The Charlotte News
Tuesday, August 6, 1940
Site Ed. Note: Sitting all along the watchtower, we see "Crazy House" pointing out a dangerous tradition in a certain sect of fundamentalist Christians known as the Church of God with Signs Following. Just what those signs are, we couldn't tell you. But what at least one ought be, of course, is a big yellow placard which says: "Warning: Don't follow too closely."
We might interject, too, however, that from a purely poetic perspective, those who get on television and pronounce that they are going to vote in 2004 for the man who they believe will make all decisions as commander-in-chief based on his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are a bit puzzling. Our Founders didn't say that in the Constitution, after all. But you would have to read it first to understand that. We covered it before and so we won't again right here. But assuming such were the case and the implication is that the present occupant of the White House is that man who would be controlled by his religious conviction in all decision-making, then we also have to inquire as to why the father and mother of the same man gave broad smiles and applauded the line by an actor, speaking at a large recent gathering, that we shan't ever forgive or forget the act of 9-11. Forgetting is one thing, and we agree we should not forget the past or fail in our lessons from it, but forgiving is another thing.
We thought Jesus said something about turning the other cheek and that forgiveness was why he was crucified, arose, and ascended in the first instance. Perhaps, we are mistaken.
Maybe there is some part of the Apocrypha yet undiscovered in the Dead Sea which says:
"Yea, saith I, go and meet thine enemy in full force, whither yet he may be, and knowing not whitherest he may go, and to what end his plot against thine and thy soil may come, for he plotteth only evil and evildoers must be brought to the end of thy sword, yea, even if the evil yet to be done is not and not yet formed, for evil is yet to come always. So go and vanquish him who doth think on evil, though evil he yet not do, before he may come unto you with his evil fully formethed. Yea, speaketh your Lord to you again: Go and beat him, take from him his mean garments of wool and sackcloth and whip him, yet even his bare hind parts, with sticks until he is with submission, and stack him up also on high his brothers in the shape of the temples of Pharoah and make gestures unto him and his brothers thus in derision for they are thine enemies; and make not a boo-boo grab as did England, nor look a boo-boo in the face either, and say, mother, look a boo-boo, he is your daddy, though from whence we know not where; for yea, it is verily said by me to you and all of thine that a bundle of staves is to be far of greater strong vantage for thee than a mere single twig to be broken, as thine are; hence we say, Yea, yea, whisper all to thee the secret invocation to thine neighbor, and go and say even to each of them: Fasci, Fasci. Confederate and be strong to thine Will and let the hosts of thy fathers be avenged for the glory of mine House, which art in Heaven; nix them, trick them and sick them, brand them their turf as that of glory mongers and liars and men who love men and women who love women and other things of like to be their undoing, for they are but supplicants to the evildoers; and do so, Yea, regardless of what they may say in return, for they are the evildoers also, and the Glory of the Highest will be thine treasure, maybe even unto the diplomacy of England. And thou shalt determine in the Day of days that when thou doest as I commandeth thee, then shalt thy see how some, the straws thus bound together, doth blow hither and thither in the wind around thee, that as they may bloweth at first left, being misled, then also will they then bloweth yet to the right again after these, the slanders aforesaid, you make unto them as in testimony on the acts of yon boats in psalms and those who steered them either right or left, and thus be your messenger of how your talk, vile slanders of the serpent though it be, shall vanquish thine enemies, the evildoers. And if thou believeth in nothing save earning by your brows from the sweat of others the richness of gold from percolations from the earth, then also, verily, let it be said unto you: that you shall believe anything, even this too. Yea, yea--Yea."
We thinketh it entitled, "Yea, The Book of Richard".
But then, maybe that forgiveness thing was why the father of whom we speaketh threw up on the lap dong minh of the Prime Minister of Japan on January 8, 1992. We couldn't tell you.
We can tell you, however, from whence the strange notions of handling snakes derive, as well as venture to say why it shouldn't be, at least in literal terms, though poetically is another thing entirely. But the latter is said amply in the editorial below.
