Friday, April 2, 1943

The Charlotte News

Friday, April 2, 1943


Site Ed. Note: There was little news on the front page from the Tunisian front, as Allied forces paused to rest and effect re-supply. General Montgomery's forces reported that they were "winkling out", meaning engaged in bayonet-prodding mopping-up operations to rid further enemy pockets from Oudref, just taken in the previous two days, and to consolidate positions for the next thrust northward along the road in chase of Rommel to Sfax.

Algiers radio reported, without confirmation, that General Patton's forces had pushed east from El Guettar to conjoin with Montgomery’s Eighth Army. Otherwise, no word was heard from Patton during the previous day.

As was reported of Patton's forces east of El Guettar the previous couple of days, General K. A. N. Anderson's First Army forces in the north were slowed by dense minefields, but nevertheless were reported to be pushing forward, from their most recently acquired position at Sedjenane, toward Mateur, located eighteen miles south of Bizerte.

In Russia, after the recapture of Anastasevskalya, the Red Army pressed forward further in the Kuban River Valley area north of Novorossisk. Red Star, the Soviet Army-controlled news organ, reported that the mud resultant of spring thawing in the valley had slowed Soviet advances while enabling the Nazis to reinforce its positions.

German radio again disseminated a story of substantial efforts of the Nazi occupiers in both Denmark and Norway to locate supposed enclaves of British and American parachutists who had been successful, claimed the broadcast, in not only chuting into the countries, but, in the case of Denmark, had infiltrated factories, subdued Nazi guards, taken over and sabotaged the industrial operations, leading to the reports, manufactured as they therefore had to have been, of worker unrest.

It was believed that these stories signified nothing more substantially true than anything else emanating from the corrupt imagination of Herr Doktor Goebbels, seeking to hide the effectiveness of Danish and Norwegian underground activity with fictive stories of parachutists.

The Navy reported the arrival in Boston of a Dutch merchant ship, though previously listed as sunk after survivors of its supposed sinking had been picked up from four lifeboats. One of the original lifeboats, however, containing the captain and twelve of the crew, had seen the ship first founder, sinking fast by the bow, its screws turning still as it uprighted out of the water, before suddenly beginning to correct itself. The captain and the twelve then made their way back to the righted ship and there were met with two officers who had never obeyed the command to abandon ship. The fifteen proceeded then to sail the torpedoed and supposedly sunk vessel 700 miles to Boston.

The piece labels therefore the found Dutch merchantman a "ghost ship". But, in point of fact, it would instead appear to be more properly either a phoenix or some sort of resurrected dead angel. In any event, onboard, apparently was the personage who stood antipodally to the position ordinarily attributed as occupied onboard such vessels by the Flying Dutchman. The two stout officers who remained aboard probably should have been quite sought for sea duty of the most dangerous sort afterward, as they were surely some kind of Blackwatch Dutch Guard against the curse of the Dutchman. Something, anyway.

President Roosevelt vetoed the Bankhead Bill which had overwhelmingly passed both the Senate and House. It had provided that farm parity formulas for determining price ceilings on farm goods would exclude government subsidy payments.

The President believed that the exclusion of subsidies in so determining price ceilings of food products would be unduly inflationary. It effectively allowed a subsidy from the government to support prices and control farm production while then favoring the farmer versus other sectors of the economy in determining price ceilings without regard to these subsidies, as if they did not exist or aid the farmer in making his profits.

Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley expected the Senate to cast the two-thirds vote necessary to override the President’s veto of the bill, but expressed the belief that override in the House was questionable because of the greater prevalence of urban representation in that body.

Somewhere near Brady, Nebraska, a fire swept through fifteen by twenty miles of prairie lands taking 300 head of cattle with it. Its origin was undetermined.

Perhaps, it originated out of the mystical wheel of Carmina Burana, generated from the past by chants liturgical into confluence with times extant, conflagrational, by the Nazis and Italians under Rommel left behind in his fast retreat and still trapped in the same size square between Gabes and the Mareth Line, as reported Tuesday.

In any event, the flint-sparked flames were said to be trapped inside fire guards, content thus within their frames, at least, so said the burning cows' Bard.

And the caption of one of the two photographs on the page tells of an air corps captain who had just arrived stateside after riding missions on Flying Fortresses conducting reconnaissance over Germany, returning with his faithful newborn companion, Cowder Skye, a Scottie pup.

Cowder could perhaps join Hester and Sarge out there in Tunisia, once it achieved a little maturity, and subsequently even start a family. But first, the papa hound would need know the origin of the name "Cowder", in front of providing permission to Hester to marry young Skye. Or, maybe it was a girl's name, Cowder, thus nominating the likely candidate to be Sarge. These things first must be sorted out fully and systematically, in the best military fashion, before nuptial arrangements might be undertaken to enable the young, spritely canines to pursue their dedicated passion.

