The Charlotte News

Wednesday, April 26, 1939


Site Ed. Note: "Isolation Note", warning of the perils of feeling too safe in a world where Nazi and Fascist threats had produced an uneasy tension between freedom and another form of demagoguery and dictatorship in the democracies, causes us to pause and reflect on this creeping thing we see today in Western civilization--this same sort of threat to freedom posed by a less nationalistically defined sort of fascism, Terrorism, one based only on religious identity, as ill-defined as even the ascription of that form of identity to it is, that Terrorism then having much the same chilling effect on the democracies as in the time in which Cash wrote.

Is this chilling effect a naturally resulting hysteria on all fours, slowly forming in stealth among us, out of the silent tension which besets our collective subconscious after the collective witness of an event fully formed before our eyes, yet confounding our bounds to admit of anything reasonably to be expected to take even tenuously such a shape in reality?

Or is it one part that and another principal part the pure opportunism of those desiring similar fiefdoms in their midst to those of the Hitlers of the world, using their own supposed superior bulwark to the Hitlers as the excuse to wield power and subjugate their vassals to their will, the tension within the populace merely being the convenient stalking-horse behind which the "benign" ruler, nevertheless also a dictator, hunts his real prey, freedom of others to think and speak and write as they please, the exercise of that freedom which is the enemy everywhere to the dictatorial will of anyone?

We also include the Hugh Johnson piece this date on the "fog of war" in assessing the Italian and German naval might in the Mediterranean vis á vis that of the British and French. The same sort of fog would lead to collisive disaster of course in the Pacific in December, 1941; and yet again in Southeast Asia in 1965 and onward, to the end of another war there.

Whither That German Fleet

By Hugh S. Johnson

Washington.--What strategists have for a long time called the "fog of war" is not nearly so dense as it used to be. The term means the baffling and terrible uncertainty about where the enemy is and what he is doing. During the Spanish-American War, uncertainty about Admiral Cervera's weak fleet was so great that the whole American coast was in a panic, and demanding that the Navy be broken up into harbor patrols to prevent bombardment of coast cities. Aircraft and radio have thinned that fog, but some of it remains.

When Hitler's fleet was announced as leaving German stations, a very able and expert authority offered to make a bet with me that it would never appear as a fleet in Spanish waters. His idea was that it would break up into small commerce-raiding groups, or even single ships, and do in hundreds of places what the remarkable "Emden" did in the World War--terrorize and destroy ocean shipping and perhaps cut Britain off from her sources of supply.


Doubtless it could do great damage. During the Civil War two fast Confederate cruisers, the "Florida" and the "Alabama," almost drove Yankee commerce off parts of the ocean. In the Revolution John Paul Jones terrorized British shipping right on its own doorstep--the English Channel. The "Emden" destroyed many times her own value in Allied shipping, and German submarines came near destroying the British Merchant Marine.

But, while I wouldn't bet, I don't believe Mr. Hitler wants to scatter the small-shot of his vest-pocket navy. The hottest spot and the biggest question mark is in the Mediterranean. The bulk of the British battle fleet and the French Navy is there. In tonnage they are overwhelmingly superior to Italy. But everything--even the final outcome of the present terrible threat, may be decided there on an unpredictable point and in a matter of weeks or even days.


Italy has a big new fleet of submarines and other light, swift craft. Among the latter is something new--motor torpedo boats. These are tiny craft of incredible speed mounting one or two torpedo tubes and carrying crews of only eight men. There are swarms of them, anyone of which could, with luck, sink a ship. Finally there is the numerical superiority but unknown relative effect of German and Italian aircraft.

Can these new mosquito fleets break British naval supremacy? If they can, Italy will probably stick to the Axis, France will lose Tunisia, England her short route to India and Adolf will prevail in Central Europe. But if they can't, and Britain and France win the sea warfare in the Mediterranean, Italy is ruined. Mussolini is all spread out all over the map. His overseas garrisons are hostages to fortune. Italy will long be salient, thrust like a man's arm into a lion's mouth. Hitler would be left to fight it out on land under the most unfavorable circumstances.


The loss of a single great battleship is a national shock. The loss of one or a dozen of these poisonous little Italian gnats would hardly be felt. The situation is something to think about. But there was never a cannier, abler service than the British Navy. If it believed the battle fleet was in real danger, it wouldn't leave it based in Malta. It would get it out into the open ocean.

