Tuesday, May 11, 1943

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, May 11, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports of the final sweep of the British against the remaining hold-outs among the Axis defenders in the south and west of the Cap Bon Peninsula, as depicted on the map. Those in the southwest in the mountains around Zaghouan were reported to have surrendered earlier in the day to the British First Army while some forces still fought against the British Eighth Army in the south. Thousands of prisoners, both German and Italian, were being captured hourly by the Allies without resistance.

An attempted stand by the Germans in a narrow half-mile wide pass at Hammam Lif on the west coast of the peninsula was unsuccessful as British armored units rolled on through the pass with little resistance. The German and Italian troops were reported to have appeared to lose their nerve in the face of the British armored onslaught.

From the central area of the peninsula at Grombalia, A.P. reporter Daniel De Luce reported that three hapless German grenadiers walked up to him and sought to surrender. Their tall sergeant explained that they were "kaput": "We have no food, no munitions, no benzine."

Whether the necessity of the latter substance had something to do with the launching of grenades or would have been used as a suicide device in the event of capture was unclear.

Everywhere along the bomb-pocked coast roads of the peninsula huge fires evidenced the Germans' determination to destroy all equipment left behind. Nevertheless, fields were littered with undamaged vehicles and weaponry hastily abandoned by fleeing soldiers seeking a Dunkerque-style evacuation.

No evacuation in any substantial numbers, however, was to be. Barges were being destroyed by Allied aircraft while the Allied navies kept the tip of Cap Bon secure against escape. Coastal flyovers found no significant evidence of escape by Axis troops. Over 100,000 had been taken prisoner. Huge warehouses of supplies were left behind at Grombalia and Soliman. No mines were encountered as the Nazis hadn't time to lay them. The retreat was too fast and complete.

Attempted escape in the area of Bizerte to the west of Cap Bon was met with a similar fate. Barges were sunk without hesitation. All stores of the Nazis were being burned by fleeing troops. The harbor at Bizerte was completely devastated, either by several prior months of Allied bombing or by deliberate scorched earth by the fleeing Axis.

The Axis was, indeed, kaput in Tunisia and thus in North Africa. Axis devastation, fires, surrender and death marked the entire front.

In the Caucasus, the Russians had penetrated the outer defense lines of Novorossisk. Fighting was now stubbornly engaged in a series of trenches dug by the Germans around the city.

A report from Lord Beaverbrook's London Evening Standard, quoting a New York Herald-Tribune dispatch from Washington, stated that FDR and Churchill were about to meet in the wake of the success in North Africa. The report was without confirmation from any official source.

It was true. The Third Washington Conference would begin the following day between the two war leaders, the first having been in the wake of Pearl Harbor, from late December through early January, 1941, and the second in June, 1942 to plan Operation Torch in combination with Operation Lightfoot. The primary focus, obviously, of the third conference was the planning of the invasion of Italy.

Speculation ran high that the planning might involve a dual force punch against the Axis in Europe, the Americans and British from one direction while the Russians pounded from the east. That was still, however, a year away.

On the editorial page, "Fifth Army" questions the whereabouts of General Mark Clark’s U. S. Fifth Army, not heard from since the opening salvos of the Operation Torch landings in November in Morocco and Algeria. The Army in fact was still in Algeria and Morocco, awaiting, as the piece correctly speculates, deployment into southern Italy after "the first wave across the Mediterranean". The Fifth Army would land at Salerno on September 9 and see its first active combat after the taking of Sicily by Generals Montgomery and Patton between early July and mid-August. It would remain in operation in Italy throughout the remainder of the war.

The piece properly gives credit among the American forces for the fast conclusion of the Tunisian campaign to General Patton's Second Army Corps and the Air Forces, but warns that the major fighting force of the Americans, the Fifth Army, had not yet fired its first shots against the Axis.

"No Terms" finds forebodingly grim humor in the story of the American general who, steadfast in refusing any terms except unconditional surrender, left two surrendering Nazi generals standing outside his tent while his guns were still striking Axis positions nearby.

Samuel Grafton looks ahead to the 1944 presidential election and speculates on which candidate of the leading three, John Bricker, Thomas Dewey, or Wendell Willkie, the Republicans might select, and whether one might have a better chance than the others in the event of a Roosevelt run for a fourth term.