Ah woe, ah me, temporarily in Miami.

On the editorial page, "The Old Name" looks at the history of valiant Tar Heelia in its representation in past wars and finds its long enduring claims to being "First at Bethel, farthest at Gettysburg, and last at Appomattox," contemporaneously undermined by the dearth of volunteers to service in World War II. Figures had shown that North Carolina was near the bottom of the heap in volunteers. The editorial cynically sets aside the matter and accepts the fate as just another blasé reaction of North Carolinians, apparently content to be at the dark end of the pile of just about any old statistic indicative of importance, the Old North State having been labeled for some time at The News "Old 4[something]", as, for instance "Old 49".

The second paragraph of "The Offensive", cataloguing various predictions of what others were saying lay ahead in the immediate future in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and for invasion of the Continent, winds up predicting, on a nearly chronometrically accurate timetable, what would transpire during the remainder of 1943.

Dorothy Thompson discusses the Tunisian campaign, finding the strategy of General Montgomery, in both piercing and flanking the fixed fortifications of the Mareth Line, to have been a leaf out of the Nazi book of military tactics, used by them before the Maginot Line. She finds the fact also indicative of modern warfare's rendering of fixed fortifications virtually useless, not only proven in France in spring, 1940, but also by the Russians in Finland in late 1939, confronted with the Mannerheim Line.

She counts four goals achieved by the North African campaign, contradictory to those who believed it too expensive in men and materiel to justify when yet the Continent lay untouched by Americans and British infantry and Navy personnel. She recounts the goals of clearing the Mediterranean for unimpeded shipping to the Near East, to strain the enemy and force a fight with them on ground away from their supply sources roughly equidistant to those of the Allies, the seasoning of American troops in warfare, necessary for a skilled invasion of the Continent, and, finally, the forcing of the enemy to disperse its troops along the entire southern Mediterranean and as well along the west coasts of France and Norway, to prepare for incipient invasion at any one or several of literally hundreds of potential landing spots.

After all, the Operation Torch landings had occurred simultaneously, as clockwork, in several different locations in Morocco and Algeria.

Samuel Grafton again examines the numerous paradoxes besetting the isolationists, this time focusing on the prototypical isolationist editorial writer of the day who, for instance, found no conflict at all apparently in holding forth on one day that America should mobilize energetically to strike the heart of the enemy in force, while on the next, opining, without any hint of artifice, that to resolve manpower shortages on the farms, soldiers in training ought be transferred, in aid of the farmer, to pursue agriculture rather than being deployed overseas to strike the enemy hard in the throat. Isolation, Mr. Grafton imputes further to their many strident voices, was a thing of the past; yet, in the next inking, they would sit and turn out copy, insisting, without so much as a glimmer of testimony to the consequent incongruity, that the Ball bill was divisive of the public in suggesting by its content that the ring of internationalism must become the tocsin after the war to assure against recurrence of such a globalonious conflict.

He doesn't say it; but we shall. Just read some of the Blonde’s editorials and you will immediately glean the contemporary equivalent of that of which Mr. Grafton wrote.

Raymond Clapper discusses the politically astute move by President Roosevelt to seek out the counsel of the Senate, and specifically Republicans in the Senate, in the hope of avoiding the mistakes of Woodrow Wilson who paid too little attention, says Mr. Clapper, to the Senate, especially the Republicans in it, who had initially been in favor of an international League to Enforce Peace, which failing proved in the end the primary reason for the refusal of the Senate to approve by two-thirds majority United States membership in the League of Nations.

He indicates that the Administration was none to keen, for fear of its not acquiring a sufficient majority, on pushing for a premature vote in the Senate on the Ball-Burton-Hatch-Hill bill, the bi-partisan legislation being sponsored by the four Senators, two from each party, to approve U.S. membership in a post-war United Nations organization.

The President first wanted to conduct a series of international meetings, the first of which, on post-war food provision and distribution, had already been scheduled--as set forth on the front page, for April 27--, a conference to which the Soviets had already agreed to send a representative. Inclusion of Republicans in these meetings was considered by FDR of paramount importance to insure bi-partisan participation from the earliest stages of post-war planning, thus to insure bi-partisan support, increscent as it was already becoming, for the post-war international organization.

It proved, of course, a fruitful, wise and politically acuminate method of achieving consensus--even if some people these days have quite forgotten, if they ever learned it in the first place, their contemporary history lessons, and somehow have contented themselves with a facile belief system which tolerates a literal interpretation of the Bible, such that the United Nations has in their heads become transmogrified into some hoary hydra-headed Beast of the Apocalypse, Babylon Harlot with painted lips, wearing the number, if not also the letter of Hawthorne, all in a calculated, self-fulfilling prophecy, thus hoping to have it fulfill itself by deliberately provoking the great battle, ignoring the while that it has been fought by men many times through history, that of the End Times. And they believe that the world is but about 6,000 years old, give or take four thousand.

