Thursday, April 8, 1943

The Charlotte News

Thursday, April 8, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page informs that the advance patrols of both the British Eighth Army and Patton’s Army II Corps had met for the first time on the road forty-two miles from Gabes. Said the Yank to the Tommy, "Hello, you Limey." "Very glad to see you," came the British soldier's reply, as the two shook hands. The American soldiers admitted that they nearly opened fire when they first saw the British, as their helmets made the Limeys look as Germans. The Yanks had been having trouble with Jerrys all night, they said.

General Eisenhower communicated his personal congratulations to General Alexander for the triumphant effort across North Africa in the months previous since operations began at El Alamein on October 21, enabling finally the joinder of the forces in Tunisia. He wished General Alexander good luck.

No word came as to whether General Eisenhower likewise congratulated and expressed good tidings to General Patton.

Meanwhile, the British First Army moved to within 27 miles of Tunis, after advancing four or five miles east from Medjez-El-Bab.

The Eighth Army had advanced 15 miles north of the Wadi El Akarit line, announced the day before as breached, 50 miles southwest of Sfax, the port to which Rommel was now headed. Rommel withdrew all rearguard troops from the El Akarit area under cover of night as Patton’s forces closed on his flank along the Gafsa-Gabes Road.

Patton's troops east of El Guettar reported that the Nazis had stopped, for the most part, any effort at nighttime bombardment of their positions. Instead, they had taken up the curious practice of launching steel darts which the troops dubbed "devil's needles". The Americans adopted the simple solution of covering their foxholes with branches, acting as an effective shield against the darts. Those which they found, they used as projectiles in dart games. One sergeant indicated that the “jive bombers”, the mosquitoes, were giving them more problems than the German dive bombers at present.

The Nazis appeared to be running low on gas and ammunition.

Following similar bombing raids the previous night, this time via bases in the Middle East per the former usual source of attacks rather than from North Africa, Allied bombers bombed Naples and the Sicilian port of Messina. American Liberators raided by daylight the harbor at Palermo in Sicily.

These repeated operations in recent weeks were of course providing signal to the Axis that the coming invasion would be likely aimed at Sicily and southern Italy, at least among the possible targets along the southern Mediterranean, thought to include Crete or the mainland of Greece or through Turkey into the Balkans or even along the south of France. They did not, however, exclude a simultaneous invasion against the eastern coast of France across the Channel or along the coast of Norway, other possibilities against which the Axis had continually to guard.

American Navy fliers shot down 37 Japanese planes out of a contingent of 50 bombers and 48 Zeroes which attacked Guadalcanal. It was one of the largest air battles yet of the war in the area of the Solomons. The Japanese raid followed periodic bombing raids launched against the Japanese port and air facilities at Munda on New Georgia Island northwest of Guadalcanal, as well as Army air corps attacks on New Guinea at the Japanese bases at Lae and Salamaua, ongoing in recent weeks since the successful clearing in January of the Japanese from the Papuan Peninsula and the victory at Guadalcanal achieved finally in early February.

Italian radio made it perfectly clear that Italian forces in Tunisia were under the command of neither Erwin Rommel nor Jurgen von Arnim but rather Italian General Giovanni Messe. They did not add, apparently, that he was also a-making a mess-a of everything.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the Brenner Pass, Hitler and Mussolini were said to be meeting to plan strategy for resisting the coming invasion by the Allies.

On the editorial page, "Still Leader" finds the talk of the newly increased Republican minorities in each chamber of the Congress, taking office in January amid claims that the days of Rooseveltian New Deal politics were over, that the days of FDR's power were numbered, was proved to be so much hot air by the shelving of the Bankhead bill the previous day, sending it back to committee to die probably a natural death after veto by the President, despite overwhelming passage by the Senate and narrower passage in the House.

The President, concludes the piece, was enunciated by the result still to be the leader of the country and of Congress; when his booming voice said no to a bill, it stuck in the ears of the Congress, no matter its new constituency.

The editorial found no quarrel with the fact in time of war, with the President‘s plans for same proceeding "magnificently".

"Free Vermin" finds, for all the bile being spewed generously by such publications as Gerald L. K. Smith's "The Cross and the Flag" and other like fascist-leaning, anti-Semitic publications, more likely to praise than to denounce Hitler, to abhor Jews than to discredit European Fascism, its publishers were still nevertheless free to publish their hate speech in America and should not be indicted for sedition.

In the list of publications the editorial defends as having such rights was The Defender, African-American publication which had, just on the previous Friday, supplied the subject for a News editorial by having attacked The News for its stand in support of Dr. Warren Brown’s criticism of the black press for being overly ethnocentrist, stultifying attempts at social integration.

The stand of this editorial remains consistent with its stand in support of Warren Brown's criticism of the black press without having thereby to endure the taunts and labels hurled at him as an Uncle Tom and deserving of having white handkerchiefs sent to him in protest. The stand, at base, is not so much on the basis of racial issues as on free speech, even if the original editorial by The News in defense of Warren Brown did, in its concluding paragraph, state its agreement that time of world war was no time for divisive talk of social integration of the races.

