The Charlotte News

Saturday, April 12, 1941


Site Ed. Note: The first piece was re-printed in Joseph Morrison's biography of Cash in 1967, and has consequently been at the site since the beginning in 1998.

"...beyond the coming Summer the return again of Death." One could say of course that from this line, Cash was perhaps foreseeing his own incumbent death, less than a mere three months hence. But, he had spoken in similar terms about the concept of Easter in 1939 and 1940 also.

Was it different this time? Was this a harbinger of suicide imminent?

Yet, this was not some private note but rather a newspaper column accessible to anyone taking the time to read it. And, no doubt, some of those readers, given the fanatical tone of some of the letters to the editor in this period, felt it sacrilegious to suggest that their Easter was pagan in its origins, indeed stood as much for a change of the seasons as for the enduring blood of redemption on the cross.

And one does not thusly upset the supreme wizards beneath the vizards within such fanatical mindsets and live to tell the tale. For the wages of sin, after all, presumes death.

So, by equal turns of speculation, one can say as easily, indeed, with far better ground, that someone reading it may have passed it along within their reticulum of acquaintances, and that it therefore, through this vizarded passage, made its way eventually all the way to Mexico, to combine with some other matters and coincidences of timing, making it particularly convenient for some nefarious interests in Mexico aligned with a certain foreign power, those who desperately needed by July 1, 1941 a ransom note of a sort to the United States Government, to afford safe passage for themselves out of Mexico and back to Germany without suffering the fate which their compatriots in their reticulum had befall them during the weekend before in New York City--arrest by the F.B.I. This dramatic interdiction of spy operations, netting 32 in all, the largest single spy arrest in U.S. history, and the perception that the same trap was laid imminent for springing on the remainder of the chief North American operation, that extant in Mexico, plus the contingency plan already in place within the Abwehr to take a Mexican journalist as hostage by way of arrest in Germany, should the spy operations in Mexico become threatened by Mexican authorities, made such a move particularly inviting. But with an amendment: given the inevitable perception, gleaned from the headlines of the day, that the spy operations there were now threatened, not by Mexican authorities, but by the United States, even if that perception was at the time erroneous, not a Mexican journalist in Germany, but an American journalist, vulnerable in Mexico, presented the better target. And with no time to spare, and no means for arrest available, their efforts at following him in the preceding days in the hope he might get mad and perhaps take to assaulting one of them, having failed, the only way around the whole matter of certain arrest and possible execution, with their ally, Nazi oil supplier, William Rhodes Davis, whom Cash, in a piece in January, had labeled a traitor for his nefarious and oily dealings, staying at the Reforma Hotel at this very time in mid-June, readily supplying aid and comfort and necessary bribe money to the operation, was to coerce the target to cooperation by threatening death to those near the target; and if the target refused that cooperation, to act as a strategic go-between with Josephus Daniels to enable good will and publicity for some newly sought trade interests between Davis, his friends in Germany, and Mexican banking interests, then the target's own death as the final warning shot over the bow of the United States, should disembarkation of the spies back to Germany be interceded in some way, would be the inevitable last resort.

And, of course, Josephus Daniels himself as Ambassador had found the visit to Mexico by his fellow Tar Heel, Senator Robert Rice Reynolds, just the previous summer, quite embarrassingly problematic and had desired a way to engineer his quick exit before he single-handedly spoiled the good will built up for the Good Neighbor Policy over the course of the preceding seven years--Robert Rice Reynolds, a favorite target of Cash and The News, indeed even singled out as such a regular Cash target in a story appearing in The News on May 29 upon Cash's departure for Mexico; Robert Rice Reynolds whom Cash had just accused in these early April columns of being no different, in his anti-alien ravings and his leadership of the Vindicators, from the anti-Semitic groups at large in the country, sympathetic therefore with Nazi interests; Robert Rice Reynolds, who by June, 1941 was the new Chairman of the powerful Senate Military Affairs Committee, against the consistent objections of News editorials since his seniority elevated him to that position with the death of Senator Morris Sheppard on April 9; Robert Rice Reynolds who, it was later revealed, had provided valuable French shipping information to a friend within the Abwehr in spring, 1940 when France stood at the threshold of Nazi immersion, and, by the act, himself, acquired a designation as an Abwehr agent.

