The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 23, 1942


Site Ed. Note: An RAF raid, the first since the fall of the Dutch East Indies during February and March, was reported in western Sumatra at Sabang. The front page report speculated that the target was a fuel storage facility. The move was further indication, combined with the ground and air operations still ongoing on the southern coast of Burma, of the opening by the Allies of a new front in Southeast Asia.

A first-hand report from a reporter traveling with the British Eighth Army indicated only light resistance from Rommel’s columns as General Montgomery was now moving more slowly, awaiting the full complement of his supply columns as he progressed nevertheless steadily toward taking Tripolitania out from under the Italian flag which had flown over it for thirty years. Indeed, given that El Agheila was not chosen as more than a watering hole for Rommel, despite its heavy fortifications, the British believed that Tripoli might fall following only light resistance as Rommel apparently headed toward Tunisia to join the ranks of the Axis forces defending Tunis and Bizerte.

An unnamed American general in the Tunisian campaign indicated that the American big guns and tanks were proving superior to those of the Nazis. He indicated that while infantry morale was low, Nazi panzer crews were fighting to the last man, even in disabled tanks.

Domestically in Germany, the propaganda machine of Herr Doktor Goebbels was reported spewing confetti for the masses as fast it could be printed, to bolster faltering morale, seeking to dampen complaints regarding lack of food and clothing by underscoring the sacrifices of the men on the Russian front, the while softening reports of defeat in North Africa and setbacks in Russia with reminders that Europe was the sought prize, and that once Russia was finally secured, the battle plans orchestrated under the Fuehrer’s genius would enable movement again into the Mediterranean.

But, that optimistic prognosis first, of course, presupposed the taking of Russia. And, for the second winter in a row, it was a hope starting badly to crumble amid piles of dead German soldiers and captured and destroyed armament and supply lines--such as the report coming from the Russian army somewhere west of the Don Bend, after progress had been made to within 132 miles of Rostov, that the Russians were eating Dutch chocolate and drinking Rhine wine captured from German supply stores hastily abandoned in their massive retreat.

The United States secured a deal with Brazil whereby 50,000 tons of rubber would be traded to the U.S. But, that was still scant good news to the ordinary motorist in the face of further curtailments on gas rationing announced by Harold Ickes, rationing to be imposed on service stations rather than just on consumers, amid reports of falsifying ration books and bootlegging of gas by local operators. The recent weekend crisis had been caused by the fact of more rationing coupons being in the hands of citizens than fuel supply in the hands of dealers.

Things had become so desperate, according to widespread reports, that fake FBI agents were plentifully found to be plying their scams along the eastern seaboard, trying various ploys to gain access to more fuel, for instance, ordering service stations closed before exhausting their supply of gas, then driving up to the pumps and ordering the attendant to fill up the G-Man’s tank. Then came the confrontation at one station between one of the fake men in black hats and the real McCoy.

"You wouldn’t like it," said the impostor to the agent when the latter asked the former how he might acquire one of those hats. "It's a tough racket," said the fellow pumping full his tank--probably for the last time for awhile.

On the editorial page, "Duration" accurately assesses the post-war world to come as being one which would take years fully to rebuild out of the mess already degenerated from the war, as well as to establish a viable peace. Whether, however, Burke Davis, or anyone else, ever foresaw that it would take nearly half a century to establish that viable lasting peace is not thus far in the picture indicated.

No one in the public, few in the government, then knew or even speculated, of course, that America was preparing to build not just a secret weapon, as suggested by the Herblock of the day before, but that President Roosevelt on December 28 would grant approval for the establishment of the Manhattan Project, to build the ultimate weapon, one with which the world still contends.

"Fantastic" tells of the once British-reviled Flying Fortresses establishing themselves so well under the guidance of American pilots over France, by bagging perhaps 44, perhaps more, Luftwaffe fighters sent up to intercept them during a recent raid, that the air ministry in Britain had at first censored the report from the BBC for fear that it would be proved fanciful. Apparently, it was quite accurate.

"Invasion" suggests that among the Nazis stranded in the depths of the snow on the Russian steppes, snuggled into their lice-ridden furs, was not the only place in the world where typhus thrived: it was having its day right in Charlotte.