Nevertheless, you may wish to browse our exposition a little for we know, in this instance, whereof we speak, having once innocently as a child found a copperhead, a real snake with poison sacks in its jowly jowls, and, not knowing what it was, sought to find out whereof it was by rubbing its back. We couldn't tell you what happened next for we really don't recall; we can only rely on what we are told and that is that a wise mother with instincts saw that something was wrong, followed us around a bit until she saw what we had seen and sought out a second time, saw that the thing was coiling to lunge its head, pulled us back and called upon a brother to cut the thing in twain with a hoe, which, being so commanded, he promptly did. No one had commanded us to try and befriend the little creature, mind you, as in the episode recounted by Cash below. Just one of those things from the callow curiosities besetting all of us which make it somewhat miraculous that we ever reach beyond age two or so. In our case, we do recall thinking the funny object to be a toy. At the time, we were a little sluggish, it being a hot, hot day near the swamp. Think of it and interpret as you will, as it makes best sense to your mind, even if it be foul, but what it was was what it was--a copperhead snake, Ancistrodon contortrix, a pit viper which had crawled from the neighboring swamp onto the front porch of the abode from whence we first explored our world around us.
Too--and again quite literally--on some later occasion, thinking, as was sometimes that to which we had become accustomed, we had found a smooth stone in our sandbox, but also noticing it to be somewhat translucent, unlike the other stones we had found there, and marveling at its unusual tactile sensation of a sort of thin rather than thick substance embracing its oblong shape, and realizing this to be a separate thing from the stones to which we were accustomed to finding in our sandbox, squeezed its strange mystery in order to test its solidity--as we tried to look through it into the summer sunlight to see if we could see inside its translucence. The stone, or thing which we had thought it to be, then suddenly broke apart between our opposing thumb and forefinger and spilled its contents all over our eyes.
Oh heavens, be merciful, we thought. We broke a stone with our fingers. Only Superman could do that. And the stone had injected something from its lit-up insides upon our eyes. Time to leave and seek assistance. This was not that to which we had become accustomed.
We forthwith therefore ran to flee our previously nicely bordered and secure sandbox, crying the way, to seek succor. "Help! Help!"
And upon reaching a place of seeming safety, we were first told by our lady caretaker, a kind but earthy person: "Pshaw, don't cry, child. Just an old snake egg."
Which made us cry the more, it being after we had already sought to pet the terrible creature aforementioned, which had, as we had come to have it made known to us sternly, almost made us late for our appointments next. Thus we were forever more to remain safely at a distance from the crawling beastie of the forest should ever we so encounter it again, and to be wary where we walk though not to be afraid to walk even so, even though it might come to be in strange places future.
But now, now somehow having been yet ensnared again by stealth and not knowing whereof our perceived trespass had come to be, we had gone and bothered the creature's nest too, made in our sandbox, hidden in the very sand we used to make castles and strange objects, the likes of which, in the most fantastic shapes of form and fancy, we couldn't even discern what in our perceptions they were supposed to resemble--though something it was or must have been which had obviously caused the creature to find us and seek us out and place its nest of eggs even in our sanctum of hot, sometimes moist summer sand.
This was war upon our most secure sanctum. An invader to be vanquished for sure!
We thus concluded in this instant's thought, upon feeling the goo still fresh from its egg in our eyes, that surely this crawling creature-beast was after us for good and double certain--and we had done nothing, nothing at all, to invite it unto us, and so we cried and cried some more.
Perhaps, we considered, the beast was after us because we had climbed atop our refrigerator to surveil our world around us one lazy afternoon when we had nothing better to do other than to watch Hopalong or Sky King. Enough of the latter; we had better things to accomplish in our new world. This was going to be, after all, a very chilly war, what with the beasties from the swamp right on our doorstep and barring our normal means of ingress and egress to the yard in which we played. So, what better vantage point than from atop the refrigerator to espy their goings and comings? But we knew that action had been only to escape all the little beasties crawling below trying to ensnare us, even on our front porch, and thus everywhere, everywhere.
Oh help! We must seek out its nests in the swamp and destroy it wherever we find it! Is there no place safe from the creature?
So, think not on our temerity to climb on top of the refrigerator or believe that we were being hunted by the foul beast only for our surveiling curiosity. We were merely making sure that the creature came not upon us by stealth again without our realizing what it was or from whence it came.
By that point, after being doused with squishy liquid from this creature's egg, we would take no undue chances further in our new garden of discovery. For we were crying mightily now.
Then, alas, hearing our desperate cry, a wise mother entered this scene of hysteria to inquire of the issue and, being thus told of the snake egg, informed us that 'twas only a bird's egg, maybe that of a robin as in the trees rustling in the breeze in the backyard. "Really?" we said, our teary eyes starting to clear. "Yes," came the reply. And we were soothed.
The chorus in the back said, "Ahhh." Must have been Mr. Bluebird on your shoulder. "Ahhh."
Zippety. So we were emboldened once again now to go out and take play in our sandbox once more, never to be bothered by the creature ever again--at least so far.
