Thursday, April 20, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, April 20, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that bombers and fighters from carriers in the Indian Ocean under the command of Lord Louis Mountbatten, with headquarters moved to Ceylon, had carried out raids on Sabang and Lhongo on Sumatra in the Dutch East Indies. Sabang, an island off the northern tip of Sumatra, and Lhongo, on the island itself, had harbor facilities which had served as launching points for Japanese raids on Burma. It was the first raid on the Dutch East Indies since March, 1942 when they fell to the Japanese. Only one plane failed to return to the carriers and the pilot of that fighter was rescued at sea.

Allied bombers of the Seventh Air Force, operating from the Marshall Islands, meanwhile struck on each side of the 2,000-mile chain of the Caroline Islands, at Ponape in the west, and at Woleai in the east. For the second straight day, Satawan airfield was attacked to the southeast of Truk. None of the three raids encountered enemy opposition.

In India, Allied troops out of Dimapur had broken through Japanese roadblocks on the road to Kohima. The British in the area of Imphal had pushed out to the hills and jungles where they were carrying the fight to the enemy with some success. The Japanese were pushed back in the area northeast of Imphal and repulsed in hand-to-hand combat southwest of the city.

In Northern Burma, General Joseph Stilwell's Chinese troops continued to advance south through the Mogaung Valley, capturing the village of Warazup, 25 miles from Kamang, with the ultimate goal still the Japanese base at Myitkyina.

Russian troops in southeastern Poland had encountered fierce German resistance east of Stanislawow, 70 miles southeast of Lwow, as the Nazis sought to prevent access to the key railhead at the latter position, as well as to the Czech frontier, the border to which, through the Carpathian passes, had been reached by the Russians April 8.

In the Crimea, the army of General Andrei Yeremenko had taken the Fedyukhiny Heights, five miles from the center of Sevastopol. The army had outflanked the hill at Sakharya Galovka at the entry to the Inkerman Valley. Otherwise, fighting in and around Sevastopol by the Fourth Ukrainian Army, which had penetrated into the city from the north, had settled into a siege before strong German defensive resistance.

The Russians were reported to have issued terms of surrender to Rumania. No details were provided, but presumably the terms were unconditional. Rumania’s Nazi-puppet government had been reported during the previous week, since the beginning of the dual onslaught from both the northeast by the Russian Army and from the west by Allied planes, to be entreating terms of surrender.

In Italy, artillery shelling was again exchanged in Cassino as the Allies hit both the Des Roses and Continental Hotels, strongholds of German resistance in the southwestern corner of the town guarding access to Highway 6, while the Germans sent machinegun fire into the railway station held by the Allies.

William Worden, in the “Reporter’s Notebook” column, writes from the Southwest Pacific aboard an aircraft carrier. He tells of the fines regularly imposed on pilots who could not properly snag the tailhook on the first pass onto the deck. A wave-off cost the pilot 50 cents. A crash landing, which had recently occurred when a pilot flipped his plane on deck, nevertheless surviving with minor injuries, cost him the insult to the injury of four dollars--the same as the New York magistrate had imposed the previous week on mentalist Joseph Dunninger for parking fines.

Various announcements routinely carried through the ship. One of the stranger ones was to announce that "the smoking lamp is out throughout the ship", strange because there was no smoking lamp. The announcement sufficed. When "lit", the men could smoke.

Sunbathing on deck was encouraged to enable the sailors to become accustomed to the sun so that they would not bake when finally they had to stay out the entire day in battle.

Onboard in the wardroom was a piano which routinely entertained the sailors. Whenever they heard "You're the Cream in My Coffee", they knew that two sailors, one from Massachusetts and the other from Missouri, were plunking away at the 88's, as it was the only tune they knew.

Anyhow, a South Pacific Marine from Pocatello, Idaho, was finally going to receive his delayed 15EE brogans, initially prohibited by the Post Office for overweight. Someone had suggested that the shoes be shipped separately to accommodate weight restrictions on packages bound for the front. It was not known whether that advice had been taken or whether the Post Office simply relaxed its restrictions to accommodate the needy private with big feet.

British radio broadcast to the Germans a propaganda message proclaiming that this birthday of Hitler might well be his last. The broadcast would prove, of course, wrong. Hitler would enjoy one more birthday, as the Americans and British pounded from the eastern approaches to Berlin and the Russians moved in from the west. He would enjoy one more birthday, plus ten days, before he put the Luger to his temple and did the world, including what was then left of Germany, bombed pretty much out of existence, a favor.

In London, the bus strike, started Saturday, then quickly terminated, resumed with 1,300 drivers failing to report to work for the fact of heavy bus schedules for the summer. Army trucks bearing camouflage took up the duty of transporting Londoners to and fro.

