The Charlotte News
Monday, August 12, 1940
Site Ed. Note: Regarding the draft and the prospect of sending men to Europe, the subject of "Borah's Echo", we quote a brief segment of an editorial, titled "Beyond Prophecy", appearing in this edition of The News, not so much for its content, but because "The Editors", probably Cash, thought enough of its pomposity to place a snide remark at the end.
After relating an anecdote from July, 1917 in which the author states that he had suggested in a memorandum that the first selective draft be for a million men, whereupon President Wilson sent back the memo, angrily splotched and stabbed through with droppings from his fountain, stating in terse, exclamatory reply that the American people would never stand for it, its author, General Hugh S. Johnson, then proceeded to pronounce to his readers in 1940, under the editorial segment heading, as provided by The News, "A MAN MODESTLY CONFESSES HIS DEEDS", the following:
"We in the selective draft organization never agreed. As the system started, it was not geared to get 100,000 men a month. In December, 1917, I revised the entire machine to examine and classify the whole 10,000,000 pool of manpower. A result was that when the pressure came in 1918 and the Allies began to scream for 'men in their undershirts,' it was enabled to step up the monthly taking from 30,000 or 40,000 to 400,000 men a month--without a ripple. I shall always believe that this change did much to win the war.*
"Anyway, it burned in on my mind the fact that no man is smart enough to foresee the course of war once the fateful decision is made to engage in it. We do a lot of talking about 'defensive' war and 'defending' the Western Hemisphere. No country at war can completely decide its own policy any more than Joe Louis could decide what he had to do against Max Schmelling in their first fight. The enemy has something to say about that. As has frequently been remarked in this space, in a knock-out fight you can't afford to 'hit soft,' and you can't enter any fight with one hand tied behind your back or one foot hobbled to a post."
(*Note: Now we know who won the war. --Editors, The News.)
Of course, regarding today's deadly serious militaristic exercise in Iraq, we should add perhaps an update to General Johnson's sports analogy, apropos to its time, by suggesting a corollary that one does not enter the ring as the heavyweight champion to fight a welterweight, just because the welter is a bit light in the head also and chooses to bluster that he can beat you with one hand tied behind his bump-kiss, even though his fists are the size of a peanut, and his biceps the circumference of a shotgun, (and yet ones built up even to that extent only by consuming jellybeans, induced to do so so as to be able to fight his neighbor, another welter, also consuming jellybellies for the welter-match, the jellies being sold to both by two competing concessionaires, owned by two heavyweights, the profits from which were siphoned off by one of the heavyweights to a charity, the St. Geo. Society), or just because your manager is busy pumping you to the tune that the welter has a reserve strength hidden away in his posterior recesses which will undoubtedly become stronger if allowed to continue his training unabated, leaving the potential to annihilate you in the ring should you not counter his bluster at once to show the world who's still Boss; that is, Ali doesn't fight Bass, Ernest T., unless, perchance, both ears of Ali have been removed by another fighter first, Mr. T.,--he, promoted by the same manager--such that Ali can no longer plainly hear reason, even couer de cris, before entering the ring, to wrestle...
And while about it, here's perhaps some valuable insight from a century ago:
"The foreigner coming to these shores is more impressed at first by our sky-scrapers. They are new to him. He has not done anything of the sort since he built the tower of Babel. The foreigner is shocked by them. In the daylight they are ugly. They are--well, too chimneyfied and too snaggy--like a mouth that needs attention from a dentist; like a cemetery that is all monuments and no gravestones. But at night, seen from the river where they are columns towering against the sky, all sparkling with light, they are fairylike; they are beauty more satisfactory to the soul than anything man has dreamed of since the Arabian nights. We can't always have the beautiful aspect of things. Let us make the most of our sights that are beautiful and let the others go. When your foreigner makes disagreeable comments on New York by daylight, float him down the river at night...
"That New-Yorkers have the cleanest, quickest, and most admirable system of street railways in the world has been forced upon you by the abnormal appreciation you have of your hackman. We ought always to be grateful to him for that service. Nobody else would have brought such a system into existence for us. We ought to build him a monument. We owe him one as much as we owe one to anybody. Let it be a tall one. Nothing permanent, of course; build it of plaster, say. Then gaze at it and realize how grateful we are--for the time being--and then pull it down and throw it on the ash-heap. That's the way to honor your public heroes."
--S. L. Clemens, December 6, 1900, St. Nicholas Society, NYC
Repetition of It Would Not Become FDR's Sacrificial Mood
Those Democratic campaign books Mr. Willkie is upset about were the "wooden pistols" in one of the prettiest little shakedowns ever devised by the fertile mind of Chip Robert and his associates on the national committee. If Boss Flynn should try that stunt again, it would be the ultimate in cynical commentaries on Mr. Roosevelt's sacrifice in "accepting" office for one more term.