Enter Tom Jimison to throw a polite wrench and some cold water, and maybe even some White Horse gravy, into all of that by way of wondering aloud at the necessity of the Federal prosecution of a band of prostitutes in his newly acquired domiciliary in Rockingham. He quickly then proceeds to the subject of prohibition.

All to make the point that evil is always among us and may not by any human contrivance be stamped out, that the human race is still young, having recently only learned to walk on two hind legs (thereby implicitly and heretically taking issue with the literal Eden crowd), and that life is a complex of learning, individually and collectively, thus, in its present incarnation in any event, does not suggest itself enough advanced to render it a worthy occupation to go about trying to quash all evil from the landscape.

For who could define it clearly and with precision in the first instance? Murder the murderers, for example, and have you not then violated the Commandment not to kill? Would it, however, be a violation of a Commandment to bear false witness against a neighbor who was literally holding you captive against your will, in order that you might be set free? Once one of them is violated, is it a sure ticket to Hell, such that then license is implicitly granted by the Devil to violate any or all of the others?

Mr. Jimison was entirely correct, of course. Try to set up as a religious arbiter, superseding the ordinary civil and criminal law with subjective notions, divorced from objective standards of reason tempered by human compassion and experience beyond our own temporal spans and perceptions, and you not only spell society’s extinction but your own. We need only look to ancient Rome for that example.

He doesn't say it, but after all, that is precisely what Hitler and his minions were about--the eradication of evil, as they saw it.

"Attacked" takes exception to biting remarks leveled specifically at The News by The Chicago Defender, an African-American publication, for the column's previous editorial, "Hankie-Head" on March 3, taking up cudgels against the black press for its criticism of Dr. Warren Brown, critic of the black press for being too enthnocentrist, counterproductive, as he saw it, to social integration, prompting a part of the black press to label him an Uncle Tom and The Defender even to encourage the sending to him of white bandanas as symbol of disapproval. (Langston Hughes, in the Defender of January 16, had weighed in on the subject of Warren Brown, and on a similar editorial by Richmond Times-Dispatch editor Virginius Dabney, prior to The News editorial.) The editorial from The Defender responsive to "Hankie-Head" is quoted liberally in the column and berates The News as "one of the most reactionary papers of the South" and even upholding of the "putrid tradition of yellow journalism".

As we indicated previously, we take exception to this editorial view of The News and believe that it was wrong on the point. Too much time had already passed with no effort to do much more than become mired in the past failures of attempted gradual social integration. The more educated of the South surely by now knew that to engage the lesser lights in any recognition of right and principle would take more than polite education of their sons and daughters over a period of decades. It would take governmental force; it would take uppity niggers in the streets hurling bricks and stones at shop windows around the corners from where they lived, threatening middle class whitey out of his complaisant study, marching for their rights at other places peacefully, arm in arm with whites; it would take riots; it would take blood to combat the fire hoses of Bull Connor; it would require sermons, courageous, strong, impassioned, but yet non-violent in their ultimate tenor; it would take spewing biliously harsh words, words of the worst sort of niggers through time, to combat the bile spewed in hatred by the Klan and its white-trash captains of commerce, the worst sort of whites, semi-educated in white-captain colleges and universities, behind the robes who sat on judicial benches and often operated boldly even in the Congress, in state legislatures, and in governors' mansions throughout the South, lording conjointly over their white-trash captive minions as well as their chosen niggers to keep the broad mass of niggers in line; it would take the death of a President and his brother and the foremost civil rights leader of the time in the country, all in the space of less than five years; and it would take even more beyond those times of the 1960's.

But, we did not live in 1943 and earlier. And, so it is difficult fully to appreciate how the conditions under which those who did live in those times impacted belief and action. The democratic world, after all, was busy fighting a war abroad to try to save democracy at home. For all its faults and divisions, wens and warts, inconsistencies with its theoretical underpinnings contained in the Constitution, as expressed not only by the Founders but by the post Civil War amendments to provide equal protection of rights to all citizens and the right to vote to all citizens, still the United States stood as beacon to the world, emblematic of that great experimental melting pot ideal, and axiomatic example of democracy in action, certainly more resemblant of the axiom than any form found in Central Europe or Asia of the time, collapsed from weak confederations into authoritarian olicharchies, each marching to the bayonet-prick of the neighboring oligarchy, all founded on the empty promise of plenty for the people, who rather worked as slaves to fill the bellies of the oligarchs.

