Thursday, April 22 1943

The Charlotte News

Thursday, April 22, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The night before, reports the front page, the President had addressed the nation on radio at 11:00 p.m. The subject was the announcement that the Japanese had executed some of the airmen in the Doolittle Raid from April 18, 1942. Eight of the men had been found by the Japanese in China. It was not known how many had been executed. The President vowed to the nation that those responsible for the executions would be tried for war crimes after the war.

It was not known until the end of the war precisely what had occurred. Of the eight airmen, three were executed in the early morning hours of October 15, 1942. They were Lieutenants Dean Hallmark and William Farrow and Corporal Harold Spatz. Of the other five, Lieutenant Robert Meader died while imprisoned on December 1, 1943. Lieutenants Robert Hite, Chase Nielsen and George Barr and Corporal Jacob DeShazer suffered starvation and disease during their time in captivity but survived the war. Mr. Hite is still living.

Four Japanese officers were tried and convicted for the executions. They were shown mercy. Three received five year sentences and the fourth nine years.

Meanwhile, three of the fliers, serving by this time under General Doolittle in Tunisia, broke their silence with the release of the information on the raid and began talking to reporters. They described the mission as one which was daunting for its daring takeoff of B-25's from an aircraft carrier, a plane not meant for such a mission, especially loaded down with bombs. Colonel Doolittle had led the way, taking off first, bolstering the confidence of the men that they could at least get into the air. Still, they had to fly 800 miles to the target and then reach China, which they did only on fumes.

The Japanese responded to the release of the information by conveying in an English broadcast their pride at having executed some of the airmen and warned that any further such attempts at bombing the mainland of Japan would be met with similar hostility to captured fliers. They promised such Americans a one-way ticket to hell.

All of this news, of course, did nothing but reinvigorate American feelings of enmity toward the enemy which America had the previous year already grown to hate, even worse than the Nazi.

In Tunisia, the First Army struck hard at a Rommel tank column and disabled or destroyed fully 27 tanks, two of which were Mark VI Tigers, as five battalions of infantry and 60 to 80 tanks attacked the British position at Medjez-El-Bab by moonlight on Tuesday night, 35 miles southwest of Tunis. By dawn, the Nazi column was withdrawing.

The Eighth Army fended off thrusts by the Nazis at Djebel Garci and Takrouna in the vicinity of Enfidaville, holding their previous positions and making grudging headway through three of the ten miles of heavy mountainous country against stubborn enemy resistance.

Mexico and the United States were now said to be closer after the visits by their respective presidents with one another, both on Mexican and U. S. soil.

It is noteworthy, as reported the day before, that President Roosevelt, in ten years in office, had only ventured outside the country 12 times, all in the Western Hemisphere save his January trip to visit Prime Minister Churchill and Generals De Gaulle and Giraud at Casablanca, following that conference with a trip to Liberia. Globetrotting was not yet a custom for U. S. presidents, nor was the travel mechanism yet sophisticated enough to accommodate it easily in a relatively short time.

In any event, the Arizona Governor today signed into law a bill which probably set U.S.-Mexican relations back on its heels by 90 years or so, essentially suspending the Constitution with respect to aliens, permitting police in Arizona to stop anyone on a hunch that they might be illegal aliens.

Never mind the Fourth Amendment. Arizona does not have to abide by it. It is, after all, a part of Mexico.

Congratulations, Governor. You're the official Neanderthal of the month, if not the decade. Good luck on getting that to work when the Supreme Court gets to it.

Why don't you just build a wall around your state and be done with it?

Or, you could try reading for a change, though it may tax your little peewit brain. Start with the cases we referenced here and then read a more recent discussion of the Fourth Amendment by the Court in Malley v. Briggs, 475 US 345 (1986). These rights apply to aliens, too. (See, e.g., Hamdi v. Rumsfeld 542 US 507 (2004), and Rasul, et al. v. Bush 542 US 466 (2004)) Should we need to draw you a map, read this one, and this one, as well.

We predict that the costs to your fair state of trying to implement this silly law, by its design encouraging profiling of individuals by physical characteristics, thus running afoul also of proscriptions against invidious discrimination by suspect classification pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection clause, will far outweigh in the long-run any salutary benefit it might have in effecting the goal you seek in the short-shorts.

We recommend boycotting tourism in Arizona until the Neanderthalics there decide to come to grips with our way of life in this country and realize that we do not suspend our Constitution. If you do not like our Constitution, move to Argentina.

On the editorial page, "A Real Loss" bemoans the announcement by O. Max Gardner that, for health reasons, he would not seek the Democratic nomination for the Senate against Robert Rice Reynolds in 1944. Clyde Hoey was quickly sought to run for the seat; as we indicated two weeks ago, he would so run and would win.

Incidentally, Governor of Arizona, you would have found a friend in Robert Rice Reynolds. He, too, thought all aliens were criminal menaces to society--except good Germans, of course. Wanted to deport most of them. Bob would have been in your corner, solidly, with all of the gold water to spare left from his many trips to the bar, over there by the pool.

