The Charlotte News

Saturday, May 17, 1941


Site Ed. Note: Aside from the announcement that the brief experiment at invitation to riddling for escape was put to bed, we note the letter from a resident of Clement Avenue again, who, apparently together with her sister-in-law, wrote several such letters in this period, variously cheering for Lindbergh and isolationism, as well as trumpeting eventually that the Klan was after at least one of them for it. (See the note accompanying April 28.)

The letter takes great pains to point out with direct quotes that on September 11, 1940, and then again on October 30, the President made his campaign promise not to commit Americans to war short of direct attack on the country.

And of course he kept his pledge. But whereas by enforcing that pledge, after a fashion, the isolationists had their say and had their way for a time, did they not in all probability effect a far longer and more costly war than had ample aid at least been provided Great Britain earlier or with greater commitment to protecting its voyage through the Luftwaffe and submarine nets to Southampton and Liverpool? Liverpool, for instance, had just been carpet-bombed during the early days of May, Goering having first waged war in August, 1940 on the RAF fields, then viciously turning attention in September to London, later Bristol, strictly civilian targets, to weaken the will of the British with the hope of provoking pressure on Parliament and Churchill to surrender. The contrary proved itself. But how long could they hold against the onslaught without surrendering the Channel to direct invasion? Such was still the dripping question in mid-May, as no one then knew the planned strategy to remove the greater part of the forces to the eastern front.

What many of the isolationists and hardcore Firsters wanted, of course, was not the preservation of peace, but rather the assurance of annihilation of a race of men in Europe, stemming the flow of emigrés to these shores, something they accomplished also through their lobbied pols as with the ill-fated voyage of the St Louis in June, 1939, producing a nicely pure Aryan world in which Nazism would thrive as the new order, no doubt eventuating, by their expectations, in African-Americans and most other groups identifiably distinguishable from pure white Aryan aristocracy being yoked similarly to labor camps and their inevitable death throes. Perhaps, it was no accident, then, that they chose as their most visible spokesperson a man who, fourteen years earlier, had flown the Atlantic to now Nazi-occupied Paris, embraced of the new Napoleon, in a plane called "The Spirit of St. Louis". But what they were now showing was anything but the unraveling of deep mystery in the show-me, Gateway to the West spirit, Biblical or otherwise, only prejudice of ages old.

That belief, residual as it may be of primitive instincts, stupid as it may be for its effort to equate human beings with stock animals, still persists in some of those America Firster children and grandchildren to this day--those who seek to use the corporate welfare system as their enslavement device.

It was indeed the same pretentious, idiotic, vindictive notions which drove the country into Iraq five years ago, though Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with the events of September 11, 2001, carried out by 19 suicidal madmen operating, not for any sovereign or any "Axis of Evil", but rather from the axis of their own megalomaniacal madness, the transposition of the superego "god" concept with the normally inhibited id drives, including most prominently the predatory instinct--the same which the Firster children and grandchildren use to spite their perceived enemies within this culture, the trumpeting of "morals" as an excuse to destroy, all in the name of "peace", but one on their terms, the Pax Romana of the ancien régime.

That the invasion of Iraq upset people different from themselves, that it involved war against someone different from themselves, perceived as weaker than themselves, vindicated that nasty little primitive predatory streak in them. And anyone who dared to stand in their way was labeled a "traitor", to be shunned and despised--no form of defamatory remark aimed at them being too dastardly to utter. Quislings--quislings were those who protested the invasion of Iraq on pretext never proved, Quislings who sold out Norway to the Nazis in spring, 1940. Nazis, who had in March, 1938 rigged the election to their advantage to enable annexation of Austria, in September, 1938, to establish their authority in Czechoslovakia. Of course. What could be clearer?

Such persons always wish to prey on people they perceive as weaker than themselves because, at base, as individuals, they are weaklings, capable of nothing except ruthless force exerted in groups of one sort or another, based entirely on emotion bent on destruction of some other they set up as their enemy, the person or persons responsible for their perceived negative plight in life, no matter the reason for that target, indeed usually in spite of all reality militating to the contrary. They despise self-sufficiency in the other and always wish to destroy it because it reminds them of their own inherent weaknesses, the need to depend on the group or at least some others for their power and sense of accomplishment, that no praise comes to them as individuals--and so they prey on anyone who has that self-sufficiency to achieve individually at virtually anything. It isn't that they don't admire the self-sufficiency; usually, they do. It is that in the final analysis they feel helpless and weak before it finally and so perceive the need to destroy it, necessitating destruction of the person capable of it, before it vanquishes their own self-perceived individual ineptitude, one proved to themselves time and again through life.

Their ethic and methodology are lying and cheating to obtain their destructive goal against these perceived enemies. Just as the good little Nazis they, in all essentials, plainly emulate and, in secret, still revere.

