Thursday, February 25, 1943

The Charlotte News

Thursday, February 25, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports of another Charlotte native, Army Lieutenant Howard Sutton, missing in action since February 9 in North Africa. Fortunately, unlike Lieutenant Horne whose story appeared the day before, Lieutenant Sutton survived the war.

War is a game of Russian Roulette. Survivors need feel no guilt. The heroism of the survivors on the frontlines and the rear lines was every bit as valid as that of the dead and missing.

All of the living are survivors of war in this age in which we have lived. As we have suggested before, around the globe, all of us born prior to 1990, civilian and soldier alike, constituted the frontlines during the Cold War, as we were, each of us at risk, especially during the first stages of the Cold War through the climactic moment of its duration in October 1962.

Those born since owe us all a little debt of gratitude, we suggest, for being.

If all of humanity on earth were blown up and destroyed, would there be any being at all remaining in the universe? Destroy the spirit, destroy the life?

Today in history, somewhere in England, was welcomed to the stage a friend of us all, a singer-songwriter born of the Harrison family of Liverpool, a birth from which he then sought to be free.

He helped to change the world, we suggest, for the better, through his gift of musical expression and his willingness to try to impart through it the sanctity of humanity and the spirit of the Four Freedoms, not just in words, but in action, resoluteness to defend transcendence of the human spirit over hardship and defeat, not transgression to divide and destroy it, nevertheless realizing his birth into the material world for its round.

From India it was reported that Gandhi's sixteenth day of his 21-day fast, during his ninth such extended fast in furtherance of Satyagraha, found him physically unchanged. No doubt, however, he was spiritually evolving for the better.

From London came the good news that Prime Minister Churchill was recovering rapidly from pneumonia, his lungs sufficiently cleared of phlegm to permit him to smoke one of his fine cigars.

He was heard to mumble to the effect, "These nurses around here think they're trying to keep me alive. Say, you wouldn't happen to have two or three more of these on you, would you? They are mighty good. Where were we? Oh, yes, Xanadu…"

Then he flashed the "V" sign and asked to be excused that he might repair for the remainder of the long fight ahead.

Chairman Dies of HUAC, in a change of pace sounding for the better, suggested that there were many bureaucrats in government leaning toward fascism who needed to be ferreted out, avoiding the draft with essential government service deferments in the process of running everyone around in circles with inefficiency, seemingly by design. The Committee was investigating.

Whether this was the same old stalking-horse being ridden with a new bridle attached to make it sound more palatable than the old hag previously employed and to be subsequently employed post-war, regarding communists in government, was unclear.

In either guise, that which they were actually investigating were, more to the point, the Peter Principle and Murphy's Law, acting separately or in combination. But no one had yet clarified that to them, for want of time fighting depression and war resultant of these systemic flaws inherent in any bureaucratic framework not properly overseen at each level. (Cf. 1984 and Animal Farm)

Suggestive of how inured to war and tragedy the country was quickly becoming, a story from San Mateo, California recounts the plummet from the skies of an airplane out of Alameda Naval Air Station across the Bay, having spun out of control and crashed in a fiery ball just outside the curtilage of the horserace track at Bay Meadows before the eyes of 3,500 spectators, shortly before the start of the sixth race. Not skipping a beat, however, the sixth race was run as scheduled.

Bets, after all, had been laid; no need for a little tragedy to get in the way of a nice afternoon of potential profit, so that, alas, plenty of cans could be bought before heading off to the war to be slaughtered at the hands of fascists, feudalists, and Nazis.

Secretary of War Henry Stimson indicated that Rommel's forces had been thoroughly now repulsed back through Kasserine Pass. Initial reports of high casualties on the Allied side were being revised as men thought lost in action slowly made their way back to the lines.

He reported also that General Montgomery's British Eighth Army was steadily making inroads on the Mareth Line in southern Tunisia while the British First Army under K.A.N. Anderson was still stuck in the mud in northern Tunisia.

A map on the page tells the story visually.