If the day of doom dawns, Hitler's fast, powerful ships would be an aid to Italy in the Mediterranean. Since all this adds up to something like risking everything on a single showdown of the first hand, would he fail to play the card of his navy where it could count most? I think his fleet is really headed south.

We Protest

The Prospect Of Losing Robert's Invaluable Services

As patriotic Tar Heels, we thoroughly resent the action of the Vindicators at Chicago yesterday, in nominating the Hon. Robert Rice Reynolds for the Presidency of the United States.

Candidly, we don't think the Hon. Robert is quite altogether fitted for that role. To have kissed the late actress Jean Harlowe in public, to have written a testimonial for a cigarette advertisement in return for 3,000 smacks, to have become the travelingest Senator ever heard of on Capitol Hill--all these are splendid things in their way. Nevertheless, we cannot escape the feeling that they still leave something to be desired. After all, a President has to stay at home in Washington sometimes.

And it is our patriotic conviction as Tar Heels that Robert should emphatically not be required to stay at home in Washington any part of his time. Or not much of his time anyhow. For when Robert stays at home for long, as he has been doing lately, he grows out of character and takes to moody and eccentric ways--such as heaping towering praise on Adolf Hitler and himself setting up as a new Führer for Vindicators. And that is not Robert's appointed role. Robert's appointed role is to kiss new Harlowes, whole bevies of them, to get again on the covers of the magazines--and above all to carry the good old Tar Heel name all around the earth. We are a people too little known. And one which, where it is known, is thought of as being much too much sobersided and solemnly dignified. And to the correction of that Robert is the perfect agent. We warn the Vindicators that we shall resent their efforts to deprive us of his services and that out of profound love for and pride in the Old North State we shall not vote for him.

Site Ed. Note: Of those mentioned below on the Republican side of the ledger, Wendell Willkie, a recently converted Democrat, would emerge as the compromise candidate after several ballots among Dewey, Vandenberg, and Taft. Dewey would await his turn as Republican nominee in both 1944 and 1948--the latter being when he was elected of course, at least in Chicago.

Of the Democrats, Jim Farley would make a short effort to capture the nomination, after throwing his hat in the ring at the Robert E. Lee Hotel in Winston-Salem, N.C. in February, 1940. He stayed around only until FDR finally agreed to accept the nomination for the unprecedented third term--(though it had once been tried by TR in 1912, albeit on a third party ticket and after sitting out one term, bearing in mind, too, of course that TR, though serving nearly a full first term, only came to the office by way of the assassination in September, 1901 of President McKinley).

Vice-President Garner would be supplanted by Henry Wallace on the ticket and returned to Texas by summer's end to pout; Alben Barkley, later becoming Vice-President in 1949 under Truman, would remain as Senator from Kentucky; Champ Clark would continue to be one of the cantankerous isolationist Western Senators, at least until Pearl Harbor made great interventionists of everyone, even the Germanophiles; and of course Hull would remain as Secretary of State through most of the third term, until his health forced his resignation in 1944 in favor of Supreme Court Justice, former Senator, James Byrnes of South Carolina.

Aspirants To The Throne*

Looking Over The List Of Likely Presidential Candidates Doesn't Arouse Any Enthusiasm

We have just been looking at a list of likely Presidential candidates printed by a magazine. And what strikes us is that, with a possible exception or two, a lot of them leave us gloomily cold.

Take the Republicans first. Hoover? Not us. We haven't forgotten that he is the man who sat in the White House for four years twiddling his thumbs and issuing statements that prosperity was just around the corner, while the country went steadily down to the worst economic depths in its history.

Vandenberg? The man has his qualities. But they run mainly to the resistant. He functions well as a horse-fly but on the constructive side he has so far been singly weak. He is a violent partisan. And in addition he is a prima donna who dotes on hogging the stage, and who seems unable to work effectively with other men. There is a solemnity in his egotism we don't like. The man obviously thinks wonderfully well of Arthur, and in the Presidency he might take to mistaking his voice for that of God.

Alf Landon? Fooey. A mouse in a mitre doesn't make a bishop.

Borah? Always a purely negative force. Able, but notoriously unable to finish most things he starts, stubborn and egotistic. Still thinking of the international case in terms of early post-war conditions, and bent on justifying his isolationism at any cost. Not Borah.

LaGuardia? As fit for the job as anybody on the basis of administrative experience and proven ability. A liberal and a democrat. But sadly handicapped by emotional defects. Much too explosive and impulsive to be in charge of the country with a European war in the cards. And too much inclined to leap into experiments without looking where he may be going.

