The Charlotte News

Friday, January 4, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that a previously secret statement of the late Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox disclosed to the joint Congressional committee investigating the attack that on the morning of December 7, 1941, a 10-plane Navy patrol was flown in a southerly direction off Oahu, opposite the direction from which the Japanese task force launched its Zeros for the attack. He also stated that a second attack had been anticipated that morning because of the absence of any bombing on the oil storage tanks. Calls were made for additional air support and anti-aircraft guns for such an assault, which never came. The first of the three waves of planes had inflicted most of the damage, after which the men were able to gather themselves and limit the damage.

He also imparted that Admiral Kimmel and General Short had been caught completely by surprise in the attack. He attributed the lack of fighter aircraft in Hawaii in 1941 to Lend-Lease aid to the British, Chinese, and Russians.

The report also stated that, while radar was normally turned off at 7:00 a.m., a trainee maintained his scope and detected a flight of what appeared to be a concentration of planes 130 miles northward. Secretary Knox speculated that had the information been properly channeled, it could have averted the worst of the disaster. He also reported strongly active Japanese fifth column activity in Hawaii prior to the attack.

Admiral Harold Stark told the committee that he had never seen this report of Mr. Knox.

Vice Admiral H. K. Hewitt testified to the committee that both Admiral Kimmel and General Short determined not to have a unified command and argued regarding which branch should control Wake Island and Midway. General Short felt that if the Army were going to place 25 planes on each of the islands, then he must command them; Admiral Kimmel insisted that since they were Navy bases, the Navy must command them.

After a study of the attack, Vice Admiral Hewitt concluded that had there been a joint command, it would have promoted efficiency. He reported that Admiral Stark had established a joint command center in Hawaii in October, 1941, but Admiral Kimmel and General Short had refused to use it.

In Nuremberg, Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg, former German War Minister until 1938, submitted an affidavit to the war crimes tribunal stating that the entire General Staff believed a war to take the Polish Corridor at Danzig was a "sacred duty". Rearmament toward effecting this end had begun as early as 1923.

The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration announced that Lt. General Sir Frederick E. Morgan, the British chief of UNRRA operations in Germany, had been forced to resign from his post after he held a news conference on Wednesday, in which he had stated that he believed that a Jewish organization was stimulating the large-scale exodus of Jews from Poland. General Morgan stated to journalists in Hoechst, Germany that he had not resigned, but General Sir Humphrey Gale confirmed that he had requested the resignation based on the news conference.

In Batavia, Java, it was reported that American-trained Dutch Marines who had arrived during the week wore U.S. Marine uniforms and had equipment marked "U.S." The Indonesian newspaper which reported the matter urged that the Dutch Marines use the Dutch tri-color to avoid the conception among Indonesians that America was no longer neutral in the conflict between the Indonesians seeking independence from the Dutch Government. Apparently, the Indonesian newspaper was making a joke.

The President, in his address the previous evening, had accused Congress of being "distressingly slow" in acting on his reconversion proposals and asked the American people to put pressure on Congress to act. He stressed that price controls and rent restrictions would need to be extended beyond the current deadline for expiration on June 30.

Senator Edwin Johnson of Colorado urged the President to take action to end the strikes under his still existing war powers. "The pot and kettle are both blacker than hell," said the Senator. Congress as a whole remained out of session until January 14.

The President stated forcefully on housing that if private industry would not provide five million new homes, the Government would. He assured the new housing expediter of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, Wilson Wyatt of Louisville, the complete backing of the Government. Both food and clothing production would, the President predicted, be at peak levels, but housing was in dire shortage. The largest pre-war output of housing was only one million units per year. It had been estimated by private building organizations that no more than half a million units could be produced in 1946, 750,000 in 1947, and a million in 1948.

As the idle workers across the nation grew to more than 400,000, other strikes loomed which could send the number to 1.5 million. Added to the list of threatened strikes was that of the rubber workers at Goodyear in Akron, Ohio, a strike in Utah of Mine Mill and Smelter Workers, and in Chicago, workers for International Harvester.

The meatpackers threatening strike in Chicago, to begin January 16, asked the President to call a conference to prevent the entire industry from going on strike.

A scuffle erupted at the Kearney, N.J., Western Electric plant in the second day of the strike of telephone workers as supervisors sought to cross a union picket line, resulting in three persons, including a woman, suffering injuries.