The 66-mile route taken by Rommel from Faid Pass through Kasserine Pass, nearly into Algeria, was now being shortened considerably, as clean-up operations were ongoing at Kasserine Pass, clearing all Axis forces from its western side, said soldiers on the scene, retarding their movement to within one mile of the eastern point of ingress to the pass, meaning that the Nazis had failed, the aim having been to drive a spike between the northern and southern Allied forces in Tunisia, bisecting them into Algeria, and thereby to conquer.

Sir Harold Alexander was reported to be pressing a three-pronged attack in central Tunisia, using British, American and French forces under his command to achieve the triad.

From Finland came the news that the Finnish were attempting an armistice with the Russians in the war, begun in November, 1939, in exchange for guarantees of future territorial integrity. The presence of 100,000 Nazis in Finland continued to be a stumbling block to agreement. The Nazis, however, appeared to be behind the attempted rapprochement, as they needed the 100,000 troops in the Caucasus.

It remained to be seen, therefore, whether Russia would be so gullible as to swallow this "peace" tender hook, line, and Goebbels.

Tass reported that the German Information Bureau's claim of 12.8 million Russians killed and 5.4 million wounded or captured, plus the capture or destruction of 48,000 guns and 34,000 tanks, in the Russo-German war thus far constituted "galimatias", that is a medley of nonsense. The Soviet news agency further retaliated, asking how such a weakened army could have thus inflicted so many Nazi losses in just three months during the current winter offensive, retaking the Caucasus, ending the sieges of Stalingrad and Leningrad, and, so far, retaking nearly half the Ukrainian territory previously evacuated.

The claims were, indeed, simply more of Herr Doktor Goebbels's wild fantasies sought to be converted to reality in the minds of the herrenvolk, pathetically stupid and blinded by Herr Doktor Goebbels with the substantial boot-kicking aid of Herr Himmler's Gestapo to enforce the understanding among those unwilling to understand the way of it in Nazi Germany.

Stalin had reported four million Germans dead and five million wounded or captured. These figures appear to square with post-war reports.

On the editorial page, "False Alarm" snaps a shot at rumblings from the minority hustings that a revolt against the New Deal, and the Democratic Party with it, was afoot among Southern Democrats, threatening to break the Democratic Party's political lock held in the South since after the Civil War--save, in more recent times, the partial defection in 1928 amid anti-Catholic hysteria drummed among the herrenvolk--, as rumors had it that many party faithful were ready to jump to the Republicans or form a third party. The whispers, however, the editorial assures, are but that and nothing more, generated by a small minority of disgruntled businessmen who resent the Administration's liberal approach to Labor and fair treatment of minorities, especially to blacks.

It recounts the voluntary dilution of the South's power in nominating the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party when in 1936 it surrendered the requirement of a two-thirds majority for nomination at the convention. The editorial predicts that the South, with its 44 percent control of Democratic Senate seats and its majority control, 53 percent, of the Democratic caucus in the House, might well decide in 1944 to flex its muscles and rescind the 1936 rule, restoring the requirement of a two-thirds majority for nomination, thus once again giving it decisive sway over choice of the party's presidential candidate. Nevertheless, it insists, such reversion to the old ways would be no revolt, rather an expression of turning toward a more conservative fiscal policy after the war, turning away from social programs articulated and implemented by the New Deal.

In dismissing Josephus Daniels's warnings that a Republican victory in 1944 would mean a retreat to the days of President Hoover, the piece concludes that, while a Republican victory seemed likely in 1944, its greater portent would be no retreat to that past, still so close in the memory of the people. There were, it believes, too many new ideas born of the Depression and the New Deal and the war ever to find sufficient frenzy for regression, to realize any such sustained crabbing.

