Saturday, March 20, 1943

The Charlotte News

Saturday, March 20, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page instructs that bad weather, mud and rain continuing in the north while dust storms beset the south, stopped both air and ground operations in Tunisia. When it became waist-deep, even Patton had to relent before the season's torrential downpours.

A piece describes the scene in Gafsa on Wednesday, the hoisting of the French tri-colors after a month under Axis rule. The reporter percipient of the events talked with a young Jewish man and his father who, seven weeks earlier, dressed in ordinary European attire, had feted him and a colleague, now were wearing traditional Arab dress because the Italians had, after looting their home of all food, silver, money, and accouterment of value, forced them to remove their trousers and don the gear of the desert. Now, it was the Italians consigned to the desert stretches with their Nazi pals.

The pincer drive to recapture Gafsa, as explained by the map appearing the day before, was accomplished by a combination of French forces piercing from the south at Metlaoui and the American forces coming from the northwest at Feriana.

In Russia, along the Donets River, to the east of the recently recaptured Kharkov, the Russians and Nazis engaged in fierce battles, as the Nazis sought by the moonlight to cross the steadily diminishing ice sheet still nevertheless affording the way across the Donets River, the moonlight, however, also enabling from the riverbank the Russian machine-gun nests clear view of the intruders, while German air cover likewise found aid by the shine off the moon in marking their prey. It was a continuing bloody mess, especially for the Nazis.

The Red Army continued to press the issue west along the upper Dneiper region toward Smolensk in the central sector. Time was of the essence, as the spring thaw was beginning to turn the ground to mush and soon would render the way impassable for all, save air operations.

The Army in the Boston area ordered 696 pairs of hockey gloves. Reason provided was to enable the handling of dogs in training with the Quartermaster Corps.

We suppose that we understand. Dogs can be terribly Puckish at times.

Whether any of the hockey gloves were requisitioned from den mothers, was not yet reported.

Also from Boston came the report of the purse-snatcher who grabbed the wrong purse and wound up with his hand bitten by Ms. Helen Hinckley, the snatcher’s misbegotten target.

He should have first checked in with the Army Quartermaster, for some training.

The lady pictured with her hands full, recently arrived in Los Angeles from Anaconda, Montana, seeking without success a room to let for herself and her triplet toddlers, to join her husband who was working in a defense plant in the area, might also have seen the Quartermaster and requisitioned a couple or three pairs of those gloves, to take care of the sampled landlords.

Meanwhile, Senator Truman's committee heard testimony from Pittsburgh area steel company executives attesting to the quality of their steel plates.

The test of tensile strength might have been to string the clawhammer with the strands spun from the molten pots and then hammer it, for malleability and endurance, in the morning and in the evening, the while the live-long day away, thereby to certify its fitness or not for deliverance down river to the battle fronts.

On the editorial page, Raymond Clapper points out favorably that U. S. Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts, one of only two Republican appointees remaining on the Court, the other being the Chief, Harlan Stone, who, before his elevation by FDR in 1941, had been appointed originally to the Court in 1925 by Calvin Coolidge, was publicly counseling, with no axe to grind, the establishment of a post-war United Nations organization. Mr. Clapper beseeches the Senate to listen and adopt by two-thirds majority the bill it was considering to approve the membership of the United States in such an organization, thus cleansing from its planning any taint that it would wind up as had the League of Nations in the wake of World War I, without U.S. cooperation and affiliation, thus dead aborning.

He points out that John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and future Secretary of State under President Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles, at the time a prominent New York lawyer, and previously an isolationist who in 1939 had preached the America First doctrine, passively allowing the Nazis to behave as a bulwark to dratted Soviet Communism, were invoking the aid of the Federal Council of Churches to support the creation of the United Nations.

Mr. Dulles, who President Truman thoroughly distrusted--with quoted references amply attached which would ordinarily be thought to have befitted the dogs being trained with the hockey gloves in hand by the Army Quartermaster Corps there in Boston--would become a chief proponent of the United Nations and one of its primary architects, helping to draft the preamble of the U. N. Charter formed in San Francisco in 1945 while acting as advisor to Senator Arthur Vandenberg, Republican of Michigan, who also was a convert during the war from isolationism to internationalism and aided considerably, from the Republican side of the aisle, the passage in the Senate of the bill finally to ratify the country's membership in the organization.

Samuel Grafton examines the false philosophy of playing the ostrich, that being promulgated by former President Hoover, urging the placement of soldiers awaiting transport in the backed-up shipping lanes onto the labor-starved farms to enable concentration on domestic food production, the renewal of isolationist rhetoric by Senator Wheeler of Montana to the effect that approval of U.S. membership in the proposed U. N. ought be delayed until more was known of the intentions of Russia and whether they had post-war designs on acquisition of territory in Eastern and Central Europe, whether they intended to provoke a war with the Western Allies to establish and maintain buffer territory.

