The Charlotte News

Wednesday, February 12, 1941




Abuse of Fortified Wines Leads To Their Proscription

"They cannot be allowed to retain the privilege because they abused it," might well be the epitaph over the empty shelves of dealers in fortified wines in North Carolina. The Legislature, not knowing exactly how to discriminate between wines fortified with brandy (to please the taste and warm the gullet) and wines needled with raw alcohol (to bring on drunkenness in the shortest possible time), and being uncertain how to enforce the discrimination if it could be phrased, is about to ban the sale of all fortified wines, save in liquor stores in those counties which have them.

It's too bad, in a way. It seems a shame for some housewife who wants to spice the sauce with a little cooking sherry to have to call up the bootlegger. But the alternative, as the Legislature sees it, is to have morons of violent tendencies become drunk on a raw sweetish liquor for sale at all piccolo joints and cafes, and go out and stupidly shoot somebody as the barber Ritter was shot in Charlotte recently.

And what the Legislature's action over fortified wine seems to show is that the prohibition problem is essentially a price problem. That is, if intoxicating beverages can be made too expensive for the general run of people, a lot of trouble and grief will be saved.

Candid Man

Conant Tells the Truth About Our War Position

President Conant of Harvard is simply little more candid than a great many people--with himself and with others. Yesterday he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Axis powers must be defeated at all costs, and that if necessary he was in favor of sending an expeditionary force abroad.

That will get him denounced as a war-monger, but it is still the plain and inescapable logic of the case.

Fact clearly is that we are already at war. We went to war the day we began to turn over equipment from our army and navy to the British.

For the present it does not suit the purposes of Adolf Hitler to recognize the fact and to treat us as a belligerent. He wants to destroy England first. Then, when he is ready, he will take up the war against us. In any case whatever, we are committed and there is now no way out but to do our best to insure an English victory or to accept ignominious defeat, with a certainty that we shall not thereby escape having to fight.

There is a pretty good chance that if we give her the tools fast enough England may be able to destroy Hitlerism without the aid of American manpower. But that is only a probability, not a sure thing. And if worse comes to worst, manpower may be required to insure victory.

We all hope not, but not to recognize the possibility is to indulge in wish-thinking.

Loud Wail

Italy Doesn't Care for Her Own Medicine

As we predicted Monday, the Italians have started whining about the bombardment of Genoa by the British fleet. Said Mr. Virginio Gayda, Il Duce's stooge editor:

"From yesterday's bombardment remains only a new fact of aggression against an open city which will be avenged at the right time and in the right manner."

It is news, indeed, that Genoa is an open city. The reports coming out of Italy themselves say that the British ships were at once fired on by shore batteries, which is an admission that the place is fortified. In point of fact, Genoa is Italy's chief naval base, and is ringed with powerful forts. Moreover, it is the port in which most of her naval shipbuilding takes place. A clearer example of a legitimate military objective would be hard to find.

But of course all Italian cities are supposed to be sacrosanct under the Fascist ideology. It is all right for German and Italian planes to fly over England, systematically destroying London, Coventry, Birmingham, Liverpool--killing thousands upon thousands of innocent English people. That is the privilege of the Master Races and the Lesser Breeds are supposed to submit to it quietly.

But if the British ships steam into Genoa Bay at great risk and pop shells into a place which is a legitimate military target, incidentally killing some innocent Italians--that, you understand, is the wicked "new fact of aggression."

First Test

Governor Wins in Battle Over Sales Tax on Food

Governor Broughton comes off from the first test of his powers of leadership to all appearances completely the victor.

Last Thursday it looked as though one of the promises he had campaigned on--the removal of the sales tax from all food purchase for home consumption--had been effectually sunk by the sales tax group of the joint Senate-House finance committee. These shouted the measure down and the committee voted to kill it.

That was pretty plainly high-handed. The Governor had been elected, in part at least because of that promise. And under any view of the matter, the proposal was one which deserved to be considered by the whole membership of the Legislature and not throttled in committee.

Still, it looked like the Governor had lost and had been handed a devastating blow. And it looked even more that way when the finance committee, growing skittish about the public reaction, hastily appointed a "fact-finding" subcommittee to report on the matter of food exemptions. For not a single advocate of the change was named on the committee.

Yesterday, however, the subcommittee reported--solidly in favor of the removal of the tax from all food. And promptly the finance committee reversed itself and voted overwhelmingly to adopt the report. Observers at Raleigh make it amply plain that the Governor had turned on the heat and brought about the change.

One thing seems clear: J. Melville Broughton appears to know how to get things done in politics.

In The Fog

Hitler's Direction Is Not Clear Until He Strikes

The Nazis may actually be getting ready to strike at Greece and the Dardanelles. But if so it is a confession of desperation, unless by chance the Russians have succeeded in persuading the Turks to yield quietly--something which does not now appear probable.

If Hitler takes this course, it is because he does not feel that an attempt to invade England has any chance of success at the present, and knows that he must do something to regain the swiftly receding Axis prestige.

But it may all still be a mere feint. Nor is the movement of large numbers of troops any argument against that. Hitler placed a huge army on the Rumanian border just before he invaded Norway, and again just before invading Holland and Belgium. The result was exactly what he hoped for.

Nearly every observer promptly felt safe in saying that Rumania was clearly the next appointed victim, and attention was effectively diverted from his true objectives.

It might be argued that having worked this ruse twice, he would be foolish to attempt it the third time. But it is also possible that he himself would count on precisely that psychology. Save for the slight matter of overlooking the potentialities of resistance in the British, he is one of the best masters of applied psychology who ever lived. And confusion as to what he means to do is precisely what he is always out to create.


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