Friday, January 11, 1946

The Charlotte News

Friday, January 11, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that long distance service had been seriously interrupted nationwide as operators walked off the job in sympathy with the New York Western Electric strike of 17,000 workers. Long distance traffic in New York had been reduced to five percent of the normal rate. In Northern California and Nevada, 11,000 operators walked off the job.

The Labor Department indicated that Government seizure of the telephone industry loomed as a possibility should picket lines result in cessation of telephone service.

The strike prevented efforts of The News to reach executives of the National Carbon Company in New York for comment on the company's purchase from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation for $387,537 of the battery factory in Charlotte which National Carbon had operated for the Army Signal Corps during the war.

In Washington, the President's fact-finding committee proposed a 17.5 percent wage increase, not the 18 percent reported the day before by The Detroit News. UAW and G.M. officials were said to be considering the proposal. The wage increase would bring the average hourly wage to $1.32, 19 cents higher than the current average. The UAW had wanted 33.6 cents more and the company had offered 12.5 cents, rejected flatly by UAW. The board also upheld the right of the union to cancel the contract on December 10, two weeks after the strike had begun. The President endorsed the fact-finding report.

The joint Congressional committee investigating Pearl Harbor received the prior testimony of Admiral Husband Kimmel given before the January, 1942 Roberts Commission and the July, 1944 Army and Navy Boards, saying that he had provided to Admiral William Halsey "war orders" as he led a task force to sea days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Admiral Halsey was directed to sink every Japanese ship he encountered.

Admiral Kimmel had anticipated a submarine attack in Hawaii in the event of an attack on the Philippines and elsewhere, but he never anticipated a concerted air attack. He stated that if the Army had informed him on the morning of the attack that radar had picked up a sighting of planes 132 miles north of Oahu, he would have taken action immediately, ordering general quarters aboard all ships, putting all planes in the air, and ordering forth the destroyers. He also stated, however, that he believed no complete defense of Pearl Harbor was possible at the time against such an air attack as occurred.

Admiral Kimmel would testify in person before the committee the coming Tuesday.

At Nuremberg, not reported on the page, Dr. Franz Blaha testified as the first former concentration camp prisoner presented in the war crimes trial. Dr. Blaha had been imprisoned at Dachau for four years, until liberation in April, 1945.

In Chicago, the funeral for the six-year old girl who had been kidnaped and murdered on Sunday night was held, as six students of the Sacred Heart School where she attended first grade acted as pallbearers. A few weeks earlier, the little girl had portrayed an angel in a Christmas play at the school. She received the "Mass of the Angels", funeral rites performed in the Catholic Church for parishioners under the age of seven, the age at which, according to the Church, a person reaches the age of reason, the ability to determine right from wrong. The Mass is one without sorrow.

Police indicated that leads to the perpetrator had dried up after more than a dozen men had been picked up for questioning, three having been detained and released after police became convinced they were not principal suspects—but only after the names of two, the janitors of buildings nearby the scene of the crime, had been prominently displayed nationwide, likely ruining their lives for some time to come.

But, who cares? They were janitors, one of whom barely able to speak English. The killer had to be found and if a few insignificant lives had to be ruined in the process, what matter that?

Hal Boyle reports from Manila that Filipinos were fond of reading American books and magazines, to discover of American life. They preferred them to conversation with the soldiers because the books and magazines did not get drunk and promise to take Filipino girls with them back to the United States.

There was also active traffic in the United States Information Service library in Manila, where technical information on American laws and business practices could be obtained. The Service had been set up as the successor to the Office of War Information. The first five weeks of its existence had seen 10,000 visitors, most of whom were male. The library had aided in the prosecution of General Yamashita as it had the only copy of a book in Manila regarding war crimes trials.

On the editorial page, "A Taxi Monopoly?" comments on the City Council's foray into consideration of limiting the licensing of cab drivers to allow a monopoly of the existing businesses. It suggests that the Council should steer clear of this issue and content itself with regulation of the taxi drivers and companies through licensing to insure safe and law-abiding drivers, but not prevent the licensing of anyone who was qualified. The main emphasis should be on elimination of crime among the drivers, known for having been involved, in many instances, in pandering and bootlegging. The available taxis were not enough to serve the community. Any excess subsequently would be eliminated by competition.

