The Charlotte News

Thursday, March 27, 1941


Lo! 'tis a gala night
Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,
Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly;
Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
Invisible Wo!

That motley drama!--oh, be sure
It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased forever more,
By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness and more of Sin
And Horror the soul of the plot.

But see, amid the mimic rout,
A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude!
It writhes!--it writhes!–-with mortal pangs
The mimes become its food,
And the seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.

Out--out are the lights--out all!
And over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
And the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
And its hero the Conqueror Worm.


The Second Amendment says: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

It does not say, "The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed," as it is so often quoted.

Do gun toters think that the first two clauses are there just to sound pretty?

Learn to read, before you learn to shoot at us.

If we say, God as an entity, and a code of laws written down pursuant to the entity’s will, being necessary to achieve common conscience among God’s people, the right to sacrifice daily unto God, shall not be infringed by the elders of the tribe, then is that the same thing as saying simply that the right to sacrifice unto God shall not be infringed by the elders of the tribe?

Of course, it is not. For the first clauses modify and explain the latter one, limiting its scope, probably to that of simple supplication. Otherwise, the tribe would go about and set up as the daily sacrifice any living thing quite handy and which they don’t like and deem expendable and capable of being immediately tossed to the flames. The laws and God, forming the conscience of the tribe, limit that which may be used as the daily sacrifice.

Accord the Second Amendment its true meaning by making it illegal to own or possess a handgun except as part of the National Guard, our militia, after rigorous training therein. To possess a gun will be a felony punishable by 5 to 25 years in prison. Zero tolerance. Confiscation of assets when one is found in a house or car. We have this policy for drugs already. Why not guns?

And, ban the sale of bullets also commercially.

Our violence will go down immediately and measurably, we promise; and in the bargain we will stop being Fascists very soon, as we will awaken again to what reality ought be like in this country without all of that tension we seem to crave so badly, over who might be the next lunatic shooter or terrorist. In a few years, we might even not need the metal detector companies anymore. We are sorry that most of these security expert firms will go out of business in that event. But they can always find plenty of work in the banana republics, where the "rule of law" is always uttermost in the hand holding hands with the hands holding the coppers.

At least, require a warning label able to be read by corrected 20-20 vision from ten feet away which states something to the effect: "WARNING: This is a firearm. It is known to fire a projectile which causes serious injury or death. It may kill you or someone else. Approximately 30,000 people per year die in the United States from its use. Do not use or possess it while intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other medication; do not use or possess it while angry or upset. Keep this firearm in a safe, locked place while not using it. Keep it out of the hands of children. You may be arrested and imprisoned for a felony in many states for merely possessing this firearm on your person in a concealed manner. Check your state and local laws governing its possession and use. If you use it during the commission of a crime, it will significantly increase your sentence, and is more likely to lead to death or serious injury, including the user’s own, resulting from the crime. Consult a responsible person before using this weapon for any purpose. Do not fire it at anyone or near anyone, as ricocheting bullets will also cause death or serious injury."

Can’t fit all of that on the barrel or grip of the gun? Tough. You can’t manufacture it then. If found in possession of one without the warning permanently embossed, you go to jail for a year.

But what about the right of self-defense?

You really won’t need to worry so much of it if all are disarmed. Your sense of security by the gun is quite silly and false anyway. For, if someone wants to get you, the likelihood that having a gun by your bedside, in your car, or in your vest pocket, will prevent it is remote. You could always stay awake all night and keep vigil. But, in time, your lack of sleep will produce psychosis and you will then likely murder one of us with your gun. Thus…

Incidentally, we see where the professor of Mr. Cho, who, reminiscent of Officer Krupke, kicked him out of her class for his "mean" behavior and foul plays and otherwise anti-social conduct, is a fan of deceased rapper Tupak Shakur. She even sports a tattoo, so says the wicked-pedia reference to her, which says "Thug Life", in dedication to Mr. Shakur, because, as the wicked-pedia says she said, "I’d rather be with the thugs than the people who are complaining about them."