Samuel Grafton is speaking about you, too.

Raymond Clapper, on his way to Sweden, had stopped off in Bermuda to attend a small United Nations conference on planning for refugees. It had but modest goals, to enable refugees in Europe to escape to neutral lands, such as Spain, and from there to be transported to Allied lands. There was discussion of whether Hitler might be willing to enable the exodus from occupied Europe of the remaining Jews, but little hope was placed in such a possibility.

The front page piece, relating that for 1,640 British prisoners the British in North Africa gave up 6,773 Italian prisoners, suggests the problem in trying to conduct any exchanges with the Axis.

Nevertheless, for all its modesty of purpose, Mr. Clapper was pleased to find that the conference, unlike the upcoming food conference, was open to the press.

A WAAC writes a letter to her brother, republished in The News, telling of her first few weeks of Army life, during which, she was excited to report, she had gotten to see the President who had just toured the camp and was pleased by the way the women had played for him the Star-Spangled Banner. She remarks that she placed little stock in the rumor that General Eisenhower had commented to the effect that, in order, his first worry in North Africa pertained to the WAAC's and his second, the Nazis.

Dorothy Thompson writes of the Army newspaper Stars and Stripes having published an editorial roundly criticizing Hollywood war movies as unrealistic and unduly glorifying the soldier.

She picks up the point and rails against the fantasy-mongers for essentially taking gangster fare and simply putting the characters in uniform to inhabit the same scenarios as played to packed houses for the previous decade, appealing, she says, to an adolescent mentality, polluting the minds of youth, stimulating rebellion and juvenile delinquency by making crime, even if ostensibly portrayed as immoral and leading to harsh consequences, seem nevertheless adventurous and titillating.

Similarly, she believes that the war movies, while depicting Nazis as bad men, did not show their Stoic business-like approach to systematic murder and extermination. She cites the case of Reinhard Heydrich, currently portrayed in a film in which he was a whip-wielding, bestial sadist, not the dry pencil-pushing bureaucrat he actually was, just a Nazi "following orders", a scarier robotic figure when posed in reality, she suggests, than the caricature which had been presented in the movie. The portrayal of Nazis as supermen, she believes, was leading young people, not so much to despise them, as to emulate and aspire to their putative supernality.

Well, does not some of the mindless movie fare of the past three decades or so, such as "Robocop" and "The Terminator", do much or precisely the same thing?--has done the same thing to a decided bunch of mindless idiots, for instance, in the State of California--who elected The Terminator, only to find that he was same as the old boss, only worse.

We can inform you that in California, the First Amendment no longer applies. Apparently, The Terminator terminated it.

Speaking of movies, last night, we happened to begin watching the movie which won Best Picture Oscar in 1943 for 1942, "Mrs. Miniver". As we commented in March, we have seen this movie once, at least in part, some thirty years ago. We admit, though, that we had obviously not watched it very closely as we fail so far to remember much of any of it. Perhaps, we only saw the last portion.

Thus far, we find it, while well-acted, a bit too nonchalant for 1939 and onward into the war in England, even if made in America during 1942. A little too cheerio and chin-up and all that. Indeed, not so much even of that, but simply some aristocratic people who were quite oblivious to the world around them, sending off their son and servants to fight while they stayed home playing Ward and June, at least until Ward was called out to motor his small boat, along with hundreds of others, across the Channel to Dunkirk to help in the May-June, 1940 evacuation. He proceeds to motor out of the Thames, having been informed of the surprise mission at the congregation point by a faceless loudspeaker off a destroyer, with little more change of expression than Ward would have giving a nod of the head to the Beaver for asking a question about his homework.

But, that is why it is a movie, we guess.

The truth is that no film, not even a documentary, could really come close to imparting the actual sensation of warfare, any more than it can depict with accuracy much of any other endeavor. It is, after all, not a medium which is designed to enable vicarious perception of reality. It is simply a method by which a story might be communicated more quickly to the mind than through the printed page, less reliant on the imagination. The best movies, of course, go beyond this simplicity and become an artistic medium, akin to a moving painting, providing dialogue worthy of a fine play or good novel. Such films are rare and require auteur directors and scripts not written by committees seeking to make cheap sentimental appeals to demographic cross-sections of the public. The best movies are seen by few. It has always been so; it is less so restricted now with wider distribution, but still that to which most of the movie-going public is ever exposed, by figure of the newspaper, remains little more than either filler or something out of the comic section, not very substantial even when trying to be serious and dramatic.

Anyway, we shall let you know tomorrow some more about "Mrs. Miniver", that is if we can stay awake long enough to finish watching it. It isn't badly made, mind you. It just is quite dated and isn't very interesting.

And, word to the wise: when traveling through Arizona, best shave any moustache or other stray facial hair off and remove any dangling die from the mirror, or other appariti from the vehicle which regulate its suspension, at the border.

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