Wednesday, March 3, 1943

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, March 3, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page carried news this day of Gandhi having ended his fast with a glass of orange juice the previous morning at 9:30. His reward provided by the British was return to house arrest, restoring the limitation on visitors to family members.

While described in earlier reports as his ninth fast, the piece implies that it was his tenth.

Not so far indicated were recent developments on Prime Minister Churchill's convalescing from pneumonia with which he suffered the previous week.

Apparently FDR was recovered from his reported intestinal problem, at least sufficiently to entertain a not serious presentation by Democratic National Committee Chairman Frank C. Walker, urging the President to consider running for a fourth term in 1944. Just how not serious the presentation was and what form, whether overtly comedic, "Run for a fourth term--that's what we want you do if you dare," or subtly sardonic, "Yeah, sure, run for a fourth term," was left to the reader's speculation. They might instead have simply performed juggling tricks and made balloon animals for the President's entertainment.

The Russians re-captured Rzhev, 130 miles west of Moscow, after the Nazis abandoned it to seek a line further west, presumed to be one to be established along the line from Veliki Lukie to Smolensk to Bryansk.

From New Guinea came the report that Allied bombing of the fourteen-ship Japanese convoy headed for Lae from Rabaul had, despite operations amid rain and cloud cover, reduced its size by at least four transports of the original seven warships and seven merchant ships comprising its complement.

Little fighting was recorded from the Tunisian front, most of it in the northern sector, as the Allies continued to hold back an Axis attempt to capture Beja and also shelled an Axis convoy approaching four miles east of Sedjenane, twelve miles from the coast.

To provide the pigs of the nation something else to rush, an anonymous source in the government leaked information that rationing of meat, cheese, fat, cooking oils, and butter would start April 1, each person to be limited to a quarter-pound of meat per day, whether with cheese or without, and with enough cooking oil or fat to make greasy the pan in which to cook it, left murky.

Indeed, whether it was an early April Fools joke, a feint to get the piggy housewives’ minds off hoarding of rationed scarcer goods and onto meat, also remained unclear.

Regardless, Hitler was said to be contemplating a U-boat ride to America, landing incognito off the coast of South Carolina, personally to lead this newest organized campaign of the American Bund to rid butchers of their entire stocks before the April 1 inception date of the rationing limit. The start of the rush was planned for March 22, coinciding with the considered date for lifting the ban on pleasure driving in the eastern seaboard states with the advent of springtime.

On the editorial page, Samuel Grafton examines the issue of the intended slaughter by Hitler of four million Jews in Europe during 1943, as both a deterrent to expressions of revolutionary ardor in occupied countries, rumbling most feverishly of the moment in France and Belgium, and, simultaneously, as an appeal to the dunderpates who had long found in Hitler the admirable trait of unmitigated hatred for Jews and who would now find in the mass exterminations, already ongoing for the previous year, the realization at long last of their projected animus. Mr. Grafton asserts that Hitler's exhibition of this barbarity to the world was in raw demonstration of power, the elevation to reality of his favorite symbology, that of the predatory, carnivorous wolf, both as a symbol to instill fear and to nurture the like bloodlust present in his kindred spirits throughout Europe and throughout the world.

The Holocaust was an appeal, in the final analysis, for international support for the Reich as well an exertion of deterrent to revolt in the occupied lands, to the slightest wavering from the Nazi-prescribed regimentation for life under authoritarian rule.

The razing by the Nazis of the Warsaw Ghetto, under siege since a revolt began there January 18 as the remaining population was sought to be transferred to the camps, was but a month and a half away, beginning April 19.

Dorothy Thompson again assails Eddie Rickenbacker's critique of American labor, finding it to be divisive of society along class lines, worker versus the rest, and between soldiers, comprised primarily of former workers, and civilians presently doing the work at home. With Rickenbacker beating the bushes, how would the soldier returning home after the war be treated by the workers who had replaced him on the job? Would he be welcomed back into the union amid his new fellow workers who had displaced him when he went to war or would the atomistic anti-unionism--that which Ms. Thompson mislabels "rugged individualism", discrediting the historically American characteristic, one which had built the country from its foundations--which she finds Rickenbacker to be advocating, succeed in competitive whimsy either to keep him out of his former employment or force him to fight his way back to his former position?

Aside from her just questioning and criticism of the aims of Captain Rickenbacker, we have to pause to ask of Ms. Thompson's opinions whether it wasn't the case that rugged individualism built the unions in the first instance. Aren't the battle lines better drawn against the attempt by employers and Big Business to bust unions by sowing the seeds of confusion and distrust among the workers and rank and file, that the organizers of the union were foreign, outside agitators, Communists, rather than dichotomizing the issue between "teamwork" and "rugged individualism"? Isn't the better division between candor and mutual tolerance between management and worker versus a work environment instead permeated mutually by propaganda and authoritarianism?

Raymond Clapper looks at Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles's speech in Toronto, urging again the development presently of a United Nations organization to begin the planning for a post-war world, first to relieve want through organized distribution of food, while simultaneously developing a plan for preserving the peace through adequate policing of nations post-war.

Mr. Clapper welcomes the initiative, sees it, however, as only too modest in its effort to establish a viable United Nations organization which would not self-immolate under the same absence of potency beleaguering the League of Nations after World War I.

"Hankie-Head" finds undue obloquy from the black press hammering Warren Brown, author of an article, "A Negro Looks at the Negro Press", in The Saturday Review of Literature of December 19, 1942. The piece was critical of the ethnocentrism attributed to the black press of the day, arguing that it was counter-productive to the ends of achieving social integration and, itself, racist. Mr. Brown had been labeled in the black press he criticized as an "Uncle Tom" or "handkerchief head", together with exhortations to blacks across the country to mail to him white bandannas in expression of disapproval of his views.

