The Charlotte News

Tuesday, October 3, 1939


Site Ed. Note: It is almost certain Cash did not write "Act Now!", though the writing style matches his at some points. The conclusion of the article, however, appears contra Cash's view of general support for aid to Britain and France, indeed often leading to his branding Borah, Hiram Johnson, Wheeler, and the other isolationist senators as Nazi sympathizers, as in just the previous day's piece, "A Borrower". We include "Act Now!", however, to show the contrary and then widespread viewpoint even as close to Cash's Underwood as his editor, J.E. Dowd.

New Americans

They Probably Appreciate What We Take For Granted

Trials in Federal District Court were stopped long enough yesterday to permit Judge Yates Webb to hold a naturalization session. Six applicants for American citizenship were issued their final papers and given the solemn oath to swear.

They had come originally--it takes several years at least to go through the naturalization process--from countries which at present are either at war or on the edge of war. From the British Isles were a Scotsman and an Irishman. Another was from Germany. A man and his wife represented two precarious neutrals--Hungary and Yugoslavia--and the sixth man was from Greece, at this juncture a good place to be from, since it has Britain's guarantee of protection, Italy's unwanted guardianship and Turkey's growing interest.

We don't know if it occurred to the court, which probably is an old hand at naturalization, and we feel sure that Bob Reynolds wouldn't have liked it, but to us it seems rather encouraging that there is left at least one spot on the globe where aliens of intelligence and character are received into fellowship, where the complex hates of Europe are blended into a single warm feeling for America, where men and women may raise their children in reasonable expectation of happiness instead of misery and oblivion. And though it is characteristic of us to take our security as a matter of course, and to grouse at anything short of Utopia, we imagine that these six new citizens have a far more poignant appreciation of all that the United States offers.

Act Now!*

The President's Duty Is To Prevent An Incident

In the next two or three weeks, according to a swap made months ago, U.S. cotton will begin to be shipped to England in return for the rubber which England is going to send us. And in view of the continued sinking of neutral Scandinavian ships by U-boats, despite the fact that they carried only wood pulp, the means by which that cotton reaches England begins to be of far greater importance than the deal itself.

For if U-boat commanders define wood pulp as contraband--because it converts into cellulose and that derivative into explosives--they are double certain to call cotton contraband. The very name suggests as much to anybody who has ever heard of gun-cotton, as all little U-boat commanders have.

Under the existing Neutrality Act, U.S. ships may sell cotton to belligerents until the President outlaws it and proclaims otherwise. There is no sign as yet that the President has any such intention, and so, unless something intervenes, the shipping of this cotton in American vessels through submarine-pestered seas to the British Isles could easily be the incident that sets in motion a series of dreadful events that might take this country into war squarely against its united well.

Under the proposed Neutrality Bill, this cotton could be shipped to England or any belligerent only in foreign ships. But the enactment of this bill is yet weeks off, and there is some remaining uncertainty about its enactment.

Meantime, the President's duty is clear. He has the authority. He indubitably recognizes the grave danger. He knows the country's mind. He should prohibit any and all trade with belligerents in American vessels.

Pleasant Dreams

Let All Little Tar Heels Retire With Easy Minds

We see by neighborhood papers that the North Carolina coastline is dreadfully exposed to and woefully unprotected from potential invaders--which, in the absence of identification, we take to be Huns. Members of Congress have been petitioned at some length to perceive the seriousness of the situation and to do something about it before…

Before what, now? The North Carolina coast is notable more for the lack of harborage for vessels of any draft than for vulnerability to any fleets except mosquitoes. As every little schoolboy knows, that is the very thing that led to its settlement overland from Virginia, a sort of backwash from the blue waters and bluer blood so dear to the heart of that vaunted state.

Wilmington? Poo! By the time an enemy craft had run the gauntlet of Old Man Keziah to at Southport and had negotiated the twists and turns of the mighty-muddy Cape Fear, exposed all the time to the sniping of the embattled New Hanoverians, the war would be over. Or he would be stuck in the bank or on the bottom, calling for a tow.

Morehead City? It is more accessible from the open sea, to be sure. But after the enemy arrives in Morehead City, where is he? Why, farther from the firing line than he was to begin with. And let him be duly warned that if he takes over the assets of the State's port at Morehead City, he takes over its liabilities too.

Another thing of comfort. Enemy ships and enemy airplanes don't go about shooting their shells and dropping their bombs just to hear the noise. As a target for either, North Carolina is singularly untempting. A bomb would wreak havoc in a cotton patch, we grant you. But the boll evil is a far more immediate menace and an infinitely worthier foeman for editorial steel.

Cunning Bait

Hitler May Yet Secure The Surrender Of the Allies

The dispatches have been saying that Adolf Hitler already knows very well that England and France mean it and that he can't get the "broad-minded peace"--i.e. surrender--which he wants. But it is reasonable to doubt that it is really so. After all, this amazing man has so far got everything he wanted simply by dint of asking for it in a louder voice--save only the taking of Poland without a war. And hence it may well be that he still has high hopes of achieving this last end yet.

It is highly probable that he does know that the Governments of England and France have no present intention of yielding. But, as we have pointed out before, his tactics are addressed not to these governments but to the British and French peoples--as well as to the American people, whom he quite probably hopes to stampede into an uproarious demand that England and France be "sensible" and stop the war, under penalty of the total loss of American sympathy.

And he himself has laid down, in "Mein Kampf," two propositions: (1) that the masses everywhere are fools, and (2) that the more brazen a lie is, the more likely it is to be believed.

Certainly, for the sort of unstable mind which cannot hold fast to memory of his past record, for the ignorant mind knows little of that record, his bait is cunningly contrived. According to the stories coming out of Rome and Paris, he proposes (1) that an "independent" Polish state be set up under the same kind of "protectorate" he once established for Slovakia, to be guaranteed by both himself and Stalin; (2) that the colonial problem be gone into with a view to "just" distribution; and (3) that the whole world disarm.

As to his "protectorates," we know what happened to Slovakia. As to his guarantees, what happened to Czecho-slovakia altogether, what happened to his treaty with Poland. But the disarmament bait will fetch the suckers everywhere. Of course, he would dearly love to see the other nations disarm, for that way he could everywhere achieve what he wants with half the expense.

But that he himself has any actual thought of disarming is about as likely as that he has thought of taking the Trappist vow. If Germany really disarmed, how long do you think it would take Poland, Czechoslovakia, and quite probably, even Austria, to reclaim their independence? The Germany he has built is a Germany which can be held together only by overwhelming force, and nobody is better aware of that than the man himself.

Nevertheless, no one can be sure that he will not really get what he demands. Already in France some of the "spokesmen" are saying that the proposals would be very "alluring"--if only--if only one could be sure... And already in England even old Lloyd George is plainly playing with the idea, and recommending that the Government examine the terms "realistically and fearlessly." And as for this country, there is every prospect that the uproar which he wants will develop. For his game is admirably contrived to appeal to the "isolationists." And if the Coughlin-Bund-Communist Party coalition can engineer an avalanche of letters to Congressmen about the arms embargo, they surely can do twice as well with this demand for "peace."

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