"Impossible Compromise" comments that the President's theory of culpability in the attack on Pearl Harbor, that it lay with a divided public, not with the political and military leaders at the time, was presumably the same for his difficulties with Congress and the disgruntled soldiers who had protested in Manila and Frankfurt.

It suggests that bad public morale was in fact to blame for these latter episodes, but questions who was responsible for the poor morale. The public could not figure out whether the Government wanted to prepare the country for peace or for another war. Was it to be the era of the Big Stick with the atom bomb or of the U.N.O.?

The piece sees no compromise between the two positions. It was not necessary to maintain large forces in the Pacific and Europe if there was to be faith placed in the peacekeeping capabilities of the U.N.

But the problem remained that the issues had not been explained by the Government. Thus the country could not determine any need for sacrifice and saw no basis for maintaining men abroad. The blame for the omission, the piece finds, lay primarily with the President who appeared not to have made up his own mind on direction.

It concludes that a few more months of indecision would lead to "another futile effort to bury our heads in the sands of isolationism."

"The Prophet Returns" speaks of the "Prophet Ham", Dr. Mordecai Ham, the itinerant preacher who was back in Charlotte holding his revival. Back in 1934 when he visited the city, he had been doing well, despite lawsuits for slander and denunciations from respectable churchmen. He had left with his coffers full from the faithful.

His latest pronouncements included: "The present administration is composed mostly of apostate Jews."

He believed that all the kidnappers and gangsters were from the liquor-loving crowd who attended Sunday baseball games and Sunday movies. Most victims of the flu, he proclaimed, were not Christians.

His topic for the mornings was "The Atom—When the World Is On Fire", and in the afternoons, "General MacArthur's Prophecy".

It concludes that despite his bigotry and proclamations of damnation against all who opposed him, despite his lack of respect for truth and decency, he might still be able to work up a good show worth the price of admission.

Drew Pearson comments that it should have come as no surprise in Washington that G.I.'s had reached the boiling point, given the voice of resentment for several months regarding slow demobilization. The demonstration of 8,000 to 10,000 soldiers in Manila was simply a natural result of this gathering storm.

But the Army had done nothing to correct the problems, which threatened any well-functioning peacetime Army. Morale needed to be high to have an efficient force.

The issues had been present during the war but censorship had prevented discussion. Now, the men could address the irritating policies openly and thus were venting pent-up frustrations. They insisted on the democracy for which they fought the war be incorporated into the Army. The fact that the Army was comprised of intelligent men caused them to be more apt to gripe of conditions.

Based upon the letters received from servicemen, Mr. Pearson sets forth proposals for improving morale: 1) abolition of political appointments to West Point, instead basing them entirely on merit; 2) award of all officer commissions from the ranks, except in wartime when specialists would be needed; 3) have further promotion of officers based on competitive examinations, not seniority; 4) provide the same food to enlisted men and officers; and 5) eliminate the favoritism practiced by some officers, only serving to create resentment among the men.

He then cites a series of examples of the problems of which he had been informed, such as the early release of football and baseball players, and the provision by General MacArthur of a special airplane ride 8,000 miles home for the low-point son of a general.

The officers themselves had the authority to change these routines and needed no legislative authority. A strong Army, with or without conscription in peacetime, was at stake.

Dorothy Thompson addresses at the outset of the first meeting of the U.N., being held in London, the decline in prestige of the United States since the San Francisco Charter Conference ending the previous June.

She points out that the United States was the only nation threatened by a general strike of labor at home—neglecting to point out that it was the only nation in the world whose economy had thrived during the war. Labor, she continues, would strike, even if the effect was the equivalent of a blitz. Owners were just as bad. Consumers were greedy. The Government passed the buck to fact-finders.

Crime waves meanwhile swept the country. Night clubs were jammed and public drunkenness was at its highest since the era of Prohibition in the Twenties.