It being necessary to preserve it in order to have any chance at all to realize its expressed ideals, the expression of needing to set aside divisive differences for the duration on all fronts, from Labor, to race, to religion, to farm versus city, was certainly understandable and was not any exceptional editorial stance for The News.

Whatever the case, and regardless of our disagreement in 20-20 hindsight on the particular stance, The News at the time and before was plainly anything but in the least reactionary. Indeed, it was one of the more liberal publications in the South. Thus, in those caustic and unnecessarily emotive statements, The Defender branded itself as at least ill-informed, perhaps merely judging a book by its cover. While The News had been more conservative in its general outlook prior to the mid-thirties, it earned a reputation, in and out of the South, especially during Cash's associate editorship, but even before it, and continuing long after it, as being both level-headed and progressive.

While not every editorial presented by the newspaper was one with which we agree and while we have often found impatience with its expressions on matters of race, especially as it fairly consistently tamped down any suggestion of social integration and social equality among the races, while by equal strokes always standing firmly for equal facilities for recreation and education, for better housing, and better provisions for social welfare, we also recognize that our view is one influenced by the time in which we came of age. Had Cash lived, we feel certain that his views, already progressive for their time, would have been even more so by the 1950's and 1960's. It is quite ridiculous and unfair, as we have before stated, for any scholar or other person to attempt to lock Cash or anyone else into 1941 and be done with it. That is so especially in the case of Cash, as he did not live to see any further history.

We have nothing by which to gauge Mr. Davis's social views after his time as editor at The News following the war, as he started writing novels and Civil War and other war biographies. One might gather from his most central subjects on the Civil War, Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart, and Robert E. Lee, for instance, that he was conservative in outlook. But there are other entries on his list of books, such as Black Heroes of the American Revolution, which would suggest a progressive outlook on race.

The column had, just the previous week, criticized a local black leader's proposal to establish a 70-30 quota on bus riders, commensurate with the ratio of whites to blacks in the city, for the overcrowding of the buses from the times of rubber and gas rationing, to alleviate tension being felt between the races apparently chafing at one another on the segregated bus lines. The column expressed the belief that the traditional segregated system, blacks filling from the rear and whites from the front until the bus was full, leaving those at the border to act as human beings to one another, was adequate, that quotas would only exacerbate already prevalent irascibility.

But, as well, an editorial had appeared just in the previous few weeks decrying the protests of Charlotte residents living contiguous to a parcel being dedicated as the first public recreation park for African-Americans of the city, finding the residents' exceptions not well taken even as it also expressed empathy, in an honest effort to defuse tension.

One could critique that latter approach as simply indicative of the aristocratic paternalism of which The Defender accuses The News of being guilty, accepting the status quo of separate-but-equal. Yet, that was the law of the time. The Roosevelt Administration itself had done little to seek legal change to eradicate its persistently invidious results, individually and systemically, manifested during the four and a half decades since Plessy v. Ferguson became law in 1896, even if making efforts to integrate the armed forces during the previous two and a half years since institution of the draft and issuing the executive directive requiring integration of industries engaged in war contracts.

And so, without starting a race war at home when a war raged abroad, there was going to be effected little change in the manner in which people conducted themselves without the intervention of a long period of generational education and mutual experience between races, divided for three centuries in America except along accustomed points of interface in roles of servant to master, without also the intervention eventually of major changes in the laws, changes, to be accomplished, finally writ large in blood. At least to stand for equality of facilities in the manner of The News, even if those facilities were still segregated in their final reality, ultimately, probably, not fully equal, usually, in their final reality, was a progressive stand in the South for the time. Most facilities in the South were anything but equal; most Southern towns were without any organ of general public dissemination of opinion which sought to do anything save to maintain, not only the status quo, but as inequitable as possible, in favor of the white ruling orders, the distribution of the fruits of rights and privileges, emanating from the Garden.

It is easy enough to judge from the vantage point of 67 years on.

One must ask one's self in so doing, should you be so inclined, when the last time was that you stood firmly, loudly, in writing or verbally, against a social convention stretching back to the founding. Do not raise racial integration of the ordinary sort as an example because, first, the law has long ago changed, and, second, because most Americans today, even in the South, are accepting of the rights to social equality and integration, even if still slowly accepted in certain parts.

When was the last time, for instance, you demanded that a welfare recipient be provided his voucher for a hotel to spend the weekend other than on the street and risked arrest by refusing to leave the welfare office as his attendee until he received proper attention from the surly, blasé welfare worker who only wanted to get home for the weekend and could have cared less whether one human being, just released from a couple of months in jail on dismissed charges, had to spend the night on the street for three nights running? We have so stood our ground and achieved the results necessary to assure the fellow his lodging. And we were not being paid a penny to do it. If you have, you're in our club. If not, think about it. But don't judge us. You might not like the result.

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