By 1948, however, the editorial's enunciated and explicated optimism on Southern Progress and the "New South" would prove itself stripped of prescience, by the old bugaboo, question number one traditionally in the part of the South not given to thought but rather emotionalism and its concomitant, obscurantism--race. The Dixiecrats under the leadership of Strom Thurmond would visibly and theatrically bolt the Democratic Party, walk physically, as adolescents not getting their way, out of the convention hall in reaction to the first civil rights plank ever introduced into a major American political party's platform, a plank sponsored by Hubert Humphrey, Mayor of Minneapolis, running for the Senate in 1948.

In 1968, when Vice-President Humphrey was the Democratic nominee amid the protestant atmosphere in Chicago concerning the war--a protest, we suggest, with mixed motives behind it, some stimulated by Nixon Teamster thugs and their children--after Robert Kennedy had been assassinated in Los Angeles June 5, the night of his Democratic primary victory in California, Richard Nixon and his Southern California entourage of advertising men and manipulators extraordinaire, of Bel Aire and elsewhere, would seed successfully the minds of the body politick with such stage management as America had never before seen, via the old Dodge City game of dividing and conquering thine perceived enemies, exactly the methods sought to be employed in 1943 in Tunisia at Kasserine Pass by Rommel. This approach would find its headwaters in the South, the "Southern Strategy", telling the "silent majority" of Southerners what they wanted to hear in the primary season while "running like hell back to the center" in the fall, a clever Nixon ploy which would then be repeated or attempted on the wings of Nixon's success by every Republican presidential nominee since, save Gerald Ford in 1976.

While racial division per se was not always the sub-topic, winks and nods and symbology employed, combined with policies subsequently implemented by the successful candidates, or, more usually, failure of enforcement of laws on the books designed to insure equality of rights and opportunity for all, together with the appointment of judges unfit to be lawyers, for routine violation of their oaths to uphold the Constitution, let alone to be judges, to the Federal bench, carried the fascist mentality characterizing that old South skein and mien of the scions of the plantation era into the mainstream of American society, making fascism, the inherent core concept of Nixonian "democracy", every bit as acceptable as mom and apple pie, as Checkers was to Mr. Nixon, just a cute, sweet li'l black and white cocker spaniel for the kids and the wife with the cloth coat to pay, that is play, with in the yard, to the exclusion of all those others, your enemies, who must realize their place in a civilized society of law and order.

But if you riled the little thing, this cocker, make no mistake, and let us make this point perfectly clear, it was liable to bite your head clean off.

Isn't it a pity that those following such ready-made boxed constructs of reality could not find more understanding of Gandhi than of Machiavelli in their realization of the world about them?

Raymond Clapper reviews President Roosevelt's caveat against overconfidence in his Washington's Birthday speech on Monday, finds it wholly fitting for the ether overburdening the land, one not coming to grips with the reality that the war was far from won. He offers in logical extension of the President's remarks on Saratoga and Valley Forge that it would yet take the better part of a decade after the Revolution was achieved finally to break the lock of insistence on confederation, the supremacy of states' rights over central government, confederation only for mutual defense but without the necessary unity of common politics and bonding thusly instilled, the life of life itself which is in fact politics--and every damned day, like it or not.

For politics is merely the process of human interaction at its base, to form a concept of unity, even if imperfect in its formation, always seeking a goal of perfection but inevitably for its diffusion of purpose, a goal falling, necessarily, shy of the mark set on the field, that of e pluribus unum. Competition among frail human beings inevitably will never find unity or oneness between persons for more than transitory periods in which common purpose is necessary for common survival; it is rather the notion of applying personal integrity in advancing the ball down the field toward the unattainable but always necessarily sought goal, insuring fairness within the rules of the game as played, realizing that no one, no group, is the winner unless all finally win.

Tackle to tackle, all fours, ladies and gentlemen.

A Constitution with a strong central government as its hallmark, with recognition of government vested ultimately in the people of the country, within the constitutional framework, was finally achieved in 1787.

"Defiance" points out remonstratively that the House appeared determined to wrest power from the executive branch by cutting off funding to executive agencies which had been performing vital war work, especially those concerned with social welfare. The piece finds the actions to constitute a deplorable exhibition of power politics, bent on diminishing the President's power, at a time when the country could ill afford such divisive conduct.

