The Charlotte News

Friday, May 16, 1941


Site Ed. Note: Hugh Johnson's column today sounds more like a review of a late sixties music fest than an Indian medicine-man war-whoop pow-wow allegory. When juxtaposed to his consternation about the inequitable administration of the draft, as voiced yesterday, it begins to sound a bit inconsistent, as have his pieces for the past month or more. One day he appears for intervention, or at least pumping for its incidents, the next, strictly for isolation--as this day's. As the editors noted below his column, likely a note by Cash, (see his book review of Johnson's Hell-bent for War, April 16, 1941), he was receiving $750 a pop to make speeches in favor of isolationism for the America First Committee. Perhaps this sort of financial incentive colored some of his work? Perhaps he was setting up his hedgerows from within the wooden horse to shoot them down from his pillboxes above? It is hard to know; the times were out of joint.

But, taking it on its face, when set against that described by Dorothy Thompson and David Lew on the reality of the remains in the daylight of sandbagged London, the exposure now since March even of the likes of the Abbey, the Museum, and Commons to total destruction, the burying of the torn fragments in Hampstead Heath under the bulldozed rubble of memories shredded after the raids to mix again with the sands, and Cash in "French Crisis", describing the reported use of the unoccupied territory to transport Nazi troops and arms into Spain with intentions of capturing the North African Portuguese possessions of the Cape Verdes, and the Azores, the Spanish Canaries, and the port at Dakar, affording thereby Nazi control of the Atlantic and loss of America's hope of a two-ocean navy--after reading of that, the idea of delaying a commitment to the war, the idea of not even insuring safe passage of aid to Britain under Lend-Lease guarded by North Atlantic American patrols, the idea of not doing that finally which Claude Pepper urged, cutting off oil entirely to Japan and bombing Tokyo forthwith to deter further incursion into China, Indochina and the potential for new movement to the South Pacific, not doing these things appeared not only as the course inviting a worse, more bloody, more prolix war but indeed one more likely eventually, and soon, to invite the prospect of a Nazi puppet state to be set up in America itself.

And, while there was such a bloody, prolix war to win back the territory and sovereignties stolen and usurped by the Axis, the bombing raids on England ended May 10, there was no movement immediately by Hitler for the Azores, Cape Verdes, the Canaries or Dakar, no established Nazi control of either the Mediterranean or the Atlantic; instead Hitler's paranoia fueled perhaps by the internal conflict among the Nazi high command who, as Hess, hated more than anything Communists, would drive him to order his armies to decamp in the west, cease for the nonce the nightly bombing raids on Britain, and concentrate fire power on the eastern front, to attempt a grab of the bread and oil rich Ukraine from his old pal Stalin--whose troops would withstand against the onslaught and, four years hence, become the eastern pincer to ensnare Berlin, arriving first at the Beast's bunker just in time to find nothing but burned corpses of the suicide pact, the last vestiges of the remains which had during the previous six years bombed to bits the lives of millions of innocent civilians, those who merely refused to give up their homes to madmen, had imprisoned and brutally murdered millions more whose crime was no more than their birth under the Star of David.

Meanwhile, the isolationists in Congress worried more over things such as whether an employee in the Department of Interior was a Communist for her description in a book of her longing to swim again in Soviet waters where once she had worked as part of a geological survey--precursors of things to come again after the war's strange alliances temporarily sidetracked such concerns anent any hint of sympathy with a derivative of the root "commune", including finally "community".

And, the Senate Steering Committee caved and paved the way for Robert Rice Reynolds to take his turn as chairman of the Military Affairs Committee. But, on the silver-lining theory, perhaps it was Robert who convinced his personal friend Adolf to switch gears and go after Stalin, thus ultimately leading on to the entrenchment which turned the tide and led to the Nazis losing the war. Perhaps, after all, it was Robert as chairman who really won that war with the cross which is irony.

On the other hand, perhaps when Chaplin's stand-in met W.C. Fields's alter-ego in the ice cream suit, the same who snubbed the King and Queen two years earlier when they came to America, he simply consulted with his tea leaf fortune reader, Himmler, and decided that the Americans, being comprised of such haplessly harmless and happily insane creatures as this, were scarcely capable of much aiding O.B.E. in any event, except with more of their obvious ineptitude born of a childish belief in democracy, and so warranted it a more emergently exigent and worthy task, true to his most ardent supporters' spirit, to turn now and eliminate the primitive horse armies of Herring instead. Ah yes.

