The Charlotte News

Friday, December 14, 1945

THREE EDITORIALS

Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Pearl Harbor investigation by the joint Congressional committee was threatened with cessation as the entire legal staff had requested to withdraw and the chair of the committee, Senator Alben Barkley of Kentucky, was considering his resignation, both citing the prolonged nature of the investigation and its widening scope. With 60 witnesses remaining, it was estimated that it would take months to hear the evidence, and original plans had been for the committee to end its work by January 3.

At Nuremberg, evidence was introduced of German SS documents which estimated that six million European Jews had been killed in the concentration camps and in other ways during the various pogroms. The estimate came from Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl, right-hand man to Ernst Kaltenbrunner, second in command of the SS. Some four million had been killed, the affidavit said, in the camps and another two million in other ways, most having been shot by SS during the campaign against Russia. Hoettl had obtained the numbers from Adolf Eichmann of the SS. Heinrich Himmler had thought the figure too low.

Thousands of the dead, perhaps one-fourth of the original 400,000 in Warsaw Ghetto, occurred during the 29-day massacre of April-May, 1943, the SS having ordered the destruction of the entire ghetto by fire.

In Hamburg, Josef Kramer, the "Beast of Belsen", along with ten other convicted war criminals from Belsen and Oswiecim camps, including Irma Grese and two other women, were hanged at the Hamelin prison by the official British hangman.

The Army announced release of 400 million dollars worth of surplus goods into the civilian marketplace.

A Gold Star was awarded retiring Admiral Ernest King, chief of Naval operations during the war.

General Ben Lear, former deputy theater commander in Europe, had returned home to Memphis to try to locate housing.

The Senate, by a vote of 47 to 24, turned down a bill to give itself a $2,500 raise in expense allowance.

In Detroit, the new Kaiser-Frazer Company, having leased Ford's Willow Run bomber plant for production of its new line of medium-priced and low-priced automobiles, entered into negotiations with UAW, expecting success and initial production after the first of the year. The company promised a novel plan for labor. Ford agreed to resume wage talks with UAW.

In London, a group of masked men raided the headquarters of the Legion of Christian Reformers, holding Adolf Hitler to have been a divine instrument, and beat up the custodian on the premises. Captain Gordon Canning, a former member of the British Union of Fascists, had drawn attention to the group recently by purchasing a bust of the Fuehrer for $2,000 at an auction of property of the former German Embassy. He then installed it at the Legion's headquarters estate in Sussex. The leader of the group, Captain St. Barbe Baker, said that he did not begrudge the raiders, that he had forgiven them for they had been misled.

The Legion's credo, as printed on pamphlets, was: "We Englishmen, true to God and to England, declare the judgment, the final struggle between God and Mammon and the God-appointed mission of Adolf Hitler as God's judge."

In Little Rock, Ark., a notorious bank robber, Matt Kimes, who had been hit by a poultry truck while on the lam, died. He had been released from the Oklahoma penitentiary in July after serving eighteen years for murder.

A 19-year old Italian stowaway dressed in an American uniform was caught and turned over to immigration authorities in Boston after he approached an officer and asked for something to do. He had boarded the American ship at Le Havre in France.

In Norfolk, Va., an infant, three hours old, was found on a front porch naked but alive and taken to a hospital where his condition was reported as very good.

Near Hagerstown, Md., a buck, shot by hunters, ran away, was pursued, charged the hunters when cornered, butted one with his antlers, then ran away again, this time with the hunter's rifle slung over his antlers. Eventually, the hunters found him dead, still with the rifle strapped to his head.

In Cambridge, Mass., when the judge asked Mary Christmas for her name, she responded, and he said, "The same to you, and now your name, please." After straightening out the problem, she was granted her requested divorce, possibly from Santy Claws.

Snow and cold weather pervaded much of the nation, including Charlotte.

Another $150 was added to the Empty Stocking Fund, bringing it to $3,620.59. Freck Sproles reported that at the current rate, no needy child in Charlotte would fail to receive a Christmas gift.

On the editorial page, "Invitation to Inflation" finds the criticism being voiced by the real estate people and home builders against the President's call for renewal of price ceilings on housing to be expected. But nowhere in their cries of violation of free enterprise and squelching of home starts was there any statement of their true purpose: to avoid price ceilings which limited their otherwise increasingly high profits.

The most absurd statement, the piece states, came from a spokesman for the National Association of Home Builders, who said: "I don't think people will be foolish enough to pay ridiculous prices for homes. And that means builders won't be able to charge them."

The prices being charged in Charlotte, the editorial responds, were already so ridiculous as to permit lending only up to 50 percent of the selling price, meaning that banks were appraising properties at 70 percent of the selling price, indicative of usual lending of the day being about 70 percent of the loan-to-value ratio.