Mr. Shakur, of course, was known for his tame lyrics--wholesome, sweet, magnanimous, without any hint of nasty words, even as double entendre--cleaner than even Shakespeare or the Bible in fact.

You may confirm the clarity, subtlety, delicacy, sensitivity, and overall absence of salinity of Mr. Shakur’s mind and lyrical words by simply taking a quick gander, for instance, at the wholesome message contained within his tone poem, "Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z."

In any event, nothing such as those filling Mr. Cho’s plays about his character, the unruly and spurned interloping stepfather, Dick McBeef, or the other, Mr. Brownstone. But to us, the filthy words are really not objectionable in any event; it is rather that he stops his protagonist in the middle to ponder the significance of the name, inanely so and at some length, of his principal antagonist in each play--bad form, budding playwrights, we think; never have your lead character, only perhaps your Fool, stop to ponder the significance of a name of another character, for then you are forming too many echoes within your own putative head for others to ponder whether or not you may in fact be insane.

What, after Cho’s sin?

It seems to us that a more sensible approach than booting the young man from class or urging counseling would have been to have members of the class act out his play, with him providing direction, along with that of three or four other selected plays, and in that achieve feedback to him as well as enabling some form of integration with members of the class.

But it was not drama, some might respond, rather creative writing.

Yet, understanding from a distance how it sounds and reads might better form self-criticism in the author to tone down the mindless string of colorful descriptors just to fill some white space.

Candidly, we think, as things are, there may be a catching strain of insanity in the entire country, a growing impatience with each other, a growing tendency to adopt an attitude of exclusivity, turning a deaf ear to anyone’s complaint about it, of which the results of 9-11 are only the tip of the iceberg, something which has plagued the country increasingly since the end of World War II.

It is, to be blunt, a subtle and growing respect for the inherent philosophical premises underlying Nazism, a form of it simply without the armbands and goosestep and other silly symbols; and, by equal turns, a growing disrespect for the rational, for the reasoning process itself, and for anyone who dares still to employ it on occasion.

Stop making sense, they say.

It seems that we did that some time ago.

Again, 60% who say handguns are perfectly alright in the wake of an event such as the one last week, convey to us majority insanity already, nay, formulaic bases for Nazism, on the part of this 60% of our country. The fact that Nazis are stupid does not excuse Nazism; the fact that a majority wants to toss the Constitution as it is written is no excuse for it to be so.

This young woman, a survivor of the December 1, 1997 Paducah, Ky. school shooting, for instance, and this gentleman, by contrast, both seem to us to be quite reasonable, eminently sane, and of general good sense. The young woman from Paducah, in fact, has our vote should she ever run for President.

While on the subject of madness, we also see where a college in Boston discharged a finance professor for saying in class that these shootings at V.P.I. pale beside daily death statistics out of Iraq or daily death tolls from A.I.D.S.

Since 33 deaths on a given day equate to an average total, if repeated daily every day, of 12,045 in a year, the professor made an accurate and poignant statement: official statistics of deaths of United States personnel in Iraq stand, after four years, at about 3,300, with Iraqi deaths being officially estimated at more than 54,000, (a kill ratio, incidentally, of at least 16:1--not bad, not bad at all, Dr. Fremdliebe), thus at least about 38 per day; according to the CDC, there were 17,011 reported deaths from A.I.D.S. in the United States alone in 2005, or about 47 per day.

He might have added other diseases, and, for instance, automobile accidents, as well: according to CDC statistics for 2003, 349,000 by heart disease, or a little less than 1,000 per day; 96,000 by cerebrovascular disease; 68,000 by lung and bronchus cancer; 66,000 by chronic lower respiratory disease; 45,000 by Alzheimer’s; 42,000 (including 379 men) by breast cancer; 39,000 by diabetes; 36,000 by flu or pneumonia; 28,000 by colorectal cancer; and 43,000 by automobile accidents in 2003—all thus superseding by at least 200% the fatalities in Virginia, if extrapolated to a daily average.