He concludes that a reprise of the 1940 nomination of Mr. Willkie would be the likely result in the event of a fourth term nomination for FDR. Willkie's stances were not so disparate from the President's to distract unduly from the war effort. Governor Bricker of Ohio, he reasons, was too intent on disavowing isolationism while also disavowing interventionism to be the candidate. The exception to that possibility, he concedes, would arise if the war effort turned badly within the ensuing year.

Governor Dewey of New York would likely not run, he reasons, if FDR were to seek a fourth term, considering the challenge too formidable.

Among Republicans, the whispers, he confides, were that grave doubts of the gravitas and credentials of either Dewey or Bricker existed when pictured at the same table with Churchill, Stalin, and Chiang Kai-shek. That left Willkie.

Of course, the candidate in fact would be Mr. Dewey. Mr. Willkie, for health reasons, would not throw his in the ring and would be dead before election day.

Dorothy Thompson again examines the split in diplomatic relations surfacing two weeks earlier between Russia and Poland's government-in-exile regarding the accusation by the Poles, in reliance on German propaganda, that the Russians had murdered 10,000 Polish officers in Smolensk in 1940.

She sees harbingers nevertheless of renewed good relations among the Allies in the May Day speech by Stalin, affirming his commitment to an unconditional surrender by the Axis nations, disaffirming any rumors thereby of Russia seeking a separate peace from Germany, as well in his statements of praise for the North African campaign and the bombing of Europe as genuine contributions to the united war effort. She points out that the very fact that Hitler had initiated the propaganda rumor regarding the dead officers was for the very reason that he no longer expected any separate peace from Russia and wished to use another method by which to sow the seeds of distrust between the Allies.

A new mission to Moscow by former Ambassador Joseph E. Davies to visit Russian Foreign Minister Litvinoff also augured well for a new attempt to restore relations between Poland and Russia with the U.S. as arbiter.

Ms. Thompson finds unfortunate the whole issue of post-war buffer states arising between the two mutually distrustful nations as both Russia and Poland were signatories to the Atlantic Charter disavowing thereby territorial acquisition.

These problems only supplied grist for the Nazi propaganda mill to exploit further potential lines of division along which to weaken Allied morale.

P.M. discusses an advertisement taken out by The Western Voice in reactionary Reverend Gerald Winrod's Defender. The ad was simply a letter from Robert Rice Reynolds complimenting the Western Voice, edited by Reverend Harvey Springer, and paying a dollar to place the Senator among the one-year subscribers, making special note the while of Senator Claire Hoffman's speech re-printed in the publication, of which Bob says he had not before had the pleasure to read.

Senator Hoffman, you will recall, later questioned whether fluoridation of water was a Communist plot.

Which leads us to question whether Bob's character was assigned a roman à clef role in the filmed version…

Raymond Clapper marvels at the relative ease with which Swedes had adjusted their social and economic life to wartime pressures. The case was especially impressive in light of the extensive rationing in the country, dependent entirely on foreign imports for such critical commodities as its oil, coal, and food.

An example of the Swedish adjustment to conditions could be found in the continued development of housing, despite the curtailment of building projects for the duration. Owners bought prefabricated houses and built them with their own labor under a special government program which exchanged the down payment for the investment in labor and then loaned the money for the purchase on low interest and low payments stretched over a period of sixty years.

He spent a day examining houses, apartments, hospitals, and nurseries with the wife of the economist and social analyst Gunnar Myrdal (who, in 1944, would publish a landmark work on U. S. race relations, American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, the first of his several works on race relations in America), and came away with the impression that socialized medicine in the country was working well, the patient footing only 25% of the average medical bill and the public treasury the rest, that the housing situation still was in need of progress, and the schools were ailing, as evidenced by the fact that there were only eight compulsory grades of school, at which point only ten percent went to college or another ten percent to trade school, with the remaining eighty percent entering the work force at the tender age of fourteen.

Politically, the Social Democrats were solidly in control of Sweden, with the conservative interests being more receptive of social change than its counterparts in the United States.