A strike of telephone operators in Washington took place between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. at the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company. The strike was called in protest of a decision by the company to have supervisors assist operators in handling calls to increase efficiency, and was not a sympathy strike with Western Electric. The union had viewed the move as an effort to break the union.

The White House reported that it had not sought to reach an operator during the hour-long strike.

Hal Boyle, in Manila, reports of Harvey Dunn, popular member of the U.S.O. show, "Three Men on a Horse", who had a missing right forefinger. He was asked so often about it that he began making up scenarios, such as that a woodpecker nipped it off or that it had been run over by a steamer. Finally, he printed up a card which told the true story in detail, that he had lost it while operating a printing press in South Dakota in 1908. Now, when anyone asked, he simply handed them the explanatory card.

Another actor in the show, Lewis Charles, collected knives, including an 18-inch bolo blade obtained on Leyte from a native in exchange for 14 bars of soap. Its mahogany sheath bore a carved slogan, "God bless you, Mother."

"Passing the buck", the old Navy slogan, he next explains, derived from a small stainless steel or brass serving buck passed daily from officer to officer in the mess to denote who would be first served by the stewards, as the first served would always obtain the most choice cuts of meat. No one knew when the custom began but it served to quell tempers onboard ship which could easily erupt over such petty grievances.

Whether, incidentally, this notion, plus the problems with a recalcitrant Navy, disfavoring the President's plan for a unified military structure under the Department of Defense, had anything to do with his adoption of the phrase, "The Buck Stops Here", ultimately displaying it prominently on his desk in the White House, we don't know.

Finally, Mr. Boyle imparts of a Red Cross worker who abandoned her notion of obtaining wooden clogs, a choice Philippine souvenir, when she had entered a shop which made them and asked how long a pair would take to produce. The shoemaker took a look at her feet and stated, "Oh, Mum, we'd have to send away for the lumber."

On the editorial page, "Objective Zero" points out that in the 45 years during which records on lynchings had been maintained, the South had not managed to get through an entire year without at least one lynching, 1945 being no exception, though only one, that of Jesse James Payne in Florida in October, had been recorded. During the war, when racial tensions were said to be at their height, five lynchings were reported in 1942, three in 1943, and two in 1944.

The lynching of Mr. Payne had grown out of a charge of rape of a five-year old white girl, not one of the petty offenses which often led to lynchings, such as attempting to vote, assault of a white man, and failing to address a white man as "Mister", as were the claimed justifications in 1940.

It points out that there was no justification in fact but at least the petty justifications seem to have been eliminated, indicating some measurable progress in the attitude displayed even by the lynch mentality.

In the first year in which records were maintained, 1900, 106 black men had been lynched, most for offenses which were not cognizable under the law.

It expresses the hope that the Payne lynching would be the last.

Of course, unfortunately, it would not be so, with a new rash of lynchings and racial violence taking hold in 1955 and onward in response to Brown v. Board and its court-ordered desegregation of public schools, the campaign to desegregate public transportation, public facilities generally, especially hotels, motels, and restrooms, and to register to vote, all spawning new outbreaks of racial violence, especially virulent in the Deep South, for a decade and more after Brown.

"The Complete Failure" examines the execution of William Joyce, "Lord Haw-Haw", the day before, finds him a "bush-league traitor". The British had sent the nephew of their primary hangman to perform the execution, indicative of his minor role.

Four times daily he broadcast his program to England during the war, regarding news of the day. His voice had become familiar to all Britons. Still, he had received no more than $60 per week from Herr Doktor Goebbels for his efforts. For Mr. Joyce never had the ability to sell his product very well.

The fact that he would risk his neck for such a paltry salary demonstrated his commitment to the cause of Nazism and his true belief in its worth. Such was in dramatic contrast to his masters, as demonstrated by the record at Nuremberg, who were cynical about the ideals of Nazism.

His only real tribute, concludes the piece, was the death sentence handed down by the British court.

In dispassionate hindsight, we must urge, however, that Mr. Joyce should not have been prosecuted for mere exercise of free speech, especially given that he was not truly a citizen of Great Britain but an American. His execution was undoubtedly a human rights violation. We do not pick and choose to whom we wish to accord the right of free speech. If some idiot wishes to espouse Nazism on the radio—as many of our "conservative" radio commentators today in America essentially do, camouflaging Nazi and Fascist dogma behind patriotic fervor and the flag—all the better. It brings the matter into the open and exposes the dogma to public debate.

