The Charlotte News

Sunday, August 11, 1940



Site Ed. Note: Below, regarding "Too Much Talk", we include an editorial, "Playing With Fire", by Hugh S. ("Old Ironpants") Johnson, appearing in the News on August 9, 1940. General Johnson, one of the nationally syndicated columnists whose editorials regularly appeared in the News, was often a favorite butt of Cash debate. (Cash's mother's name was Nanny, don't forget.) He did not mention this particular editorial by Johnson, though he certainly had his focus on the issue with which Johnson was not too much at odds with Cash's position as far as the draft itself was concerned, the need for celerity in passing the conscription act in some form. Johnson, however, favored a studied approach for what sounds like egalitarian reasons. But Johnson also was an isolationist, as the last segment of his editorial indicates--adopting a view that the draft would implement the appearance of a strong and ready defense mechanism and by that keep the U.S. out of the war in Europe, a position Cash believed was idiotic and insuring of only one thing, an ultimately hopeless situation vis a vis the Nazi noose being looped.

Johnson was a lawyer by training, a professional military man, and, perhaps thus pre-disposed to some degree of sloth in consideration of matters; in some circumstances, true enough, the more studied approach on such issues of vast public consequence is indeed necessary--when there is clearly time available to do it.

But, as Cash pointed out--and, in fairness, as Johnson did to a degree--time was quickly running on the matter. For if Hitler was successful in defeating Britain, a clearly open question in the summer of 1940, and still for another four and a half years afterward, then the thought was that it would be only a matter of time before Hitler had his sights on the United States, through machinations then occurring in South America and Mexico, as well as the island possessions of Denmark, France, and the Netherlands in the Atlantic and Caribbean. A web seemed to be slowly forming around the United States, which if the Japanese foot were also placed in the mix firmly in the Pacific, the U.S. would be left in the world to fight to the death alone, ill-equipped to do so on any realistic defense building program, on three fronts, or succumb to a world navy and spy network manipulated out of Berlin through the other Axis satellites.

Of course, lurking in the background out of public view, were the machinations at Pennemunde regarding rocketry, the jet, and the research into the ability to deliver warheads with a vast explosive force based on nuclear fission. These latter splits of nature were still in the works by the Nazi-enforced labor labs, but the first rockets were already being launched across the Channel at Great Britain from the conquered French coast. Fortunately, the thing ended in April, 1945, in time to prevent the worst. Another year of U.S. "neutrality" after latter 1941, and it might have been very different, with nuclear devices being dropped on both sides, or only by Germany. But of that, other than the well-known letter from Professor Einstein to FDR in 1939, the world knew little outside the Neanderthalic, particle divining caves in Germany.

Thus, time was running in a world in which Nazis strode it with power and will to destroy all who stood in affront of its boot-kick. Time always runs apace with such a mentality, for it is the mentality which insists that things must be done now, on a particularized schedule, with no variance by reason, or else be damned. For in that insistence comes the notion of maintaining the people at a distracted pace, unable to focus on more than the tenuous foothold upon human existence to serve the self-anointed superior group. It is the essence of Nazi mentality, or any form of totalitarianism. It is born of paranoia that should the people begin thinking deeply and organizing among themselves, ultimately the favored few will be toppled by the many, and that since thuggery was employed to obtain the power over them in the first place, vengeance will be had in the toppling of it--a deadly vengeance for deadly, Bestial deeds. It is the way of the beast.

By this point, nearly a year into the war which Hitler began by breaking the Munich Pact a year and a half after making it, time was nigh to begin a military readiness, unprecedented in the history of the country. There was a very real danger abroad the world, not in simply a relatively small corner of it, struck by a tyrant who plainly intended to rule all of it at his will, to the destruction and imprisonment of all except his Aryan few who favored his psychotic mastery and control of the Other.

The draft was therefore absolutely necessary in such an environment, not just to provide the appearance of readiness but to provide the force already needed to insure the survival of Britain and the rest of Europe, then by and large in the grip of Nazism. It proved within a short time into the subsequent months of 1940, after it passed, that volunteers were so numerous, the draft was almost superfluous, but nevertheless required to insure a democratic form of military preparedness. Cash favored full democracy in the implementation of it, including members of Congress. And, indeed, members of Congress were not exempted. Ham Fish, for instance, was called to Fort Bragg for training on July 2, 1941. Several members of Congress of fit age and strength would interrupt their service to join the military during the war.