All in all, Sweden was doing relatively well under war conditions and the people hoped to remain largely untouched by the war impacting dramatically their neighbors, initiated from their neighbor across the Baltic.

We note that Professor Myrdal's above-referenced mammoth work, which would become familiar to any sociology student of the 1940's through 1970's and which was cited among several other works at footnote 11 in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 for the proposition that Plessy v. Ferguson's separate-but-equal doctrine had a negative impact psychologically on black children for tending to imply inferiority by separation, made reference to The Mind of the South by W. J. Cash eight times. Those references are: generally, at pages 468 and 1071; at page 451, on frontier civilization of the South; at page 1249, on mechanization in the South; at page 1320, on class in the Old South; at page 1338, on slavery; at pages 1355-56, on interracial sex relations, quoting and citing extensively from Cash's work on the Southern "rape complex" as it related to and fostered gyneolatry; and at page 1361, on prostitution in the South. Unfortunately, all of those references, save those on page 1356, are omitted in the abstract at the above link.

We include below the pages of The Mind of the South from which Myrdal quotes in one of the book's appendices at 1355-56: pages 84-87, from Book I, Chapter III, "Of Ideal and a Conflict", and pages 114-117 and 126-130, from Book II, Chapter I, "Of the Frontier the Yankee Made", from the 1941 edition published by Knopf:

Nevertheless, that [interracial liaisons] were sufficiently common is indisputable. Melville Herskovits informs us, in The American Negro, that:

"Instead of 80 or 85% of the American Negroes being wholly of African descent, only a little over 20% are unmixed, while almost 80% show mixture with white or American Indian. . . Between one third and one fourth (27.3% to be exact) have American Indian ancestry."

And everything points to the conclusion that this state of affairs was already largely established by 1860. We must not overlook the fact, of course, that the Portuguese and Spanish slave-traders had been industriously engaged in bleaching the tar-brush for two centuries before the Negro was introduced into the South--nor that the Yankee has never shown himself averse to furthering the comity of nations. But, relatively speaking, the share of responsibility to be laid to these was doubtless small. Nor can the South's ruling share be dismissed as due merely to the aberrations of degraded white-trash. Every Southern community where Cuffey flourishes abounds in stories which run to the tune of "the image, my dear, the living image, of old Colonel Bascombe himself!"

But this set up conflict with domestic sentiment. And such sentiment, without regard to the influence of the Negro's presence, was even stronger in the Southerner than in the American generally. In the isolation of the plantation world the home was necessarily the center of everything; family ties acquired a strength and validity unknown in more closely settled communities; and, above all, there grew up an unusually intense affection and respect for the women of the family--for the wife and mother upon whose activities the comfort and well-being of everybody greatly depended; (yes, and even particularly in those houses with many servants; for the Negro as he developed under slavery in the South was one of the laziest and in general most untrustworthy servants ever heard of, requiring endlessly to be watched and driven).

Yet if such a woman knew that the maid in her kitchen was in reality half-sister to her own daughter, if she suspected that her husband sometimes slipped away from her bed to the arms of a mulatto wench, or even if she only knew or suspected these things of her sons or some other male of her family, why, of course she was being cruelly wounded in the sentiments she held most sacred. And even though she feigned blindness, as her convention demanded the should--even if she actually knew or suspected nothing--the guilty man, supposing he possessed any shadow of decency, must inexorably writhe in shame and an intolerable sense of impurity under her eyes.

Join to this the fact that the Yankee's hate (and maybe his envy) had not been slow to discover the opening in the Southern armor, that his favorite journals were filled with "screamers" depicting every Southerner as a Turk wallowing in lechery, and it is plain that here was a situation which was not to be tolerated.

And the only really satisfactory escape here, as in so many other instances, would be fiction. On the one hand, the convention must be set up that the thing simply did not exist, and enforced under penalty of being shot; and on the other, the woman must be compensated, the revolting suspicion in the male that he might be slipping into bestiality got rid of, by glorifying her; the Yankee must be answered by proclaiming from the housetops that Southern Virtue, so far from being inferior, was superior, not alone to the North's but to any on earth, and adducing Southern Womanhood in proof.

