The Charlotte News

Sunday, February 23, 1941



Site Ed. Note: To understand the probable substance of General Marshall's testimony before Congress in February, 1941 regarding the status of Hawaii, where General Short had just taken over as Army commander on February 7, see excerpts of the correspondence between Marshall and Short during this period, in which Short asks ultimately by May 2 for $27,000,000 to upgrade air defenses of Oahu to which Marshall was completely receptive.

And "Wrong Bird" follows up on statements upon which Cash first commented in "Act of War", February 20.

And while on the subject of this particular bird--the right one, not the wrong one--has anyone noticed that in our society over the last roughly 22 years, since round about early 1981, the right bird has been displacing the wrong bird on a regular basis, and with celerity of late? It seems if the wrong bird has the wrong political ideals, the right bird comes along and sweeps the wrong bird right out of the nest. And they call that being savvy. But tell us the difference between a Savvist and a Fascist. We would like to know.

Wrong Bird

An Army Man Who Should Brush Up His Ornithology

Major Kunio Akiyama, Japanese official spokesman at Shanghai, has probably made himself immortal with his speech about the dove and the snakes.

Said he, at a press conference:

"Japan has the heart of a dove of peace, but a snake--the United States and Great Britain--has placed its egg in the dove's nest. The egg is the fortification of Singapore, the arrival of Australian troops in Malaya and the impending fortification of Guam and Samoa... Great Britain and the United States... want to impose the status quo in the Pacific on Japan, a nation desiring peace."

Which is all very nice, except that the Major seems to have got a little mixed up in his choice of a metaphor. And also in his notion of the ownership of the nest.

The nest in question happens to be the waters contained between the Philippines, which belong to the United States, and British East Indian possessions. Singapore, a part of the egg, is also a British possession. And Guam and Samoa are far away American possessions, which can never menace Japan unless she tries to go through with her intention of grabbing off all British and American possessions in the East.

Without setting up as ornithologists, we suspect that the bird the Major really had in mind was not the dove but the cuckoo. The latter has the habit of taking over the nests of other birds and laying its egg in them for them to hatch.

It also is a very peaceful bird--provided the owners of the selected nest agree to vacate quietly.

Harsh Charge

President's Lecture To Press Flies a Bit Wide of Mark

The President was obviously using the press conference as a mere sounding board when he lectured the White House reporters on the "great questions of ethics, morals and patriotism" involved in publication of reports about what transpires at "secret" Congressional hearings on national defense and aid for Britain. He promptly admitted that the reporters were only discharging the duties for which they are hired, cleared them of blame.

But the imputation that publishers and newspaper executives are lacking in morality and patriotism in the case seems dubious and unfair also. The real culprits are the Congressmen and Senators who violated the injunction of secrecy and blabbed. It is natural for both a reporter and his employers to assume that what a supposedly responsible member of the national legislature tells them for publication is something about which there is no real need for secrecy.

In any case, the press is certainly entitled to know where it stands--to have notice as to what kind of co-operation is wanted from it and to know hourly the limits within which it should act.

The press of the United States proved in the last war that it is perfectly capable of acting as its own censor where national interest is at stake. It will do it again if necessary. But waiting until it has innocently published some piece of information like General Marshall's testimony about Hawaii and then lecturing it for lack of patriotism and ethics is no way to handle the situation.

On The Shelf

Constitution Is Forgotten Document at Raleigh

The Broughton-backed bill for re-districting the State for Senators ran into a storm Friday--such a storm that Senator Metheney, one of its sponsors, gloomily remarked, "We might as well tear the bill up."

The bill is, in fact, a bad bill--for it represents a compromise on a matter where there ought not to be a question of compromises. For example, under its terms the Fourth District, with 105,874 people, would get two Senators, whereas Mecklenburg, with 151,826 people, would get only one.

But most of the storm arose over efforts to make the bill still more of a compromise. There was Senator Ramsey from Rowan, for instance. He wanted to add Cabarrus to Mecklenburg and give the district thus formed two Senators. Not out of any love of fairplay for Mecklenburg but so Rowan could have a Senator all of its own--so, it may have been, that he himself could look forward to returning to the Senate next time.

Meantime the Constitution continued to gather dust on the shelf. Apparently no legislator had ever taken it down to read in plain black and white Art. II, Sec. 4:

The Senate districts shall be so ordered by the General Assembly, at the first session after the return of every enumeration by order of Congress, that each Senate district shall contain, as near as may be, an equal number of inhabitants, excluding aliens and Indians not taxed...

Old Tactics

Drys Hasten To Capitalize On Soldiers for Dogma

The prohibitionists are hopeful of turning the present emergency to the same account to which they turned the last war--of making it an excuse for the opening wedge to the return to their nostrum.

Thus Senator Morris Sheppard, "The Father of Prohibition," has introduced a bill in the Senate to forbid the sale of all alcoholic beverages, including 3.2 beer, in or near military camps.

"The drinking of any alcoholic beverage impairs the efficiency of anyone," he says. "It is all important that the boys operating our planes, tanks and other machines have keen, clear minds."

Which is simply the old standard excuse. The Army itself is obviously the best judge of the matter, and it plainly does not agree with him about beer, since it is sold in the camps. Neither does the RAF agree with him or any of the great fighting forces of the world, in which men live under great strain.

Soldiers do indeed need no alcohol when on duty with modern war machines. But they also greatly need relaxation in their off-hours, and beer, if properly used, is an excellent and harmless means of achieving that--on the authority of some of the greatest of modern biologists, including Raymond Pearl of the Johns Hopkins.

The leisure hours of soldiers are too short, the regulations of camp life too strict, to permit any great abuse of beer in the cantonments.

As for stronger drinks, they obviously ought to be barred from camps. But single men in barracks don't grow into plaster saints in these days any more than in the days of Kipling, and soldiers who want hard liquor will get it--as the last war proved.

The Sheppard bill really has nothing to do with the efficiency or even the morals of soldiers. It is simply an attempt to make use of the soldiers as an excuse for etching back the old dogma--and its inseparable companion, the bootlegger.


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