The Charlotte News
Tuesday, July 2, 1940
Site Ed. Note: July, 1940 would mark an eventful month for the world stage as well as for W. J. Cash. Hitler was fresh off his armistice-occupation of France achieved mid-June, avenging at last the humiliation of Versailles and the 1918 Armistice with his jig outside the railroad car at Compiègne on June 22, one year to the day before he would invade his "ally", Russia.
In Charlotte, beginning what would become his last year of life, Cash this day starts a month of inditements which would be virtually coextensive of the entire editorial column for the News as J. E. Dowd began a three-week vacation sometime around the 10th. It is not clear whether some of the staff supplemented the column at certain times, especially as to the few editorials relative to local affairs and occasional fillers. But it is unmistakable that most of the column's efforts during this month belonged to Cash--as this July 2 edition demonstrates amply by a persistent theme, running through all but one entry, of the threat of Nazism to the world and especially to the United States, and by Trojan Horses more than by force. Even the entry on the death of Ben Turpin cannot resist at the last the tie-in to the Nazi.
This was a particularly dismal day for Cash, obviously, following on the previous day's "At A Tomb". And for good reason. After the seven-month lull of the "phony war" following the invasion and fall of Poland, punctuated only by Hitler's quick accession of Denmark and Norway in early April, Cash had seen since the coming of war weather in May's springtime, for fifty days, the regular wire reports and magazine photos of the ruins first of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, then Antwerp, the vicious move through the "impenetrable" Ardennes against a mere nine divisions of French fighters, seven of which were manned predominantly by elderly men, and finally the intolerable strutting of the rat-like megalomaniac sporting his trophies beneath the pennons of the Dome of Invalides.
The 84-year old Marshal Petain had succeeded at the occupation of Paris by the Nazis the failing Paul Reynaud who had called for airplanes from the United States when Congress instead quailed behind isolation--and Petain, behind the incompetent Allied commander, General Maurice Gamelin, who sent 35 divisions from France into Belgium, leaving the Ardennes for the picking, surrendered France. The British quickly evacuated some 340,000--the numbers vary--in the blood of Dunkerque.
The democratic world should have been quaking, and in its wake responding boldly and decisively, with the United States now at the fore. Yet, still the cries of isolationists were loudest and the first to be heard abroad the land, led by Senators Wheeler, Borah, Reynolds, and Hiram Johnson, syndicated columnist General Hugh "Ironpants" Johnson, radio charmer Father Charles Coughlin, Bundists, Kluckers, and the Lindberghs, not to mention lesser knowns of the day such as then New York lawyer, John Foster Dulles, who engaged in a national speaking tour regaling the virtues of allowing the new Germania room to rule in Europe and thereby "stabilize" the political and economic instability plaguing the continent for decades--going along to get along, with Adolf Hitler.
Both party platforms would adopt planks in this month supporting isolationism and not sending Americans to fight overseas unless the United States were directly attacked. Polls showed the country deeply divided on the issue of intervention.
Whether or not the country would institute the draft was now a hot issue being denounced by the isolationists, by Burton Wheeler as that which would plow under every fourth American boy; nevertheless, it would begin in September.
The President increasingly sought Lend-Lease, formally adopted the following March, and the increasing use of convoy to get the goods safely to port--a risky proposition which would cost lives at the tubes of the U-Boats. But to go further, indeed to get even this far, the President's hands were delayed or stayed by a recalcitrant Congress plodding in this hot Washington July with Wheeler, Reynolds, Johnson, et al.
Three hundred and seventy-five miles south, it was therefore a month of prodigious and exhaustive work for Cash, three to five editorials per day seven days a week, plus, incidentally, the last touches on the long overdue manuscript for The Mind of the South, finally posted on July 27. Perhaps, it was the incumbent mental freedom engendered in him by the recognition that after a decade the burden of the thing was finally off him which provided the mounting brilliance of this month's editorial writing, virtually an historical opus in itself, especially during the last ten days of the month--but on the War, not the South.
The reader should pay close attention to the editorials of this month; though a month not highlighted to any degree in historical texts, as no climactic event actually took place--that having belonged only to June--it was nevertheless a month of dramatic assessment and re-assessment of the world situation, what bode from the old smoldering ruins of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, and so therefore, if not of making it so much, of recording history--in many places. As the month progresses, the attentive student of history will see in Cash's heightened warnings of the Nazi threat to the U.S. a virtual blueprint of the efforts to come of Hitler, Mussolini and the militarists in Japan during the ensuing eighteen months.
Coley Blease Illustrates the Working of a Law
The good old rules still holds: once on the public payroll always on the public payroll.
Take Coley Blease. It is 50 years now since Coley first got on the public payroll as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from Newberry County.
He stayed in the job until 1898, then he went into private practice, with only some incidental political plums to keep him in trim. But in 1904, back he went on the public payroll, this time as Senator from Newberry, to stay there until 1908. Three more years out and again he was on the public payroll with a bang, as Governor. That job he held until 1915, when he retired to reap the harvest which naturally falls to a lawyer who has been Governor.
The harvest grew leaner in time and in 1925 there he was again on the public payroll--this time as United States Senator. He kept that job until 1931, when the people of South Carolina got tired of having fun poked at them and retired him, all unwilling.