And, it is arguable certainly that all, every one of these deaths, is preventable: by banning handguns or their bullets in the case of the instance at hand, and, as to the diseases, by better, more responsible diet, better exercise regimen, cutting out cigarettes, excessive sweets and carbohydrates and junk food, taking better care of our air and environment generally, placing less stress on the corporate need to make money, repudiating the corporate principle of loss-benefit analysis, that is, as with kill ratios, how many widgets causing injury or death resulting in lawsuits will counterbalance potential profits, and realizing that such a principle is counter-productive to all of us, whether corporate whiz kid, street hustler, or ordinary consumer in between.

So, the professor made his point, we think, and did place the matter in proper perspective.

On the other hand, there were only 3,575 deaths in the United States in 2005 by something as common from nature and man as fire, about 30% of the extrapolated death toll of Mr. Cho, acting alone in the course of three hours with two handguns he purchased quite legally and via the proper check and waiting period, even if a checkbox on a form by a judge, under strict application of the law, would not have permitted him to buy these guns--would not have so permitted him yet to buy them, anyway. (And, just how many people, even so, without such a checkbox on a form, ought have a checkbox on a form, is, while indeterminable, in our estimation, probably astronomical in the United States, judging by even a quick read of any given day’s newsprint in whole, and for years past, decades past.)

But even more to the point, the professor could have cited the Department of Justice reports for 2003, indicating that of the 7,831,000—that is, seven million, eight hundred and thirty-one thousand, or about 3.3 percent of the entire U.S. population, in just one year—just 1.6% were turned down among this nearly eight million sum of those who legally acquired guns under the Brady Bill in 2003. And that does not count the five or six times that many or more who acquired them illegally.

Nuts to you if you own a handgun. You are but human; and human beings get riled on occasion and do things arbitrarily and anomalously. And we do not wish to be around you, therefore, if you’ve a gun handy.

Deaths by firearms in the country in 2004 numbered 29,569, or about 81 per day; less than half, 40%, 11,624, were from deliberate, intentional acts resulting in homicides, 32 per day; 16,750, or 56%, were suicides, 46 per day; and 649, of which 311 were from legal intervention, were from accidental causes.

Thus, Mr. Cho’s single three-hour act met the daily 24-hour requisite, based on 2004’s statistics, for homicides from firearms in the United States. His final act constituted, however, only 1/46th of the self-inflicted fatal firearm violence on any such given day.

Good, some cynic might say in blackness. Let the little gun-toters shoot themselves all they wish.

But, as salutary as that premise might at first seem, just how many of those self-inflicted deaths came after homicides is not reported.

And, how many of those committing suicide by a gun might not have and gone on to get over whatever transitory problem of depression or solitude or ultimate alienation, ultimate abysmal confrontation with existence itself, might not have, that is, without the easy-clean reach for the scarification remedy of a gun, by instead getting out in nature a little--and with it, not shooting one’s companions with a deer rifle in a hunting accident--, walking off some of that fat from the middle and the head region, and relaxing a bit one’s finger on the trigger, is also not reported.

This professor also demonstrated to his class, with a felt tip marker substituting for a gun, how, when he paused to scratch his head, a student with a gun could have shot him. This, of course, while within freedom of speech, as he only implicitly counseled self-defense, not offensive violence, and we think probably not therefore grounds for firing, does convey to us, though we understand a professor’s intent perhaps to provide a tension-breaker in the midst of what could become a chaotic climate of fear, some strange logic on the part of the professor nevertheless: First, why should a gunman scratch his or her head in the midst of an act of mass murder? Second, why would anyone innocent bring a gun to class to shoot the shooter? Would any student really feel comfortable and safe packing books to the wild frontier classroom—of Boston, knowing that his fellow students were packing? Third, if the class gunman hero missed in his momentary draw, aim, and fire to hit the head-scratching gunman, then of course, the class hero would likely not live to tell the tale, while giving the gunman a more loaded incentive then, and another gun, to kill even more.

