The Charlotte News

Friday, June 16, 1939


Site Ed. Note: This day, Cash would go to Shelby for the 4:00 p.m. wedding of his sister Bertie to Charles Elkins of Liberty, who had befriended Cash during the previous two years. Years later, Charles would recall that upon first meeting Cash at the Morgan Street home in Shelby in summer, 1937, he noticed him in the back bedroom typing away, but looking up now and again out of the corner of his eye as if to assay his sister's new friend. After several minutes of this ritual, Cash finally emerged and broadly shook the hand of his future brother-in-law; he had passed Cash's initial test of admission to the lodge. Cash politely refused his sister's invitation to participate in the wedding on the fear that his inevitable tears would cause everyone involved embarrassment. And, indeed, he sat with tears streaming during the ceremony. Cash's own future bride, Mary, during this time, a year into their relationship, was in Asheville for the summer, working on the Federal Writers Project, making the time that much more difficult and lonely for Cash in Charlotte.

It is interesting to note that this day's editorials are all related to the international situation, a rarity, if not unique. Most likely, he had the day off and built up an extra store of editorials to fill the column.

In "Britain's Quandary", he explains yet again why the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor, while stating his belief then that, because of its futility, Japan would not attempt it. He would later come to grips with the notion that neither futility nor irrationality worked to exclude attack options within the Axis. The ultimate needs for both the Reich and Japan for oil, as well as rubber, tin, tungsten and mercury, would produce the impetus for the drive south to Malaysia and the Dutch East Indies, and the consequent need to deliver a crippling blow to the U.S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor, with the additional motivation of hoping the U.S., not desiring a two-ocean war for which it appeared quite ill-prepared, would act as broker with England to enable Hitler to retain all of central Europe.

Perhaps, Hitler even thought that by concentrating his efforts in summer, 1941 on Russia, he could promote his efforts to neutralize the Communists as a bargaining chip in such a negotiation after a successful attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Also, by putting pressure on the Russian front with the invasion of June 22, 1941, after the bombing of Britain between September, 1940 and May, 1941, Japan was freed to pursue its war in China with less threat of British interference at Singapore; also eliminating Russian interference with the Dardanelles, with the consequent hope of continuing access by sea to the all-important Romanian oil fields, (hence, also, the simultaneous thrust against Greece), the only major supply of oil left to the Reich after the British blockade would cut off Mexican oil after the invasion of Poland September 1, 1939.

All a grand plan, dictated primarily by the need for oil, set in motion probably with the visit of the Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka to Berlin in March, 1941. The seeming illogic of withdrawing personnel and machinery from the east in France for the Russian front and at the same time cutting off a Mexican oil route via Japanese marus to Vladivostok then via the Trans-Siberian Railway to Poland and Germany was probably a calculated gamble by Hitler for time before his dwindling oil reserves ran dry, likely by mid-1942. The fly in the ointment was the early Russian winter of October, 1941, together with the stolid determination of the people of Stalingrad, as with those of London, Birmingham, Liverpool in fall, 1940 and spring, 1941, slowing the advance of the Germans with resistance theretofore not experienced by the Nazi army in Poland, France and the Low Countries during the previous two years.

Middle Course

The New Spy Proposals Fit Our Case Well

The spy and sabotage legislation drafted by the Senate Naval Committee wisely follows the middle course. However reluctantly we may be to admit it, it is now fairly obvious that the present legislation is too lax. Spies probably aren't nearly so dangerous as they are sometimes imagined to be. But now and then, they do lay hands on an important piece of military information and so do damage to the national defense. And as for sabotage, it obviously is not to be tolerated. Moreover, and leaving aside all mere rumors, such well-established cases as that of the burning and sinking of the French liner Paris, give us some cause to fear new Black Tom cases.

In Germany, anybody so much as suspected of being a spy or of engaging in sabotage is summarily executed. In Italy and Russia, the case is not much better. And lately France has taken up the same practice. Over here, however, the penalty has only been two or three years in a nice jail at worst. But the proposed legislation provides sentences of not more than ten and not less than five years, plus a $10,000 fine, for spies, and not more than twenty nor less than ten for saboteurs. That seems admirably contrived to fit our situation. Providing reasonable protection for the national defense, it does not descend into hysteria or brutal ruthlessness.

Torture Cells

These Tales May Be So But They May Also Be Propaganda

The stories of the torture cells alleged by witnesses in Franco's courts to have been invented and built for the Loyalists by the Yugoslav architect, Cik, remind one of the ingenuity of the Inquisition, which existed in Spain down until the nineteenth century and which in its course tortured to death not less than 800,000 men, women, and children. If they are so, then Cik has deserved the garrot as certainly as those German flyers who, at Franco's orders, bombed, 700 helpless civilians, men, women, and children out of existence at Guernica--as certainly as Franco who ordered it.