The only entity capable of restraining run-away inflation, already rampant such that investments of $5,000 on housing were increasing in some cases at the rate of $1,000 per month, was the Federal Government.

"A Publisher's Panacea" remarks on the offer of a curative salve by George C. Biggers, vice-president of The Atlanta Journal: "All the problems confronting the South will be solved when a public school system is installed lifting the average of learning to the eighth grade or better."

The piece believes that, especially coming from the business side of the publishing world, the statement was significant and accurate. Poverty and bigotry went hand in hand and were rooted in ignorance.

Illiteracy and semi-literacy kept one severed from the world of ideas, not fanciful notions conjured on a landscape of pure imagination, but structured ideas posited on sound cornerstones of logic and fact, to the extent fact can be determined or discerned as such, always mindful that factual data remains subject to dispute when based on empirical observation and a filtering perceiver, lending only at best approximation of fact, unlike the realm of, say, numbers where certain agreed, a priori principles always deliver the same result: A + B = C, C - B, therefore being A, and A C equating to -B.

Lack of education would mean that the South could not obtain its share of the coming post-war prosperity.

Of course, ultimately, it would have to be significantly better than mere eighth-grade equivalency if it expected to compete in the post-war world, characterized by new stresses on science in the schools, even if too often at the expense of social studies and history, literature and poetry, every bit as important as science and mathematics.

"Brief, Enchanted Moment" comments on the season's first snowfall which, while it had not lasted long, lent to the landscape an enchanted quality which only snow could accomplish, lending a fellowship of shared adventure and experience. People smiled for no good reason; strangers stopped to talk; motorists swung open their car doors to welcome stranded pedestrians; pedestrians helped stranded motorists with a push.

Sleet had quickly come to dash the illusion of a white landscape, as annoyance and stark blandness replaced cooperation and beauty. The problems of the world returned in harsh reality.

"The town is shackled again, rooted to earth until another Winter's first snow brings its fleeting release, touching the soul of man with its ancient, white magic."

A piece from the Louisville Courier-Journal, titled "The Negro in Kentucky", comments on the supposition that strident controversy might ensue from the Governor's commission appointed to study the problems of blacks in Kentucky, with the commission's recommendations for changes in the laws to provide equality of economic opportunity and basic dignity to the state's 7.5 percent black population.

But, the piece instructs, the old taboos against discussion of the issues were fading and the report would likely be received with good will. The only argument likely to come of it was how practical it would be to accomplish the goals enunciated with legislation. But that reservation did not diminish the import of the recommendations or the courage of the commission in setting them forth.

"In its way, it speaks for a new day and a new progressiveness in the area south of the Ohio River."

Drew Pearson points out that on July 10, 1938, he had sought to publish a story that Douglas Aircraft had sold the blueprints for the DC-4 to Japan, despite the pleas of Secretary of State Hull that manufacturers not sell planes to Japan because of the ongoing war in Manchuria. On the advice of attorneys, after the denial of the sale by Donald Douglas, head of the company, the story was killed. But, Mr. Pearson points out, it had now become clear that it was true and the DC-4 had played a significant role for the Japanese in the war.

Mr. Pearson had acquired the original bill of sale and the cablegram and other correspondence between Douglas and Tokyo. It was obvious that both the company and the Japanese wanted the deal maintained secret from the American press. It was camouflaged as being to Japan Airways, Ltd., a company controlled by the Japanese Government.

A letter of August 14, 1939 from another Japanese airline company to the vice-president of Douglas is printed in the column, showing that the manner in which the sale had finally been made public in the New York Times was quite acceptable to the Japanese, as its description had been vague enough likely to hide from the civilian readership its import.

But, Douglas had been given permission to sell the plane by the Army or Navy. Indeed, Donald Douglas's daughter later married the son of General Hap Arnold, chief of staff of the Army Air Forces, and the vice-president at Douglas went on to become a major general in the Air Forces, even though the Senate at the time of the promotion knew of the pre-Pearl Harbor trade activities with Douglas and the vice-president's involvement in it.

The Japanese had openly boasted in November, 1939 of the cheap price, $750,000, at which they had purchased the blueprints for the plane, given that a year earlier it had cost Douglas 40 million dollars to develop. They had also openly boasted of having converted the plane to military use in China.

Secretary of State Hull had announced his plea to aircraft manufacturers not to sell planes to Japan on July 11, 1938, one day after Mr. Pearson had sought to publish his account of the deal and was then lied to about the deal's existence by Donald Douglas.