"Closed Books" foretells the coming of the McLellan Anti-Racketeering Committee of the Senate which sat from 1957 through early 1960, investigating especially irregularities transacted by James Hoffa in dipping illegally into the Teamsters Union Trust Fund. The unions in 1943 were loathe to publish their financial records. Only the Musicians' Union disclosed records in any degree and those revealed little in the way of details, providing, for instance, the salary of union president Caesar Petrillo twice, stated by widely varying figures. The piece predicts that Congress would soon force public revelation, vital to trust and accountability of the unions' leadership among their rank and file members.

"Grocery Store" records anecdotally observations made randomly by a reporter on the scene in a Charlotte grocery store after the start of food rationing under the 16 points per person per week program begun April 1. Among the findings were one cart half full of one point per container baby food, that the cart's pusher made no hesitation of admitting that her whole family was now consuming only baby food, while another pair of ladies agreed that it was deplorable that so many people were using all their ration points in one fell swoop, hogging up all the food, as one of the two then remarked, without a whit of objection from the other, that she had avoided the consequences of such gluttony by buying all her necessary food supplies before the rationing program began.

Raymond Clapper applauds the President's decisiveness in vetoing the Bankhead bill and reviews the politics which had been at work in both the Senate and House to attempt override of the veto. In the Senate, once having struck the blow, by a vote of 78 to 2, for the Farm Bloc and its powerful constituency, the Senators were now free to exercise their conscience and bow to the President's will in watching out for the broader national interests to ward off inflation. The House, wherein the vote had been much closer, had not taken a roll-call vote and so its members were free to change their votes at will, thus the less likely to vote the two-thirds majority for override.

Mr. Clapper explains that the bill's supposed benefits to the farmers were illusory, that all which it promised, by excluding government benefit payments from the calculation of parity prices to enable adequate profits in formulating food price ceilings, were higher food prices which would trigger demands in Labor for higher wages, setting off a spiral of inflation which would ultimately redound to the detriment of the farmer when it came time for him to purchase equipment and fertilizer.

Nevertheless, he also points out, at least by the Farm Bloc's standards, the farmer was only interested in what the Administration had done for him lately, not in his past substantial gains from the New Deal during the time prior to Pearl Harbor.

And, Mr. Clapper omits to mention that the overriding problem facing the farmer in these times was the shortage of farm labor, diminished by the draft, volunteers to the armed forces, and by the exodus of farm labor seeking higher wages in city war industries.

Samuel Grafton finds that talk in Congress of such items as the Bankhead bill, talk in the press of such items as the scheduled international conference on post-war food distribution, were but red herrings to the real issue which ought be informing every discussion of every issue in the public colloquy and in the muses of Congress: the coming offensive in Europe.

A piece from The New York Times observes that in the act of the Wisconsin Legislature, ordering the return to the Southern states flags captured from the Confederacy during the Civil War, there was an olive branch which cast a light of good will upon the nation as a union. It finds the act noble, that the divisive cause for which the South fought under the returned flags was nevertheless an American cause in its final analysis, that Americans bled underneath the banners being returned to their rightful places of origin.

The piece then shifts its focus to the current war and wonders whether the Soviets would in 75 years return the Nazi swastikas seized in the re-capture of Stalingrad, whether the French would feel likewise when the Nazis were driven from the currently occupied lands. It ventures a negative answer to its questions, that the swastika and that for which it stood would be forever reviled by the Allies.

In its first part anent the Confederacy, the piece overlooks the sensitivities of African-Americans to the issue of slavery, then a matter shunted to the background of American consciousness. In its second part re the Nazis, it perhaps hits the mark to some degree and misses it in other respects.

We are reminded of the controversial visit by President Reagan to Bitburg, West Germany in 1985 when he commemorated German dead from World War II buried in the graveyard there, including members of the S.S. Reagan initially refused a visit, also suggested at the time by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, to a concentration camp in West Germany on the ground that it might offend his German hosts. He amended his itinerary, however, to include a visit to Belsen when a furor erupted over the proposed visit to the cemetery. The commemoration of the German war dead naturally outraged Jews and non-Jews alike worldwide.

The incident has to rank as one of the dumber, if not despicable, displays of insensitivity, with plentiful time to consider in advance the implications, by a United States President in modern times. It gave us to wonder then, and still does, whether Reagan sought by it to appeal to a base minority of his core constituency which was ever insistent in its anti-Semitism.

Today, however, in the post-Cold War Federal Republic of Germany, one cannot purchase a copy of Mein Kampf. It is a crime to have it. Whether similar restraints exist in some of the other countries occupied during World War II, we don’t know.

We are reminded as well of the calls in recent times for Georgia, South Carolina, and Mississippi to remove the Confederate emblem from their state flags. The South Carolina flag, adopted with the stars and bars in 1962, was amended to exclude it finally in 2000. The Georgia flag, including the emblem in 1956, was so amended in 2001 and further amended in 2003 to cleanse the Confederate past. Mississippi remains the only state, after a plebiscite voted in 2001 two to one to retain it, still to sport the symbol commemorating blatantly and reverentially the preservation of slavery and plantation life.

