Monday, February 22, 1943

The Charlotte News

Monday, February 22, 1943


Site Ed. Note: Hey, hey. My, my.

Rommel was reported this date on the front page to have pushed through Kasserine Pass into Algeria, threatening the British First Army under K.A.N. Anderson to the north, with the goal of flanking and boxing it in at its positions before Tunis and Bizerte in northern Tunisia before Bernard Montgomery's Eighth Army could break through the Mareth Line to box Rommel in central Tunisia.

Montgomery, meanwhile, had captured Medenine, 40 miles southwest of Gabes, to the south of the Mareth Line, and was making inroads against the fixed fortification boundary to the Gulf of Gabes.

British and American forces met Rommel in a day and night battle on Sunday before the key city of Thala, defended by General Anderson's "Nickforce". The capture of Thala would have enabled Rommel to spread his forces out in the northern sector in several directions, potentially enabling his panzers to capture a hundred square of prime Algerian ground, from which other operations could be launched against the First Army.

Other attacks from Rommel's forces were repulsed at the area south of Sbiba.

A report told of a trick plotted by the Desert Fox, one used the previous summer to inflict major losses on the British Eighth Army just before the offensive against Tobruk began in June, that being to plant five Mark IV tanks, motionless, this time in the Kasserine Valley, ten miles east of the Pass, as bait for attack while hidden German armored positions stood poised to fire on Allied artillery thusly exposed. This time, however, unlike the previous attempt, the astute Americans realized the trick and instead flanked the hidden positions, while sending decoy units of light tanks and half-tracks to draw out twenty Nazi tanks, thus exposing their positions to fire from medium American tanks, manned by veterans of engagements during the previous two months, brought up to meet them.

A Swiss report provided contrast between the swift consequence to draft resistance in the Axis-occupied territory and that locally drawn on Saturday. Thirteen young draft evaders in the Alsace territory were hauled before a court martial and the next day shot. From Lexington, N.C., it had been reported Saturday that two young men who had been arrested for evading the draft, after their shotgun-wielding mother had been shot and killed by the sheriff and his deputy, the latter wounded in the hip by the mother’s volley, were awaiting their trial in jail.

And, demonstrating that new OPA director Prentiss Brown hated cans, canned good rationing was to begin the following week and from March through September 1944 to be based on a points system. Starting March 1, each household would receive coupons worth 48 points, enabling, for instance, 48 cans of baby food, or 3 cans of peas, or 1 can of peas and one can of tomato or pineapple juice, but not both the juices at once, or eight cans of soup.

One would either have to be content to become a pea-picker and consume perhaps four or five peas per day per member of the household, if that, plus maybe a wee taste of tomato juice, or, less expensive, grapefruit juice.

Or, one could perhaps double the money by purchasing some thick pea soup and straining the peas, thus obtaining twofer. Throw in a little pineapple juice for flavoring and have yourself a pea soup cocktail.

Whatever the case, the householders of 1943 had best grow their own through summer 1944, or plan to be nourished in the vegetable and fruit groups mostly by fresh garden produce. Any little baby of the household, in order to be appeased, would probably eat you out of house and home ration points before you got even a taste of grapefruit or tomato juice or goobers. That's what you got for having a baby to try to avoid the draft. See?

That didn't work either, as they were going to have to start taking married men and dependents soon to fill quotas. Hell, just give up the cans, the garden, the meat, and volunteer. You are probably going to die in the thing anyway.

From Berlin came a report that Hitler had re-appointed Col.-General Heinz Guderian to be commander of all armies in the Russian theater. Guderian had been relieved in November, 1941 for health reasons. He had now fully recovered, even if at one point it was touch and go and death appeared imminent any minute.

On the editorial page, Dorothy Thompson takes aim at Clare Boothe Luce's remarks to Congress, questioning what in the world she meant by advocating "sovereignty of the skies" to be held post-war by the United States, claiming opposition to "freedom of the air", supposedly a policy favored by the Scare Crow, who in fact no more existed than the Tin Man, conjured by her apparently overactive imagination in combination with a misunderstanding of the terms being bantered about.

Ms. Luce apparently believed that sovereignty of the air meant absolute control of one's own airspace against intrusion by air traffic, commercial or military, while freedom of the air meant unrestricted access to the world’s airspace by all. No one, says Ms. Thompson, had ever advocated such dichotomous policies but rather a sensibly restricted airspace over each country's own airspace while permitting freedom of the air over oceans comprising 75 percent of the earth's surface, analogous to the concept applicable to the world's civil and military sea space.

Ms. Luce was simply running on at the mouth about something which did not even exist. But she had freedom of the air to do so.

Apparently, fellow freshman Congressman J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, a liberal Democrat who would in 1945 start 30 years of service as a Senator, took Ms. Luce to task on her meaning, to which she retorted that she had not stated precisely that America should control the skies of other nations. Yet, Ms. Thompson finds, her verbiage impliedly was imprecisely just that and that plain speaking was necessary for effective representation.

Ms. Thompson adds that she supported Ms. Luce in her run for the Congress but not her aide-de-camp in the campaign, Pan American Airways vice-president, Sam Prior. She urges Ms. Luce to Be herself--to Free herself.

The implication of Ms. Thompson's piece is that Ms. Luce's remarks on the opposition's putative "globaloney" constituted so much anti-globalunacy--as with her contemporary proselyte, the Blonde from La Dolce Vita, who ought take Ms. Thompson's advice, or, moreover, maybe that more familiar, of Mrs. Roosevelt.