In any event, to demonstrate something of the subtle debate on the thing at the time, here is the editorial by Johnson, appearing two days before the editorial below by Cash, (with apologies to Mick Jagger and Keith Richard).

Playing With Fire

By Hugh S. Johnson

Washington.-- Without apology, this column is becoming again a harp with one string--selected military service--or to put it more bluntly, conscription.

There are three reasons for this. It is the most vital immediate question before Congress and the country. I happen to know more about this subject than any other. It is despicably being made a political football. So here goes another twang on the jew's-harp.

Except for the President and lame duck Senator Burke, no leading Democrat has come out plainly for the principle of selective service. On the contrary, get a load of this from Democratic Senator Burt Wheeler to Candidate Willkie: "It is stated that some of the leading financial institutions in New York supporting your candidacy will refuse to support you if you oppose this legislation. This would be a good time to let the people know on which side you are going to stand."


The Senator added that the sentiment of the people as expressed through farm organizations, church groups, labor unions, peace groups and organized and unorganized youth is overwhelmingly against the Burke-Wadsworth Bill, that only Eastern metropolitan newspapers are supporting it and that the President is in accord with the principles of the bill.

There is nothing but pure politics in that blurb from Burt--nothing about the merits of necessity for selective service--a great and vital question of American security--only a taunt about political pressure groups, a demagogue's dig about Eastern influence and financial interests "supporting" Willkie and a clever confusion of terms between the principle of selective service and this particular (Burke-Wadsworth) bill.


That bill was badly drawn with little study of our past experience and little knowledge of the subject. It was badly presented without sufficient warning to the public or effort to inform it. The President wisely hasn't committed himself to its terms and Mr. Willkie would be foolish to do so. But the President has endorsed the principle. If Mr. Willkie did that also, it would leave the Senator's political trick all dressed with no place to go. The antics, posturing and political monkey-business in the Senate on this subject make one wonder whether Hitler is right about the unfitness of the democracies to defend themselves. Amendments to change the title of the bill to disguise its purpose, to limit the size of the draft, to exempt whole classes by legislative fiat--these things are attempts to discredit the principle, disgust the public and emasculate this legislation.

Congress, acting under public pressure, certainly didn't appropriate billions for armament for defense on any idea that the people were fools enough to think that weapons could defend America without men to wield them. As a Westerner, I deny that Westerners are bigger fools than Easterners.


It is no wonder that people in the groups named by Senator Wheeler are confused by the issue in its present unfortunate form. His and other similar action will confuse them further. But the question of service by selection is not a group issue--labor, farmers, youth or whatnot. It is not a financial issue, nor an East vs. West issue.

It is simply a question of whether or not we are going to get adequate defense against overseas attack and get it quick enough to keep war away from these shores. We won't get it if we don't get selective service and get it promptly. If politicians of Senator Wheeler's persuasion have their way, we won't get at all. It is not a step toward getting us into war. It is becoming clearer everyday that it is an absolutely necessary step in keeping us out. Where does Senator Wheeler stand on that issue?

The following little item, appearing also on the editorial page of the News on August 9, 1940, immediately below the above and immediately next to the latter two editorials by Cash of the date, we also include because it is curious, and at least to our sometimes slightly warped sense of time and humor, a little tickle. We all are used to seeing judges, at least those not accustomed to the invitation of chambers, in robe; but in another day 'twasn't so apparently, at least in the Tar Heel state. The reason, no doubt, this item came from Lumberton and not the state capital where the Court to which the item refers sits, was that the Chief Justice at the time hailed from the town. The little article is a bit esoteric in its use of language, but we will let you see that for yourself. If you are from elsewhere, you should know the place for at least two reasons: 1) It is the home base for the Lumbee Tribe of Native Americans, (not yet to this day receiving full Congressional recognition and rights as a tribe, as it certainly ought), thought to be descendants of the tribe of Croatoan, who likely took in the first English settlers when their own home country had appeared to abandon them to the wilderness, circa 1588-89; 2) It is where the 1986 film "Blue Velvet" was set, though surely set there, by our attestation from some familiarity, albeit ages ago, with the community, only for literary and not literal reasons--at least no more literally than it would be for most towns of a similar make-up and background. (Most of the film was filmed, incidentally, in Wilmington.) And if you ever visit Lumberton or the Lumber River, by all means stay out of the swamps; they are full of snakes, some of which are deadly poisonous copperheads which when played with are apt to bite you--though you may survive nevertheless, even if doing so may make you part copperhead. Also, beware of a large, large dog on two legs named Goofy, who you are apt to see in the front yard on occasion, at least when you are sleepy and wanting to watch cartoons. Based on our limited experience, you might also see Elvis or even Sputnik flying overhead, get to meet President Roosevelt's son stopping for gas, glimmer a neato '57 T-Bird with a 312 V-8, four-barreled whatchymajiggy from Norment Motors, see a native state basketball team bring home the bacon, experience a wild hurricane or tornado or two, or hear of a bunch of white-hooded wildos, while trying to hold a rally in a majority minority county down the road a bit in Maxton, winding up being chased from the place by the native population, as it was in January, 1958--and good for the Indians beating the Kowboys for once, (hmmm, who was that masked man?)--but those are other stories altogether, hidden deep within the vault of time and the swampy mists... So, anyway, for what it's worth, here 'tis:

Justice in Robes

Lumberton Robesonian

Justices of the North Carolina Supreme Court seem to be headed--or bodied--toward official robes. They will appear in state and be high and lifted up above the common people. Chief Justice Stacy is said to be opposed to adopting robes but will wear one if the majority vote is for putting on more dignity in appearance. Mr. Justice Clarkton is quoted as saying that he formerly was opposed, but seeing as how the Methodists and Baptists have adopted vestments for their choirs he has changed his opinion and has decided he might as well wear a robe before he is gathered to his fathers.

The late Federal Judge Boyd did use to rifle some of the Democratic brethren by wearing a robe in presiding over courts in North Carolina, but that was back in a plainer day. Now that the state high court members are going to put on robes, maybe the Superior Court judges will do likewise. Then maybe, suggests the News and Observer, judges of Recorder Courts will adopt the style and knock out the eyes of admiring court attendants.

Maybe it will be a good thing. It should help to save wear on the judicial pants.


Grand Total*

This New Deal Has Been Costliest in Our History

It may be unpatriotic, now that the country has turned with a vengeance to national defense, to raise the topics of finances and deficits and New Deal extravagances. President Roosevelt, indeed, even before there was a German military machine rumbling over Europe, has always impugned the motives behind such talk.

His Administration, he used to reply to critics of its fiscal lightheartedness, was spending to win the war against depression, a much more defensible war than that of 1917-18. Anybody who questioned the billionaire ways of the New Deal was, on the face of it, an unfeeling person who put dollars ahead of humanity.

At any rate, years of successive deficits hardened the people to running deeper and deeper into debt. So that Mr. Morgenthau's estimate of the deficit of $5,700,000,000 for the year 1940-41 is only some more of the same. There have been deficits back in peace times which were almost that large.

A tabulation of the Roosevelt deficits, while they are water over the dam, may be pertinent. Here they are for the eight years of the New Deal:

1933 ...................... $1,783,848, 180

1934 ..................... 2,895,529, 204

1935 ..................... 3,209, 408,110

1936 ..................... 4, 549,688,807

1937 ..................... 3,148,568,519

1938 ..................... 1,384, 160,931

1939 ..................... 3,542,267, 955

1940 ..................... 3,741,249, 136

1941 (est.) ............... 5,700,000,000

The grand total -- $29, 954,720,842.



A Model Which the Whole Country Might Adopt

The details of the military training program at the University of North Carolina have already been printed in the news stories. But the preamble to the resolution unanimously adopted by the Board of Trustees, which authorized the program, deserves reproduction. The resolution was introduced by Judge John J. Parker of Charlotte. The preamble runs:

"In this period of national danger, institutions of learning owe a special duty to the country and to the young men who are gathered at the seats of learning for the pursuit of their studies. To the country such institutions owe the duty, not only of co-operating with the public authorities, but also leading in the formulation of prosecution of an adequate program of national preparedness. To their students they owe the duty of furnishing opportunity, while pursuing their studies, to prepare themselves adequately to serve the country effectively in case of need. As a practical matter, this means that the University of North Carolina should furnish military training to its male students at this time."

That sums it up adequately and quietly, and might well serve as a model for the rest of the institutions in the nation--or, for that matter, even unto Congress itself.