This very day, there appeared a report that the Governor of Virginia has apologized for his recent proclamation in that state of Confederate History Month, without also making a simultaneous statement denouncing slavery as an institution. After enduring criticism, he amended his proclamation and made a public statement of apology, expressly stating his anti-slavery stance. He stated as the basis for his proclamation, a practice started under a Republican governor in 1997 and then abandoned by the last governor, the fact that next year will mark the sesquicentennial of the beginning of the Civil War.

We are glad to know that the Republican Governor of Virginia in 2010 deplores the history of slavery in the country--after being reminded of the implications of his omission by public criticism.

And we hope that we make it through the sesquicentennial, Governor, without some of the untoward, adverse effects which coupled in darkness with the Centennial of our mutual youth and led to bloodshed--in large part stirred in their motivating animus by public statements demonstrative of outrageous delinquency in thought, if not, in those cases, actual conspiratorial acts, by Southern politicians of that time. We do not, however, in so saying, equate the vitriol, insistent and bitterly dripping with hatred and plain intent to spawn and corroborate in advance and afterward acts of violence, of that earlier time a half century ago, with the proclamation of the Governor of Virginia in 2010. But, to us, the former time seems less, at times, as having been a half century ago as occurrent merely yesterday.

Was The New York Times correct in its expressions in 1943? We shall let you be the judge. We, ourselves, become very tired of such stories of honkies who can't seem to get it right in their heads that we no longer live in 1863 and that slavery ended by our Constitution in 1865, that equal protection of rights and privileges to all citizens was afforded by the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 and that the right to vote was provided to all citizens by the Fifteenth Amendment, ratified in 1870. That is the end of the inquiry. But idiots, mainly in the South, continue trying to fight the Civil War.

It is one thing to have a Civil War History Month, but quite another to have a Confederate History Month. How would you react, Governor, honestly, if some head of one of the modern states within the Federal Republic of Germany proclaimed, out of a contention for sensitivity to history, a Nazi History Month? It is precisely the same thing. It is arrogant and it is racist in its implications.

We even saw some blog responses to one article on the subject, stating as the letter writers' illiterate rejoinders on the topic that the objections to the proclamation formed just another example of liberals re-writing history by failing to recognize that slavery was only one aspect of the South's complaints and reasons for secession from the Union, that Lincoln merely sought to appeal politically to Abolitionist interests, who, said the writers, didn't like him too much anyway, by taking up abolition as a cause in order to induce enlistments in the Union Army. The overarching cause, these brilliant individuals asserted, was States' Rights in opposition to a strong central government.

Such idiots fail to recognize that the debate on that issue of States' Rights versus Federal government centrality was resolved in 1789 by adoption of the Constitution, taking the place of the Articles of Confederation, a form of government which simply did not work to enable mutual defense and to effectuate the necessary cooperative economic and political processes to promote the general welfare of the nation. No one is re-writing history except boobs who still think that we co-exist under some strange anti-patriotic colonial system apparently, with England still, in reality, the Mother, and whereby, once all the lawyers are kilt, themses who has all the answers will receive the royal patronage and be nominated princes and kingses in their own rights over all us vassalses who shoulda knowed better than to mess with their royal selves anyhow. We'll call it Murphy's Law.

It don't work that way, boy. Read the Constitution sometime and a couple of simple, credible histories, and understand why.

--But, they got theirs. My great-great granddaddy died fightin' for the Confed'racy. Why cain't we have our'n, too?

One of our great-great-great grandfathers died fighting for the Confederacy, at age 54, having been conscripted from his hatmaking enterprise into the Confederate Army in its last months of existence. So what?

Clare Boothe Luce writes a note of thanks to The News for its editorial of March 20, "Air Pocket". Our reading of that editorial, however, suggests less an endorsement of Ms. Luce's call in February for air supremacy for the United States in the post-war world, wherein also, contradictorily, she appeared to favor the concept of nations controlling their own airspace to the exclusion of other nations' air traffic, than it was simply suggesting that her strange and convoluted statements on the topic had prompted at least a proper debate on the subject of how the various nations' commercial air lanes would co-exist in the post-war environment. Ms. Luce, of course, was free to view it as a vote of confidence for her position. The "air pocket", however, bearing in mind the ironic and dry sense of humor often displayed by The News, may have been in reference to Ms. Luce--for which she then thanked The News, which, we suppose, is enough ironic in itself to be suitable to life and time.

The Dorman Smith cartoon suggests the need for the poor fellow to receive, at the suggestion to the stooge barkeep by Mahatma Kane Jeeves, a bit more absinthe, if not hawthorn, perhaps, too, some precious antivenin extracted at great expense from the cane-brake rattler, to remedy, in sense and sensibility, his manifold declivities.

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