Dorothy Thompson comments on Secretary of State Byrnes having issued a statement in advance of the Foreign Ministers Conference, about to begin in Moscow, indicating reaffirmation of the principles of Potsdam. It had not, she notes, repeated Potsdam's order for the suspension of evacuation of Germans in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary pending examination by the concerned governments, or that the evacuation should take place in "an orderly and humane manner".

Potsdam, she continues, had granted explicitly the Baltic States and part of East Prussia to Russia, but left the remaining area east of the Oder and Neisse Rivers, including Danzig, under the administration of Poland, not to be considered part of Russia, with the final determination of Poland's western frontier to await the peace settlement. The agreement did not specify evacuation of Germans from the western Polish territory. Nevertheless, the Poles, since September, had been driving the Germans westward out of this territory, impacting an additional 8.5 million people, effectively annexing the area.

Mr. Byrnes had stated that the geographical limits of Germany should be based on the Potsdam agreement, but, indicates Ms. Thompson, the agreement had not so specified. The Poles had effectively annexed the territory over which they had been given authority only to occupy and administer. So, she concludes, Mr. Byrnes was dissembling, that no agreement had been made, that he was merely acting as if it had been to avoid conflict with the Polish Government and, thus, the Russians.

She adds that the transfer of Germans had not been conducted humanely, but rather, according to credible British sources, Bertrand Russell and Sir Arthur Salter, with as much bad treatment to Germans and Austrians as the Nazis had inflicted on the Poles and Czechs. The result was that France could not hope to annex the Rhine and Ruhr as it would too severely impact the territory of Germany, with the eastern section gone to the Poles. Mr. Byrnes had made this inevitable fact clear in his statement, saying that the western boundary of Germany would remain at the Rhine.

Mr. Byrnes laid the economic chaos of Europe to the war, but Mr. Salter, a League of Nations economist, effectively blamed instead the failure of the democracies to distribute properly the necessities of life to get the economy again going.

Ms. Thompson adds that the failures came from the Big Three meetings, at Tehran, at Yalta, and at Potsdam. There was some minority opinion forming in America, in labor circles and among those wishing revenge against Germany, vehemently opposed to the policy enunciated by Mr. Byrnes. The armed forces were also displeased with the politicians' handling of the victory in Europe.

Marquis Childs also examines the Byrnes trip to Moscow, but with a different take, coming in the wake of demands that Mr. Byrnes resign and rumors that he wanted to resign as Secretary, just five months into the job. Responding to General Hurley's criticisms of the State Department had consumed a good deal of his energy in a sideshow. So had the President's remark that there would be no further Big Three meetings of the heads of state.

Mr. Childs comments that the American press and people spent so much time beating up their public officials that it was no surprise that it was hard to find good people to serve in the positions. President Truman had asked ten men to serve as head of the recently failed Labor-Management Conference, before finally obtaining acceptance from Walter Stacy, his eleventh choice. The same difficulty of acceptance had been encountered in attracting personnel to the fact-finding committee on General Motors, also headed by Justice Stacy, and in obtaining the members for the Anglo-American Committee on Palestine.

One reason for reluctance to serve was low government pay versus that promised by the lucrative private sector following the war. President Truman had sought in his labor arbitration bill recently submitted to Congress to obtain $100 per day for men appointed to fact-finding committees. John L. Lewis who received a high salary as head of UMW had found this proposed pay too high.

Also causing problems was the perception of President Truman as not being the same crusader toward an idealistic end as had been FDR.

Mr. Childs suggests more patience toward the President and Cabinet officers. Mr. Byrnes was attempting to reorganize the State Department and his trip to Moscow ought receive support at home. He had a chance to make up for his blunders at London in September which had resulted from inadequate preparation. Mr. Childs adds that Mr. Byrnes had shown throughout his career the ability to profit from mistakes and wishes him good luck in his endeavors in Moscow.

Let's talk a minute.

Useless talk on Capitol Hill regarding "tighter gun laws" and renewal of the assault weapons ban, is so much vacuous verbiage. We have heard it since the 1960's, to no avail. None. If anything, gun violence involving mass shootings has become worse under so-called gun control. The assault weapons ban was in effect in 1999 when, on Hitler's 110th birthday, two youngsters, ages 18 and 17, went on a rampage in Littleton, Colorado, and shot up their school with two assault weapons. The incident in Connecticut Friday would not in the least have been prevented by an assault weapons ban or tighter gun laws. The individual obtained the guns from his mother who had them legally, and used two 9 mm Glock pistols in the shootings of the school children and their teachers. It was the same weapon, obtained legally, which Mr. Cho used at Virginia Tech in 2007 during his suicidal rampage, the effort to have an excuse to commit suicide while in the meantime taking down, or at least impacting affectively, some of the perceived causative agents of the ill feeling toward one's self, being a common denominator in most of these mass shootings.