Anyway--that perspective being duly disclosed, we have performed a thorough exegesis of the New Testament, 1611 King James Version, and found the following references to "serpent", the only ones therein. If you are so inclined, or know someone who might be or is contemplating taking up serpents, it should be of interest, and possibly so, whether you intend to handle serpents or not. (If you wish to perform your own search or go through also the Old Testament, you may do so here, both as to the aforementioned version or the revised standard edition of latter times.) But we counsel strongly that unless you are a trained herpetologist, such as that alligator guy from Australia, the one who says "crikey" a lot, (and who may be part herp himself, as least the birder part), you should probably stay away from them as you would a dragon, a devil, or other such things of which we know not their ways fully, at least until you do.
So, to the Church of the Signs Following. The practice they profess is based, they say, on the notion of divine intervention confirming faith. They read Mark 16:18, "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." And so the members of this church conclude that, as an injunction from God, they should, to prove their faith, handle deadly snakes, quite literally. (Just what deadly thing they drink, and whether it's before or after church or both, we don't know but can pretty well guess.)
The name of the church then comes from the immediately preceding and following verses, concluding the Book: "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."
The verses preceding the passage, recounting the resurrection of Jesus and his appearance to the disciples read: "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Now, we assume Mark did not intend by recounting this command that Jesus intended those, his followers, to preach his gospel to dogs and cats, ants and mice, tigers and lions, wolves and bears, and all the other little creatures, big and small. For they seem to us not to understand usually even such things simple as, "Get thee away, thou foul, smelly beast," let alone such things as aforesaid. Yet, taken literally, we would be so inclined to believe it to be so. Perhaps, there is something else being conveyed here.
And, to confirm this notion, the Book of Matthew recounts the same episode this way: "And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Nothing is said of serpents or speaking in tongues or signs following in this version--or to preach to all of the creatures either. Ahhh.
The Book of Luke tells it thusly: "And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen."
Again, the circuitously slithering creature receives no mention and no injunction is made to take him up, though it is the same episode recounted by Mark. What to do? Take it up or let it slide? To make matters worse, Jesus is said to eat one of the creatures to which Mark told us Jesus told him to preach. That doesn't seem quite sporting. Crikey. But, if Mark meant something else by "creatures", then it would make sense.
Then John, complicating things even more, says in its conclusion, somewhat cryptically: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."
Following thereby this latter point, one might try all these unstated many other things if it be taken literally, to be as Jesus. But what are they? That which we may imagine? Ay, there's the rub.
Instructively, Matthew 7:7-12 says: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
Sounds pretty fishy to be taking up the serpent at this point when one had asked for a fish. But hold.
In an injunction, Matthew 10:16 says: "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." (This then, the reverse of that which the treacherous Lady M said, "Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower/ But be the serpent under't." Perhaps not surprisingly this be, as the author of the latter text is said to have had a hand in the rendering of the translation to the King James version. But that's only hearsay, so take not a moment's thought on 't.)
Berating the Pharisees, 23:33 then says: "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"
Now that gets a bit complex and should be read within the context of its statement, "generation" perhaps being a key word, that the Pharisees then by and large favored the continued rule over Jerusalem by Rome. The term comes from the Hebrew, perushim, meaning "separatists" or deviants", and was a term given them by the Sadducees. The Sadducees believed in the cult of the Temple, and the law as written; the Pharisees, in an oral tradition interpeting the written law, and in synagogues in opposition to the Temple. The Pharisees also believed in separation of state and secular affairs. But, as Jesus also said something about rendering also unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, we think he probably had not this particular ideal of the Pharisaic point of view in mind in his diatribe against them, just that the way in which Caesar did as he did to enslave the people to his will was as that of a serpent full of poison, and so too it was for those instilling in the locals a religious point of view which supported it. As we say, that part is a bit complicated and a thorough study of the history of those times is therefore in order before making simple pronouncements of it.
Luke 10:19 says: "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you."
Now we can walk on the critters as well as take them up? Sounds like an afternoon. Perhaps, instead, it has to do with the power of Caesar over them which they endured at the time.
Similar to the earlier passage in Matthew, Luke 11:9-13 provides: "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
Still, it seems prudent to conclude that the sententious might shine with the putrescent brilliance of a mackerel in the noonday moon should they take for the fish a serpent. For an asp by any other name is still an asp.
Turning the pages further to the next reference to the serpentine bird, John 3:12-15 says: "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
As with many such statements in and outside the text, the key words appear to be "as" and "even so", as in, "As the birds shall fly, even so shall we, should we look upon someone who shall take a serpent unto himself, tempting it to take leave of his senses." That's only our opinion, of course.
