The Charlotte News

Saturday, February 1, 1941

FIVE EDITORIALS

 

Site Ed. Note: "A Paradox" touches in general terms the problem presented by traitors like William Rhodes Davis in selling goods, primarily oil, to the Axis through arrangements with U.S. banks and Mexico and using the Trans-Siberian railway route for transport to circumvent British blockades in the North Sea and Mediterranean. See "Bad Defense", January 7, 1941.

For the editorial to which Cash refers in "Camel Army", see "Cameroons", October 11, 1940.

Adversity*

Hath Its Sweet Side, But Is Painfully Expensive

A taste, perhaps only a foretaste, of war-time conditions was contained in that want-ad inserted in The News yesterday by the Goods Construction Co., Air Base contractors. Wanted, it read, plumbers at $1.25 an hour; carpenters (at least 500 of them) at 871/2 an hour; electric linemen at $1.00 an hour.

With overtime at price and a half, and overtime is unavoidable on rush jobs such as these, weekly pay envelopes for thousands of skilled and semi-skilled workers at the Air Base will run from $60.00 on up. Furthermore, money still buys its money's worth, for most prices have not yet begun to act up and the cost of living is still well below the average of the years 1925-30.

In certain of its phases this defense boom is undoubtedly pleasant. Jobs--they cry for men to fill them. Trade--all this money will go immediately into circulation. Optimism--it induces investment and improvement.

But we think that it would be wise to keep the defense boom in perspective, however sweet some of its by-products, and to remember always (1) that it is prompted by a highly acute fear for our national safety, and (2) that it is being paid for out of borrowed funds.

In sum, it is simply a stronger dose of the same old medicine with which the Roosevelt Administration has hopped up the country ever since the Liberals came into office. And the bill at the drugstore is running up and up and up.

 

A Paradox

Closing One door To Axis, We Open Another Wide

The State Department, according to the Associated Press, is turning on the heat to have American exporters "clean house" of Axis sympathizers in their Latin-American branches and agencies.

It is a sensible step which ought to have been taken as soon as we had made up our mind to aid Britain at all. There is obviously no sense in aiding Britain with one hand and with the other aiding her (and our) enemies. But that is the way we have been doing it.

Axis agents have actually been using the money they derived from their United States connections to carry out propaganda against the United States and our Latin neighbors. And in many cases the agencies which have been handling American exports have been in fact mere fronts for the Axis powers--agencies not for selling American goods to Latin-America but for buying and transferring them to countries which cannot buy them here.

There is, however, one exceedingly paradoxical thing about this "clean-up." It comes close on the heels of the State Department's announcement that trade restrictions clapped on Russia, at the time of the Finnish invasion, have been removed. Yet it is notorious that it is mainly through Russia that Germany has been importing the American goods secured by the phoney agencies in Latin-America. It may be all right from the standpoint of results. The State Department is obviously playing hard to hold Stalin out of full entry into the Hitler camp. And exports to Russia will be subject to license. But paradox it is, for all that.

 

Red Hunt

Which Promises To Bag Quite Other Game

Out in Oklahoma a first-class witch-hunt seems to be in the making. The Legislature has set up a committee which proudly styles itself "the Little Dies Committee" after the dubious Dies Committee in Washington.

The Dies Committee has some good work to its credit. But what it mainly has, on the record, is a lot of smearing of honest liberals and intellectuals, including everybody from Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt to Dr. John R. Mott.

Repeatedly, it has lent itself as a sounding board to such notorious hysterics as Elizabeth Dilling, who even has Tom Dewey and Robert Taft down for Reds. And while it has moved heaven and earth to fasten the Red label on even the mildest liberals, as well as to discover genuine Communist activities, it has been curiously unconcerned about the Fascist leaders in the country such as Coughlin of Detroit.

The Oklahoma committee is set up to "investigate subversive activities at the State University." But no definition of subversion is provided. And so the way is left wide open for the harrying of every man of liberal opinion on the faculty.

Defenders of the University in the Legislature warned that what is coming is a witch-hunt and that two of the men the committee is gunning for are among the most brilliant men on the faculty--who offended powerful interests by their frank criticisms. And the name which the committee selects for itself suggests pointedly that witch-hunt it will be.

Patriotic men everywhere want necessary measures for the control of genuinely dangerous and subversive activities. But there is always the risk that the need of such measures will be used as an excuse to the destruction of the Bill of Rights, the proper function of universities, etc.--in the name of fighting Communism and Nazism, to set up a system as rigidly intolerant of liberty as these.

 

Camel Army

Role of Weygand in This Move Remains a Question

On October 11, 1940, the editors of the News remarked of the occupations of the Cameroons by General Charles de Gaulle's "Free French" forces on October 9:

All French West Africa is continuous with it (the Cameroons) through the Lake Chad province... It is possible to... flank Libya... though the operations would be over desert territory and difficult...

The operations thus envisaged as a possibility is that which General de Gaulle is now carrying forward with camel corps--so far with brilliant success. The capture of Marzouk places the French forces 200 miles inside the Libyan southern frontier, about 500 miles directly south of Tripoli, which city lies about 700 miles west of the farthest British advance from Egypt and will represent the last great Libyan stronghold of the Italians if Derna and Benghazi fall, as they seem bound to do soon.

The move forces the Italian commander in Libya to split his already disastrously weakened army and fight on two fronts. As success continues, it should open the way for the bombing of Tripoli before long. It may well be calculated to bring about something else envisaged in the News editorial of last October--the wholesale revolt of the desert tribes behind Tripoli. And, it sets the stage, once Derna and Benghazi are accounted for, for an enveloping movement and the turning of Tripoli into another Dunkerque--the total elimination of the Italians from North Africa.

One question mark stands out. The passage through Lake Chad province means that de Gaulle, whom Petain has bitterly denounced as a usurper, has extended his control over more of the French African territory. Five hundred miles west of them throughout his march from the Cameroons--along all the march to Tripoli--have lain and lie the forces of General Weygand, whose proposed course between England and the Nazis remains a mystery.

 

Kope Elias

This Good Man Was One With the Nature He Loved

It is difficult to envision Mecklenburg County without Kope Elias, as, indeed, it was always difficult to envision him--modest, self-effacing, eternally with good intentions as a part of it. Yet no hillside in the county but flowers brighter, or no field but is more productive, or no country homestead but in some degree because of him is more the home and more the inspiration to better living.

There was a certain spiritual sweetness about the man which kept him somehow detached from the muck and rumble and still kept him close to the productive earth which he loved and the striving humans which, also, he loved. Now that he is dead it is an unthinkable thought that he is gone, for Kope Elias--in his many years as County Farm Agent and in his later years as manager of the Morrison Farm--put so much of himself into Mecklenburg County increase and fruitage and lifting spirit that no Spring may come without a song for him and no harvest season may come without paying him tribute.

 


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