They will rejoinder of course that, to the contrary, they wanted to insure the elimination of the supposed weapons of mass destruction aimed at Israel and thus preserve the status quo in the region from this threat. Nazis? Why, nothing could be further from the truth, my friend. We like the Jew.

But it was a threat which not only never existed but was accepted without a shred of proof and ballyhooed as the pretext cynically, fully knowing no such weapons existed or at least insulating themselves from the possibility of any admission of facts contrary to the end fore-adopted.

The goal has nothing to do with protecting Israel; the goal is to eliminate someone different from themselves, starting with the handiest target on which emotion may be built to enable a scapegoat; but once the power would be demonstrated and established in swift and resistless victory, just as with Hitler and the Sudetenland and Poland, it would never thereafter be satiated as to any who would stand in their way offering the slightest resistance.

Frustrated with their attempts at it domestically, checked at least to some degree by the laws of the land, they seek to vent the urge on foreign countries on pre-emptive wars premised on plain lies.

And if we overuse "they", it is with emphasis and deliberation.

And, reading "Toughie", that is General Johnson, today, we see again a strange turn in his writing, now indicating his lack of sympathy with Father Coughlin and Huey Long when they were browbeating the land in the mid-thirties with their particular brand of populist rhetoric, the former an anti-Semite, the latter a "share the wealth" crook. Toughie is hard to pin down. He seems at once magnanimous in today's piece, determined to convince the reader of his loyalty to the Administration despite the prolonged differences since he left it in the mid-thirties after an heroic start with his direction of NRA in 1933-34, garnering for him even Time "Man of the Year" honors. And yet, for the fact of the editorial's personal assertions in a nationally syndicated column, he also betrays again his continuing bitterness at the Administration, expressing it now by way of explaining publicly why the President did not renew his commission as a reservist brigadier general, as if that were a sufficiently pressing issue to deserve a column of space on a large number of editorial pages spread over the country on a day when the world was in imminent crisis, unprecedented, for its modern and swift machinery of war behind it, in all of human history.

The luxury and responsibility of a nationally syndicated column owes more to its readers in the way of commentary on daily events, especially in such world shattering times, than such a purely personal response to an issue about which few truly could have been very much concerned--whether his commission was renewed. He could have performed better service by simply sending out a form letter to his adoring fan club, postage paid from his substantial salary.

Sometimes, we find ourselves agreeing completely with Johnson's columns, especially as they regard freedom of speech and the like. But his stands on foreign policy, as well as his insistent carping at the New Deal, certainly appeared hopelessly muddled, part personal, the wizened old-warrior come to show the young knaves how 'twas done, the war was won, part determination to confront and stubbornly oppose the Administration whenever possible, to show who in the end was right, and how he was driven out by certain bureaucrats impressed with their own authority--all of which may have been true, but still not properly the fodder for a column of the type. He should have written it up separately instead under the heading "Administration Gossip" or at least "Roosevelt Beneath the Rose (Sometimes Not So Rosy)".

As Cash once pointed out, he appears at times to be a person who enjoyed out-arguing himself. Perhaps it was an occupational hazard from having been trained not only as a professional soldier at West Point, adept no doubt therefore at war games, but also, to cap it, as a lawyer, perforce to pass, having to learn to take the side of any argument at any moment. Cash, who found the study of law an exercise in mendacity and so quit it, took his stands consistently on principle, from the facts before him, deducing by sound logic to his conclusion, no matter his subjective desires at the start. He had been a member of the debating society in college and certainly had from it the ability to justify to some degree any position he wanted to take. But, he understood that such is not the function of a newspaper column, to be a propaganda tool. It is rather to report as closely as possible the truth about a given subject. He understood that the search for and expression of truth is never free from subjective qualities, is only an approximation to abstract truth in its best efforts at expression; but that also there is an abstract truth to be sought, as elusive and vicissitudinous as it may be from day to day, one which supersedes mere relativism, that is that anything may be justified as truth. In the abstract, that is not so. Nazism has no truth; racism has no truth; destruction of humanity has no truth. They have only emotive rationale for exertion and release of destructive drives on a handy perceived subhuman and weak target.

While Johnson appeared certainly to join Cash in his despising Nazism and totalitarianism of any sort, he appears to engage more in subjectivity, daily therefore varying his viewpoint, than one established on clear-cut principle. That Cash was usually at odds with Johnson, therefore, is not surprising.

Whatever the case, Johnson appeared, by his own estimates anyway, to have a decidedly large following. Not surprisingly so, perhaps, as most people appear to proceed to conclusions in their opinions willy-nilly in just such fashion--start with the viewpoint to which one is personally sympathetic and then find a way to justify it, whether by sound logic or by any old appeal to emotion which appears palatable to a given audience, not reaching a conclusion the other way about by determining what is most reasonable for the insured sustenance of a democratic society, with a view to history as it predicts the future in terms of how systemic forces tend to operate through time to affirm or negate that end.

