The Charlotte News
Wednesday, July 10, 1940
Some Americans Need To Read Doctrine Over Again
The Nazi line against the United States at the moment has to do with the Monroe Doctrine, and takes the tone of "sweet reasonableness" and the holding out of bait designed to sucker us through our "isolationists."
Says Boersen Zeitung:
"If the United States draws honorable (sic!) conclusions (from implications of the Monroe Doctrine) not only all Europe but also her English protege will benefit."
That is the sucker bait--the promise of better terms for England if we'll walk right up and toe the Nazi line.
What we are supposed to pay for that is to make the Monroe Doctrine "cut both ways." In return for the Nazi promise to stay out of the Western Hemisphere, we are supposed to agree "to stay out of Europe" and abandon England, cut off supplies to her and leave her to the tender Nazi mercy.
In view of the record on the value of the Nazi word, it is astonishing and appalling that anybody can be found to fall for that. But our columnist, Hugh Johnson, is already shouting for it. So are many Senators and Congressmen, and so are some newspapers.
That is right, they say. Indeed, the Monroe Doctrine explicitly promised to "stay out of Europe." And they quote selected passages designed to give you the impression that the Doctrine did actually promise to stay out of Europe under any and all circumstances. In view of that, it is worth noting exactly what the Doctrine did say:
"In the wars of European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy to do so. It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defense..."
If you look at that with any closeness, you will see at once that we have never undertaken to "stay out of Europe." We have merely promised to stay out of the wars of "European powers in matters relating to themselves," specifically reserving the rights to take a hand in European affairs, "when our rights (not merely our territory, mind you) are invaded or seriously menaced."
Indeed, under the view now put forward by the Nazis and their American friends, the first statement of the passage quoted would have been a flat falsehood. For we certainly had taken part in the wars of European powers--in the Revolution as an ally of France, in the War of 1812, as an ally of France, and in the war against the African pirates in the Mediterranean.
The whole effort to set up the notion that we must abandon England, stay out of what goes on in Europe under all circumstances, in order to be "fair" to Nazi Germany under the Monroe Doctrine, is an effort to muddy the waters and to confuse and mislead the American people. The Monroe Doctrine is a purely defensive instrument. It asserts nothing but that the United States will not tolerate the acquisition of the territory or the further extension of any European system to the Americas. Germany and Europe generally have the right to demand that that be reversed so as to apply to themselves, certainly. But that means simply that Germany and Europe have the right to demand that we shall not undertake to seize any part of European territory or to impose our "system" on them by force. Does anybody believe we are not ready to give that assurance, that we have not always lived up to it?
What Nazi Germany actually is, is a nation bent on the conquest of the Western world in order to carry through a brutal revolution, under which the Germans will become the Master Race, the rest of us slaves. That conquest is specifically aimed at the Americas as the ultimate term--and is already in progress both in Latin America and our own borders, through revolutionary activities of Nazi agents. Does anybody doubt that "our rights are invaded and seriously menaced"? That Nazi Germany is already engaged in precisely what the Monroe Doctrine said we would not stand for?
The whole argument is simply one to "divide and destroy," to persuade us to stand away from Britain until she can be destroyed, after which it will be our turn. We have never promised to keep out of European affairs when those affairs directly involve, and may settle, the question whether we shall remain free or become Nazi slaves. And Americans who try to tell us as much are more valuable to Hitler's purpose than half a dozen Fifth Columns.
Distinctions Should Be Kept in Mind in This
Solicitor Carpenter's "impassioned" plea to the jury for more convictions of Negroes for first-degree murder somehow leaves us a little uneasy.
We have long believed and urged that so long as Negroes were practically never convicted for first-degree murder, though the evidence showed overwhelming guilt, the Negro murder rate in the city was going to stay bad.
But there is always the danger that it might end in an indiscriminate witchhunt. The thing which always has to be borne in mind is that the Negro must first be proved to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And juries should consider the question of the effect on the public of the punishment handed him only after the evidence has been examined purely with regard to itself. What is wanted is more convictions for first degree murder of Negroes who are indubitably guilty of first-degree murder. The last thing wanted is the conviction for first degree murder of Negroes who may be guilty of nothing but manslaughter or self-defense, simply by way of trying to throw terror into the tough Negro population.
The Solicitor is the very official who ought to hammer that home, and especially in the case of Negroes, who usually cannot afford high-priced defense counsel. But it seems to us that Solicitor Carpenter failed to make the distinction clear.
Ultimately, crime among Negroes, as among white people, will be controlled best, not by flurries of harshness or penalties which do not fit the crime, but by the establishment of the knowledge that any man who commits a crime is certain to get the punishment which belongs to just that crime in short order. And for the fact that there is no such knowledge in the Negroes and whites in Charlotte, we believe nobody is more responsible than Solicitor Carpenter.
But This Man Is Somehow A Soothing Sort Now
Colonel DeWitt Peck is a hard-bitten leatherneck, and it may be that he was not as diplomatic as he might have been in stating flatly that "it's a lie!" (somehow we suspect that something was left out of that by the news report) when the Japanese started raising their cry that his Marines had manhandled the insolent Japanese policemen in disguise arrested inside the International Settlement at Shanghai.
The Japanese, with her great love of face, will not accept that easily, and in fact are already raising a tremendous clamor to have the State Department force Colonel Peck to admit the manhandling by apologizing for it.
We trust, however, that our Government still has enough spine not to order him to do such a thing. For, granted that Colonel Peck was a little indiscreet, he is still a refreshing sort of character in a country which abounds all too fatally in people who refuse to face any fact and who spend their time squawking against any forthright decision.
You at least know where the Colonel is. He knows well what his men did and did not do in arresting the Japanese. And in his direct way he is resolved to assert the fact vigorously, and hang the subtleties of international politics and the consternation in diplomatic circles.
The Colonel is the sort of man Kipling or John Paul Jones or old Black Jack Pershing would have understood. It was fashionable to laugh at that sort of man back in the twenties and early thirties--still in some quarters. But in time of peril he is worth a hundred assorted Rush Holts, Champ Clarks, Vandenbergs, and Robert Rice Reynoldses, bellowing about "plots" to get us into war.
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.