The Russians were proving the better organizers with better discipline. The British inspired respect, and the French had settled down to "the tough, historic watch." But the formerly respected fighting men of the U.S. only wished to go home.

"Extravagant and self-indulgent, they awaken envy and resentment, not that they are tough, but they are soft, as no one ever saw them soft in war."

The only country with the atomic bomb acted afraid of it, as if it might detonate by itself.

The Administration showed weakness, as the Republicans and Southern Democrats rejoiced at the display.

The diplomats retreated from firm stands while assuring the country that it was making progress in international relations.

Argument had been replaced with questions as to who uttered a particular position and who agreed with it, whether affiliated with a trustworthy group or one of the many groups against whom bigotry had resurfaced or who were politically suspect as leaning toward a particular foreign ideology. Various groups denounced everyone while proclaiming democracy for all.

"Must bombs drop on this nation to recall it to its community of destiny?

"And does anyone believe that unless we mend our ways they will not?"

A letter from Harry Golden's Carolina Israelite, from a woman who had survived Nazism and just been admitted to citizenship in the United States, provides her impressions of American life, that children were not afraid of their parents, students of their teachers, or men of their bosses, nor women of anyone.

"Nobody closes doors here, or erects fences and walls that might serve as a hostile or discriminating gesture. Even your houses look inviting."

She found everything to be public, unlike Europe. The most famous men were required to share their private lives with the American people.

The gap between dream and reality was narrowed in the United States. If someone made a mistake, their life was not ruined. In Europe, every mistake haunted the individual. If a European was forced to change jobs, he was considered a failure.

American women were more alert and progressive than European women. American men were more domesticated than their European counterparts, willing to leave management of their private lives to their wives.

Samuel Grafton finds the Republicans promoting themselves to the country as the party of unity, that the Democrats were hopelessly split, as proved by the President's attack on Congress for not having acted on his proposed programs for full employment and reconversion. But the Republicans were unified, he points out, only because they had left out a large portion of the country from its membership.

Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon had voiced dissent from the leadership of his party, the "Ohio gang" as he called it, led by Senator Robert Taft, considering it too reactionary to be inclusive of millions of Americans. The party was in need of a split before it could grow.

It appeared as the opening salvo of a fight to derail the nomination in 1948 of Ohio Governor John W. Bricker, Thomas Dewey's running mate in 1944. But it could not be deemed representative of a true split, as many reporters had sought to characterize it, for the liberal wing of the party, led by Senator Morse, Senator Joseph Ball of Minnesota, Newbold Morris of New York, and former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen, lacked numbers behind it.

Meanwhile, Senator Taft attacked the President's concept of full employment as a "Soviet idea", alienating workers from the ranks of Republicans. Likewise, he described the health insurance plan of the President as a "left-wing Communist proposal".

Voters who subscribed to these proposals of the President would not be enticed to join the Republicans only through the contra voice of Senator Morse.

Marquis Childs presents his fifth column in a row on nuclear technology and its control, stressing the May-Johnson bill introduced shortly before V-J Day for the control of the atomic bomb. The bill had been drafted by the War Department and introduced in secrecy because it was believed at the time that the war would still be ongoing during its consideration.

The bill would likely have passed but for protest from the atomic scientists who wanted nuclear technology internationalized rather than under the control of the United States, and specifically the military. The opponents of the bill believed that it would have perpetuated the control of General Leslie Groves over the bomb. It allowed military men to fill civilian posts on the atomic energy commission without loss of rank, the contrary having been the case since the Civil War. The proposed commission would have been directed by the administrator, with the members being only occasional advisers.

Dr. Harold Urey, Nobel Prize winner from the University of Chicago, and Dr. Leo Szilard had been the two most effective opponents of the bill.

Just before the recess of Congress for the holidays, Connecticut Senator Brien McMahon had introduced a bill for a different form of control, providing for five full-time members with complete authority over all military and peacetime uses of atomic energy, except when the President believed that military necessity required certain numbers of atomic weapons be provided to the armed forces.

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