The Charlotte News
Wednesday, September 21, 1938
Site Ed. Note: "The Price Paid by the Democracies", in its tone and language, not coincidentally would foreshadow "A Fanatic Menaces Civilization", 345 days later, on September 1, 1939.
The Munich Pact was now but eight days away from its signing. The territory which was immediately at issue, the Sudetenland, can be seen in the maps below, the first in series showing Czechoslovakia as created by the Versailles Treaty in 1919, the second showing Slovakia still existing nominally, though as a Nazi puppet state in February, 1944, with Czechland absorbed completely into the circular Germany (as things were by March, 1939), the third showing a close-up of the area, also as it existed in 1944. (Image sequence formed from maps contained in Global Atlas of the World at War, 1944, World Publishing, NY)
(Click on the Map to Enlarge)
The White Flag
If Alaska, a United States Territory, were to take a notion that it wanted to become a part of Japan, and if, under some local agitator, a "free corps" of Alaska were to be formed with the avowed purpose of attacking U. S. troops on duty in the area, and if Japan should supply not only rifles and ammunition and uniforms to this "free corps" of Alaskans but "permit" fully-equipped Japanese regulars to "volunteer" and openly recruit young Jap hotheads for service with it--
Why, the United States indubitably would take the position that Japan had committed acts of war, and in all probability would retaliate in time.
Precisely that is what Germany has done with respect to Konrad Henlein's "free corps" of Sudeten Germans. Hence, it would be no great strain upon actuality to conclude that France and Britain, instead of trying to prevent war between Germany and Czechoslovakia, are in reality trying to induce the Czechs to surrender after hostilities have already begun.
Moral: Let's Get Going*
We hate to spoil an engaging little story by drawing a moral from it, but the analogy between the incident of the maritime hitch-hiker, a former cowboy, who fell into ownership of a beauty of a yacht in New York Harbor yesterday--the analogy between that and the New Deal is too pat to pass up.
This Winetta, you understand, is quite a craft. Sixty-three feet and valued at $8,000, trim, speedy and seaworthy, she is something to dream about, with yourself sitting on the afterdeck being served cooling drinks according to your taste, or according to your taste taking her out for an exciting run over the waves. Her new master is going to do better than that. He's going to take a cruise around the world. Only, he hasn't any money, and it takes money to make the yacht go.
Her former owner should have thought of that before he casually relinquished her to a chap he'd never seen before. For a yacht that remains tied up at the slip or at most taking a few turns in inland water with engines at half speed is no fun to anybody. And under the New Deal, that is exactly what is happening and has been happening to that efficient yacht which is the American system of industrial production. The New Deal is so concerned with whose going to ride where and be served what that it can't get the boat to going at all. And that's no fun to anybody.
Site Ed. Note: We see in the editorial below how much has changed in the debate over universal medical care in 67 years. The objections posed by the AMA regarding a proposed compulsory insurance law entail precisely the same objections registered when the Clinton health care package was proposed to the Congress in 1993, albeit in different context, a government administered health care program utilizing existing HMO's. Of course, much of the resistance to universal health care comes not in those two objections when poised against the reality; they come, privately, rather under the same analogy set forth in "Moral: Let's Get Going", that is, to be literal about it, not enough scratch from the government run deal, as opposed to that run by the private insurance companies, for the insurance execs to host a cruise so that the pharmaceutical execs might treat the itch of some doctors for that nice round of drinks on the yacht going well outside the safe harbour--and on one costing considerably more than $8,000, be it adjusted for inflation since 1938 or no--or something like that.
Ah, play it, Slim...
The Doctors Compromise*
The American Medical Association seems to have been doing some heavy thinking about the problems posed by President Roosevelt's Interdepartmental Committee on Health and Welfare in its report last July. Once, it looked as though the most conservative elements in the association might stampede it into outright opposition to the whole program proposed; and at Washington some leading doctors actually took steps to boycott their professional brethren who practiced for voluntary health insurance groups.
But at Chicago last week, the body went on record as approving not only voluntary health insurance but also complete state care for the indigent, and indeed practically all the other measures proposed, save only the scheme for compulsory health insurance.