Moreover, while it is true regarding the outmatching of this single dramatic tragedy by the usual daily death tolls in Iraq, as well as any of our major killer diseases, there is a profound difference. Those who die of disease at least have the comfort of being able to say goodbye to their relatives and friends in life over some period of time. It may be a small comfort, but it does not leave the kind of sudden, unexpectedly shocking, gaping hole in a living life that a murder victim or accident victim leaves behind. And, as to death in warfare, the risk is undertaken by the soldier knowingly, especially in an all-volunteer armed forces. And again, goodbyes can be made with full knowledge that the soldier may not return from war alive. While cold comfort, as any death, especially for those not fulfilling their three score and ten at least, is always a sad and dramatic loss to those who are sensitive to their loved ones, that ability to say the last farewell was never available to those close to the victims of the rampage at V.P.I.

Perhaps, rather than dismissing the Boston professor at Emmanuel College, however, he might instead be required to attend some sensitivity seminars in order to regain his sense of equanimity, or to teach finance to crippled gunshot victims. Right about now, it seems, more than ever, we need people coming out of business schools with some greater feeling for humanity than merely seeing each of us as potential consumers of widgets, or guns, in the marketplace.

We do begin to wonder, after these last couple of weeks, just what it is going on at our college campuses these days. Has the infiltration of corporate money over time finally taken its toll until these are little more than factory extensions and shills for corporate Fascism? Has 24-hour cable news now once and for all so infiltrated our collective psyche with daily instant tragedy as to provide the substitute for acquisition of deeper information and insight by reading, of the present and of times past, for sense and rational contemplation and perspective on that which we have read, rendering our laws and Constitution finally mere ephemera unworthy even of lip service?

We begin to think so.

It has long been a problem, we have heard it reported, at our schools of higher education which stress engineering and architecture, these rigorous, taut disciplines, mingling students undertaking stressful pursuits with students in the liberal arts part of the given college. They eat together, sleep in the same dormitories, walk and study by each other on campus, but are miles apart often in the relative disciplines on which their minds are forced to focus, one side of the campus being in the right brain network in their studies, the other primarily on the left brain, or at least not quite so far to the right.

We can readily identify with this phenomenon: we attended the same school as an undergraduate to which we returned, after taking a year out to travel, for the rigors of law school. The two were totally different experiences. Had we been living and studying around our freshmen dorm mates, setting aside the age and maturity differential, as first year law students, undoubtedly we would have quickly gone insane. (They would have likely not liked us much either.) Have you ever had the experience of sitting quietly in your dorm room, possessed with some oversight responsibility vested in you by virtue of election by your peers, of hearing some horribly loud ruckus echoing out from the hallowed hallway on the other side of your door, then peering out to inquire of the matter, only to see some dozen completely naked of these same peers sliding on their bare foretaws down the soap-slickened tile hallway, as if it were a water slide, knowing and realizing yourself that just less than a week before, the same rowdies, a little in their cups, had gone on a glass bottle breaking campaign along the same hallway; well, we shall not complete the thought… We were freshmen then. By the time of the rigors of law, there was not the same sort of pressure in society fortunately, but we still imagine that dorm life would have been intolerable, as it was by the time we became sophomores in our undergraduate studies, which is why we lived in a dorm only one year—though our peers we continued to visit and like and respect.

In any event, we think perhaps some creative curriculum reassessment and with it a living environment re-orientation, at some of our colleges and universities, maybe all of them, some more greatly integrative curriculum, interdisciplinary studies—as the young South Korean woman who lost her life at Virginia Tech was planning to pursue—might be in order. It might be time to turn back to the less structured curricula available in the late 1960’s and 1970’s at our major colleges and universities, and realize that the process then did turn out responsible and quite well-educated citizens, responsible citizens who can think, not mindless robots well-versed in technical fields, but with a level of evidence of contemplation deeply of ideas and compassion for their fellow humans disturbingly in remission or lacking altogether, as with Mr. Cho.