Obviously, anyone who chose the latter approach over the former in 1941 had to come to the conclusion that the United States, to remain a democracy for long, must either enter the war or at least undertake all possible steps to insure maximum aid to Britain. Obviously, by contrast, with self-interest as the sole determinative motivation for what is deemed a moral "good", isolationism was the only course to adopt, its nominal goal being peace. It appears obvious that on some days the General felt sympathetic with the former position, while on others he plainly drifted toward isolation, with especially bitter sounding tones expressed against the Administration of which he was once a part in the process of so justifying it. The General perhaps was swayed in the expression of these varying opinions by too much personal acquaintance, opinions subjectively induced therefore based on personal likes and dislikes of the people in the administration voicing like or contrary positions, plus doses of too much determination to please his readership--the star quality syndrome and the desire to keep it, something which may cripple objectivity and induce the gradual creep of unwillingness to speak out on a given issue for fear of offending someone, the stodginess and habituation to comfort negating the search for truth, which may come from such a high-salaried position as a journalist and the too great desire to insulate it from loss.

In any event, we won't pick too much on the General, as, doubtless, he was little more than a minor character in helping to galvanize the opinions to which he gave voice regarding isolationism. He vacillated too much to be a great force in that effort. Most of the people adhering to the view expressed by the Lindberghs probably couldn't read too well in the first place.

Perhaps the General's health was failing as he would die the following year.

We don't know whether the film mentioned in "Nazi Film", below, was another one of Leni Riefenstahl's gems, along with her triumphant "Triumph of the Will" from 1934. The old Nazi bag of bones lived to be 100 and died in 2003, just a few weeks after we referred to her herein as an old Nazi bag of bones. Good riddance to her everlastingly damned soul and we hope she is burning hot, unremittingly, in Nazi hell along with her Nazi pals, forced to watch films incessantly of rats, rats which come right off the screen and eat their eyes out right down to the bone's marrow--those rats. Then the film starts again with fresh eyes, to the same end.

Those who sell their souls for fame and fortune in this life, who prostitute whatever ability they might have for service to propagandistic ends bent on vicious murder and rapine, are not artists, but damned souls. The excuse that she was such a young and impressionable delicate little thing at 30 when the Führer tapped her for service to the Reich, as she tried to promote for herself in the film made about her a decade or so ago, offers her no refuge; that she sanctimoniously sought to vindicate it as merely an expression of her art, that it was natural therefore to want to show her subject in the best light possible, not intended as propaganda for any political party or cause, is also nonsense, the type of denial which always accompanies the unconscionable hucksters such as Riefenstahl who find tactful ways to justify their promotion of murderous beasts for their own self-aggrandizement and wealth, health and happiness, disclaiming any affinity for the group they serve.

"Triumph of the Will" was a propaganda film, laughably inartful today, powerful for its novelty in its time. It was anything but art. Technique and camera angles alone do not constitute art; they are merely the tools of craft, the use of technology to promote a given subject.

The subject is important for the end of art; the search for truth within the subject, a sine qua non for the application of the term "art" to anything. There can be no search for truth when the object is falsity. We posit that there is more art in the single statement that Leni Riefenstahl was an old Nazi bag of bones when she died at 100, than in any of her propagandist work for the Third Reich. While she deserved poverty, the same poverty she helped to create in Europe for decades, she lived out her life in comfort. She was every bit the war criminal that her employers were. But poverty of the soul is an immeasurable thing for which no amount of material comfort may supplant.

His Choice

Reynolds Faces a Solemn Responsibility in Post

After the Steering Committee had decided that the rule of seniority was worth more than the national interest, it was a foregone conclusion that the Senate as a whole would confirm Robert Rice Reynolds as chairman of the Military Affairs Committee.

There is nothing which can be done about it now. For better or for worse, a puerile, over-ambitious man who has shown distinct Fascist tendencies will fill one of the most important posts of national defense in a time of the greatest peril.

He himself has steadfastly refused to recognize that peril. He has insisted that it does not exist and that we ought to abandon Britain and prepare to live with Germany.

The nation has ruled decisively and overwhelmingly against him, but he has gone bitterly on trying to obstruct the policy settled upon.

He faces now the greatest responsibility which has ever been his.

He can try to recognize as much, bow to the national will and accept the fact that upon his committee as much as any depends the success of the course accepted by the nation. He can put away his Fascist leanings and make his committee a center for national unity.

Or he can use his new power to vent his old spleen against Britain to the last, can probably wreck the national policy, make his committee a center for the spread of hate and intolerance--in fact, can do much to bring the nation to ruin.