But then, in 1 Corinthians 10:9, Paul, a former Pharisee, cautions, "Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents."
That, it seems, advances the whole issue down the field. Should we believe that to demonstrate faith, we can "take up serpents", without thereby being harmed, nevertheless, if we also tempt in order to test faith, we shall be destroyed by the attempt. Ah.
We conclude: Don't handle serpents unless you are an herpetologist or happen to be a child lacking knowledge of such creatures and innocently come upon it as an Other object in your universe of new discovery. Object lesson: Watch the Aussie guy first, but don't do as he does unless you also have your full training.
And in 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul expresses, "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."
It seems to be getting more complicated than it at first looks. Signs following might sometimes mislead into signs ahead. Don't follow too closely.
Then James 3:7-8 says: "For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."
James must have foreseen our political theater. But, did he mean serpents, as in the beasties? For also every kind of beast, most especially the serpent, we would hesitate to say has been tamed of man. True enough, Barnum & Bailey, established in Sarasota, Florida, home of the Booker Elementary School Tornadoes, has lots of tamers and tamees. But--we have yet to see any of the wilder beasties truly tamed, other than dogs and cats and a few others of that sort. For the rest are still quite apt to bite the tamer on occasion, the lions, the tigers, the bears, and most certainly, without the least discrimination between tamer or tantalizer, the serpent; it will bite with poison aplenty when not handled only by its tail at a safe distance and with proper attention being paid to its fangs in the bargain, or by its snout.
And, in the Book of Revelation, 9:18-19 reads: "By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt." Then, 12:9: "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." And 12:13-15: "And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood."
Finally, 20:1-3 states: "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season."
So, we conclude: Don't handle or startle copperheads, rattlers, corals, mambas, vipers, or other such scaly cockatrices with which you are unfamiliar and which bear the jowls of poison, lest you become part asp. For it seems to be a word in the contextual usage which refers to Beelzebub or Belial.
Thus may it mean something on the order that you may conquer your devils through faith.
On the other hand, the command to take up serpents with the promise of not being harmed by them may be something akin to that which we and thee have just done.
Now, we will take up algeebra and trigoonomy.
Next week, all anent goats.
We also find a parallel in "A Loophole" to today's shenanigans regarding advertisements presented, under the auspices of the new McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, by the Bozos, you know, the ones with the big red noses who 16 years ago introduced us to Willie Horton. Swiftly, we have been distracted from the real issues of today's campaign for the presidency. For in swift distraction there is prestidigitation and, Voila! Judging by the polls, it appears to be working, on some, albeit a small, but large enough, percentage, at least for now. But two months from now, we think it likely to backfire. Just remember the secret word.
Which Mr. Willkie Will Do Well To Close Up
From Mr. Willkie's vacation headquarters comes an utterance that has a most familiar ring.
Henry P. Fletcher, General Counsel to the Republican Party advises party workers that the Hatch Act will not prevent contributions of more than $5,000 to the state organizations for the use of Mr. Willkie's candidacy.
Senator Hatch quite correctly protests that it is a scheme for violating the spirit, if not the exact letter, of the law which bears his name. That law was clearly intended to bar large contributions by fat cats, CIO's and whoever to the war chests of candidates in federal elections.
What Fletcher proposes is simply to take advantage of a technical loophole. And as such the scheme is a masterpiece of trickery--like those Mr. Roosevelt has justly been charged with, and which constitute one of the worst blots on his record.
Mr. Willkie says that the Republican National Committee will spend only about $2,500,000 in the campaign. Mr. Willkie inevitably must take the responsibility for what the Republican Party leaders do. And if he is to stand above politics as he has promised, he shall have to refuse to allow the party hacks to take the bit in their teeth and practice the old game under cover of technicalities and the name of a business man.
From the Past
Dr. Cook Breaks Into Print Briefly and Finally
It is a long time ago that a boy in North Carolina read in a country newspaper that a man named Frederick A. Cook had discovered the North Pole, and was sad about it. He was sad for the reason that that was one of the numerous things he had himself cut out to do when he should be a man. What with Admiral Dewey having won the Spanish War, it began to look like there was going to be nothing left for an aspiring boy to look forward to doing.
That was in 1909. Dr. Cook had just turned up at a strange place somewhere across the world named Copenhagen, to report that on April 21, 1908, he had, first of all men of all the ages, set foot on top of the world.