The upshot, in this land of spreading notions of chivalry, was downright gyneolatry. She was the South's Palladium, this Southern woman--the shield-bearing Athena gleaming whitely in the clouds, the standard for its rallying, the mystic symbol of its nationality in face of the foe. She was the lily-pure maid of Astolat and the hunting goddess of the Boeotian hill. And--she was the pitiful Mother of God.

Merely to mention her was to send strong men into tears--or shouts. There was hardly a sermon that did not begin and end with tributes in her honor, hardly a brave speech that did not open and close with the clashing of shields and the flourishing of swords for her glory. At the last, I verily believe, the ranks of the Confederacy went rolling into battle in the misty conviction that it was wholly for her that they fought.

"Woman!!! The center and circumference, diameter and periphery, sine, tangent and secant of all our affections!" Such was the toast which brought twenty great cheers from the audience at the celebration of Georgia's one-hundredth anniversary in the 1830's.


At the same time when the Yankee's activities were thus whipping up the pressure of hate. they were also establishing two definite sanctions for its discharge in violence. The first of these is what we may as well call the rape complex.

It is a subject on which there has been much misunderstanding. Negro apologists and others bent on damning the South at any cost have, during the last decade or two, so constantly and vociferously associated the presentation of figures designed to show that no rape menace exists or ever has existed in the Southern country, with the conclusion that this rape complex is therefore a fraud, a hypocritical pretext behind which the South has always cynically and knowingly hidden mere sadism and economic interest, as to have got it very widely accepted.

In fact, the conclusion is a non sequitur. It is true that the actual danger of the Southern white woman's being violated by the Negro has always been comparatively small. Even in the days of Thorough itself, the chance was much less, for instance, than the chance that she would be struck by lightning. None the less (and Walter White's nearly explicit contention to the contrary notwithstanding) there were genuine cases of rape. There were other and more numerous cases of attempted rape. There were Yankee fools and scoundrels--and not all of them low-placed Yankees--to talk provocatively about the coming of a day when Negroes would take the daughters of their late masters for concubines; seeming to Southern ears to be deliberately inciting the former bondsmen to wholesale outrage.

There was real fear, and in some districts even terror, on the part of the white women themselves. And there were neurotic old maids and wives, hysterical young girls, to react to all this in a fashion well enough understood now, but understood by almost nobody then.

Hence, if the actual danger was small, it was nevertheless the most natural thing in the world for the South to see it as very great, to believe in it, fully and in all honesty, as a menace requiring the most desperate measures if it was to be held off.

But this is hardly more than to scratch the surface. To get at the ultimate secret of the Southern rape complex, we need to turn back and recall the central status that Southern woman had long ago taken up in Southern emotion--her identification with the very notion of the South itself.

For, with this in view, it is obvious that the assault on the South would be felt as, in some true sense, an assault on her also, and that the South would inevitably translate its whole battle into terms of her defense.

Nor is the connection here any mere vague and dubiously symbolic one. We strike back to the fact that this Southern woman's place in the Southern mind proceeded primarily from the natural tendency of the great basic pattern of pride in superiority of race to center upon her as the perpetuator of that superiority in legitimate line, and attached itself precisely, and before everything else, to her enormous remoteness from the males of the inferior group, to the absolute taboo on any sexual approach to her by the Negro. For the abolition of slavery, in destroying the rigid fixity of the black at the bottom of the scale, in throwing open to him at least the legal opportunity to advance, had inevitably opened up to the mind of every Southerner a vista at the end of which stood the overthrow of this taboo. If it was given to the black to advance at all, who could say (once more the logic of the doctrine of his inherent inferiority would not hold) that he would not one day advance the whole way and lay claim to complete equality, including, specifically, the ever crucial right of marriage?

What Southerners felt, therefore, was that any assertion of any kind on the part of the Negro constituted in a perfectly real manner an attack on the Southern woman. What they saw, more or less consciously, in the conditions of Reconstruction was a passage toward a condition for her as degrading, in their view, as rape itself. And a condition, moreover, which, logic or no logic, they infallibly thought of as being as absolutely forced upon her as rape, and hence a condition for which the term "rape" stood as truly as for the de facto deed.