Dorothy Thompson continues her explanation of the conflict within Germany between the military and the Nazi Party political apparatus, the latter maintaining its tight grip on the strategic and tactical planning of the war to the consternation of officers' corps. A debacle had resulted from the military genius Hitler insisting on this control, firing all of his most experienced generals who had led the initial successful campaigns in Europe, (however relatively uncontested they were), for their ineptitude in Russia, a theater which most of them had counseled Hitler not to enter in the first place. Emblematic of the particular situation consequent of this stubborn insistence on control from the political apparatus was that the unseasoned Kurt Zeitzler, a low level staff officer in 1937 and a subordinate corps commander at the beginning of the war, had recently been elevated to Chief of Staff of the Wehrmacht, replacing the experienced Franz Halder, who had held the position since before Munich, appointed September 1, 1938.

Hitler's military genius was working steadily for the benefit of the Allies.

Samuel Grafton suggests that some anti-Administration political leaders, both Democrat and Republican, though more Republican, were practicing the same game as that perpetrated by the Nazis at the beginning of their movement in the early thirties: obscurantism. As Mr. Grafton employs the term, he means the exploitative demagoguery of reciting approval and promise of implementation of a checklist of popular political issues appealing to a certain narrow, albeit especially determined, emotional base among the citizenry, no matter that inevitably the checklist's components were so logically incongruent that they devolved to a series of conundrums, incapable of practical realization for their self-contradictory nature.

Do we not see the same thing today among the same outlandish subset within the country?

Take the hot-button issue of abortion rights. No one can promise a return to the status in which, prior to 1973's Roe v. Wade, abortions were prohibited absolutely, and simultaneously promise, with credulity, that accompanying such a rebirth of absolute prohibition would not be the old practices of unsterile midwifery and alleyway charlatans posing as willing "doctors" to the callow young woman not wanting the responsibility of the newborn she carried, that illicit practice leading to horror stories of death and deformity at the hands of unskilled and unequipped heirs of the traveling patent medicine purveyor of the nineteenth century.

But this minor premise is never promised or broached, for its very self-evident pitfalls, by those favoring the major premise. You will not hear any "pro-life" advocate posturing for not only an abortion-free America but also one where there are no illegal abortions performed under conditions where the only regulation extant is the steadiness of the likely liquored-up hand of the midwife or charlatan seeking to perform the "favor" for some more liquor. It is the obverse dark side of this issue never examined by the fever-pitched, emotional portion of the country which speaks first, acts second, and thinks of immediate and broad social consequence of their actions last, if ever at all.

These vocal advocates tend, ironically, to be the same who favor strict adherence to law and order while pumping for less government strictures on the lives of Americans; taking stands for "pro-life", while often on the other side of the same sign, they cheer with blood-lusting gusto at every imposition of the death penalty, seeking to extend its ultimate punishment far beyond the realm of mere first degree murder. Indeed, their probable solution to the minor premise we reference would be the death penalty for anyone administering an illegal abortion.

It is akin to those prohibitionists of the twenties who actually were shown to be deriving profits collaterally from illegal liquor trade, as they vocally denounced the Demon Rum.

Obscurantism is essentially dodging truth, both practical and theoretical, with emotionalism and appeal to emotionalism, denying objective reality, allowing to obtrude only subjective feeling as premise for establishing a gestalt, building houses, in other words, on false foundations of slippery-slope mud, ready at the first slight rainy breeze to topple.

And, in answer to that, as with any good Nazi, they take the hard stand, the blanket stand, the boot-kicking stand, which then bars the door from any reality obtaining passage at all. No light of reason, of logic, penetrates: obscurantism.

We have discussed obscurantism many times previously in precisely the same contexts as that to which Mr. Grafton applies it. Cash often described it, both by use of the term itself or its synonymous equivalent, “sentimentalism”, feeling through a problem in substitution of thoughtful analysis, as being the worst fault of the South, as hallmark of Charlotte, in fact.

In any event, the "Visitin' Round" snippet from the Lexington Dispatch tells us that the wind blowed down the barns in Denton. Nevertheless, hope was that Santa weren’t blown away, 'cause there shore was quite a lot children around nowadays to be made happy.

Well, that's a thoughtful and delightful notion of cheer at Christmas and so we second the motion. Let's hope Santa don't get blowed away with the barn doors come tomorry night.

We ourselves are still trying to figure out, however, just how it was that our school got its barn doors blowed off such that for a fur piece it couldn't hit any side of one out there in Texas last weekend.

Well, the winds do get blowed sometimes.

And, if you have not yet gotten your stocking stuffers, remember that the proceeds of Mr. Dylan's "Christmas in the Heart" go to the homeless, especially ailing for want of funding for shelters in recent times. We got ours back in October and have enjoyed its offerings periodically since and recommend it to your Christmas ears. Whether you like it or not, by its purchase, you will have done a little of your part for the homeless this year.

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