After that the Doctor came back to New York and began to clean up with books and lectures. Then a bombshell burst. Admiral Peary said that he, and not Dr. Cook, had been first at the Pole--that in fact the Doctor had not been there at all.
Worse, the Peary party produced a good deal of proof. The Eskimos who were supposed to have reached the Pole with Cook, said that in fact they had spent the Winter of 1907-8 at Jones Sound, far south of the Pole. Then appeared a man to swear that Cook had paid him to forge the observations sent to the University of Copenhagen to prove his claim. And there was other collateral evidence.
Dr. Cook sputtered out like a burnt rocket, virtually disappeared from view for years. Then in 1923, he bobbed up again, this time as having been sentenced to jail for using the mails to defraud in a get-rich-quick scheme.
He died yesterday, still holding fast to the claim that he had really gone to the Pole first. There are people who still believe that he did and the powerful official connections of Peary robbed him of the credit.
At any rate, another American showman has passed. Peace to his ashes!
A Country Which Allows This Deserves Hard Words
The case of the snake-cultists in Georgia furnishes an appalling commentary on American life--its worst side, that is.
No child of six, we may be sure, deliberately submits to handling and being bitten by a copperhead. These parents not only allowed it, they urged her up to it, on the theory that they were thereby currying favor with some savage heaven.
Worst of all, when the police did finally locate the child and take her to a doctor, he could not treat her because the parents refused their consent.
It now appears that the child will probably live. There is nothing wonderful in that. The bite of a copperhead is not always or even usually fatal, especially in the case of the young and vigorous. But the girl will suffer from the dreadful effect of the poison for many years.
What is worse, if anything, is that the cultists will now hail the recovery as a great victory for their idiotic faith and that hundreds of other dolts will now be converted to their beliefs. We shall probably be unentertained by many more such stories before long.
To dignify such brutal superstition with the name of religion is to insult the better side of man's nature. And to allow such antics to go on in the name of freedom of religion, and to allow parents to refuse treatment to a child in deadly danger because they are fools, is crazy anarchy.
Cloud In East
British See Danger but United States Dozes
England seems pretty well to have concluded that appeasement of Tokyo is as foolish as it proved to be in dealing with Hitler. Despite her denials and her retreat yesterday, her arrests and deportations of prominent Japanese in the British Empire are plainly connected with the Japanese raids on Britishers in Japan.
But there is probably a good deal more behind it than mere retaliations against Tokyo. The arrest of the British subjects is obviously merely one item of an extensive Japanese campaign designed to feel out how far she dares go, and to take all in the East if she finds it feasible.
Most important item in that campaign just now is the demands of Japan upon France for military and naval bases in French Indo-China which Tokyo denies having made but which seem to be real just the same.
Such bases for Japan mean the complete isolation of the British colony at Hong Kong. They mean that the Japanese would be directly up against Burma. They mean that Singapore would be faced with bases in easy striking distance and exposed to a blow from the rear, with Japanese forces passing by way of Siam to the Malay Peninsula. And they mean that Japan would be in a position easily to grasp the Dutch East Indies and so make the possession of Singapore by Britain pretty useless in any case.
It is not conceivable that Britain should yield tamely to this, for it means the ultimate destruction of her power in the East and the leaving of English-populated Australia at the mercy of Japan.
Yet it is also impossible to imagine England acting alone and taking on another opponent in her present dire straits.
Joker in this matter is the United States of America. And it is the United States of America which Japan is primarily interested in feeling out.
If it were certain that the United States would act should Japan attempt to establish bases in Indo-China, it is almost certain that Japan would not attempt it.
There is every reason the United States should act with Britain in this case. Bases in Indo-China would make the seizure of the Philippines easier than the seizure of the Dutch Indies. Seizure of the Dutch East Indies would make it imperative for Japan to seize the Philippines, to insure the safety of her lines of communication.
But can we afford to lose the Philippines and the Dutch Indies? Possibly, though to abandon the Philippines is to flout solemn obligations we have voluntarily assumed. But what Japan is about is building a slave labor empire, like that Hitler plans for Europe, to flood the world, including South America, with goods inconceivably cheap by our standards. The economic and political implications of that are of the gravest moment to us.
Half measures, however, are worse than none. If we want to halt Japan before she gets going, we shall have to make it unmistakably clear that a complete embargo and blockade will be clapped on her if she undertakes this game, that the hordes of China will be furnished arms to throw Japan out of that country and that if necessary she will have to deal with the American navy in battle.
It is almost inconceivable that we shall be able to make that clear to her in time. For this Government is hamstrung by having a foreign policy at the mercy of politicians in Congress.
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