2005 but held back on reserve, awaiting something, though we know not what--, we then selected to accompany the note as best fit, collaterally obverse to our usual course, composition in accompaniment. And then, a couple of days later, we came to the date of Ms. Woolf's death in another way, by looking a little more deeply into the medium on which we placed the print for that note after it was written, only to discover another perception, seeming to say something interesting, the truth or falsity of which could only be ascertained by emotion and subjectivity, that second thing yet again occurring completely outside our conscious intent.

So, there it is, perhaps--a Quest for Truth leading onward. Or maybe just a random thing, as you wish.

Let us just say in further response to the mysterious visitor who helped to inspire that note of yesterday, written the while as we listened repeatedly to the changing refrain of "Gravedigger", that when confronted with the question of what actually supercedes this corporeal existence in which we find ourselves afloat, or what the immanent prime mover which actuates either the end or beginning of it for all of us, all who have ever lived and died, we are all probably but crackers, wise or not.

Hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny.

Curing Crime*

Civitan Club Makes Realistic Attack On City's Problem

In order for congratulations is the Civitan Club for its program for the establishment of a clubroom and playfield for the Negro youth of the city.

It is probably the most realistic approach to the Negro crime problem which has been made by any agency.

From time to time we pay our respects to the police department and the courts for their failure adequately to cope with Negro crime, and particularly Negro murder, in the city. They undoubtedly deserve it, too. But the fact does remain that repressive measures alone can never hope to solve the problem.

When these agencies are called upon for action, the criminal has already been made and in most cases cannot be unmade. And as a rule the criminal is made in his teens or even earlier for that matter. And he is made in the last analysis, not--as a rule--because he is natively more vicious then another but simply because of circumstances--because he finds no legitimate outlet for his energies, the restless urge to activity, which belong to youth everywhere.

Undoubtedly, Charlotte's great and civil eminence for crime among its Negroes is due in a very great part to the fact that it has taken no trouble to provide activities which would absorb the energies of Negro youth.

The Civitan Club has made the first move in that direction, and deserves the applause and support of all other civic agencies and all people who have any feeling of responsibility about crime in the city.

Berlin's Piper

Never Before Were So Many Dressed-Up Rats Congregated

Not since the Pied Piper of Hamelin tooted three shrill notes on his pipe have so many rats flocked at one time around the charmer as they did in Berlin to meet Japanese Foreign Minister Yosuka Matsuoka at the Anhalter Station.

There were pomp and circumstance, dandy and dude, minister and stooge lined up in full dress array on the platform to greet the Rising Sun diplomat. But this little man was not the piper.

If Robert Browning had been there as a war correspondent, he might have repeated his words:

"Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats,
Grave old plodders, gay young whiskers,
Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives,
Following the Piper for their lives."

At Hamelin the Piper's notes promised all sorts of good things to eat, to make the world one vast drysaltery. At Berlin the arrival of Matsuoka and his subsequent talk with Hitler promises good Germans a "stabilization and clarification of the pre-conditions for the fundamental reform of international life"--to quote a German authority for whatever he may mean.

Germans would have us believe that this hobnobbing of Hitler with the Minister is of greater importance than the pre-war meeting between Adolf and Chamberlain. That meeting was to bring on war. This meeting, they infer, is to bring on victory. It is far and away more important to German psychology than the Hitler-Mussolini confab because Matsuoka can come with victory flags flying and scalps (Chinese) on his belt. The gorgeous welcome that the Italians extended to their victorious Caesars has been borrowed by the Germans for this occasion. Must be they want the world to think that something is cooking.

V. J. Guthery*

His Passing Leaves Void in Civic Activities

It is somehow difficult to assimilate the idea that V. J. Guthery is dead. He had lived out the full three score and ten traditionally allotted to mankind, and it was not really startling that at 71 he should fall dead with a heart attack.

But he was a man of great vigor and you did not think of him as being old. With his genial manners, he seemed always to be full of the vitality of youth.

However, the thing that goes most to make it hard to realize his passing is that he had made himself a fixture in the varied affairs of the community.

Coming here from Ohio 30 years ago when suspicion of the non-Southerner was still a general Southern characteristic, he made his way quietly and without arousing antagonism by dint of the fact that he plainly was a genuine person.

He was one of the slate of City Councilmen elected by the first Good Government League the city ever had. And for a brief while he served as the first City Manager.

For the rest, he was active, agreeable and admirable--a good man.

Brave Words

Which Undoubtedly Hide a Growing German Concern

Mr. Ribbentrop was whistling hard in the dark yesterday. Said he:

"We know already that the war is won for Germany and her allies--and toward the end of 1941 we believe the entire world will know it."

Certainly the evidence at the moment does not suggest that the war is already won for Germany. On the contrary, the action of Yugoslavia has definitely placed Germany in a very bad spot.

If Mr. Hitler attacks that country, he will encounter not only the Serbs but the British in the Serbian mountains, with almost no hope that blitzkrieg will work against them. But failure of blitzkrieg would inevitably mean the opening up of a Balkan war front, the thing he has wanted to avoid. The British retain control of the Mediterranean and in time can put several million troops in the Balkans. And beyond Yugoslavia lies Germany's back door. From Yugoslavian bases, the British will also be in easy bombing distance of German cities.

On the other hand, if Mr. Hitler does not attack Yugoslavia, his Balkan game is up. That was to frighten Greece and Turkey into surrender. But the possibility of flanking his armies--something the Yugoslavian action opens up--destroys his power to threaten.

The simple fact is that Hitler has taken a terrific diplomatic beating and at a time when it was particularly embarrassing to him because of Matsuoka's visit to Berlin. Worse the population of the victim lands are stirring restlessly as they see Yugoslavia calmly defying him.

All of which Herr Ribbentrop knows well. And is why he set "total victory" forward to late 1941. If there is anything fairly certain it is that if Hitler hasn't won long before late 1941 he will never win.

Plane Killers

These Should Be Dealt With Sternly as Warning

Near Robertsville, Ala. Ensigns Joseph C. Thompson and Paul C. Brown swooped their Navy plane down low over a field, apparently for the pleasure of frightening the people at work there. Result of this good, clean fun was that they decapitated one of the workers, a woman.

At the Pensacola base they are under arrest, and commander A. D. Sample says they may have to face a court-martial. There should be no may about it. They have committed murder, and should be punished accordingly.

It is not likely that they dreamed of anything of the sort. Just a pair of foolish young men, immensely proud of having recently got their commissions in the naval air corps, and showing off their high spirits in what they thought of as a lark.

But the airplane is a deadly weapon, even more certainly than the automobile. And the simplest commonsense requires that it be established once for all that innocent people must not be subjected to peril from it simply because of somebody's cruel sense of humor.

These men should be roundly punished, not only because they deserve it but as a warning to others who may feel inclined to indulge in the same sort of thing. It is a personal tragedy for the two young men to have their careers wrecked at the beginning. But the deed made tragedy for the poor dead woman and her family and no considerations of pity should stand in the way of stern measures here.


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