Add explicitly what is contained in this: that, in their concern for the taboo on the white woman, there was a final concern for the right of their sons in the legitimate line, through all the generations to come, to be born to the great heritage of white men; and the record is complete. Such, I think, was the ultimate content of the Southerners' rape complex. Such is the explanation of the fact that, from the beginning, they justified--and sincerely justified--violence toward the Negro as demanded in defense of woman, and though the offenses of by far the greater number of the victims had nothing immediately to do with sex.

The second great sanction for violence which the Yankee had created was this: that, quite apart from the woman question, and in sober reality, he had made it virtually necessary. Stripped for a decade of all control of its government, stripped for three decades of the effective use of that government to the ends it willed, the South was left with scarcely any feasible way to mastery save only this one of the use of naked force; perhaps with no other one, if we take the character of the people into account.

And here once more it was the Negro who was the obviously appointed scapegoat. For in addition to being the immediate fact at issue, he was the only really practical victim. To horsewhip, to tar, to hang a particularly obnoxious carpetbagger or scalawag, to reach even, as it happened once at Yanceyville in North Carolina, into the very carpetbag courtroom and snatch such a fellow away to the doom he deserved--all this might be very fine and satisfying, but it plainly could not be carried out on any extended scale. These men were mainly in a position to be easily protected, could be got at only at impossible risk and at the cost of certain recognition soon or late, Klan disguise or no Klan disguise; at the cost, eventually, of counter-hangings. On the other hand, to give the black man the works was just as effectually to strike Yankeedom, to serve notice of the South's will; terrifying him into frozen silence was easy; and in the world there were not bayonets enough to guard all the cabins scattered through this wide land.

Thus the bars came down with unprecedented completeness. The better men in the South, so far from feeling themselves any longer imperatively bound to restrain themselves and use their potent influence to restrain the masses, let themselves go with fury. They let their own hate run, set themselves more or less deliberately to whipping up the hate of the common whites, and often themselves led these common whites into mob action against the Negro.


There remain certain other patterns which require to be considered in connection with this general one of romanticism and unreality: namely, those of sentimentality, of the passion for politics, and of rhetoric.

If these Southerners had been extraordinarily prone to sentimentality in the Old South, it is probably no exaggeration to say they were to become in Reconstruction years the most sentimental people in history. Part of the impulse to growth here was communicated directly from the Zeitgeist of course. For, as everyone knows, the period with which we are dealing was the heyday of that Victorianism at which we have already glanced.

But local conditions played by far the greater part. The memory of defeat in arms after a struggle so genuinely heroic as to have deserved a better end, the sense of suffering intolerable wrong under the pressure of overwhelming odds, the general drabness of life in a poverty-blighted land, the frustration of the private hopes of perhaps the majority of men in a whole generation, the heightened loyalty and the nostalgia for the past consequent upon these things--all this went to make up an atmosphere wonderfully calculated to hurry sentimentality on to acromegalic development.

The growth of the Southern legend was even more sentimental than it was grandiloquent, it moved, more powerfully even than it moved toward splendor and magnificence, toward a sort of ecstatic, teary-eyed vision of the Old South as the Happy-Happy Land. This legend is most perfectly rendered in the tone of Thomas Nelson Page's Billy as he dreams of the old plantation.

And of course the sentimentality waxed fat on the theme of the Confederate soldier and the cause for which he had fought and died. This soldier, I suggest, was in sober truth a proper subject for any people's pride. And men (Western men, at least) have everywhere and eternally sentimentalized the causes of their wars, and particularly the causes that were lost. All of them have bled for God and Womanhood and Holy Right; not one has ever died for anything so crass and unbeautiful as the preservation of slavery. But I doubt that the process has ever elsewhere been carried to the length to which it was carried in the South in this time; that ever elsewhere the laurel and the rue were so heaped upon a tomb; that ever elsewhere any soldier became so identical with Galahad, the cause for which he fought with the quest for the Sangraal.

The South's perpetual need for justifying its career, and the will to shut away more effectually the vision of its mounting hate and brutality toward the black man, entered into the equation also and bore these people yet further into the cult of the Great Southern Heart. The Old South must be made not only the happy country but the happy country especially for the Negro. The lash? A lie, sir; it had never existed. The only bonds were those of tender understanding, trust, and loyalty. And to prove it, here about us in this very hour of new freedom and bitter strife are hundreds of worn-out Uncle Toms and black mammies still clinging stubbornly to the old masters who can no longer feed them, ten thousand Jim Crows still kicking their heels and whooping for the smile of a white man. Such is the Negro, sir, when he is not corrupted by meddling fools. Hate him? My good friend, we love him dearly--and we alone, for we alone know him.