And, a picture shows King, a Great Dane in Charleston, trained by the Army Signal Corps as part of its K-9 unit.

When we were in Charleston in August, 1966, coming to mind just yesterday, we did not see on King Street at the Fox Music House, or in its vicinity, any such dog. We probably would have needed by then to go further south, toward the vicinity of Birming-ham, before encountering such a ferocious canine. We believe the dog of choice there, however, was the German shepherd. But they growled very fiercely, in the same vein as it appears did King, when the dogs were let loose by Bull Connor on African-American demonstrators, led by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., in downtown Birmingham in the spring of 1963.

As we said five years ago in the note referenced yesterday, Tomorrow Never Knows.

On the editorial page, "Our Rights" discusses the disheartening results of a survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center out of the University of Chicago, seeking to tap public awareness of the Bill of Rights.

The findings were that: 23% of the respondents had never heard of the Bill of Rights; 39% had heard of it but didn't know what it meant or where to find it; 15% gave incorrect answers regarding its contents and origin; only 23% provided accurate answers.

In time of war in which the supposed principle being vindicated was the preservation of democracy, the result was especially troubling, says the piece. It questions therefore whether the people were really fighting for democracy or whether they voted only on the basis of some vague intuition rather than informed understanding of that for which they were making choice.

How would such a survey stack up today? As we indicated yesterday, it is plain that a good portion of the country does not understand much about the First Amendment, neither its prohibiting the establishment of a religion by the Congress being the clause which determines so-called separation of church and state, nor its provisions preventing Congress, and also the states via the Fourteenth Amendment, from making any laws which infringe freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, or freedom of religious belief.

They do not seem, many of them, to understand how that implies a right of privacy of the individual with respect to the state.

It is safe to venture from the rhetoric which daily passes in the media that most do not understand the Fourth Amendment and its prohibition of searches and seizures of property and the person, except by reasonable and probable cause.

The Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination is routinely misunderstood, as is the Sixth Amendment right to effective defense counsel in criminal trials.

"Due Process" in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments generally refers to the panoply of basic procedural rights accorded an individual facing the bar of justice, whether criminally accused or involved in a civil suit. It ordinarily entails the right to be heard, to present evidence, to cross-examine witnesses testifying against a criminal defendant, to be apprised of the charges or causes of action against the criminal or civil defendant, and to be provided notice of the pendency of the proceeding.

The Fifth Amendment also provides for eminent domain, that is that the Government may not take property without just compensation being paid for it.

The Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, given the consistent howls for the death penalty and other forms of Draconian punishment for crimes not meriting such harsh treatment, is obviously only vaguely understood, if at all, by those who favor such punishments, sometimes favored to be imposed for just about anything, including the exercise of free speech.

Quite misunderstood through time is the tensioned relationship between states' rights, as provided by the Tenth Amendment, and the Federal Government which trumps, by virtue of the Supremacy Clause, the states and localities in every area of power specifically provided the Federal Government by Articles I through III of the Constitution, including, via the Commerce Clause, all matters which affect interstate commerce.

And, don't even bother to try to begin to explain the first year law school lessons of what Fundamental Rights are, generally meant as those granted by the Bill of Rights, and how they are treated differently by the courts in their analytical approach from those considered only as ordinary rights; the difference being that the burden is on the Government to justify any intrusion on Fundamental Rights by showing a supervening "compelling" state interest, such as airport security versus the Fourth Amendment. With rights which are not deemed fundamental, generally those not enumerated in the Bill, the burden is more easily sustained by the Government when making intrusion on them.

Well, we could go on, seeking to provide a few minutes of tips on understanding the Bill.

As we proposed last week, we advocate a new amendment to the Constitution to abrogate the existing Second Amendment, the one least understood, most out of date, and in need of clarification, especially as it has only been within the last couple of years that the Supreme Court has tackled its interpretation, after it had lain largely dormant for the previous 220 years since ratification in 1789. Our proposal is to clarify the meaning of the amendment, to get guns out of the hands of those unskilled in their use, those who are not in the military or in the police forces of the nation, while recognizing the right to continue, under certain limitations of use and regulation of possession, the possession of designated and legislatively defined hunting firearms and antique firearms.

If you don't like the idea of an Anti-Homicide Amendment, we have to conclude that you favor homicide by use of firearms. You will be a lot safer should you take a gander at it and get behind it, or some variant of it.

It will do you no harm.

Neither will learning about your Bill of Rights. Many of the states, incidentally, have more expansive rights than the Federal Constitution.