All, while a loyal friend of The News takes time out from the world in chaos to write a little letter condemning the riddles being printed as mere problems and unworthy therefore of the exalted position reserved for the purely enigmatic rhetoric of such device. As if the world itself of the time were not enough of a riddle for anyone's preoccupation sublime.

Riddle us up a memory, riddle-me-ree, riddle-me-ree.

There's a drip at the door, there's a drip at the door,
It's blood rumbling.
There's a plane in the air, there's a plane in the air,
It caught my mommy sleeping,
My dad's already off to war and gone for good, lost for dead.
It's cold now, very cold, as I shiver in the air
Passing with no respite, whispering through the gaping mare
By my bedstead where once my wall-hanging pictures were.
I've nowhere to go, subways are full, gone is the stair; besides,
I wish to be near mommy.

There's a drip at the door, there's a drip at the door,
It's blood rumbling.
I'm just a little one caught in this morass of war.
I didn't start it; why do they seek my walls a-crumbling?
The planes will come, they came last night,
But it's now still sullen, silent, as I shiver in the cold,
Though not from fright. I'm too tired.
Across the street this time, not here again.
Go to someone else, please. No, that's a sin.
But they got my mommy, can't you see?
My father's off to war. Why do you want me?

There's a drip at the door, there's a drip at the door.
It's blood rumbling.
I hear it now, closing. A buzz through the clouds, faint. I'm shivering.
The paint on the walls runs like curdling milk I drink,
Its blood rumbling.
My blood. It's my blood.

A tag to my foot, the soldier put, I see in sum; on it, all it said:
Dead, Hampstead Heath, unknown, May 12, 1941--

They buried all my toys, they buried all our walls,
They buried my mommy, and they buried our toils.
My dad is off to war.
Then they buried me.

But I still hear the buzzing:

There's a drip at the door, there's a drip at the door.
It's my blood rumbling.

The soil engulfs the lives unfurled
Gives place to the damp beachheads
Of the toy ships of boys and girls
Now strewn the rutted turf beneath
At Hampstead Heath, where the Thief
Who creeps, not knocks, nor weeps,
Without shem's ruth, gave only birth.

The Expected

Politics Bests National Interest in Reynolds Case

The Senate Steering Committee yesterday did exactly what everybody with any realistic knowledge of American politics knew beforehand it would do--and elevated Robert Rice Reynolds to the post of chairman of the Military Affairs Committee.

Three men stood up and voted against him--Glass, Guffey, and Green of Rhode Island. What moved old Joe Guffey we don't know. His own record in the last war suggests no excess of patriotism, and the Administration had not given the word to block Reynolds. At any rate, it is the most creditable thing he has done in the Senate.

The other members of the committee voted Reynolds into the post, though there was not a man among them who did not thoroughly know that he was unfit for the job and that his occupation of this key position in time of the greatest national peril may well prove extremely costly.

Why did they delay? First, the Republicans in the Senate had planned to capitalize on the rejection of Reynolds for partisan purposes, to back him solidly and set off a long and bitter fight to override the committee. The Administration flinched away from such a fight and left the Democrats to control their own interest.

And the interest of every Democratic Senator, like that of every Republican Senator, runs to the preservation of seniority. Under that rule, any man who serves as many as two terms in the Senate can count on getting a good deal of pork for himself. The chairmanship involves about $10,000 in salaries and clerks--a swell opportunity for nepotism.

Moreover, the chairmen of the committees are the most powerful men in the Senate. Any one of them can block any piece of legislation which falls in the province of his committee simply by never calling the committee to gather to consider it.

Such are the motives which govern the decision of the nation's highest legislative body in a time of great danger.

Odd Evidence

Does Bathing in the Arctic Prove a Lady's Communism?

"Who's Who in America," is silent about Miss (Dr.) Ruth Gruber, of the Interior Department, and we haven't read her book, "I Went to the Soviet Union." So we couldn't be positive that she isn't full of the Communism which Rep. Taber charged against her in the House Wednesday.

On the other hand, the gentleman seemed to be hard up for evidence. He waved the book about excitedly, until Rep. Bulwinkle demanded that he prove his charges by reading from it. He seemed very reluctant to do that, but at the Major's insistence a brother Republican took over and read this passage:

"But I know that someday I shall go back, and bathe again in the Yenisei at Molokev Island, take midnight walks in Igarka, work with its newspaper people and pioneers, get up at dawn at a polar station, swim in the Arctic Ocean and rush back to a steaming breakfast shouting 'Zdravstvuitye' until that full-mouthed greeting seems to ring across the Arctic."