Too Much Talk

A Filibuster on Draft Is a Criminal Gamble

From the Associate Press report from Washington for Thursday we cull the following:

A closely-knit group of Senators met yesterday in the office of Senator Norris, Independent, Nebraska to plan for a "full debate, no compromise fight against the legislation" (i.e. the Burke-Wadsworth Conscription Bill).

"I hope there will be the maximum number of speeches," said Senator Nye, Republican, North Dakota, one of the foes, but he added that this did "not at all" mean a filibuster.

Nevertheless, the rumor persists that a filibuster, led by Burton Wheeler, is precisely what the group does plan. And indeed, when you come down to it, "the maximum number of speeches," which Nye admits he wants, pretty well adds up to a filibuster.

No rational person believes that the Burke-Wadsworth Bill ought necessarily be adopted without examination. Many competent military men have expressed doubt of several of its features. Whatever time is necessary to insure that the bill is the best and most workable possible ought to be taken.

But that is a very different thing from what the Norris-Nye-Wheeler-Vandenberg group plan. The draft is obviously necessary in simple common sense. But these men are dead against any kind of draft. And lacking the power to kill it directly, they hope to kill it or at least emasculate it by talking interminably.

The filibuster is a bad device under any circumstances, for it allows a minority to set up and defeat the will of the majority. But in this case it will be nothing less than a criminal gamble with the destiny of the republic. Army officers are already complaining that it will soon be too late to build barracks, necessary for training men, until next Spring. Such a delay may well be fatal to the life of the nation.


A Difference

Case of Belgian Child Is Not That of English

The Hon. Robert Rice Reynolds, the distinguished moral philosopher who represents North Carolina and the Senate, sees England's duty very plainly. She ought, he says, to raise her blockades so food can go through to Belgium.

"I think it little behooves the British," he goes on, "to object to our feeding starving children of Belgium... in the face of the fact that we are attempting to save from death their children of the British Isles by evacuating them at this time."

It is small thanks to Robert that the British children have any prospect of being evacuated. His heart has failed signally to bleed for them as it now bleeds for the victims of the Nazis. More than that, he has his cart before his horse.

One nation and one nation alone is responsible for this war. That nation is Nazi Germany, with its lust for the conquest of Europe and the world. If the Belgian children are hungry today, and will be hungrier this Winter, they are hungry because Adolf Hitler has overrun their country and stolen their food to feed Nazis.

It is Adolf Hitler who has destroyed these nations and it is Adolf Hitler who rightly has the responsibility of feeding them. If they are starving, the whole responsibility for the crime rests squarely upon Adolf Hitler. And it is a strangely fuzzy logic which fails to observe that fact.

England maintains her blockade, not because she wants to starve the children of her late ally, Belgium, but because her blockade represents her one ultimate chance to escape the fate which has already fallen upon Belgium, France, and all of Hitler's other victims. She must bend Hitler and his infamous people to their needs by starving them, or she must surrender to slavery. That is the cold and inescapable fact.

And as for the United States--.

For himself, a Belgian child hasn't exactly the same claim on our sympathy as a British child, certainly. And if it made no difference to us or to the world who won in this war, we should be duty-bound to insist that the Belgian child be fed if the English child was to be fed.

But it does happen to make an enormous difference to us and to the world as to who wins this war. We can bring the English child to safety on these shores without the slightest risk of exposing ourselves to tyranny and slavery. But if England lifts her blockade in order for us to feed the Belgian child, we shall immediately be putting our head into the wolf's jaws. Every ounce of food sent to Belgium releases an ounce of food to go to Germany. And if Germany is fed, England will fall. Then Adolf Hitler will be in a position to strike for his schemes in America.

What Robert Rice Reynolds proposes is inevitably, not only that England shall fall but also that the United States shall be exposed to war, with every prospect of being defeated and brought under the Nazi tyranny.

What his motive is we don't know. Maybe he wants it that way. Maybe the spectacle of distress in a Belgian child does move him while the case of an English child leaves him cold. Maybe he doesn't really see that the Nazis, not Britain, are to blame for this crime. Maybe that is why he fails to mention the Nazis at all and talks only of Britain.

As we say, we don't know. But what we do know is that the overwhelming majority of the American people certainly do not want England to fall, certainly do not want Hitlerism hammering at our front door, positively do want to see Britain's blockade draw closer around the enemy.


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