We also must suggest that it is entirely possible, from our read of it, that Mr. Cho was autistic. Indeed, some of the fixation of wording within his plays might convey the notion, as well as his overall behavior pattern since he was a small child, apparently. (The characterization in "Rainman" being only one type of manifestation of autism; the Center for Disease Control having recently stated that 1 in 150 children suffer from some form of autism these days.) Certainly, his unusually solitary, non-communicative behavior throughout life conveys as much. But we are not experts in the field and never had contact with Mr. Cho and so we don’t know.

We do not, again, blame anyone but Mr. Cho for the deaths that he alone caused. Nevertheless, we must stop bullying people and we must call the hands of bullies, whether those hands are judges, prosecutors, college professors, poets, corporate endowed lecturers, presidents, kings, senators, congressmen, gas station attendants. Simply because one has economic security, permanently or just of the moment, or temporarily outnumbers another in the given setting, is not ground legally or morally to bully someone. (We are talking about bullying, not calling someone a name or making offhand silly comments about them. Bullying is coercive action or deliberate defamation, vigilanteism, keeping an informal watch on someone, passing scurrilous and unfounded rumors, and the like.) There is a strain of it going on in this culture, as it has been for some time, but increasingly so. People are insisting on testing each other, as if engaging in social Darwinism, consciously. Get rid of those who can’t take it; identify someone you don’t like and push them off the edge of the world if you can. If they don’t go willingly, then put shoulder to the plough, as you don’t wish to look bad and insensitive as a bully, and so enlist the support of others through patent lies or merely simply whipping up emotions over those unfounded rumors, rumors trumped up on miniscule conduct as often as not, often trumped on completely innocent conduct.

It is not a wise thing to do to begin with. For the bully may wind up on the floor—where they belong. Indeed, the bully may wind up testing the last limit of a Mr. Cho, only to find out too late that he or she was testing such a person the while, trying to push overboard and ruin the life of someone they declared did not fit into their social environs, one who turns out to be a soon-to-be mass murderer—the bullies then having their sadistic little wishes finally fulfilled in a horrible reality, their vicarious method of getting back at the world for their own sense of victimization by it. The final ability to say: "See, I told you. He was a psycho."

Sometimes, we think that some of these bullying lunatics do it coldly and deliberately, predatorily, find some person either they don’t like or who they perceive as a weak victim, and focus on that person as the outcaste, slander, rumor-monger, all as a means themselves of finding a subject by which to commiserate, to form a convenient basis for socializing with the others, then run away and watch the reality play played out on the conveniently labeled and bullied boy or girl, obtaining from it both their sadistic enjoyment of having wielded power over life, and formed a new friend in the common pursuit, a vicarious thrill from watching others die or suffer at the hands of the lunatic they created.

But, if that is the way of it, then who pays for that lack of understanding, that failure to reach out to Cho and to try to integrate him better to the social environs, to disengage the bully from his studied quarry, to disengage the bullied from his vengeful track on those to pay, like a black chain letter, for the bullying, not ostracize him worse than he already was or perceived himself to be?

And, if proven, these bullies might become aiders and abettors or co-conspirators to mass murder, in an instance such as that of Mr. Cho’s rampage, and wind up bullying and being bullied the rest of their lives in prison. That, some of these more sedulous bullies do deserve and it would suit them well, in fact. The first prosecutor to prosecute such a bully for aiding and abetting murder and send one to prison for life for it will indeed become a hero to millions.

Best watch that bullying step.

But, not my job, you say, to watch out and separate the bullied from the bully, before the tragedy, to seek to bring rapprochement between them, diplomatically and creatively to find ways to integrate them to the social environs.

We disagree, if we are to live together in a society. It is our primary job everyday to see that all within our reach, each who we encounter in any meaningful sense, is well-integrated, certainly to refrain from doing anything which will further alienate someone already alienated who is doing little or nothing in fact to be an offensive pest.