Without debate of all points of view, there can be no informed consensus on any point of view. Anything less winds up as fascism, and the advocates of totalitarianism win the debate therefore by default, able, with credulity, to contend that their voices have been silenced by official proclamation. That is even more the case should their voices happen to convince large numbers of people. Then it must be deemed the fault of a weak State and weak opposition which cannot prevent the argument from succeeding in the minds of many without censorship, always the first resort of despots and privileged power-keepers bent on aspiration to royalty.

Or, is that not completely plain to our fascist friends who worship at the shrine of talk radio as the molders of their opinions because they cannot have any opinions of their own?

And if you do not believe that most of talk radio is shot through with such fascist opinions when political opinions are voiced, give a listen sometime. It only takes a few minutes of random sampling before the Nazi boots are plainly visible, kicking right through the radio set into your face.

If we do not contest them, they will ultimately prevail. Certainly, the attitude they convey is held by many Americans who wish to shut down the Government and erect in its stead a Party of special privilege to dispense favors based on obeisance to the will of that Party. Pray tell, how does that differ from Nazism in its essential fundamentals?

"Four Beautiful Heroes" pays tribute to James Stewart, Robert Montgomery, Tyrone Power, and David Niven, who had just returned from dangerous stints in the military, served overseas. They had returned with little fanfare and gone back to work, unsung for their efforts during the war. They had served with distinction, along with many others from Hollywood, such as Clark Gable, without flinching in their duty or seeking any special privileges or to avoid service. They deserved credit for it, especially against "the garish background of Hollywood".

"It seems fitting to pay tribute to them now, at this last moment before Louella Parsons claims them and they are lost again in the purple mists."

A piece from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "A Farfetched Objection", comments on the Marquis Childs column of the previous day anent the objection of Republican members of the London U.N.O. delegation to the selection of Hyde Park as the permanent home for the U.N. for its potential to accentuate the growing trend toward isolationism, Hyde Park being the home of the late President Roosevelt.

The piece finds the Republican argument absurd, that there could be no such likelihood, unless the Republicans generally were going to turn against the U.N.O. and revert to isolationism based on the fact that the concept for the U.N. had been promulgated and championed by President Roosevelt. If true, it would not serve as credit to such adherents.

It recognizes a difference should Mr. Roosevelt have been still living, that objection then might be had on political grounds. But with him dead, it stood as petty politics to object. Wherever the U.N. was located, it would stand as a monument to President Roosevelt.

Drew Pearson discusses the potential for another meat shortage, to be occasioned not by the looming meatpackers' strike, set to begin January 16, but rather by red tape between the Office of Economic Stabilization and the small meatpackers. Director John C. Collett, nicknamed "Snuffy Smith" after the Barney Google character, had promised the small meatpackers a price increase to permit granting of a two-dollar per day wage increase to workers. But after the companies implemented the wage increase, Mr. Collett ignored the agreement and had not granted the price increase. Some small meatpackers would soon have to close down if the price increase were not forthcoming.

He next tells of General Walter Bedell Smith being convinced, as imparted to Senator Claude Pepper of Florida while in London, that a plan put forth in 1942 for the invasion of France would have worked at that time, enabling the Allies to have ended the war two years sooner. The plan was not implemented because of continuing objections by Prime Minister Churchill who wanted an invasion through the Balkans, the compromise having been the backdoor North Africa-Sicily-Italy campaigns of 1942-43, to weaken the soft underbelly of the Reich first, his reasoning based on depletion of British strength following the retreat at Dunkerque in May-June, 1940.

Mr. Pearson next explains that Senator Owen Brewster of Maine, Republican of the Pearl Harbor committee, candidly admitted that he considered it his duty to ferret out whether there was evidence that President Roosevelt had made a secret agreement with the British prior to Pearl Harbor such that both nations should go to war against Japan, and then sought to bring the agreement to fruition. He admitted that he could not at present back up any such contention, but believed he must seek to uncover any evidence of it.

Finally, the column reports that Congressman Sol Bloom of New York had briefly posed as a member of the Rules Committee of the House while merely visiting its meeting, calling for a vote on an amendment to approve the UNRRA appropriation. But just before the vote was to occur, after chairman Adolph Sabath agreed to call the vote, a member of the committee noticed that it was Mr. Bloom who had asked for the vote and pointed out that he was not a member of the committee. Eventually, the amendment was passed, albeit with considerably more discussion.

