The Charlotte News
Saturday, September 30, 1939
Site Ed. Note: Amen to "Ample Supply". If we were to practice daily our right--our most precious right--of freedom of speech and permit others, without either threatening them with the hoosegow or worse, to do likewise, there would undoubtedly be far fewer crimes of violence--not only in the United States, but in every country on the globe's great surface, "civilized" or not, which practiced it likewise. We do not live in a polite world. Nor do we live in a sitcom or in a movie of some description, be it a western or some other genre of schlock-stock. Daily we encounter disputes. Daily, we should, with due regard for the circumstances, be confronting those small disagreements before they become large ones. That is the bravest thing, for there is no prospect of medals or cheering for it (unless one happens to be on a stage in which case it is not exactly truly free, is it?); not sitting politely by and watching the world dispute itself into open conflict with weaponry of mass proportions so that Johnnie--who had his beginnings in Ireland, not in the American Civil War, as we were reminded by our folksingers in the 1960's--can once again march home eyeless, boneless, pitiless, or not at all.
Think of it. No more excessive bank charges, phony billings charged to your credit card by some company you never heard of, excessive energy bills, no more scams at all which make us regularly part our hair from our head, because no one would want the misery of repeatedly having to hear on the phone how lousy their service and company is by everyone with whom they do business--every one, not just one or two they can pass off as "nuts", or worse, "just some lawyer", to the boss. If enough state their piece at will in small doses, a large dose of reality is delivered far more effectively than any terrorist weapon ever insidiously devised could possibly. Why else did the forefathers have to fight a Revolution to get this right? And that is only the small part of the salutary results of regularly practicing such a vastly radical right as our Founders fought to give us.
In Parliament, there is a regular free-form debate which most usually makes our C-Span broadcasts of Congress look like a picnic social. Who has the lower per capita rate of murder, Britain or the United States?
And as for those states presently and seemingly forever at war, do they have and practice any form of religious tolerance and freedom of speech historically or at present? See? We do this, and leave the politesse and reserved coolness to our excessively cool movie characters and television soap operas about nice, simple Victorian times, which never in truth were that, and reside that only in our most idyllic imaginings of some other day somewhere else, like Heaven, or else, perhaps, we do indeed, as Cash sardonically proposed below in "Cuckoo" six decades ago, laugh ourselves coolly to Death.
Because when we consider something an Hebrew stated some 2,000 years ago, something to the effect, "It is either cold or hot, but never lukewarm,"... well, think about it, because to be "cool" is the same thing as to be lukewarm, and it is the same thing, wethinks, as being not alive at all.
As to "Little Light", of course the mystery of the allegiance of Stalin's Russia would continue for awhile yet but finally be resolved for the time on June 22, 1941 when Hitler sent his armies blasting through the Ukraine. There is nothing like a direct, unprecipitated attack on one's own turf to determine quickly one's allegiances, a pledge to it be made in advance or not.
The Mystery Of What Red Russia Intends Remains
The Nazi-Red pact signed at Moscow yesterday leaves things very much as they were. It is quite possible that the Russian-Estonian pact is the more important.
The Nazis and the Reds agreed to launch a "peace"--i.e., capitulation--drive against England and France, but everyone knew that was coming. And to back that up they agreed to agree that if England and France refused, it would convict them of being responsible for the war. (The last is important simply as an illustration of the standard tactics of both Nazis and Reds to attempt to befuddle the people of England and France, and also, without a doubt, to appeal to the kind of pussyheads in this country who believe that the way to keep us out of war is to whitewash Hitler & Co., and to make England and France the real villains.)
To back it up further, the two gangs also agreed that if they were refused, they would "consult together on the steps to be taken." That is a threat, plainly meant as such, but it is one which, unless it is backed by other and more concrete secret agreements, comes to little. For it binds Russia to nothing in a military way.
On the other hand, the pact contains one piece of definitely bad news for Germany herself and comfort for the Allies. It binds Russia to furnish Germany the raw material she needs for war, but only on condition that Germany is to pay for them in manufactured products. In short, credit seems to be ruled out. And in that case, it is not likely that Germany can get much from Russia, for her productive capacity is of course greatly crippled by the necessity of sending her able-bodied men into the armies.
For the rest, the two carved up Poland between them. That was also to be expected. The only surprise was that Germany got a good deal more than had been indicated by the occupation. She got the territory roughly delimited on the east and South by the Pisia, the Bug, and the Tan Rivers, a boundary which itself closely corresponds to that of the old Russian province of Poland before the World War. It represents about half of Poland, and the overwhelmingly richer half at that.