Incidentally, the boy’s full nickname, Ishmael Ax, (spelled "Ismail" in the Qur’an), having become the subject of analysis in the news, appears, we venture, to refer to circumcision, as God commanded Abraham to do unto his sons at the age of 13, thus to become a man, Ishmael becoming the first of the tribe to undergo the practice. When one considers that in light of a constant thread of ideation and exclamatory epithet within Mr. Cho’s plays, one understands, perhaps, the dark joke which Mr. Cho may have intended with that nickname. Just as with his other nickname on his e-mail, just as with his suggesting that he had been to North Carolina at Thanksgiving, 2005 to visit his old friend, Vladimir Putin, just as with his reference to his imaginary girlfriend who visited him from Mars. (As to the latter, cf. "The Mysterians", 1957, or Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut; as to Mr. Putin, we have yet to hear of his having visited North Carolina, but we shall let you know if we see him.) We won’t dignify it with any further explanation. We venture to say that his whole act before Monday a week ago was that of an overly whimsical jokester who was then taken far too seriously by his fellows--a fifteen year old socially in the mind and body of a twenty-three year old, one who had not learned apparently the basic precept that there is a time and place for silliness and a time and place for seriousness--until it all finally became a dark, horrible reality, no longer a joke at all.

But then again, as we suggested, he may have been a tragic victim of undiagnosed autism, not that the condition necessarily leads a person to any form of violence, but that if untreated, it might have produced such frustration and anger in him, the question as to why he was so different from the rest, as to result finally in his cruel and desperate retribution against the world.

Whether merely what we call extreme shyness, however, or autism, to mock such a person is very much the same as mocking a crippled person or a retarded person. For as surely as the crippled or retarded person cannot help their condition, the extremely shy person cannot control their physiological reaction to social stress, which then produces withdrawal from that which produces the anxiety and hence the resulting stigma of the "loner" or the "aloof" or what have you in some pejorative checkbox; the only difference being that the shy person may with time find ways, through practice, to lessen the physiological effects. (Demosthenes, they say, ran into the ocean wind, chewing pebbles from the beach, and yelling, to learn to talk without physiological anxiety forming autonomically.)

But the mistake is often made of assuming it is a psychological condition, when it is not. The condition to which we are referring is physiological, purely and simply, often caused by hypertension, often situation specific. Mr. Cho's mind told him to be tense in class and around others because, no doubt, his subconscious mind was protecting him from the childhood taunts he endured over his accent and funny clothes and so on, telling his conscious mind and body functions even fifteen years later at 23 to react in that accustomed way to that situation, autonomically. He had no more control over it than a person has with their breathing and heart rate generally. It would be deemed rather stupid to treat a sprained ankle by sending the person to a psychologist to see what motivated the person to fall down the stairs in the first place. But, as with blood-letting practices before the seventeenth century in medicine, psychology and psychiatry have a long way to go.

So, all that sadness said, hello and goodbye.

"I am come of a race noted for vigor of fancy and ardor of passion. Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence--whether much that is glorious--whether all that is profound--does not spring from disease of thought--from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect."

The car, we discover, in which President and Mrs. Roosevelt were riding to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas in 1936, incidentally, where and when the President set off a dynamite charge to break ground for the Main Building at Austin, was not a Lincoln, as we identified it previously, but rather a 1928 Packard--not that it changes the point which the otherwise ordinary picture makes to us today.

Also, the team which, by beating our old alma mater back in January, prompted us to make light remark, in discrimination, about the game, which we didn’t actually even get to see or hear, that it would lead them to the cellar, (as it did lead them downward for a bit), followed then by our equally light apology for same later in mid-March, in our rhyming rendering of the note associated with January 29, 1940, was, coincidentally, Virginia Tech.

For what it’s worth.

We applaud the Senate and House for submitting a Bill to the President to end the War.

Now, Mr. President, if we could only get you on board the Train, whose whistle is blowing, and which can be heard far and wide, they say, for even so far as a hundred miles.