Dewey? Why? The man is obviously a shrewd lawyer. And he has displayed remarkable energy as a public prosecutor. But that is no training for the job of President. And he has had no other.

Taft? An unproven quantity. He has a good reputation, but how much of that is his own work and how much of it is the result of being the son of a distinguished father remains to be seen. Cold and without personal appeal. It is possible to imagine voting for him, but not with any enthusiasm.

As for the Democrats:

Jack Garner? Certainly not. A ward politician to his fingertips. Without adequate background, and has shown no signs of having any genuine grasp of the problems which the country faces. Common sense turned ingrowing. Essentially egotistic and cold underneath a more or less genial front. A small, tight personality.

Jim Farley? Another politico, trained to measure all things in terms of vote-getting. Apparently a kindly, amiable soul. But without sufficient background, even if he were not so steeped in politics.

Champ Clark? We haven't gone nuts. A small time lawyer with the mind of a small time lawyer.

Barkley? No.

Hull? The most likely man in the lot. An old-fashioned Democrat, who is still no reactionary and whose mind is not closed to the fact that new problems call for new answers. Thoroughly versed in international problems, both commercial and political. Without experience as an administrator, however, and something of an unknown quantity as to his precise views on domestic problems. Besides, like Garner, he is an old man and obviously one growing very tired. And the task that lies before the next President will strain the powers of even a man in his prime.

Isolation Note

Three Events Fashioned By Nazis And Fascists

An interesting commentary on the notion that what the Messrs. Hitler, Mussolini & Co. are about is of no concern to the rest of the world was afforded by three events reported in yesterday's news dispatches.

The first was the proclamation of a dictatorship in Bolivia on the expressed ground that it was necessary to head off Nazi and Fascist tendencies "which are not acceptable in this country." The second was the proclamation of a rigid press censorship in France, to head off Nazi and Fascist propaganda of the sort which heralds a Fascist-Nazi revolution and coup. Old Doc Sam Hahnemann, dead these hundred years, would understand that if he were still around--for it perfectly applies his homeopathic medical principle that like is the necessary cure for like. Bolivia, to save herself from a Nazi dictatorship, has thought it imperative to set up a dictatorship on the old South American model. And France, to save her democracy, has deemed it essential not only to set up Daladier as a dictator but now also to suppress free speech, which is the keystone of democracy, and without which it cannot exist.

But the most striking event was the third--Britain's decision to resort immediately to compulsory military service. Such service has always been considered incompatible with democracy--and rightly. And the two nations on earth which had most rigidly set their faces against it have been England and the United States. Now England, faced with the fact that war as Hitler plans to make it, will not give time to train an army after it has started, has decided at last to abandon this ancient position. Quite probably, she, too, is on her way toward a dictatorship, for her press is already no more than half free.

For the moment we are still safe. But not too safe. It is worth observing that Bolivia lies within bombing distance of the Panama Canal. And with all the rest of the Western world building up huge reserves of trained soldiers and suppressing freedom of thought, writing, and speech, it is going to be increasingly difficult for us to resist the infection and perhaps the very necessity of the case.

Site Ed. Note: The letter to the editor of which the editorial speaks may be read from the full editorial page we provided of yesterday's News.

On Fallacies

Senator's Argument Is Not Without Holes Of Its Own

In taking issue with ourselves and The Louisville Courier-Journal about the question of farm income in the South, Senator Bailey says, in a letter which we published yesterday, the establishment of that income by the method of dividing the gross income by the gross number of farm workers is inaccurate, and goes on:

"The South brings in during the cotton chopping and the cotton picking system season immense numbers of workers for just a little while..."

But these workers, it occurs to us, are not brought in from Mars or the moon. They are brought in from the rural South itself. Most of them live entirely on the land, and they represent a perfectly normal portion of the South's farm population. Moreover, cotton hoeing and cotton picking happen to represent all the processes of cotton cultivation save that of preparing the soil and planting--the greatest of all. The "just a little while" of which the Senator speaks is not so little when you think about it in relation to the time actually spent by all cotton farmers in producing the fleece.

No one supposes, of course, that there are not enormous differences in Southern farm incomes. And the income picture is subject to the correction that some of the "just a little whilers" derive income from other sources than farming. But the idea that these workers, who are for the most part primarily dependent on the farm for a living, are to be left out of the picture in arriving at per capita income of all farms in Dixie, seems to us to be itself a gross fallacy.


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