Marquis Childs discusses the G.M. strike having shut down production throughout the auto industry such that instead of the predicted half million units, only 75,000 vehicles had been produced since the end of the war. He poses a question to industry, whether it still believed at all in collective bargaining carried on by the union of labor's choice, a right established firmly by the National Labor Relations Act in 1933 and the ensuing Supreme Court cases upholding its validity.

The UAW was suspicious that G.M. no longer accepted the right as they had brought in Walter Gordon Merritt, a New York lawyer, as company spokesman. Mr. Merritt had, since the Danbury Hatters case, Loewe v. Lawlor, 208 U.S. 274 (1908), consistently opposed the right of unions to strike and had sought to bust the unions. Thus, the UAW had begun to perceive G.M.'s refusal to allow inspection of its books to determine ability to pay the demanded 30 percent wage increase as an effort to bust the strength of the union, as G.M. could afford to hold out via the excess profits tax credit, previously explained in detail in a column by Mr. Childs. It could obtain as much profit in 1946 as in 1945 without any production whatsoever.

But likewise, Mr. Childs addresses the question to the UAW, whether the leaders still believed in the free enterprise system, since they were stubbornly persisting in their demand for a 30 percent increase to match wartime wages based on a 48-hour week, inclusive of overtime pay. G.M. was rumored to be willing to offer an 18 percent increase, but UAW refused to accept anything less than 30 percent until G.M. proved that it could not pay the demand from profits without a price increase.

The public, he concludes, had a right to answers to these questions, as it was the public, driving old jalopies of an average age of ten years and no newer than the limited production of the 1942 models, who were impacted, not just the parties to the disagreement.

Bertram Benedict discusses court rulings on picketing, that generally peaceful picketing was acceptable while violence was illegal. Some states had sought to pass anti-picketing statutes, but in 1940, the Supreme Court in Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88, (Byron, not Roger), decided 8 to 1 that an Alabama statute was invalid, that promotion of a strike in a peaceful manner, whether by pamphlet, word of mouth, or banner, was part of free speech recognized under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, binding on the states.

He does not mention, however, U.S. v. Local 807, 315 US 521, decided in 1942, which held 6 to 1 to invalidate Teamster convictions for racketeering on the premise, under Federal law, of conspiring to commit acts of violence and intimidation against independent truckers refusing to pay regular union rates to transact business in New York City, on the basis that state laws were adequate to cover such acts, including extortion and other forms of violence or threats of violence.

C. W. Gilchrist, named Charlotte Man of the Year by The News, thanks the newspaper for the award and describes those who helped the effort on the Charlotte Planning Board during the year.

Dorothy Thompson seeks to explain American shifts in policy since V-J Day, first, at London, Secretary of State Byrnes offering only a stubborn stand to the Soviets, refusing to compromise on recognition of the governments in the Balkans backed by the Soviets, contrary to the policy agreed at Yalta and Potsdam, which had recognized, tacitly or expressly, "zones of influence" in Europe.

But in the Moscow conference, Mr. Byrnes had shifted policy, returning to the commitment to zones of influence.

She asks what, under such a policy, was the zone of influence of the atomic bomb, indicating that no one yet had set forth a practical solution for its control. She also asks what would become of the rights of small nations and human rights, recognized by the preamble of the U.N. Charter as sacrosanct.

The spheres of influence consigned millions of individuals in the smaller nations to social systems not of their choosing, whether under the Western sphere or the Soviet sphere. She cites Poland and Yugoslavia, the latter abolishing Serbia, placing its twenty million inhabitants under a police state.

She posits that Americans and Britons did not necessarily accept that the Big Three foreign ministers should be able to divide up spheres and stick people as cattle into them, to be governed at the will of the country overseeing the sphere. Such agreements were thus not binding on free peoples. People at home, she further posits, vicariously felt for the people abroad cast into such roles and ultimately would rebel against the policy on the ground that it could happen to them as well.

"The chief reality to be considered by the statesmen of the West is the reality of the reactions of their own peoples, who still cherish the belief, however illusory, that they are the ultimate judges and molders of policies."

Such was the news on the Eleventh Day of Christmas for 1945-46.

There is no January 5 edition available and so, we regret to inform, you will have to celebrate Twelfth Night and the Epiphany without the benefit of the 1946 News. We thus have, for once, a whole weekend to luxuriate and cogitate.

It is well to remind that we celebrate the Sesquicentennial of the issuance by President Lincoln of the Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863, and that we are, none of us, Slaves to any Master, including Time.

Incidentally, for you who haven't a Clue...

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