It looked then as though Coley were washed up for good. But not at all. Yesterday it was announced that Coley was once more back on the public payroll, as a member of the South Carolina Unemployment Compensation Commission.
Wheeler's Cries Are Calculated to Confuse
If Bounding Burt Wheeler carries out his threat to form a third party in this country, to be the "anti-war party"--he will deserve to be blasted into political oblivion.
No man can do this country a graver disservice now than to attempt to confuse it with such cries as Bounding Burt is raising against both the President and Mr. Willkie, that they are warmongers.
It is the privilege of Senator Wheeler to be for peace at any price if he chooses. But he should make it perfectly plain to the American people that he is willing to submit this nation to the Nazi will rather than fight. That is the only meaning his cries can have.
If he explains that to the American people, he will get precious few followers. For the American people as a whole are certainly not so enamored of peace that they want it at any price. And if he attempts to tell the people that all they have to do to have peace and be perfectly safe at the same time is simply to make up their minds that they are not going to fight--when he attempts to stampede the nation into advising the plundering nations that such is our position, that we are not going to fight under any circumstances--he is not only uncandid. He is playing fast and loose with the destiny of this nation.
And a man who does that sort of thing now deserves to be destroyed politically.
Wide Of Mark
Ironpants Ignores Real Nature of Nazi Attack
The argument put up by General Johnson in his column yesterday is a good example of the sort of thing which is likely to be the ultimate undoing of the United States.
He carefully confines the question to the assumption that all we have to fear is a head-on attack by Hitler with naval and expeditionary forces. And having framed the question to suit himself, he proceeds calmly to assume that we shall have plenty of time to get ready to meet it.
Maybe we might, if that were the real case. But armed attack by Hitler is the last thing we have to fear. He hasn't the faintest notion of using it if he can avoid it. Nazism is a revolution, as well as a conqueror, and it prefers to conquer by way of revolution from within.
What Hitler proposes is first to get control of Latin-American through stooge governments set up either by way of revolutions, led as much as possible by natives, or bought over. The process is now well advanced. And while it goes forward, he will do everything in his power to lull us into accepting him as a little cooing dove. And at the same time he will hold out seductive bait in the shape of offers to take all our surpluses off our hands if the Government will lend him the money to do it.
Meanwhile, also, the propaganda machine will be busy at work. And when he has effectually reduced us to an economic satellite of Berlin by means of soft words and appeals to our greed, the stage will be perfectly set for the propaganda to get in its work. There may be no violence at all involved in the installation of a Nazified government at Washington.
England Can Play This Cynical Game Also
The standard isolationist line now runs to the effect that "nothing we can do will change the verdict in Europe now. So let's not make Hitler mad by helping England, but keep our planes, etc. at home to make an impregnable defense."
What it amounts to is a proposal to leave England to be overrun by the Nazis without lifting a finger in her behalf, though it is plain that she is our last line of defense if Nazism is to be kept out of this hemisphere. And as in the case of General Hugh Johnson, it is often coupled with complacent speculation that by the time Hitler gets through destroying England, the Nazis will be pretty thoroughly exhausted and so won't be able to attack us for a long time to come.
However, if we are going to play that way, England may decide that, since the game is up, anyhow, she may as well get the best terms she can. Instead of politely fighting our war for us by killing her sons to bleed the Nazis so white they can't attack us, she may decide to let Mr. Hitler free his hands and take us on at once. And if she wants good terms--on paper, at least--the best way to get them is to hand her fleet over to Hitler, so that he can destroy us without any trouble.
There are people, some of them in the United States Senate, naive enough to believe that England somehow owes us the duty of turning her fleet over to us if she is defeated. But it is difficult to know on what ground. We have so far done nothing for England beyond selling her some equipment at exorbitant prices. There is a matter of several billion dollars in war debts, to be sure. But there is also the fact that the English Navy has protected the Monroe Doctrine for a hundred years--service for which the war debts do not begin to pay. If we are to wash our hands of England, she can turn to making the best deal for herself--regardless of the consequences to us--with a clear conscience.
Memories of Days When Turpin Was in Flower
The passing of Ben Turpin reminds us that we are growing older. There are people now grown to whom his name will mean nothing but a vague and somehow disappointing little old man who popped up briefly in a picture called Hollywood Cavalcade.
But in the teens and early twenties he was a great American institution. Maybe there was a little cruelty in our convulsed laughter as we looked at his goofy, sad eyes, while the custard pies rained upon him or as his advances to the Mack Sennett bathing girls met with the inevitable slap. The natural human cruelty which finds pleasure in the spectacle of incompetence and defeat.
But there was also some dim sympathy also--perhaps some dim perception that in this strutting, ugly little man whose schemes for self-assertion always came to grief, all of us were ultimately pictured to some extent. As well as Chaplin he somehow summed up the case of the pathetic, ill-favored underdog in the world.
And now he is dead. And, horrid thought, the bathing girls with whom he played, are themselves getting on to forty, fat, matronly, their charms almost as faded as those of Villon's old woman of the helmet. And Adolf Hitler is in the world, and there is not much left of the old hearty laughter which even in the World War the dead little man could somehow still command.
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