The Charlotte News

Tuesday, December 23, 1941


Site Ed. Note: The column today announces the arrival of Winston Churchill to Washington to meet with Roosevelt for the first time since the early August meeting off Newfoundland, forming the Atlantic Charter. Now, with America fully engaged in the war, the talk would be war strategy on a grand scale.

"No Quarter" reminds the public of the brutality ahead, now that America was officially a combatant in the war. It would be a grim Christmas where cheer was provided only faintly, only falsely, to avoid thoughts of the grimmer times to be.

Dorothy Thompson tells of the arrest of the alleged Fifth Columnist spy for Germany, Laura Ingalls, a member of the America First organization. Such an atmosphere of suspicion, bred by Nazis, would not end after the war, after the eradication of the Nazi Party. It would become a bad habit through time--suspicion.

And the new columnist, to replace Hugh Johnson, Paul Mallon, is introduced to readers.

Here is the front page for the day, full of more war news. The Marine "Devil Dogs" were trying mightily to hold onto Wake Island, a spit of land, a mere atoll, an extended coral reef, useful only as a departure point for U.S. aircraft to other places, and so valuable in wartime. Likewise, there is news of more fighting on Luzon. And more about the Churchill-FDR meeting, including the top brass of both the U.S. and Britain, together for the first time. It was a bleak, dark world in which nothing appeared much any longer to be happening without the funereal wreath of war surrounding it. The only good news to be garnered from this page comes from the British inroads being made in the Italian and German lines in Egypt and the 22-below zero raids of the Soviet troops, pushing back the Germans before Leningrad and Moscow.

Mr. Mallon's insistence that the public conduct themselves normally, travel, enjoy the holidays, that it was their duty in fact to do so, probably was hard-put not to fall on deaf ears.

Imagine picking up your newspaper everyday for the next nearly four years with every headline on the front page, every inch of column space, for all practical purposes, filled with nothing but war and killing, barbarism, heroism in the face of barbarism, representing more killing. The world was slowly being murdered. Or, as we have questioned before, perhaps slowly committing suicide.

We take you back to the very beginning of the war on September 1, 1939, for the first time with the full page, and the piece Cash wrote that day, "A Fanatic Menaces Civilization". Unfortunately, it was all too prophetic. Too little of the country at the time understood that.

Though apparently published, the microfilm does not have a Christmas Eve edition of The News. In the past they had not published on Christmas day, but this year they did. We shall likely get to it late tomorrow night.

We sometimes bemoan our fate at Christmas, but any year unlike Christmas of 1941 or the ensuing three Christmases, has to be counted as fortunate. It was a time for peace on earth and good will to men. Yet there was nothing of that, only killing and butchery and death, in Europe, in North Africa, in the Pacific. This in fact became, unlike that which its predecessor was supposed to be--or was that one merely the First Act of the Play?--, the war to end all wars. Of its like, we have not seen again, and must hope that we never do. For the third one would indeed be the end, would be the collective suicide which that second one seemingly sought to be. And, in many respects, there can be no such thing as a "conventional war" or a "small war". That, too, does violence to peace on earth, good will to men. And so doing enough, as our predecessors found out, eventually leads to the kind of collective insanity abroad the world which produces the Hitlers, the Tojos, the Mussolinis, and finally the front pages such as the one for December 23, 1941.

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