But recognizing that and using the knowledge in an attempt to profile individuals as likely suspects to become the "next shooter", only breeds problems in the society, akin to a form of McCarthyism, as negative profiling of any sort is antithetical to a properly functioning, healthy society, or, in microcosm, a properly functioning, healthy business, school, home and household. One cannot achieve relief from transitory feelings of alienation, common to adolescence and extended adolescence, if one remains constantly under surveillance, constantly the object of suspicion, because of some minor aberrant behavior or dress, which nevertheless does not really harm anyone, leading on then to being deliberately singled out by others for venting of their own frustrations, secure in the knowledge that the alien will not be able to complain with credulity, only exacerbating the feelings of alienation.

We defy you to define any common characteristic among this infamous group of people, not scum, not animals, not monsters, but people who went awry and took a gun and opened fire indiscriminately on masses of people, bearing in mind that this list is not complete, leaving out such episodes as the Pearl, Mississippi school shootings of 1997, killing three, including one shooter's mother, and injuring seven, and the Chapel Hill mass shooting by a law student in 1995, killing two and injuring two, fortuities intervening in those shootings to prevent further death. There were others also. The only common denominator which is at all discernible among them was the easy access to a gun of some description, at a time when each was under some form of delusion and extreme stress, if not complete mental illness.

Each of us has the capacity to kill, left from our instincts from hunter-gatherer days in our distant, or, sometimes, not so distant, genetic past. Denying that, or failing to realize it or have it taught along with its antecedent causes anthropologically and sociologically, is the first step toward realizing it by surprise in the worst sort of way. To ascribe all of these mass shootings to being "nuts" or being "monsters" is a mistake of the worst sort committed regularly by the nuts and monsters of the mass media and their teams of crack and cracked instant analysts.

By linking to the Mother Jones report, incidentally, which goes too far, to the point of sensationalism, in its inclusion of bizarre photographs of the shooters, we do not mean to add to the already omnipresent media circus surrounding these individuals or their victims. But it must be examined in whole if it is ever going to be addressed properly for once by our society, rather than with a shrug of the shoulders and resignation to more gun control laws, which seem only in the most determined to spawn efforts at circumvention, by the weapons merchants and middle-men and the purchasers.

The heart of the problem, in terms of violent outcomes impacting masses of people, that which the networks appear loath to discuss for fear of losing sponsors, is the nonsensical clinging to a bygone era when hunting was necessary to show how much a he-man a boy was.

Try keeping your minds focused on the real issue for a change: the Second Amendment has to go by the boards, in light of the 2008 and 2010 Supreme Court decisions which held 5 to 4 in each case that it is not, as it is plainly worded, limited to militias. At that point, with the Second Amendment gone, Congress and the states would have a free hand to legislate as they will, and it will permit in the meantime a national dialogue and referendum, divorced from corrupt gun lobbies and the pressures exerted by the National Rifle Association, regarding whether the Second Amendment still has any conceivable practical relevance to American daily life. It will permit, just as the country had a debate on health care, a prolonged consideration of how other countries, with virtually no gun deaths, have managed that good record.

We do not remember seeing anything in the Constitution about Congress having powers to legislate after first consulting with the National Rifle Association to obtain their permission, or to have to obtain the imprimatur of any other loud-mouthed lobbying group representing only a small minority of obnoxious, arrogant, loud-mouthed people in this country. It is the people, as a whole, who ought be heard in each and every state of the union over a period of time on this issue, by vote at the ballot box on whether the Second Amendment should go or stay. And the only way to do that is for the Congress to have some guts for a change and for politicians elected as our public servants, not as our public lobbying-group sponsors, to stop kowtowing to gun-wielding nuts, and to stand up and say that it is time to repeal the Second Amendment. It is a goddamned disgrace in 2012 still to have such an arcane and misinterpreted, illogical piece of nonsense in the Bill of Rights, something which was never intended by the framers to be interpreted as it has been, to provide an individual the right to bear arms for his or her own personal use. (Cf. Federalist Paper No. 46)

It is a goddamned disgrace that on national television in 2012, one cannot say "goddamn", while one can talk blithely and freely about the freedom to carry a goddamned gun.

But that is the state of America, has been for decades, and therein, for decades, lies a major problem of daily life in the country: placing the sacred Second Amendment ahead of and even chilling the First Amendment. It is the hallmark of a Fascist culture, tending toward Fascism, while giving lip service only to representative democracy. And it is a disgrace, a profound and hypocritical disgrace, going back to the founding of the country, when Loyalists to the King managed, after the Revolution, to slip out of their Red coats and back into the apparent garb of simple Patriots, while still maintaining their coign of vantage to see that the King's business was transacted.

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