The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 3, 1941


Site Ed. Note: The verse of the Bible quote for this day precedes a verse referenced by Cash on March 11, 1940, At Any Price?, in which he took to task those stimulated to literal following of those words.

As the front page told of the President and Secretary Hull still awaiting the reply of the Japanese to the previous week's Ten Points, the preparation of defenses in the Philippines and in the Dutch East Indies, the evacuation of Americans from Hong Kong, the Dies Committee's concern finally over something meaningful, the connection between the Nazi Bund and the Klan, William Dudley Pelley's Silver Shirts of Asheville, and the Knights of the White Camelia--as the editorial page starkly provided notice of Churchill's announcement that soon American manpower would be needed to supplement the equipment convoyed regularly since spring were Hitler to be defeated--as all of these things transpired, the Task Force moved on along the waves out in the Pacific, maintaining its low figure, crouched in the fog, quiet, dark, low to the plane, in stealth, ready soon to pounce upon its prey, the oyster's nurture.

It had now been over six months since the declaration by the President on May 27 of a national defense emergency. In the interim, only sporadic incidents at sea, most minor, one with substantial loss of life at the end of October, had occurred involving American lives. Abroad, literally millions of German and Russian soldiers and civilians had perished since June 22. The bombing of Britain had subsided to only the sporadic incidents of the type chronicled on the front page, few if any involving civilian populations, as the Luftwaffe was occupied nearly completely by the Russian offensive.

But the war drums now were beating darkly and spreading daily a palpable sense of impending doom, a cloud evident, casting shadow over everything which was said and printed. No longer was there lightsome glee in their step and mien, even if there was an attempt to maintain the semblance of normalcy for the sake of the children at Christmas. Things from years past, a sense of silliness and good cheer despite a darkening gloom in the world abroad, even as it had been in 1939 at Christmas, were now no longer in evidence except by strained exception to prove the rule. Something now was different. Something now was terribly wrong.

Even the announcement of Jan Valtin's pardon, after The News had published between June 2 and July 19 a series of 43 abstracts from his best-seller Out of the Night, drew no fond praise from the column to California Governor Olson's magnanimous gesture of forgiveness of sin, only wary caution of the man's sincerity, a suggestion that, after all, parole would have continued to provide a good check--never minding that the issue at stake was not parole but rather deportation, based on prior conviction of a felony, and in consequence certain death at the hands of Nazis. His wife had already met that fate.

The world was now a complex of suspicions, bred by petty hatreds over such foolish things as the difference in ethnicity, religion, race, of a fellow human being, suspicions born of stupidity of the lowest order, yet stupidity now elevated to positions of leadership in depressed post-World War European countries, countries whose populations were greedy for restoration of a feeling of personal independence and power and patriotism with pride in their homelands--and more, desiring a Day of Retribution, Ragnarok, for lost dignity stolen at the altars of blood in the interim.

Two related matters came to the attention of Admiral Kimmel in Hawaii this date, neither of which impressed him and neither of which he relayed to Lt.-General Short of the Army: the Japanese had ordered their embassies in Washington, Manila, London, Hong Kong, Batavia, and Singapore to destroy all diplomatic codes, and to destroy the Purple machines which decoded the messages from Tokyo. Kimmel viewed these foreboding signs as consistent with the war warning of the previous week which he had interpreted as being aimed primarily at Manila and Southeast Asia and so attached no additional significance to them. It was entirely consistent for the Japanese, if they were about to attack British, U.S., and Dutch interests in the areas specified by these messages to order their diplomatic corps stationed there to destroy all codes in use at the time to avoid seizure of same and compromise of future messages. There was, after all, nothing in anyone's intelligence spectrum to indicate an Oahu-bound fleet or any special notice directed to Hawaii beyond possible locally spawned sabotage. All eyes, even those in the highest levels of government and intelligence, were on the Philippines and Thailand.

Admiral Yamamoto met with Emperor Hirohito this day to receive the order to lead the Combined Fleet into war. It was merely formalizing that which was already determined--that which, for all intents and purposes, had been determined at the Imperial conference of July 2. Only accession by the U.S. and Great Britain to permitting continued aggression in East Asia by Japan and halting of all aid to China would have been sufficient after that date to avoid the result, especially as trade was cut off at the end of July in response to the move into Indochina with the permission of Vichy. No one could accuse the United States or Great Britain of stubborn resistance to reasonable demands; the demands were absurdly violative of human rights and international law. For any country to have acceded to them would have been nothing short of a war crime and a crime against humanity--just as the attack on Pearl Harbor was nothing less.

With grave foreboding in mind, Yamamoto accepted his orders. He did not so much dread the consequence of world opinion for such an outrageously piratical act, but rather being caught while performing it, having his entire Fleet, and consequently his country, reduced instanter to a third-rate power. It would have been far better and more merciful to both his role in history and his countrymen had he not planned so thoroughly his raid and achieved withal so unmercifully its success, with the confident good blessings of his gods.

As shown by the chart below, that which Vice-Admiral Nagumo used as his First Air Fleet made its way to Hawaii, the Task Force, now in its eighth day at sea, some 3,000 miles along its path to infamy, was this date, having turned the corner, now proceeding southeast to its terminus, 200 miles north of Oahu. It was for Nagumo the most critical time for the voyage, as the closer the Fleet came to Hawaii, the more likely there would be discovery and confrontation.

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