Was it a reaction to ten years of one President's power? a reaction which, while not complete by the 1944 election, would seek slowly, desperately so after a time, over the ensuing 25 years, to find its draw among the masses to rekindle a dying Republican Party built, not on Abraham Lincoln's notions as much as on the robber barons of the late nineteenth century, unrestrained capitalism run amok to the disgorgement and disorientation of the masses, pushing them to near revolt by the time of the Depression?

Had they forgotten by 1943 what Roosevelt had done for them?

Or, was it, as Mr. Davis contemporaneously and probably astutely suggested, merely the small minority of wealthy businessmen trying their utmost to deceive and pull the wool over the eyes of the average worker too tired at the end of most days to think for him or herself and therefore consigned to lap up the lackey's dog spit wherever easy entertainment media pointed them in Pavlovian compliance, on the radio, by the fifties, on the tv--until everyone finally co-existed in Happy-Happy Land, believing that if only they could find the same sort of family who got along all the time and told parables consistently, everyday, where all crises worked out handy-dandy despite the little miffs along the way, the family, in other words, which existed only in Cloud-Cuckoobury, in that little orange grove, the poorest in California, but one given to hard work and earning by the sweat of the brow, everything would just be ducky?

"Ration Queen" finds outrage in the supercilious attitude of the woman at the ration board office in Charlotte toward the African-American woman who had waited without service in line for her ration book for two days, all for want of proper identification and a birth certificate for her baby. Even when a representative of the Health Department sought to intervene, the Royal Queen of the rationing board hadn’t the time for someone whom she "didn't know from Adam".

The implication was that the Queen only responded to those whom she knew from Adam, Biblically, or, moreover, those who properly paid their bills to the Queen, with a little payola under the table, maybe, those then worthy to be at the beck of Her Majesty's call, standing in train of her royal retinue at Her Highness's service.

This Queen appeared to be one fit for Mr. Dies to investigate in his eagerness to obtain release from fascists populating the Government at all bureaucratic levels. We shall see whether the woman was hauled before HUAC to determine why she wanted the woman to prove her identity and her child's birthright to food rationing.

"The Dummies" chastises Representative Cooley for his remarks on the floor of the House anent the wooden anti-aircraft guns and dummies manning them on the roof of the Capitol, finding it problematic, along with other equally impertinent, extraneous excelsior referencing obtruding appurtenances Excelsior, most probably discouraging of American soldiers' morale on the various fronts.

The piece recalls the short story of Ambrose Bierce which had been re-printed on the page July 15, 1942, regarding stuffed-shirt cops and robbers.

The Queen might also have paid attention to that one, but she was probably too busy, likely couldn't read in the first place, for having been too reliant in her youth on her royal retinue to do all things for Her Highness.

"Joe Jones", an Army infantryman in training in Virginia, writes for The Chapel Hill Weekly of a casual Saturday spent in the barracks and of the not so casual inspection by the Colonel, its new-mown warnings clashing in grim wit with its newborn recruits from out of New Jersey, though good eggs, nevertheless while familiarizing themselves with the book on poison gas, still quite improvidently lacking some practical input on alfalfa, an exiguity which could get everyone killed on patrol somewhere in Italy, France, or Germany if not corrected prior to deployment.

Tackle to tackle, boys, all fours.

Sam Grafton writes movingly of Gandhi's fast and the deaf, dumb, and blind reaction to it by both the British, regarding it as his own responsibility, live or die, and by the American Yanks, regarding it as an internal issue for the Tommies.

Mr. Grafton imagines an expression of thought by Gandhi, perhaps one transcendentally communicated by Gandhi himself, an opposing paraphrase to the words of Prime Minister Churchill, invoked the previous November 10, when he obstinately insisted that he would not be the first First Minister of the British monarch to preside over the "liquidation of the British Empire".