Senator Fulbright, incidentally, in 1964, would co-sponsor the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution starting in earnest America's military involvement in Vietnam, but by 1966, suspecting its intended limited powers to have been abused by the Johnson Administration, would begin hearings into the unauthorized expansion of the war, hearings which lasted through 1972.

Samuel Grafton outlines some of the more whimsical plans set forth thus far by the anti-Administration post-war planners, including permanent ownership of the leased Atlantic bases from Great Britain, despite leases not set to expire until 2039, a form of union with Canada, domination of the world's commercial airlines, a Good Neighbor Policy tinged by overtones of colonialism vis à vis Latin America, and compulsory military training in peacetime.

He suggests that these policies were not so much plans as anti-plans, trying to wrest from the Administration the planning for the post-war world and vest it in Congress, a body closer to the people than the executive branch by nature of the beast, but also one given to such wrangling and diffuse focus that "planning" becomes oxymoronic in its diverse hands. He believes, therefore, that the real purpose was to defeat the notion of cohesive planning in the post-war world.

Senator Harry Flood Byrd of Virginia, he imparts, was a chief advocate in the Congress for such a purpose, always a firm believer in anti-planning, that is ad hoc remedies to issues as they arose as opposed to systemic solutions such as the New Deal's societal ablutions, daily rather than just on Saturday nights as allowable under Mr. Hoover--the apple plantation approach, in other words, rather than the floated cantaloupe.

Mr. Grafton continues, along with Mr. Clapper, to urge the Administration to fill the void with an officially proposed plan not offered through Administration surrogates but by the Chief, lest the planning wind up in such a vacuum as to constitute chaos, devoid of meaning from too few masses of air issued from the top, hot, warm, or cold, or a little of each to form clashing clouds, lightning and thunder.

Raymond Clapper takes the reader on a tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and its newest birth, the six 45,000-ton destroyers of the Iowa class, their improved technology in light of lessons of the previous year in the Pacific.

"Three R's" laments the passing of the age of placing academic value on Liberal Arts, replacing them with the Conservative stress on the more militarily valuable technical expertise and vocational training below the college level. It suggests that tinkerers should not displace "thinkerers".

We agree wholeheartedly. As a society, we think, that post-war trend begun during the war has been to a great degree the culprit most culpable for leading the country into the military-industrial complex mess without the imagination necessary to unwind that which was wound up in the Case of the Misplaced Alarm Clock during the war, stretching to all facets of society, a paradigm for which might be found in the Rust brother's cotton-picking machine, maybe even in the Wurlitzer, where copyright infringement laws and suits would lead to such absurdity as thinking my sweet Lord meant the same thing as He's so fine--as if anybody cared, probably listened to both with equivalent but different pleasure centers of the brain being accorded sympathy, even to the point of finally suing a singer-songwriter for allegedly stealing his own song when the old man down the road in the fantasy was taking a run through the jungle of copyright infringement law. Shouldn't some relative of Johann Sebastian Bach have sued the toys for stealing his catchy tune?

There you are: Freedom of the air versus air sovereignty.

In any event, we firmly espouse the belief that the best and the brightest are those who can do both, tink and think, even better, all at the same time and both globally.

The old man down the road in "Good Old Days" bitterly extols the former virtues of quail on toast to be had late of a night at the Little Gem Café now replaced with a hotdog stand.

Well, as we have pointed out before, there are good old days to be remembered at some of those hotdog stands nowadays, as with Green's Lunch in Charlotte, even if no quail on toast is to be enjoyed there, just as the piece itself concludes: take the best of the past eclectically and blend it with the present age, neither erasing either.

Examine, for example, Carmichael Auditorium on the campus of the University of North Carolina, sometime, for instance. How was it done?

Ourselves, incidentally, we recommend giving the Smith Center to the Business School which built it and going back to Carmichael for all home games. The way things are going, they won't be able to fill even it much longer.

"Ninth Strike" takes aim again at Gandhi and finds his ninth hunger strike to be something wholly ignorable, something devoid of purpose except as gadfly to the Allied war effort, within the movement of the Old Blue Lady striding across the starry plough in her blue-grey cotton gossamer peek-a-boo dress.

But, Gandhi would not be long ignored and, after being instrumental in bringing to his native land independence after the war, would ultimately carry in spirit his Satyagraha beyond the grave to the streets of Birmingham, of Montgomery, of Selma, of Atlanta, to the broad expanse of the Reflecting Pool on the Mall, standing, in tents, before the Lincoln Memorial, to communicate to the world the dream of justice for all, the means to achieve it with injustice to none and equality of opportunity without the chains and constraints to royal and commoner alike imposed by the rule of the few over the many, the collective defeat of old Pharoah abroad the world stage, the spinning ginny, letting Freedom ring from the echoing wall of Stone Mountain in Georgia to the fire-clay bricks of Faneuil Hall in Boston, from the United Nations Plaza in San Francisco to the Quay County Courthouse mosaic terrazzo in Tecumcari, New Mexico, from the Hoover Dam's boulders to the Grand Coulee Dam's Atlas-broad shoulders, from the rolling Mississippi's Minnesota headwaters to Philadelphia's signed and wax-sealed Declaration and Constitution ink blotters, from the blue Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to the waving purple grain fields of Iowa, from the cascading waterfalls of Grand Teton and Yellowstone rolling miles of geyser roke to the fast fading bones of the last and Lost Dead of Boca Raton and the Island of Roanoak, from the streets of the ghetto of Detroit burned years ago to the pain of Watts and the rain on the homeless New York broadway cots within earshot of the show, falling short once, by fay, nevertheless, getting up next day to bunt the cart along its earnest lay, fever ever-blessed, made thus the best in short order to go--let Freedom ring.

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