The Charlotte News
Thursday, July 4, 1940
Site Ed. Note: The reference at the end of "Vain Claim" that "Caporetto is confirmed" is to the Caporetto campaign in World War I in which the Italian army suffered a major defeat against the German-Austrian army, the latter having exploited the undermanned weak point in the Italian front. See "Italian Fight" by Cash, May 10, 1940, for a complete description of this campaign. (For an interesting and well-written anecdotal account of the Caporetto campaign as recounted by the son of a member of the Italian army which fought in it, see "Virgilio's Caporetto Odyssey".)
July 4, 1940
It Dawned Grey for World But Hope Was Not Lost
It was a grey morning, that of July Fourth, 1940. And with good reason.
In the harbor at New York a great figure of Liberty still held aloft the torch and looked toward France, who had given the statue in the first place. But in France Liberty was dead, slain by the Nazi horde with the aid of Frenchmen who hated liberty. Tyranny had come back to Europe, and hammered at the door of England. In all the world there were few places left outside the United States and Britain in which men any longer believed in any part of:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
And even in the United States there were men who hated and despised that doctrine.
In that same sea and on the same coast where Stephen Decatur had once done great deeds under the flag of the United States, England was locked in deadly combat with the fleet of France, lately her ally in the cause of Liberty and once the home of the battle cry, "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité!"
And the Nazi shadow hovered over America, in Latin-America pressed close.
But behind the grey morning, the sun strove valiantly to break through. And in the world the cause of Liberty was not lost unless free men had become too soft to will that it should not be so.
English Attack on French Fleet Was Fully Justified
The British attack upon and virtual destruction of the French fleet at Oran was the only rational course in the premises.
It is regrettable that the French commander chose to fight. Perhaps he was merely a specimen of the simple naval officer who knows no code save that of obedience to what passes for the legal government of his country, however that government was created. If so his spirit, though not his intelligence, deserves respect. But more likely he was one of the Fascist-minded traitors to France with whom Fascist-minded Admiral Darlan is known to have begun replacing loyal French admirals as soon as the sell-out to Nazi Germany was undertaken.
In no case is it possible to feel anything but contempt for the so-called French Government which ordered all French ships in British colonial harbors to "fight their way home" and attack all British merchantmen as they came. If that order was dictated by Adolf Hitler, it flatly violated the promise contained in the Armistice that the French navy should on no conditions be used against the British. But in point of fact the Nazis deny they ordered it. Instead, they say, they merely gave permission to the Petain gang to do as they pleased with the ships. That "permission" is the ultimate commentary on the degradation of the present position of France.
And if the Petain gang gave the order in question of its own free will and accord, it is the most infamous in history. Two million Britishers died in the defense of France in the last war. And only yesterday they were dying by the thousands for the same defense. True, Britain did not get the aid to France she ought, but that was simply the result of a policy pursued by Daladier as well as by Chamberlain--the outright insistence of the foolish old Marshal Gamelin that he didn't need more men. From being the ally of Britain, France has become her deadly enemy under the Petain gang. And worse, that gang is doing its level best to see that the French republic is never restored.
There is no mystery in that. Some American sentimentalists are still trying to find excuses for the Hero of Verdun. But Marshal Petain's Fascist sympathies are well-known; it was because of them that he was sent as French ambassador to Franco. In any case, Petain is only a figure head. The man who is actually master of the Petain clique is Pierre Laval. And working with him are such men as Boudin and Flandin. These men are the Fascist-minded traitors who sold out France to Italy and the Nazis from 1931 forward--the men, who to serve their own interest, invented the infamous appeasement policy. And they are the men who have engineered the present sell-out, who have set up to rule France as Nazi stooges without the consent of the French people, again to save their own properties and to get power for themselves.
The British, then, had no choice. They knew well what the promises of Adolf Hitler were worth, that if the French fleet fell into the hands of the Nazis, working hand in glove with the Laval gang, they would speedily be joined to the Italian fleet and England would find herself faced with a fleet as powerful as her own. And they had shown admirable restraint in refusing to do anything toward seizing the French fleet until it was plain that it was actually to go to Hitler.
Weight of Evidence Is All Against Mussolini
Signor Mussolini, whose hide is notoriously tender, is nevertheless apparently beginning to flinch under the world-wide contempt visited upon himself and his bandy-legged army for their jackal role in the war.
In his letter to Crown Prince Umberto, he repeated five times that "Italians and foreigners ought to know" that the Italian soldiers "fought their way through French defenses from eight to thirty-two kilometers on a twelve-mile front before the fighting ceased" in France.
But Signor Mussolini is merely wasting his energy. The world knows the advance was made against French forces reduced to a mere skeleton army by the necessities of the northern front and the fact that many thousands of French soldiers were trying to make their way out to North Africa and abandoning their positions in preparation for the coming sell-out. And that Signor Mussolini did not dare strike until he was quite sure that he had the French at least five to one.
And if that is not enough, then there is the fact that the Italian armies have been doing great execution all around the scene--on other Italians, whom, in their nervousness, they did not observe to be within range of their anti-aircraft guns.
And if that still isn't enough, then there's the fact that the Italians couldn't even produce a man up to whipping old Max Baer.
Caporetto is confirmed.
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