Mr. Davis finds the outrage unwarranted and itself communicative of the very problem explored by Mr. Brown, ultimately counter-productive, too strident in its militancy to be acceptable to the majority of society.

Was Warren Brown's criticism warranted? Was Burke Davis's? Was that of the black press of Mr. Brown's criticism?

Or was the festering debate itself one which drove the engine of change in society, slowly through time, there being no right or wrong side?

Regardless, it was the case that the press itself in this age was segregated. Should the black press have stood by as lackeys to the mainstream press, nearly uniformly white, relying on paternalism of the latter to forge the reluctant way politely in overcoming centuries of ingrained segregation and systematic deprivation of rights by and among the herrenvolk, often enforced as much by intransigent black adherence to convention as by white, sustaining the practice without remonstrance for kindly tipping the hat to the paternal order while adding perhaps the characteristic devoirs, "Yassuh, we heya shall just wait our turn at the wheel, massa, suh, until y'all's gets ready faw us"? Or, was it not the case that to inform the debate meant that an actively militant black press had to press the issue stridently to be heard at all in white society, generally content to fan themselves complaisantly down on the plantation in approbation of the good un's lashing out at the non-compliant: "Yassuh, old Rastus sho' is a good boy to plow up that field faw us, ain't he? Too bad we had to hang ol' Fastus, his crazy brotha, last week when he insisted on smart-tawkin' us like 'at 'bout the female prob'em."

Or, were they not all more concerned presently with fighting a war and winning it to avoid being overrun by totalitarianism to be too much bothered with questions of racial progress at home?

But when? When would society finally reconcile itself to full integration, to legal and social equality for all its citizens in all geographic regions, pursuant to the mandates of the Fourteenth Amendment ratified over 75 years earlier? Would it require violence in the streets for the South, especially, to face itself in the mirror and begin to correct its longstanding obscurantist ways, dodging the reality of centuries of apartheid with one Afghanistanism after another, the most current posited for delay being the world war and the need for unity at home to insure victory abroad?

Would Cash have likewise criticized the black press for chastising Mr. Brown?

A piece would appear in The Crisis, NAACP publication edited by future NAACP Executive Secretary, Roy Wilkins, managed by the controversial George S. Schuyler, and on whose advisory board was then NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White, responding critically in March, 1943 not only to Warren Brown's piece but also to an echoing chorus by Virginius Dabney of The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Mr. Dabney was an adherent to the school of progress through education and time, but delaying social equality until earned, a concept, though popular it was among Southern moderates through the 1960's, consistent more with patrician notions of dispensation of royal patronage, manumission based on demonstrated acts of inculcation, than of democracy growing naturally from the soil which gave it birth.

The argument, incidentally, that the time was not ripe for the disintegrating concomitants of integration, that the Cold War required unity at home to insure morale abroad among allies and troops alike, would be heard repeated in white polite society during the transitional era on civil rights in the 1950's and 1960's.

To which concern many African-Americans responded recalcitrantly, "Burn, baby, burn," as applied to their own segregated residential and commercial environs provided through time paternalistically by whitey, the symbolic burning of all shreds of identity with white culture, a return to African cultural roots as a way to dissociate from the paternalism.

The times were often confused and confusing, as finally manifested in violent response amounting to little more than blowing the locks of generational chains of frustration born of the deliberately entrenched wall between daily observable reality in the ghetto and ideals expressed in the Constitution, both at the founding and as subsequently amended in the wake of the Civil War.

"Coming Events" finds similar myopia as that attributed to the black press present in the caustic response to the provision of oil by the United States to Franco's Spain, the outcry having berated it as oil for Fascism. Mr. Davis clarifies that the oil was for laying a groundwork of cooperation with Franco in the event Hitler invaded Portugal, as predicted, enabling then a thrust by the Allies through Gibraltar to protect Spain and, not incidentally, achieve thereby an avenue into France and central Europe.

Yet, events would not so transpire.

"Offensive" sees the possibility that the persistent Allied bombing of France and Germany in recent days hearkened a coming invasion of Europe in March.

Again, whether Mr. Davis actually believed it likely or was participating willingly in the spread of false rumors to delude Hitler into shoring up his defenses in France at the expense of the defenses of Italy and North Africa, is untold.

The same, of course, might be true of "Coming Events", the donation of oil equally a bait to Hitler to draw him into a strike on Portugal so that his increasingly fuel-starved mechanized divisions in North Africa could gain access to the much needed oil provided Spain, in turn to provide excuse for the Allies to enter Spain for its protection, presumably at neutral Franco's invitation in that event, worried of Nazi invasion, presenting thus the opportunity for the Allies to gain a foothold on the Continent.

Tom Jimison offers up another piece from The Richmond County Times, channeling his chilly indifference to a piece out of San Francisco chronicling the "human interest" of a colonel's willingness to share a room with a private in a hotel fully occupied save double rooms with twin beds. Mr. Jimison finds the story's author surely to be a Royalist. He reminds that egalitarianism was not only what built the country but also that for which the country was fighting to restore and preserve throughout the world. Thus he wonders why any story about a colonel being willing to share a room with a private should find in anyone’s mind any remarkable attention. Colonels were soldiers, after all. Why should rank, whether military or social, prove so insurmountable an obstacle to equal treatment in any walk of life that such a story proved worthy of newsprint?

Of course, parenthetically, we also have to wonder whether the colonel would have stooped to share his room in San Francisco with the private had it been the case that only rooms with one queen remained available. Mr. Jimison does not address that sociologically relevant issue.

Or, was the whole recounted affaire d'honneur out of San Francisco one built on hush-hush, don't ask, don't tell, Q.T., a seminally private affair with the colonel?

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