But always bear in mind a central precept regarding the enumerated rights. The liberties for which they stand were simply those the Founders deemed most important for their threat at the time prior to the Revolution. That is why the Ninth Amendment provides that the rights so enumerated are not to be regarded as the only rights of the people--suggesting, incidentally, that Proposition 8, passed by the voters of California in 1982, after having been indoctrinated to the sugar-cubes by the spoonfuls of the Right, is nigh on worthless in its practical impact, that is, should anyone think through it with a little creativity, quite often observed to be lacking in California, whetted and blown up too much by the silicone, since 1982.

And the rights enumerated in the First Amendment, Thomas Jefferson believed constituted one right: hence, they are embraced in one sentence of one amendment. That is to say that they are interdependent. If you try to tamper with one, you inevitably impinge on the other, which is why we have no state religion and why therefore it is a constitutionally infirm practice to try to legislate morality in this country to limit free speech and association.

Last we read it, the Bill says nothing, by way of exception, anent "harassment", "profanity", "obscenity", or all the other royal exceptions sought through time to be carved out of the freedom, to erode, whenever possible, that most precious liberty. Most usually, the result has been that the people yawn until their rights individually are beset by such outrageously royal laws, sometimes crossing the line into Fascism.

If you use nothing but speech to make a point, you cannot be lawfully arrested, except by the fact of a statement which plainly and expressly threatens violence against another. If you have been, protest. Go to Washington and sit on your Congressman's doorstep at the Capitol until he or she accepts your petition for redress of grievances. That is your right. You had best exercise it, lest the royalists among us surely take it from you.

If you are upset with the country, it is inevitably because you do not feel you can speak your mind with impunity. It is a common feeling because, we believe, it is a true feeling, based on real events and real circumstances which chill our free expression.

We do not live by the same restrictive rules in our society generally which govern the military, which govern professional and college athletes, which guide politicians and bureaucrats, or certainly not those which govern tv and radio networks. If you think so, you are a brainwashed numbskull. Get over it.

We have the right to protest, yell, to ask some wet behind the ears numbskull with a camera stuck in your face, "Who are you?" We have the right to scream at our government if necessary to stop the madness of not listening, to penetrate the bureaucratic wall, increasingly thick in this country, the while guarding halls full of dolts, the result of political patronage. It is our right to question, to demand answers, to demand reasons for governmental action which is arbitrary and capricious. If anyone says otherwise, they are despots, Fascist despots, and likely taking bribes.

We determine our government. It is not royalty. That includes judges and politicians.

And if you are among the Stars in Bars, here's one for you: Stop taking corporate bribes. And we mean it. If you don't, there is going to be a Revolution in the country, and soon. If you think that is a threat, you are, without doubt, taking bribes and best stop it. That's right, we are talking to YOU, bribe taker. Here's another for you.

Don't like it? Tough. Move to Argentina, Fascist.

"Hirohito" addresses the distinction drawn by the British and American governments between Hitler and the Japanese Emperor. For Hitler, there would be certain execution for war crimes at war's end. For Hirohito, however, the determination appeared to have been made already to spare him that fate by way of keeping him as titular head of Japan, to act as a transitional force in establishing a peaceful nation in replacement of the bellicose warriors who had come to dominate Japanese society.

The piece asserts that it was likely Ambassador Joseph Grew who had piloted the policy through to acceptance. But, says the editorial, correspondent James R. Young, who had spent many years in Japan, had the better idea, that the Allies gained nothing by sparing the life of the Emperor, that an example should be set by his execution, to demonstrate forcefully to the people of Japan that he was no descendant of the gods, neither a mere puppet of the warrior class who had started the war.

As we have before mentioned, we concur with that assessment. If not death, stripping Hirohito and the Empress of all raiment of royalty, making them ordinary citizens, following service of sentences to long jail terms, would have been the more salutary response to their outrages heaped upon humanity. It was for them that the Japanese ultimately fought. All they had to do was to say, "Don't fight." Perhaps it would have changed nothing. But, perhaps it would have changed everything. That they did not try to stop it was their crime. That they were spared any punishment was a crime against humanity. That they are still revered, even in death, in some circles of Japan, is a continuing outrage to humanity.

That President Ford would greet them as peers at the White House and, in 1975, withdraw a previously tendered invitation to Alexander Solzhenitzyn, because, as it was reported at the time, the President believed him "unstable" for his criticism of American materialism, as gleaned through the Soviet dissident's perceptive tour of the United States by motor car, was, perhaps, not an outrage to humanity, but nevertheless, a thoughtless pair of acts, when considered in combination.

But, in that case, the lesser of evils all being considered, and the fact that there was that helmet thing...