But then, of course, this was just a local newspaper. No one but some locals ever read it, notwithstanding a few notable exceptions who wrote letters to the editor through time during Cash's tenure as associate editor, such as J. Edgar Hoover and newspaper magnate and candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1940, Frank Gannett. The exceptions obviously proved the rule.

And those locals to whose eyes the newspaper print was confined, of course, had no means of communication with the outside world, as there was evidently no mail or telephone or telegraph in those olden days of yore. And besides, they lacked the means of self-expression in any event.

Moreover, the mere fact that, just ten days after Cash's death, Josephus Daniels, who by happenstance had engineered Cash's wife's hurried exit from Mexico in cooperation with the State Department through hurriedly arranged credentials to circumvent local law and had also equally hurriedly arranged with Cash's wife's apparent cooperation, against Cash's parents' enunciated desires, the cremation of Cash's remains, a cremation, said the Mexican death certificate nonetheless, accomplished without proper approval from next of kin, communicated to Mexico's Foreign Minister, José Padilla, his whimsical desire, without any precipitant causal event, for the arrest of three named Nazi agents operating in Mexico, and without results, was all mere coincidence, without any connection whatsoever with the death of an obscure editor on a year-long hiatus to Mexico to write a novel about the South. As was the fact that Jonathan Daniels, the son of Josephus Daniels, and Cash's friend, had co-sponsored Cash, along with Alfred and Blanche Knopf, for the Guggenheim Fellowship which took him to Mexico. As was the designation at the same time by President Roosevelt of "Wild Bill" Donovan to be Coordinator of Information, the forerunner to the O.S.S. As was that portion then of Cash's wife's story to Joseph Morrison in 1964, that on the last night of Cash's life, she called him "Wild Bill", among a couple of other names, in an effort to distract him as he hoisted a butcher knife to protect them from what she said were his delusions of Nazi spies threatening their lives. None of that has any interconnection at all, indeed no connection at all to anything at all, as is plain.

Preposterous. Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, as everyone knows, never killed anyone. Their supposed victims were always suicides. As everyone knows.

And Mexico was at that time as clean as a hound's tooth insofar as Nazi intriguants' activities were concerned. The Germans there were mere tourists, visiting their long-lost relatives who subsided in whole German communities, as they had for decades prior to that time. As did refugees from the old South, who settled there immediately after the Civil War, led by Matthew Fontaine Maury, refugees who intermarried among the Mexican population, and had as their goal the resurrection of the Confederacy.

But, no connections at all should be gleaned from any of that to the death of an obscure North Carolina newspaper man on July 1, 1941, the same date of publication of W. C. Handy's autobiography, Father of the Blues.

Regardless of how it happened, nevertheless, "...beyond the coming Summer the return again of Death."

"But always and forever there is the Resurrection."


It Sums Up the Story of the Earth and Mankind

It is perhaps the oldest and the loveliest of man's ceremonial and holy observances--the everlasting return and the eternal resurrection. It was incalculably ancient when the first of the Beni Israel left their Bedouin brothers behind in the desert. And the name we know it by is that of an old Norse pagan goddess. And that pagan means at last nothing but country. Peasant is from the same root. Wise with hoary wisdom was the old Church when it took over the festival and bound it in with the new story of the greatest Resurrection.

It is the story of the cycle of the earth and of the impenetrable mystery of life upon the earth. First there is the dying of the harvest, and crucifixion of the golden Summer upon the shining and glorious cross of the falling days. And afterward the entombment in the sad and dark vault of brown Winter. And then again the stirring and the bursting of the bands, the breaking of the shell of the silent and weeping tomb and the trumpet voice rich with the promise of the golden Summer's return, "He is Risen!"

The story of the fecund and teeming and mysterious earth, unutterable terrible and unutterably beautiful. And of man--earthbound and terrible and bloody and aspiring man, with his fateful dream within him. The fragile leaf and the white bud and the new-born babe. And the great triumphant chorus and the brooding sadness which sees in the bud the shriveling of the rose, beyond the coming Summer the return again of Death.

But always and forever there is the Resurrection.

Site Ed. Note: The former Serbian city of Monastir is now the city of Bitola in Macedonia. Phlorina is in Greece.

Nazi Gains

What Turkey Does Is Crucial For Real Objectives

The Nazi break-through at Monastir Pass and advance to Phlorina does not mean that the Balkan campaign is lost. But it suggests uncomfortably that the Nazi Panzer divisions are able to cut into the defense lines wherever they please.