But it is perhaps as well to retain some skepticism about the stories. They may be so. There certainly were murders and torturers on the Loyalist side, too. But there is no conclusive evidence of truth here. No American, English, or French newspaper man, for instance, has been invited to inspect the cells. And the witnesses who claimed they were confined in them are admittedly fanatical Fascist party men. Moreover, Franco has as absolute control over the Spanish courts as Stalin has in Russia or Hitler in Germany. And it long ago became evident that the evidence of such courts is manufactured at will.

And finally, it is amply manifest that, since the war ended, the Franco propagandists have set out to make us forget the Generalissimo's own crimes by portraying the Loyalists as having been a solid gang of ferocious brutes, reveling in blood and torture. As we got the story from American correspondents on the ground during the war, there was murder and crime among the Loyalists, yes. But nothing to compare with Franco's. One of the greatest butchers of the world--that is what the whole record exhibits as his title to fame. And most of it is much too well established to be changed. But if he can continually direct our attention to purported horrors revealed in his courts, and persuade us that they are true, then, the human mind being what it is, we will be apt to forget his own crimes and our new indignation at his enemies. However, it is not to be forgotten that those enemies are no longer able to defend themselves.

Puerto Rican Hopes

Independence Is Out Of The Question But Statehood Plea Is Logical

A member of an economic delegation from Puerto Rico to Washington has presented the President with the demand that "the colonial system of government" in the island "be replaced by a system of government responsible to the people of Puerto Rico."

If the gentleman contemplates independence or near-independence for Puerto Rico, as some people in the island do, he may as well undeceive himself. Even more than Hawaii, the island is essential to the defense of the United States. And there is not the slightest possibility that Washington is ever going to agree to anything that might allow it to be used as a base by an enemy power.

But both Puerto Rico and Hawaii do have a case when they protest against being treated as mere colonies without any real voice in their own affairs, and when they demand statehood. Both are inhabited by civilized peoples--in the one case of Spanish descent, in the other of Polynesian. And the treating of them as colonials cannot be reconciled with the American tradition. The main objection to their pleas for statehood, indeed, have come only from the sugar-growing interests in this country. Perhaps these have a case when they argue that to let the product of the great plantations of Puerto Rico and Hawaii flow into the country without any tariff barriers would ruin them. Nevertheless, the present arrangement is not only steadily breeding resentment against the United States in the islands themselves, but also, in the case of Puerto Rico at least, it is doing the same thing throughout Latin America, and greatly hampering the efforts of the Government to build up a solid Pan-American front.

Britain's Quandary

With The American Isolationists Barring Joint Action,
She Faces One Of The Toughest Choices Of Her Career

Britain is up against one of the toughest and probably one of the most fatal decisions of her career. The Japanese brass hats appear to mean to go through with what they have begun, on the bet that England will not dare fight because of the necessity of keeping guard at home against Hitler. And what they have begun is in reality, not merely the throwing of the British out of China, along with the Americans and French, but the destruction of the prestige of Britain--and, of course, that of the United States and France--in the whole Far East. What they aim at ultimately, according to the continually reiterated declarations of their chief spokesmen, is to make the Pacific a closed sea, just as Mussolini aims to make the Mediterranean a closed sea--a sea in which, beyond Hawaii at least, no ship can ply without Japanese permission and on other terms than those Japan chooses to lay down.

An ironic thing about it all is that the American isolationists are among the chief factors on which they count for the success of the program. Japan can probably be brought to terms in short order, forced out of China for that matter, by a joint blockade laid down by England, France and--the United States. All the evidence argues for that conclusion. The Japanese are self-sufficient in almost no part of the economic field. And they have neither tin nor oil. Moreover, it is plain that their efforts to exploit the Chinese resources have so far come to nothing--that they are horribly bogged down there. Furthermore, to judge by its stands and efforts in the past, the Administration at Washington is probably willing and even anxious to take up the present opportunity.

But it won't, because of the terrific clamor the isolationists will raise. It would, they assure us, mean war. But it is a little difficult to know how Japan might hope successfully to make war against the United States. The only weapon with which she can possibly strike would be her navy. And it is not probable that even the brass hats believe that the Japanese Navy can attack the American Navy at Hawaii and ever steam home again. Or if they did choose to, is there much reasonable doubt about the swift result? To attack at Singapore would be just as mad. Has anyone forgotten Gallipoli?

All that, however is mere speculation. The thing won't, as we say, be done because of the uproar the isolationists will raise. And so Britain faces her choice alone. Either she must submit, knowing that loss of "face" is fatal in the East, and that unrest will spring up rapidly in India and the Malay States. Or she must risk a fight, probably eventually by armed force, with the prospect that Hitler will immediately capitalize on it to demand everything in sight in Europe and Africa.


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