Do I again seem to satirize them for sniveling hypocrites? Then I must assure you once more that they were not. They believed in their professions here more fully than they had ever done. And they did love the thing, compounded of one part fact and three parts fiction and the black man's miming, which subsisted in their minds under the denomination of the Good Negro.

Lastly, the increased centrality of woman, added up with the fact that miscegenation, though more terrifying than it had been even in the Old South, showed little tendency to fall off despite efforts to build up standards against it, served to intensify the old interest in gyneolatry, and to produce yet more florid notions about Southern Womanhood and Southern Virtue, and so to foster yet more precious notions of modesty and decorous behavior for the Southern female to live up to.

As for the passion for politics, the tale of its immediate growth calls for little laboring. The world knows the story of the Democratic Party in the South; how, once violence had opened the way to political action, this party became the institutionalized incarnation of the will to White Supremacy. How, indeed, it ceased to be a party in the South and became the party of the South, a kind of confraternity having in its keeping the whole corpus of Southern loyalties, and so irresistibly commanding the allegiance of faithful whites that to doubt it, to question it in any detail, was ipso facto to stand branded as a renegade to race, to country, to God, and to Southern Womanhood. How, in a dozen major engagements and a thousand skirmishes, it hewed its way to its goal, sent the surviving carpetbaggers scuttling home to keep pub in their native slums, whipped the scalawags into repentance or defeatism, and in the end so smashed the Republican Party that, in the various states, it either ceased altogether to exist or continued to exist only as a Federal-job ring; until in the end the South was left as that curious anomaly, a so-called democratic country without an opposition party, a country in which, for practical purposes, there has been but one party from that day to this.

The world, as I say, knows this story, and its bearing for the general increase in Southern concern with politics is too obvious to require exposition. What does demand attention, however, is the further loss of reality which was involved.

The destruction of the normal party system signalizes the completion of the divorce from what I have called a part of the proper business of politics--that is, the resolution of the inevitable conflict in interest between the classes, and the securing of a reasonable degree of social equity--and the arrival of the final stage of that irresponsibility which had belonged to the politics of the Old South. Bound rigidly within the single great frame by the hypnotic Negro-fixation, estopped by the necessity of unity, if the black man was to be kept in his place, from any considerable development of faction, the masses were stripped of every possibility of effectual political action for the amelioration of their estate, even (as we shall see) when they themselves should come dimly to desire it. And, contrariwise, the master class, freed from all chance of challenge or check, could and would go on more and more dealing with the governmental machinery of the South as their private property, and sink deeper into the naive and complacent assumption of their interest as the public interest.

Thus, as the final term of the matter, emphasis was thrown back, even more completely than had been the case in the Old South, upon the personal and the romantic. Was this candidate or that one more showy and satisfying? Did Jack or Jock offer the more thrilling representation of the South in action against the Yankee and the black man? Here, and here almost alone, would there be a field for choice.

I must not pass on from Reconstruction politics, either, without marking the fact that, as greatly perhaps as violence itself, the long training in fraud and trickery, which, as everyone knows, was a part of the campaign for mastery, acted to call out and develop in the South that most dangerous of philosophies: the philosophy that, if only the end be reckoned good, the most damnable means becomes justifiable and even glorious.

As for rhetoric, bare mention will suffice. Nothing could be plainer than that the mounting tide of passionate defense and defiance, of glorification and brag, of high profession, and of zeal for politics, which I have been describing, inevitably bore a people so given to oratory to even more striking extravaganzas in that direction, and to greater susceptibility to it.

With all of that understood as an historical backdrop in the South, was Governor Broughton, the month before, not correct in pardoning and freeing from custody William Wellman, found guilty of rape of an elderly white woman in Statesville, on the newly discovered evidence in the form of a signed job slip showing that he was in fact in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, 400 miles away from the scene, one to two hours before the crime was committed?

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