Which seems to pretty well confirm our enduring faith in the good sense and essential humanity of the medical profession as a whole. They object to the compulsory insurance scheme on two grounds: (1) that it would be administered by a gang of bureaucrats, actuated primarily by political motives; and (2) that it would break down the personal relation between doctor and patient, since the latter would have to accept the services of the practitioner assigned to him. Both objections seem well taken. And with voluntary health insurance developed as far as possible, and state care for those unable to afford it--what good reason can be offered for general state insurance, save that it would make more jobs for jobholders?
The Price Paid By The Democracies
As this is written, the report has just come out of London that the Czechs have capitulated to the demands of Chamberlain and Daladier and agreed to surrender to Hitler. And if this is true, then the logical consequences deserve looking at.
In the first place, England and France are probably well on their way to becoming second-rate powers. Certainly, if it be true, as spokesmen for Chamberlain claimed in defending his policy that the British navy is no longer able to keep the Mediterranean open against Mussolini, they are already such. For Britain's status, of course, has rested entirely on her power to keep the seaways open to the ends of her empire, and the French power, in its turn, has rested on alliance with Britain. The British navy remains twice as great so far as tonnage goes as the combined navies of Hitler and Mussolini. But if that isn't great enough, or if the British people haven't the daring to use it, then the corollary in the world that is growing up seems to be the gradual disappearance of the British Empire, and with it the French Empire.
Their passage toward second-rateness has plainly received enormous impulse, too, from the fact that they have utterly lost the hegemony of Europe. Poland and Hungary, seeing how the cat was going to jump, both hastened to align themselves on Hitler's side yesterday. Which is to say that Hitler has achieved the mastery of Central Europe without a fight and has become by that token, in his vast new prestige, the greatest power of the Continent. Between them, Russia, Germany, and Italy control the whole of the Continent today, save only the portion that is France, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland. And as has often been pointed out by Dorothy Thompson and others, an alliance between the Berlin-Rome Axis and Russia is quite as likely as war, incredible as that may seem. But fundamentally, they are much alike.
As for Czechoslovakia, it may as well be written off. It is obvious nonsense to suppose that the powers can or will protect it in the plains when they couldn't or wouldn't protect it in the mountains, or that their word is worth more in the last case than the first. The poor Czechs seem to be in for dreadful times. Germany, so far as the Nazi pattern obtains, is of course no longer a civilized nation, but a barbarian state organized on exactly the lines of the hordes which swept over Europe from the first century B.C. to the ninth A.D., and like those hordes existing for rapine and plunder and the "glory" that belongs to success in rapine and plunder, and exulting in murder and torture for their own sake. Under the Nazi racial myth, the Czechs will not become "citizens" of the German state, but, like the Jews, "subjects." And since, being courageous and defiant, they are hated even worse than the Jews, they'll probably get even worse treatment.
Finally, there is the question as to whether democracy, in any form, can long survive in England and France. It is certainly ominous that the decision in this case was reached with as complete disregard for Parliament as ever Mussolini or Hitler themselves have shown. Nobody can be sure, obviously. But there is the possibility that before long the United States will find itself the single great democratic State left, with London gone Fascist and Paris Red--which is very likely the way things will fall out if democracy does go.
O'Connor vs. O'Connor
The arguments the President offered as to why John J. O'Connor, Representative in the Congress to the United States from New York, should not be sent back were good or bad, as you saw them. But the fellow himself made a perfectly swell argument as to why his constituents should have snowed him under in the voting yesterday, when he stood up Monday night and in his closing speech made this astounding statement:
"Some people think the Chief Executive, in order to perpetuate himself in office, might plunge the country into a world war."
"Some people" obviously means nothing. The man who charges this must be taken, in the absence of the production of the names of those he claimed to be quoting, to be the Hon. John J. O'Connor himself. And, look you, what he has charged! That the President of the United States is a man who would make war and send millions to death--to protect the nation and its essential interests? Not at all, but simply "to perpetuate himself in office." It is to say that the President of the United States is a vicious criminal who deserves to hang.
We are dead against the notion of any such crime as lese majeste. The Hon. O'Connor had a right to make that statement or any other, without suffering any penalty at the hands of the law; and he ought to have it. But there is such a thing as common decency. And the fact that a man is capable of uttering that sort of charge against the man elevated to the highest office within the gift of the people, without offering conclusive evidence of its truth, ought to be proof that he himself is unfit for any honor at the hands of the people.
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