This atavistic retreat to the pre-war status quo among the America First crowd, Mr. Grafton finds particularly sadistic and devoid of sensitivity in a week when Kharkov had fallen again to the Nazis and at least five thousand young members of the French Resistance were risking their lives in the Swiss-French border region around Lake Geneva, Haute-Savoie, to fight the Nazi-Fascist regime which had taken over their country with scarcely a whimper of contention nearly three years earlier.

Whether, incidentally, the Resistance movement had its origins in nearby Montélimar or had already spread to same, is not told.

But, as was reported beginning January 26, on which Mr. Grafton wrote January 29, sporadic violence against the Nazis in Marseille had been ongoing for the previous seven weeks.

Retaliation by the Nazis, of course, for this obstinacy and defiance was taking much the same form as reported on the front page this date with regard to Polish Jews, executed, numbered only by the thousands.

Time remarks eloquently on the world situation, the war, which it marks from its beginnings with the Japanese occupation in 1931 of Manchukuo, and the post-war planning now being sought by the Allies as the war raged on, as it would continue to do for yet another nearly two and a half blood-soaked years.

Some of the phraseology of this piece echoes the remarks of W. J. Cash in his June 2, 1941 commencement speech at the University of Texas, which had, in turn, echoed the words of FDR in his 1941 inaugural address, and his Four Freedoms speech to Congress shortly thereafter, especially the flow anent the "plain people" of the world, the immigrants to America, those remaining in the old countries, seeking only a better life, one free from want, free from tyranny, free in speech, free in choice of religious belief, free from war.

Whether composed by Henry Luce or someone else at Time is not indicated.

Mr. Luce expressed the belief in 1962 that the world had no more than five years before it, by or during which inexorably it would annihilate itself with nuclear weapons.

Fortunately, his prediction was incorrect.

"Same Old Ham" laments the speech provided by Congressman Ham Fish of New York, self-identified "former non-interventionist", who had spoken in Boston, adumbrating a position for the United States to stake out immediately, the seizure of British possessions off the Atlantic Coast in repayment of Lend-Lease and, in the event of Germany's defeat, no seizure of German territory, lest a third world war thereby be precipitated.

Mr. Fish would live until 1991 and thus saw the entire Cold War, for which one might make a reasonably convincing case laying responsibility for it to him and his colleagues of the isolationist stripe, those who feared more Communism than Fascism because their gestalt embraced inherently many of the tenets of the latter, especially as formed within the German zeitgeist, failing the while to discern the evil inherent in any form of totalitarian-authoritarian rule or empirical feudalism, any form of which has as its goal necessarily for its preservation, contra the human instinct to freedom, the seeking of superiority of one class or people over another for the preservation or creation anew of a supposed aristocracy, admission to which is governed inevitably by the ticket of easily acquired status, either based on new money or old, regardless, by silk-stocking wealth.

That his notion that acquiring German territory might lead to a third world war had its ostensibly precognitive aspects, manifested in the form of the Berlin Crisis of 1961, precipitating the erection of the Wall, followed a little over a year later by the Cuban Missile Crisis, having as its stake nuclear war over Berlin, creation of missile bases operational in Cuba being deemed by Russia fair exchange for the missiles extant at their back door in West Berlin and Turkey, should not be confused with the intervening history making all predictive efforts in this period prior to 1945 essentially moot, that by the subsequent development of atomic weaponry and long-range and medium-range intercontinental ballistic missiles to deliver them over the pole on notice of an hour or less, the less, about fifteen minutes to the East Coast, being supplied by the bases in Cuba to match that roughly equivalent time-frame darkly afforded by the Western European bases aimed at Moscow.

Mr. Fish, unless he had truck with Dr. Einstein or the scientists, notably Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller, working in utmost secrecy now at Los Alamos in the New Mexican desert, a doubtful proposition, was not the least prophetic, simply, as the piece suggests, tending toward Fascism and thus swayed by those tendencies to make dire predictions, even if untrue, based on consequences of any post-war resolution which would curtail the mastery of Germany at the expense of empowering Communist states. There is a difference between objective prophecy and defined, boxed myopia leading to stumbling coincidence with a later occurring reality, part of which is identifiable as self-fulfilling prophecy by the otherwise putative prophet.

Beulah blew her horn from within the column on this one, and correctly so.

"Two Big Doses" compares the government approach to stem absenteeism, by offering the incentive of extra vacation time and bonuses for steady attendance at work, with that of Martin Aircraft, which simply began firing regularly absent employees. It favors the latter approach and finds the former coddling of malingering indolence.

But, doesn't the editorial miss the point addressed by the government program? Wasn't it the fact that, with so many jobs now being filled by women and older persons, many of whom were retired or older professionals, supplementing the workforce severely impacted by the draft and volunteering of workers for the military, combined with the extended work-week to embrace 48-hours as a norm, already a practice in many industries since early 1942, there was simply a point of weekly fatigue being reached by workers, necessitating time off. Kill incentive of those who probably did not really need the work to survive anyway and you kill the war industry.