Phlorina was one of the principal objectives before which Mussolini came to disaster last Winter. The approach from Yugoslavia is somewhat easier than that from Albania. Nevertheless, these are the roads which were supposed to be impassable for Panzer forces. Evidently, Hitler, with his usual thoroughness, has taken these roads into account in making his preparations for the campaign.

If the worst happens and the Balkan campaign is going to be lost, as seems more than likely, what then? Does it mean the end of the war? Not so.

Hitler's real objective is Suez and the oil fields of Mesopotamia. What Turkey does will probably be decisive there, for the Dardanelles is a far more formidable barrier than Hitler has yet encountered anywhere save in the English Channel and his chances of forcing the strait against the combined power of the facts and the British warships do not seem too good.

As for the statement that the loss of a foothold in the Balkans makes it impossible for the British eventually to attack Hitler by land--it isn't true so long as Gibraltar stands. Spain is in effect an Axis partner. It is true that a campaign proceeding from Spain would involve titanic difficulties. But so would one through the Balkans. And it must not be forgotten that it was in and through Spain that Wellington began the destruction of Napoleon.

Balky Group

Mediation Board Should Look Into This Without Delay

The Defense Mediation Board should lose no time in stepping into the coal strike and granting the Southern operators the bearing they claim they want. Western operators charge that two or three well-known Southern operators are really trying to sabotage the whole effort at conciliation. So does John Lewis. And, to say the least, they have obviously thrown a monkey wrench into the machinery by pulling out from the conference.

"Southern operators" is a misnomer in the premises. Almost none of them are in fact Southerners. Simply their mines are located in the Southern mountains and they work Southern mountaineers. They include the notorious Harlan owners, and their record in dealing with labor is perhaps the worst in the nation.

Hitherto they have enjoyed a differential of 40 cents a day as against the northern operators--paying labor $5.40 as compared with $6 elsewhere. Whether that is justified we don't know. So far as there is a difference in freight rates, they are entitled to consideration, but no further.

What they now demand, however, is a great increase in the differential. Whereas the Eastern operators are supposed to raise pay to $7 a day, these "Southern operators" offer only an eleven per cent increase on their present rates--this adds up to a wage of $8.22. That would give them a differential of 78 cents.

For this there seems no justification. And it certainly gives rise to the suspicion that the Eastern operators and the United Mine Workers are right in charging that what it all adds up to is an attempt to block the agreement, in the hope of taking advantage of the national emergency by a competitive gain.

City Politics*

Littlejohn, We Believe, Is Only a Side Issue

The least desirable and most confusing of all things that could happen in the city election would be for Frank Littlejohn to become an issue. Littlejohn, to be sure, represents more than a man and a police captain. His name has developed into something of a symbol which stands for the right, a symbol which other men, whose intentions have appeared to be unwholesome, would like to destroy.

If the campaign shapes up in that form, why, of course we all should have to turn out once more and defend Littlejohn. And if the alignment is such that one faction in the campaign takes in most of those whose intentions have appeared to be unwholesome, why, that faction ought to be defeated just for safety's sake, if no other.

But to draw the issue on that basis is to oversimplify it, to give the people a choice between black wrong and white right. We think there is more to it, and we are sort of feeling our way toward the core of it.

As far as the candidacies of Messrs. Baxter, Davis and Currie have characterized themselves, they seem to stack up like this:

Mr. Baxter and Mr. Davis are the protégés of two organizations to which the city election is important because victory there will pave the way for victory in the Congressional election next year, and give the winning crowd dominance over Mecklenburg County and the new Tenth District.

(To Mr. Baxter and Mr. Davis, however, the office of mayor itself represents, in all probability, the culmination of their political aspirations, and we think that they are taking advantage of the support of their respective organizations for wholly benevolent purposes.)

Mr. Currie is nobody's protégé, is backed by no organization except of that incipient kind which can come out of any banding together for a cause. But that is speculation. Let's leave it at this: Mr. Currie is backed by no close organization.

Now, as to which of these candidacies promises the best for the City, not only in their ethical codes but in such practical matters as the selection of a City Manager and the running of the municipal corporation, that is difficult to tell at this stage. But that will be important to know, and as time goes along and candidacies outline themselves more clearly, we hope to be able to tell.

Site Ed. Note: The rest of the page is here.

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