That proves that the young woman wants, as Bulwinkle observed, to take a bath. And that she likes to shout unpronounceable things, and that she seemed to be a somewhat strenuous sort who undoubtedly would get in our hair as a vacation companion. But how it proves her Communism is not clear. Anyhow, it seems somewhat slender evidence on which to decide, as the House did decide, that she shouldn't be allowed to stay on the Interior Department's payroll.

Horse Theory

Anyhow, Wheeler Does Give It Some Plausibility

England's Labor Minister, Ernest Bevin, in London yesterday took the same position about the Hess affair that Senator Pepper took in Washington--held that Hess was another Trojan horse who came to England at the insistence of Hitler himself, to try to confuse the English and Americans with peace talk.

It sounds incredible. But Adolf Hitler [indiscernible word] in the incredible, and perhaps the possibility cannot be ruled entirely out.

Certainly, even as Bevin and Pepper spoke, the affair was already having the effect in the United States of setting Wheeler & Co. to bawling that it proved that a negotiated peace was possible and that Roosevelt ought to take the lead in trying to arrange it. Wheeler even delivered himself of the announcement that peace was clearly possible on terms fixed by the United States.

If Wheeler actually believes that, he is already over the borderline into paranoia, else he has a quaint idea of what terms the United States would propose. It seems quite probable that a man who thinks that Northcliffe is currently a publisher of newspapers in London may not have heard of Axis terms as outlined in the Tokyo Times Advertiser, organ of the Japanese Foreign Office. But it is hard to believe that a man who continually takes the line of "Facts in Review," the organ of the German Library of Information--the Nazi propaganda agency in New York--didn't read the same terms as set forth in that bulletin.

French Crisis

Mastery of Atlantic Is About To Fall to Hitler

"The people of the United States can hardly believe that the present government of France can be brought to lend itself to a plan of voluntary alliance, implied or otherwise, which would apparently deliver up France and its colonial empire, including French African colonies and their Atlantic coasts, with the menace which that involves to the peace and safety of the Western Hemisphere."

This, from the President's statement yesterday, is cast in the language of diplomacy, and does not mean what it says. The President undoubtedly does believe that the things enumerated are precisely what the Vichy Government is now preparing to do, and is seeking merely to give that government one more polite warning.

Whether Vichy plans now to use the French navy and Weygand's armies to aid the Nazi cause is not yet clear. It is more than probable, however. An excuse can be found in the fact that the British must bomb Syrian air bases to head off the Nazis now landing there with Vichy's permission, just as an excuse was found in the British attack on the French navy to breach the terms of the armistice.

What may be assumed as certain is that Vichy has given promises of full collaboration in the passage of German troops across unoccupied France to Spain, and has agreed to the Germans using the French bases in Africa. This is the heart of the matter for us.

The passage of France and Spain into the Axis involves also the automatic entry of Portugal, which of course is unable to resist. And what all this adds up to is that the Nazis are about to get, not only the French base at Dakar but also the Azores, the Canaries, and Cape Verdes. Together, these positions dominate the whole length of the Atlantic. Once they are in Hitler's hands, his attacks on British shipping can be enormously intensified, and it is far from certain that convoy can any longer be made effective.

Chances will be that the Battle of the Atlantic will be lost and that Britain will have to surrender and hand over to Hitler her navy, which means the command of the Atlantic, and her ship-building facilities. In that case we will be confronted in two oceans with naval power more than twice as great as ours, and an effective two-ocean navy will forever be out of the question, since the Axis building power will exceed ours by four or five times to one.

It is manifest, therefore, that we inexorably and immediately face a decision. If we allow Hitler to get control of the Atlantic outposts and afterwards choose to fight, we will have to fight under the worst possible conditions and against fearful and growing odds.

On the other hand, if we go on dodging the decision from crisis to crisis, then we may as well make up our minds to accept the status of a second-rate nation operating as a subordinate unit in the new Nazi world economy, with every prospect that we shall shortly have a Fascist political system established in this country under the wing of Berlin.

Site Ed. Note: Below, the 1944 map of the World Publishing Co. shows the strategic significance of the Azores, the Canaries, the Cape Verdes and Dakar, and why their control by the Nazis, especially if control had been obtained also of the British Navy would have been devastating to the United States, Mexico, and South America.

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