Mr. Grafton concludes that, given the demonstrated look away by the British to the issue, it should appropriately fall to America, with American troops engaged in holding back from the soil of India the Japanese horde itching to transgress the border of Burma at the first opportunity of diversion to that theater of sufficient personnel and equipment with which to accomplish that task, to engage the issue and join it.

Gandhi, he suggests, would not go away or accede to the wishes of the moderates in India who sought compromise to await another day for the demand of independence. Gandhi would remain steadfast, as he had, opines Mr. Grafton, would remain confined to house arrest, would continue to fast, if necessary, to his death, to achieve the goal of independence for his people, freedom from the grip of empire possessing them, all to be accomplished by the spinning wheel and a little salt from the brow of the land by the sea.

It was not a matter of sweeping aside this Gandhi, in hope of replacement of him by a more moderate model. Gandhi was a symbol for the people of India and their repositing in him their hopes and dreams could not be stultified, shoved aside, or swept with the ocean tides by the broom, any more than Mrs. Partington could so hold back the waves of the ride.

Gandhi lived on to see the dream realized, if imperfectly. He still lives on in this revolving and evolving dream to see that its nature's better angels might be realized more perfectly abroad the world.

XIV. The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes--or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty Face
Lighting a little Hour or two--is gone.

XV. And those who husbanded the Golden Grain,
And those who flung it to the Winds like Rain,
Alike to no such aureate Earth are turn'd
As, buried once, Men want dug up again.

XVI. Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai
Whose Doorways are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his Hour or two, and went his way.

XVII. They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
The Courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep:
And Bahram, that great Hunter--the Wild Ass
Stamps o'er his Head, and he lies fast asleep.

XVIII. I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in its Lap from some once lovely Head.

XIX. And this delightful Herb whose tender Green
Fledges the River's Lip on which we lean--
Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!

XX. Ah! my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
TO-DAY of past Regrets and future Fears--
To-morrow?--Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years.

XXI. Lo! some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That Time and Fate of all their Vintage prest,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to Rest.

--from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, as translated by Edward Fitzgerald, 1859, 1868

But for these fleeting frames which it informs
With spirit deathless, endless, infinite,
They perish. Let them perish, Prince! and fight!
He who shall say, "Lo! I have slain a man!"
He who shall think, "Lo! I am slain!" those both
Know naught! Life cannot slay. Life is not slain!
Never the spirit was born; the spirit shall cease to be never;
Never was time it was not; End and Beginning are dreams!
Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth the spirit for ever;
Death hath not touched it at all, dead though the house of it seems!

Who knoweth it exhaustless, self-sustained,
Immortal, indestructible,--shall such
Say, "I have killed a man, or caused to kill?"

Nay, but as when one layeth
His worn-out robes away,
And taking new ones, sayeth,
"These will I wear to-day!"
So putteth by the spirit
Lightly its garb of flesh,
And passeth to inherit
A residence afresh.

--from The Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter II

No one mortal on earth, whether high priest or acolyte, owns a religion or has the right to dictate to you or anyone else what to believe or to think or to say. They may advise and you may listen. But the final determination of choice of belief is personal only to you, within the framework of a conscious, thinking, rational mind, one which takes into account the interests of all, not just one's self of the moment. Religion does not come in boxes. Nor does law. Nor does philosophy. Nor does poetry. Nor any other endeavor worth understanding or doing. Only little dictators, only little fascists, only little Nazis, only little obscurantists, provide boxed ideas with immutable, intransigent constructs, with bows and ribbons nicely tied upon them to render them attractive nuisances to mankind, to lock you into the box's transitory temporality.

And anyone who tries to make you shift seats because it is the "Master's", he of Superior Rights, Supreme in Being, Aryan, Righteous, especially when no one is seeking that seat of the moment, when no sign of reservation is hung or evident upon it, when no license is necessary for its occupation, is not only a fool and an obscurantist, but a bully, not a seer, not a person of understanding, certainly not of light. That person is of Maya.

Neverthless, surrender the seat, lest you be the servant to the blind of the Maya, unless an overriding purpose beyond yourself is at issue.

We said that.

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