Who in fact had the better solution, the government, to whom the columnist ascribes naivete in its attempted formulation of a salve, or Mr. Martin, the cold-hearted authoritarian businessman with all the answers administered in blisters with the slap of a paddle's pist-path?

"Wrong Number", in our estimate, missed the boat, and the bus. Had it rowed a little with the idea proposed and offered it up for approval with perhaps some apt modification, rather than urging the old status quo, many valuable and extraordinary lives over the ensuing two and a half decades might have been saved. A local African-American minister, Dr. J. Nathaniel Tross, had proposed a quota system for bus riders, based on percentage of minority population, 30% of the seats to be reserved for black riders and the rest for white. The editorial finds this proffered solution to be problematic, suggesting it as probably stimulative of worse tension than that already arising from the overcrowded buses, so in light of gas and rubber rationing of the previous year.

That may have been, probably was, the case. But, the offered solution by the column, maintenance of the old Jim Crow system of segregated ridership, blacks seating from the rear, whites from the front, until the bus was full, with the sides, if the twain chafed at the line of interface, left to fend for themselves, was one lacking in all imagination, not to mention recognition of that forgotten document in the National Archives and its Fourteenth Amendment combined with its Commerce Clause in ratiocination.

But, all of that esoteric resolution, resorting to something so quaint as the Constitution, would have to come later, even if at a terrible price to society, an unnecessary Price which it never had to pay.

All the editorialist really had to do was to quote the last two paragraphs of the The Mind of the South, authored by the newspaper's own former editorial writer.

Proud, brave, honorable by its lights, courteous, personally generous, loyal, swift to act, often too swift, but signally effective, sometimes terrible, in its action--such was the South at its best. And such at its best it remains today, despite the great falling away in some of its virtues. Violence, intolerance, aversion and suspicion toward new ideas, an incapacity for analysis, an inclination to act from feeling rather than from thought, an exaggerated individualism and a too narrow concept of social responsibility, attachment to fictions and false values, above all too great attachment to racial values and a tendency to justify cruelty and injustice in the name of those values, sentimentality and a lack of realism--these have been its characteristic vices in the past. And, despite changes for the better, they remain its characteristic vices today.

In the coming days, and probably soon, it is likely to have to prove its capacity for adjustment far beyond what has been true in the past. And in that time I shall hope, as its loyal son, that its virtues will tower over and conquer its faults and have the making of the Southern world to come. But of the future I shall venture no definite prophecies. It would be a brave man who would venture them in any case. It would be a madman who would venture them in face of the forces sweeping over the world in the fateful year of 1940.

The solution of course was not in quotas or preservation of old and antiquated lines of demarcation, but in the simple recognition, borne in mind constantly, of common humanity engaged in a mutual experiment based on an hypothesis at once so easy and difficult to grasp, that democracy is the form of government most consistent with the natural will and preservation, and therefore most conducive to the self-interest, of each individual operating within its guidance, a truth which, especially at this time in history where democracy around the globe was being daily threatened by despots seeking to destroy it, should have been self-evident to any of discernment gleaned from education and ordinary, if not keen, observation.

Instead, xenophobic fear and obscurantism, that which, at its heart, had precipitated both world wars, especially World War II, had before them, as a rationalization for empire, precipitated the Civil War, would sway the day and the night, as the buses rolled on along, for some in grudging acrimony, into the heavy sweating growling, smiling, expressionless muses of the spring and sweltering, short-tempered simmering summer down South amid the frowns, amid the simpers, amid the supervenient lenity, on the way to and fro work, all now in high cotton because of the war industry in the city, yet anxious of the time to come and what it held for them in its store of unseen events, especially for those who had not the grace to view with equanimity of spirit the evidence of things unseen.

Even into the 1950's post-war prosperity, the Honeymooners would remain an all-white cast and concept, quite separate and apart from Amos and Andy who lived just in the next borough, even if the same households peered quite regularly into their separate living rooms on successive Friday and Saturday nights.

A well-meaning lady letter-writer writes soberly of the lawsuit filed by the corporal seeking annulment of his marriage, claiming it to have been undertaken while in his cups, having partaken allegedly of too much beer, thus acting as warning of the devilishly seductive qualities which the Temptress of the Rye and Barleycorn delivers up to its possessed imbiber.

She might instead, of course, have simply saved her breath and oped to the young neophyte corporal, not well enough yet versed in life lessons to understand the hallucinatory alterations wrought upon the sensate data ordinarily received in mixed enough perception, including attraction to others of the species, or even to other species, resultant of quaffing too much the inebriant, spirituous vapors inherent in the ale supplied by the Publick House, some Robert Burns poetry. That the corporal's young betrothed was not as he a'first, out of his cups, believed her when, caught he his eyne from upon the pin', of course, can occur even without inducement from the product purveyed via the dram-shaver's drawn draught, quite nevertheless in the throes of dramaturgical flows.

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