The debate among the Democrats last night, incidentally, was not bad. Very articulate.

Best answer in all of it was "Yes".

Someone was quoted, as part of a question to one candidate, to the effect that if Patton were around he would have called for the censure of Senator Reid for indicating that the war in Iraq is lost, that such is treason. We might respond that if the real General George S. Patton, not George C. Scott, had lived into the age of thermonuclear device proliferation, and had charge of the reigns of the red horse, he would have either changed dramatically or we would all likely not be here to contemplate it or to make asinine comments about it one way or the other. But Patton, as well as President Truman, did have a pretty good notion, we think, of occasionally letting loose with some foul and nasty words aimed at crazy or unthinking people, dreaming up crazy, irrelevant hypothetical notions to justify some crazy theory not joined by any slightly glancing tangent to any curve or swoop of reality or established fact, such as continuing to try to justify a war in Iraq on the basis of there having been in 2003 formal state ties to Al Qaeda. So, to whoever dreamed up that particular hypothetical regarding Senator Reid’s accurate statement: Nuts.

Besides, if George S. Patton were alive today, he would be 122 years old.

If Iraq had ever sent out a navy with submarines plying the waters, sniping at U.S. or British merchant ships carrying goods to friendly countries, around Greenland, or within even the Persian Gulf, then not too many people in this country would have had a problem justifying the war, then or now.

But, we have said it before, since 9-12 in fact; we shall say it again: this is not World War II, well-done movies playing in the heads of some not too tightened down to reality, notwithstanding. Indeed, even then, we did not join the war by sending soldiers until after a direct attack on a military objective by a sovereign power. Had President Roosevelt turned around on December 8, 1941 and declared war on Russia, for instance, most in the country would have likely decided he was not too tightened down.

A Setback

Hitler's Plans in Balkans Menaced by Yugoslavia

As this is written, the situation in Yugoslavia is still obscured by a mass of rumors. It is certain that young King Peter and an anti-German Cabinet have taken over the reins of government and that Regent Paul is in flight along with pro-Nazi ministers who signed the Axis treaty at Vienna yesterday.

It is not certain as yet that the Axis treaty has been formally repudiated. But it is altogether probable that it will be.

In any case, Adolf Hitler has undoubtedly suffered a grave reverse. Often before it has been his policy deliberately to stir up dissension in his intended victims in order to have color of excuse for intervening on behalf of a so-called government. But we may be sure that such is not the case in Yugoslavia. And that he meant to invade and gobble up that country in the end is certain. But just now he wants above all to clear his flank of the threat of that country so as to overwhelm Greece and so frighten Turkey into submission.

As it is, he seems to have another Greece on his hands. He may undertake to subdue the country by a blitzkrieg--is almost forced to undertake it if he hopes to go through with his Balkan plans. He will have no difficulty in occupying the plains, which are inhabited by the Croats. But the mountains of Serbia and Montenegro are extremely difficult to invade. And the British and the Greeks undoubtedly have forces ready to come immediately to the aid of the Serbs.

At the best, Hitler has probably lost weeks of precious time. At the worst, he may face his first defeat.

A Warning

Which Labor and Industry Will Do Well To Heed

The outbreak of violence in the Bethlehem and International Harvester strikes and the Government's almost open threat in the Allis-Chalmers case give point to what Mrs. Norton, chairman of the House Labor Committee, said yesterday.

"I am unalterably opposed to strike legislation, but I have sense enough to know that unless labor unions get together and declare a truce, for the duration of the war, in jurisdictional disputes, and employers and employees compromise their differences, it will be impossible... to prevent this legislation or even to preserve the legislation we have worked so hard to enact."

No rational person supposes, of course, that labor is always entirely to blame for these disputes which tie up national defense industries. Nor is it supposed that labor ought to be content to let industry pocket huge profits while wages remain unchanged and the cost of living mounts. Bethlehem Steel's anti-union policy is notorious, and the company must take at least equal blame for the strike.