"The Surplus" agrees with gubernatorial candidate and future Governor, Gregg Cherry, in his recommendation that the surplus in the state budget, the product largely of wartime plenty producing a larger tax base, be maintained after the war for the sake of demobilization and postwar modernization, that taxes therefore for some time to come should remain stable, not reduced.

"Lost Cause" finds Nebraska Congressman A. L. Miller riding a limb already sawn in two and ready to break, that the push to promote MacArthur for President was dead. That the general had renounced Mr. Miller's efforts and chastised him for making public the letters between them, intended as private, had not appreciably changed the fact, made obvious by the results in Wisconsin, that Governor Dewey was the pick of the Republican Party.

Still, Representative Miller plodded onward in his efforts, however academic they now were.

Drew Pearson addresses the decision the previous week of the New York Democratic Party to retain as its chair Jim Farley, but conditioned on the premise that he would resign if the national convention nominated FDR for a fourth term. The compromise was to head off a spat which had begun with an attempt by county leaders to unseat Mr. Farley. Mr. Pearson details the back story.

He next discusses a Senate investigation by Senators Reed of Kansas and Bennett Clark of Missouri re Secretary of Commerce Jesse Jones and his role in exerting influence in the reorganization of the Chicago and Eastern Railroad and who, between two factions, would ultimately run it. Hearings were set to begin April 27.

Don't miss out on the excitement.

Marcus Childs indicates that, in light of the poor showing in Wisconsin by Wendell Willkie, forcing him from the race for the Republican nomination for the presidency, and the revelation of the correspondence between Congressman A. L. Miller and General MacArthur, in which the general had impliedly expressed interest in the nomination and had agreed with an attack by the Congressman on the President as a "monarchist", the general's chances of becoming the party nominee were dead. The only hope he ever had was in a deadlocked convention between Willkie and Dewey. That prospect was now no longer in the offing.

Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, the strongest advocate for General MacArthur's candidacy, knew that the chances of a ticket with MacArthur at its head were now nil, had advised the general to renounce all efforts to place his name in nomination, so as to preserve the respected place he held with the American people as a war commander.

Captain Eddie Rickenbacker told the Atlanta Constitution, according to a news piece on the page, that he would abide the wishes of General MacArthur and not send the case of Scotch to Major Richard Bong for his feat of breaking the record of 26 enemy kills in air combat, set by Captain Rickenbacker in World War I. He predicted that the record would be broken several times before the end of the war.

By the end, however, Major Bong would still hold the record, having extended the number of his kills to 40. Ironically, on August 6, 1945, the same day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan at Hiroshima, Major Bong, while piloting a new aircraft on a test flight, suffered a malfunctioning fuel pump, causing his plane to crash into the streets of Los Angeles. He ejected but was too close to the ground effectively to deploy his parachute, dying on impact.

Dorothy Thompson finds the clinging to the throne by the House of Savoy in the person of King Vittorio Emanuele to be merely a useless, self-serving attempt to barter with his crown to maintain some vestige of power, not in the tradition of courage which kings ought possess.

By counter-example, she tells of forty thousand kings, those courageous Poles who had been herded into the Warsaw Ghetto along with some 360,000 others at the beginning of the war. Steadily, through the spring of 1943, the mass of their numbers had been shipped out, ostensibly for resettlement. But by April of the previous year, with 40,000 remaining in the Ghetto, word came that the others had been shipped to concentration camps and put to death.

Resistance then began in the Ghetto, resistance which lasted for forty-two days, beginning April 20. By the end of the time, all of the remaining 40,000 were dead. The last to die was a sixteen-year old youth who had wrapped himself in the blue and white Polish flag and then hurled himself from a rooftop of the last stronghold held by the fighters during the last day of the revolt. Those, imparts Ms. Thompson, were true kings.

The piece should be read in whole and not further summarized, as it is striking in its description of a particularly courageous stand made during the war by civilians heavily outnumbered by Nazi soldiers and the Gestapo, seeking to resist for as long as they could the atrocities of the Nazi death camps.

Samuel Grafton adopts the unusual role of theater critic, having seen Lillian Hellman's Broadway play, The Searching Wind. The play, he informs, centered around the twenty years of Fascism in Italy since in 1922 King Victor Emmanuel turned over the reigns of power to Mussolini. In the interim, reminds the play dolefully, the West had simply sat by and accepted what it had deemed the lesser of two evils, a dictator instead of war. But rather than avoiding war, it got both the dictator and the war. The same had been true regarding Germany and Hitler.

The play, Mr. Grafton indicates, was one which presented the arguments and rationalizations of all the characters, protagonist and villain, allowing the audience to decide for itself who was morally superior.

He concludes, "It must hurt Miss Hellman to write so about people whom she obviously loves: choosing, choosing, and then suddenly, space crowds in, and there is not even choosing left."

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