There were two books in 1936, the first a convention souvenir, the second a bound stenographic report of the proceedings. Advertising contracts in the first book and quantity sales of it were solicited shamelessly on the basis of an implied promise that departments of the Federal Government would be sure to observe who the friends of the Administration were and be guided accordingly.
Since at the time corporations were quaking in their boots for fear of the Administration's intentions toward them, the book was a sell-out.
To get the most out of Book No. 2, the President himself autographed a great many copies, which were sold at $250 per each. It was charged later by Representative Bert Snell, a Republican, that such autographed copies have been sold to more than 900 corporations--a clear violation on its face of the Corrupt Practices Act.
A large purchaser of the books was Robert R. Young, the financier who had bought out the Van Sweringen rail empire and who was expecting to be called up before Congress for an inquiry. Later on he told a Senate committee that he had forked over $15,000 for a "flock" of the books, and that he'd have "taken soap wrappers" if that had been what the solicitors were selling.
Concerning a Building Enterprise in Maryland
Some two years ago Maryland authorized the erection of a new State office building at Annapolis. After looking the town over, it was decided by Governor Herbert O'Conor and his advisers that the building had better be put on the lot occupied by the National Guard armory.
It could be put there without disturbing the armory which sat well back from the street. The armory had been there for some time and it showed no noticeable signs of age and decrepitude. On the contrary it was entirely sound. It was not too small. It was no uglier than armories usually are. It had the customary amount of ventilation. And in sum it was a good and entirely adequate armory for the National Guard in Annapolis. But Governor O'Conor and his advisers decided that it would spoil the beauty of the new office building if left alone. So they had it torn down, at a cost of $7,190.
Thereafter, the legislature of the Free State appropriated funds for a new armory for Annapolis. Then arose the question of where it should be located. One site after another was fixed on and then discarded for this or that reason.
But after a long time a site was selected. It was the same site on which the old armory had been located, right behind the new office building. Construction is now in progress.
Total cost in the end will be $100,523.
We pass the story along to our little readers. They may read whatever significance into it that their perspicacity suggests.
Wheeler Is Also Certain That He Knows Best
In the opening debate on the conscription bill in the Senate Friday, Senator Burton Wheeler declaimed:
"Those who stand here and say that Germany is going to attack us in three months or six months--why don't they have the courage to go to the people of the country and say, "Let's declare war? It's nonsense."
The idea that we are in any danger from the Nazis, says the Senator, is ridiculous. He reiterated what he has before stated, that Hitler is merely being used by Roosevelt as a bogeyman for political purposes.
Burton Wheeler speaks with a great deal of confidence, you observe. Men who have studied Hitler and his purposes unanimously agree that we are in danger. The highest military and naval authorities likewise agree. The State Department, which presumably ought to know, agrees also.
But Senator Wheeler knows that it is all nonsense and is prepared to bet on his knowledge to the point of risking the fate of this nation.
He must have secret sources of information to be as cocksure as that. We think we know what they are. There were speeches like that in the Senate in July and August, 1939. There wasn't going to be any war in Europe. Burton Wheeler was one of those speakers. But the leader of them all was William Edgar Borah.
At a Cabinet meeting, Secretary Hull said his information indicated there would be war in Europe in September. Senator Borah snorted. He had better sources of information, he said, than Mr. Hull, and from them he knew that there was not going to be any war in Europe.
Senator Wheeler, we suspect, now gets his information from those same sources.
War By Words
Hitler's Heaviest Offensive is Now All On Verbal Front
The heaviest war Nazi Germany is making at the present time is the propaganda war. There were boasts out of Berlin on the eve of France's doom, and they were promptly made good. But his speech Saturday represented the culmination of a long series of pronouncements, stretching back to the fall of France on June 18, about the imminent destruction of England.
But England is clearly still there. Nor is there any likely prospect that she is going to be destroyed unless Adolf can make good on that "Sailing to England" song and take the country over with his army. And there is a sort of high falsetto ring about the Nazis' insistence on their confidence and irresistibility which suggests that Adolf does not want to risk the Channel crossing, lest it end with the Nazi armies coming ashore as corpses.
But the "irresistible propaganda" is not the only one and it may not be the most dangerous. The propaganda--in contradiction with the claim that England is sure to fall and soon--about starvation in the conquered countries this Winter--is already leading many prominent Americans, including Herbert Hoover, to demand lifting of the British blockade to admit relief.
The bald fact is that every ounce of food put into the Continent for feeding the Belgians, French, etc., will release an ounce of food to feed Nazis. This whole "humane" propaganda by the Nazis is directed precisely to that end of releasing food. The assumption, which Germany eagerly promotes, that Hitler will grab off all the food and leave the conquered to starve in any case, may be too facile. Adolf Hitler is well aware that hungry people are desperate people, and a chaos of rebellion in the conquered territories next Spring is the last thing Hitler can want.
Regardless of that, the American people have the right to ask England to lift the blockade if they want to. But they had better understand that they are asking for English surrender to Hitler, and that it is our turn next.
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