Russia, on the other hand, disappointed a great many hopeful thinkers by taking, not only the White Russian and Ukrainian areas raped away from her by Poland in 1919 and 1920 and never recognized as Polish by the Treaty of Versailles, but also areas chiefly inhabited by Poles. For instance, 50 per cent of the population of Lwow, one of the two great towns she took, is composed of Poles.
She did, however, carefully cover the borders of the Russian Ukraine and Rumania, though, of course, Hitler continues to enjoy access to the latter through Slovakia and Hungary.
What Russia is going to do--whether she will fight alongside Germany against the Western powers or whether she plans to remain a merely passive partner and use the chance of the war to grab off new possessions and power for herself--remains a mystery.
It is just possible that she may actually be desirous of "peace," on the theory that capitulation by England and France would mean their rapid disintegration and destruction, and that Hitler would be too busy gobbling up the spoils in that direction to give her any trouble for a long while to come. But that is not very probable.
All logic suggests that which she desires is a long war in which both sides will exhaust themselves and open the way for their Bolshevization. But about that, it also has to be remembered that these are not logical times, and that indeed the Nazis and the Reds have both set out deliberately to create a new "logic" which turns the old topsy-turvy.
The one ray of anything really new is afforded by the Estonian Treaty. For in taking the islands of Saare Maa and Hiu Maa and the mainland port of Paldiski (or Baldiski), she has assumed absolute command of both the Gulf of Riga and the Gulf of Finland. The first means that, not only Estonia but also Latvia is now Stalin's prisoner. And the second means that Finland is already half in his grasp, for Helsinfors, the capital, and chief port, can be bottled up at will. He has long had his eyes on the recovery of this territory and the domination of the Baltic Sea. And so it may be that his generosity in Poland was explained by the promise of a free hand here.
It's Easier To Choke With Laughter Than With Gas
Sometimes we suspect that the way out of the tragedy in which the world is caught is for it to start laughing itself to death. That would settle everything, and at least it would be more comfortable than being blown to pieces by a bomb, strangled with gas, or starved.
In fact at the risk of wish-thinking, we are not even sure that it would be necessary to laugh ourselves completely to death, though the danger would certainly have to be run that we couldn't stop short of that if we ever recovered our risibility and began. Look at the blamed thing.
In Europe two gangs of cutthroat who have been saving the world from each other for six years have snuggled up to each other in what they assure us is a loving embrace. Meantime, they watch each other as warily as a snake-charmer embracing a boa constrictor.
In Europe, the greatest warlock of modern times, who has just completed a wanton rape of a helpless people, tells us with tears in his voice that he wants only peace--after having told us that not less than 40 times in the six years of his career of constant brigandage.
In Italy, another great warlock, the man who has for fifteen years proclaimed war as the natural and glorious destiny of all true men, sits on the fence bemused and breaks his silence now and then only to squawk hollowly for peace.
And in these United States--
In the Senate grave and reverend statesmen assure us unblinkingly that they believe that to sell arms will get us into war but that to sell the materials to make arms will not.
The Dies Committee hears Mr. William Z. Foster, the Reddest of the Reds, assure it that neither he nor it knows that Germany and Russia had arranged a partition of Poland beforehand.
From Mr. Foster also, as from old Bernard Shaw and even Lloyd George in England, we hear that Russia has really saved civilization and stopped Germany.
And, to cap the climax, Mr. Foster assures us that this is an imperialistic war on the part of England and France. Which has William Edgar Borah saying exactly the same thing as Mr. Foster.
Excuse us for a moment. We're going outside and lie down on the grass and laugh and laugh and laugh.
One Form Of Ammunition Which Can Be Used Safely
There really is something in the war of words the Europeans are conducting. It saves people from getting shot. Instead of dropping bombs, the British drop mostly leaflets, inviting the German people to stop all the silly business. Who wouldn't rather be hit in the head with a leaflet than with a thousand-pound bomb?
Far better to say "You did it, you did it" and retort "I didn't, I didn't" and "You're another "and "You're double and triple everything you say about me" than to blow up a church full of people trying to hide from the wrath of the heavens.
There are all sorts of variations that might be practiced. "Come up and see me sometime but leave your guns at home," could be the theme of a batch of leaflets. A nice invitation to a proper, high tea is better than blowing people to bits just before breakfast.
If there is need for some real brutality, use tongue lashings instead of torpedoes, snarls instead of shells and engage in some particularly fierce tooth-gnashing. That really doesn't hurt anybody and serves the purpose just as well. Wars are funny now; the real damage is done in undeclared conflicts. Why not use a lot of wood pulp made into fancy printed invitations instead of gunpowder? People really get more of a kick out of a wordy fight than in trading blows.
And then, when it's all over, when the billions of words have all been used over and over, the nations can go back to making treaties and the diplomats can go back to practicing up a new set of lies and everybody will be happy, just as they are after a particularly vicious American political campaign.
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