But what is clear is that both management and labor should be willing to submit their quarrels to arbitration at the hands of the Defense Mediation Board--where both can count on a square deal. And that strikes ought not to be resorted to until such arbitration is completed. Both labor and management have great stakes in insuring a victory over Hitler, and both are likely to come in for public disapproval and stern legislation if they persist in selfishly disregarding the national interest.

Greek Censor

Garrulous One Is Put In His Place Quietly

Last night we learned to understand the Greeks, to appreciate in a small measure the difficulties which beset the Italians on their attempted foray into Greece. We learned a lesson in finesse.

A radio commentator explained to his [indiscernible word] audience that it had heard his Athens correspondent merely say "Hello and goodby" on the broadcast of the night of the [indiscernible word]. A Greek censor had pulled out the plug during the body of the foreign report. A few nights earlier the Athens correspondent had slipped harmless but uncensored words into his report and the Greek official felt some rebuke was in order.

But he did not drag the radio correspondent up to the ornate offices of the Grand Vizier of Censorship. There was no tramp of marching feet in the correspondent's hotel corridor, no rap of pistol butt on a hotel door, no threat of expulsion from the country nor tight-lipped reprimand from higher authorities.

The Greek censor simply taught the correspondent a lesson by disconnecting him during his broadcast, unknown to him. He permitted the correspondent first to contact his company, then to say goodby calmly and innocently. The correspondent was not coldly threatened, rather made the butt of a Grecian joke. It was the rebuke elegant.

Moving In

Hitler Already Challenges Monroe Doctrine Intent

To say that Nazi Germany may challenge the Monroe Doctrine is a masterpiece of understatement. She is already busily engaged in challenging its implications, if not its exact letter.

The proclamation of a "war zone" extending to within three miles of Greenland represents a definite invasion of the Western Hemisphere--means that the vessels of the United States, upon whatever mission bent, can no longer ply with safety in a portion of the Western Atlantic.

It is a remarkable commentary on the silliness of those who have believed that Nazi Germany would be content to stay out of this hemisphere, and on the mad futility of appeasement.

In an attempt to placate the mad dog of Europe we ourselves, in the so-called Neutrality Act, gave up the right to the freedom of the seas we had always fought for, and invented the notion of "war zones" into which our ships must not go. Now Hitler picks up the idea and hurls it back at us--demands the right to make "war zones" as he pleases. The next one will probably extend to the shores of Canada, Jamaica, etc.

But it is quite possible that the Nazis will not rest with challenging the Monroe Doctrine by implication in regard to the Western seas but, if they get away with this, may proceed to challenge the doctrine fully by attempting to seize Greenland--a dependency of Denmark, which is already a Nazi captive.

Greenland is the only commercial source of cryolite, necessary to the production of aluminum, and so of airplanes. And the possession of the land would also give the Nazis a base, both for operations against ships bound for England and for a direct air threat to the United States in the hope of frightening us out of the aid-Britain program.

Ship Hunt

Britain Must Run Down And Destroy Nazi Raiders

From Berlin comes a great deal of bragging about an alleged "eye-witness" account of the attack of the German squadron on a British convoy, in which 22 ships are said to have been sunk. British ships came up, the Nazis boast, and though they included one battleship of the Malaya class, did not dare attack. So, while the German surface ships held them off, German submarines worked their will on the convoy.

The probability of all this is that the Malaya, a relative slow ship of the last war, couldn't come close enough to the faster Nazis to bring them within range of her formidable 15-inch guns.

In any case, the Nazis aboard the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the two 26,000-ton German battleships, and other Nazi vessels now in the Atlantic, have no reason for great self-congratulation. For they are upon an expedition almost as suicidal as that the Kaiser's Navy refused at Hamburg in 1918.

The operation of these vessels in the Atlantic creates the gravest peril for Britain's communications with the United States. And so, inevitably, we may believe that the greatest ship hunt of our time is already underway.

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