The Charlotte News

Friday, September 22, 1939



F. R. Disposes Of Borah Logic In Fine Style

The President's message yesterday was a masterful exercise in logic and restraint. In view of his nature he must have been strongly tempted to use the scourge on Borah, Nye & Co. And he had plenty of room, for these men are in danger of proving Adolf Hitler's dictum about parliamentary government--that it is an instrument for delaying the national will and the national interest in time of peril.

That it is, as he said, a time of peril is emphatically clear. In Europe the Nazis and Reds have combined to overthrow the democracies on that side of the water and to carry a fanatical new barbarism over the earth. If they win, the chances are very great that, soon or late, we shall have to play the David to their Goliath, if we can find the strength in heaven or in earth. And even if we escape that, we shall have a heroic problem if we are to avoid succumbing to the new barbarism on our own account, shall probably have to make ourselves into an armed camp.

The argument made by the obstructionists is a very cunning one. They deliberately attempt to set up the idea that the preservation of the embargo is equal to the preservation of peace, and that its repeal is somehow a violation of Germany's rights and so an act of war.

The two points the President brought out effectively dispose of that.

The first is that to suppose any such thing, we have to confess that we have no right to use our rights under international law--to accept the Nazi contention that they have the right to make their own rules and require that we abide by them.

The second is that if it is too dangerous to sell arms to belligerents, it is just as dangerous to sell them the materials from which arms are made. American ships are at this moment carrying materials to belligerents which the Nazis classify as contraband. The ships are just as liable to be sunk as though their cargoes were composed entirely of machine guns, artillery, and bombing planes.

If the obstructionists are to be rational, they must be in favor of an embargo on all war materials whatever, including foodstuffs. But only one of them, Senator Nye, has the courage of his logic and actually favors any such course. And with reason, for it would mean economic ruin for the United States.

On the other hand, the plan proposed by the President is calculated to remove the chief danger of our being stampeded into war--precisely this danger that American ships carrying contraband will be sunk and American lives lost. The message recommended no outright provision that all contraband purchased by the belligerents must be carried in their own ships. However it did call for a provision regulating the right of American ships to enter danger zones, and for one requiring the belligerents to pay in cash and take title before shipment. And as the President said, that would have the practical effect of making them carry it all in their own bottoms.

The President could not be candid about one thing--the one thing in which the opponents are right. It is this: that the effect of repeal will certainly be to benefit the Allies and help them to stop the advance of the new barbarism before it jumps continents. On the other hand, the inevitable effect of the embargo is to help the Nazis and Reds, for it deprives England of one of the great advantages for which she has built up her navy-- an advantage which is properly hers under international law--the right to buy what she pleases in neutral markets.

We have absolutely no choice: absolute neutrality in the sense that our acts shall have no effect on the outcome is impossible; in the nature of the case, what we do must aid one side or the other. Both the embargo and its repeal are perfectly within our rights.

And since that is the case, who has any doubt about where our interest, our imperative interest, lies?

It is unfortunate, to be sure, that we have to make this move after the war has begun. But that is directly and wholly the fault of precisely these obstructionists, and particularly of William Edgar Borah, who knew that he had better sources of information than the State Department and that there wasn't going to be any war. As it is, the Nazis who know well how to roar to their purposes will undoubtedly kick up a great rumpus about it. But everyday the debate is dragged out, in face of the will of the majority of the people and the majority of Congress, will simply add fuel to their flame and enable them to make a bigger and bigger rumpus.

Guest Speaker

University Student Society Invites Kuhn, Legion Objects

The Carolina Political Union at the University has invited Bundsführer Fritz Kuhn to speak in Chapel Hill under its auspices, and the Winston-Salem chapter of the Forty & Eight, American Legion subsidiary, doesn't like it a little bit. In fact, it has vigorously condemned the Union's invitation (which Kuhn has not yet accepted) and intends to have it recalled if possible.

It doesn't sit well, in all truth. The Union prides itself on the variety of its speakers--Communist Earl Browder and Steelman Tom Girdler were two in one year--and is to be commended for wanting to hear all sides rather than, like the Legion, only that with which it already agrees and which it thoroughly approves. But Kuhn, at this juncture, is going too far.

We restrain ourselves, however, from jumping to the conclusion that the invitation signifies much more than a sort of liberal exhibitionism which exercises itself by doing the shocking thing. Precisely. And we doubt not at all that, if Kuhn appears, far from making any converts to Nazism he will be roundly hated and left to depart in peace only because the obligations of a host require as much.

Risk Pay

Seamen Cut In For War Profits And Compensation

Liners which have been fretting at slips in New York Harbor are casting off today and tomorrow, headed out on the Atlantic. They had been held up a week or so by a seamen's strike: a polite strike yet nonetheless a firm strike. The seamen considered, and not without reason, that all the arguments were on their side.

They won the strike, with it a 25 per cent increase in pay on voyages to European and Mediterranean ports, transportation back to the U.S. in case their ships were lost, continued pay if interned by a foreign government, a guarantee up to $150 for the loss of personal effects. Their demand for a sailing bonus is yet to be negotiated. They withdrew their demand for $25,000 insurance.

All this adds up to risk pay for the seamen and higher costs for the lines, which means higher rates for passengers and cargoes. And who is there to say that the sailors who man the ships that sail the seas in these hazardous times are not entitled to compensation for war hazards, even as insurance companies, lines and shippers?

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