It is our hope that responsibility will have a sobering effect upon him and make him a reasonably good chairman, after all. But we frankly hope with our fingers crossed.

Trick Clause

This Proviso Plays Right Into the Hands of Nazis

Most of the Senate changes in the bill authorizing the President to take over the idle merchant ships in our harbors is expected to be accepted by this Congress promptly. But Chairman Bland of the House Merchant Marine Committee wants a closer look at one amendment, and he seems to be right.

It provides that no ship which belongs to a foreign government may be taken by us save by purchase, with the government selling voluntarily. The provision was slipped into the bill by Vandenberg, Champ Clark & Co., and at first glance was innocuous, since all the ships in our harbors are believed to be owned by foreign nationals rather than the governments themselves.

But it is doubtful that it is as innocuous as it looks. The Nazi genius for forgery is tremendous. And it can be avowed that ultimately the merchant ships of every nation are part of its navy and that the government therefore always has the final right of ownership over them. Certainly, the thing opens the way for the Nazis to have the Danish, French and other stooge governments trot out forged documents and claims purporting to show that transfer of title by their nationals took place long ago.

The amendment, in short, seems well designed to serve Vandenberg's partisan purpose, Clark's bitter hatred of Britain, all creating confusion and delay. But it does not promise to serve the national interest.

Nazi Film

This Is No News-Reel; It Is Propaganda

At the 96th Street Theater in New York is now showing the German so-called news-reel Sieg im Westen ("Victory in the West").

The 96th Street Theater is a German house, one of the rallying points of the Yorkville Nazis.

The picture is not in any proper sense a news-reel. Instead it is the propaganda picture which the Germans have been showing around Europe and the Near East.

It is directed to two ends, (1) to reassure Fifth Columnists like the Yorkville Germans that the Nazi power is wholly irresistible and that they run no risk in laboring to betray countries like the United States, and (2) to terrifying the native population of countries such as this into cowardice.

It is not, as we say, a news-reel at all. It is in fact a weapon of war against the United States. Undoubtedly, the customs authorities had sufficient powers to have stopped it. They chose, instead, to call it a news-reel and so let it pass, since it was not obscene within the ordinary legal interpretation of that word, though it is the obscene boast of the most obscene thing ever devised by the mind of man.

Perhaps that is only free speech, we don't know. What we do know is that anybody who tried to introduce an American propaganda film into Berlin, not to say anybody who dared to go to see it and cheer it, would be beaten to death.

It does seem a little odd, when you think about it, that Nazi and Communist subversive literature are regularly destroyed at the port of entry, but that this film is allowed to come right on in--though no American film of any kind can be shown in Germany.

Exploded Myth

Nazis Prove Water Is No Barrier in Itself

It has gone unnoticed, but one of the chief casualties in the Nazi movement into Syria is the favorite stock myth of the isolationist-defeatist-appeaser group in the United States.

The myth, as you will remember, runs like this: if Hitler can't even cross twenty miles of water (the English Channel), to invade Britain, isn't it plain that it is ridiculous nonsense to talk about him crossing three thousand miles of water to menace the Western Hemisphere?

It always was a silly argument, of course, and so far as it was used by men of any intelligence and information was certainly uncandid. Hannibal and Alexander had proved before the Christian era that distance didn't count, as had Ghenghis, Tamerlane and Napoleon later.

In reality, the Atlantic had been crossed for successful war--as by the British in 1814 and by the Americans when they chastised the Barbary pirates and by the AEF. Still, the argument still won a great hearing and acceptance among the wish-thinkers.

But now, observe. The distance from Salonica to Beirut in Syria, the chief Nazi disembarkment point, is roughly 1,500 miles southward down the Aegean and southeastward across the Mediterranean. From the most advanced Axis Aegean base, Italian Rhodes, it is still about a thousand miles. Yet, and though the exit from the Aegean and the approach to Beirut are guarded by the British bases at Crete and Cyprus, the Nazis have not only landed men in Syria by plane, they appear to have landed heavy tank equipment, etc., by ship.

How does all this happen? How is it that the Nazis have so far failed successfully to cross the Channel, which at its narrowest is no wider than the estuary of a great river, and still are not stopped by a thousand miles of water in the Mediterranean? The answer, of course, is that distance has nothing to do with it.

The answer is that Britain has managed to retain precarious control of the Channel waters and the air over them, to the point at least of making a Nazi attempt at invasion by that route too perilous to be undertaken save as a last resort. And that Britain obviously does not now have naval and air control of the Aegean and Syrian waters, not because she hasn't the requisite bases but simply because she hasn't ships and airplanes enough to spare from other more important assignments.

Once again, we see demonstrated all over again what history has long ago demonstrated, that a sea is a barrier only if you have control of it, becomes an easy passageway if the enemy gets control of it.

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