The Charlotte News
Tuesday, May 20, 1941
Site Ed. Note: Today, General Johnson does, what seems in logic, to be yet another about-face, raising objection to the Vichy policy of harassing Jews in occupied France. It is obviously a laudable column when viewed alone. But it does not at all join with his other column of just four days before in which he suggested by metaphor that the President and his men were little more than warmongers on the warpath to engage the country in warfare in Europe. Surely the General realized by now, as did anyone capable of reading, even so early as 1935, that Jews were being herded into forced labor camps in Germany and Poland, after first being placed in ghettoes, the reports of the horrors and wanton mass murder in those camps having slowly leaked out to the press. These ineffable things, some subsequent bad history to the contrary notwithstanding, were no enormous surprise to anyone with any sensibility or who paid attention at all to the reports of the previous decade when in May, 1945 Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Treblinka, Dachau, Sobibor, Belsen, and the other camps were finally exposed to the world in photographs. But in 1941, there were no photographs, only stories in print, which too few found time to read or to consider, or who found it too easy to deny as propaganda from alarmists. Print does not slam home the reality to enough people to make an impression. It took the photographs. Even with that, of course, there are still the pathetic lunatics to this day who deny that the atrocities ever occurred. But, we digress.
Just how General Johnson's objection to the French treatment of Jews meshed in his mind with also not protecting aid to Great Britain when Great Britain appeared on the brink of falling to the Nazi is the cloudy quandary which continued to characterize not only his writing, but the opinions of those many millions of people who wanted to express sympathy for the oppressed of Europe while urging nevertheless that it was their problem, not ours. But of course, when the whole matter of world domination for the Axis essentially hinged on whether Britain would fall along with its navy into Nazi hands, it wasn't just their problem.
Cash below, together with Raymond Clapper's column of the day, paints a disturbing picture of the status of Dakar, a French possession, and the likelihood that it was essentially already under Nazi control, along with Casablanca, by way of Vichy's kneeling to the Nazi's peculiar form of coercion.
In combination with the letter on the page from one Sol Badame, "Alien Hunt" provided the reminder that most first or second generation citizens of Italian or German heritage were loyal first to the United States, and that the discriminatory harassment provided such citizens was as wrong as any done to any group of people based on ethnicity or background. Such was the discriminatory treatment to Japanese-Americans interned, their property confiscated, on the West Coast in 1942 for merely being of Japanese ancestry.
Nor should anyone have to apologize for their heritage or proclaim loudly their loyalty in order to be free from taint in such times. All citizens are entitled equally to both the protection of the laws and the right to criticize their country as they please, as long as they are not advocating violent overthrow of the government. They may be criticized, and criticized in as harsh terms as one may please, in return for voicing that criticism, but not for it subjected to harassment or ill treatment, or denied some privilege or right to which other citizens are entitled. And the worst and most threatening the time, the truer the test of the viability of our Constitution to withstand the test of time. Except in cases of actual violent insurrection en masse, such as the Civil War, or in time of war on the United States, no one, not the President, not Congress, has the authority to suspend any aspect of the Constitution. Such episodes all too often merely enable persons with bones to pick with a particular ethnic minority or religious group, or just those itching to get back at someone, to select out such an identifiable person for mistreatment. It has nothing to do in the end with national security, and as Cash points out, may indeed foster ill feeling toward the country where there was loyalty.
It is a fresh reminder of one of the worst evils to come from September 11, 2001, the wanton harassment of Muslims in this country. Such reaction is born of a stupid and primitive notion, the desire to ascribe to a class of people the blame for an act committed by one or a few of the class who happen to share a characteristic referent, as simple as a surname, enabling identification with a particular racial or national or religious group, or even certain physical similarities regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.
We reiterate, however, that when Mr. McVeigh and Mr. Nicholls performed an act of outrageous terrorism against the Federal government in Oklahoma City in 1995, no one in the country went about, so far as we know, targeting Scotch-Irish-Americans or ex-Marines for reprisal. Which is as it should be for all such episodes.
And, except for the Rue de Vallee records and a few other things a little off the mark, if only a little, the other letter writer of the day seems to have been a fair stargazer, predicting under a Nazi regime 75 cent per gallon gas and Lindbergh "circling the moon seeking new worlds to conquer". Sounds to us in fact very much like the period 1968-1974, roughly, mas o menos. That the writer's name was McCain adds something of interest, we think, to the whole picture thus imparted.
Do It Now*
Council Had Best Dispose of Blue Law Question Promptly
You might say that there is no reason why the new City Council should be in any hurry to revise the Blue Laws. But there is a reason for prompt action. There are, in fact, several reasons.
Assuming that the Council is going to do something about the Blue Laws--a safe assumption, we think--then the sooner it acts, the less of an organized protest it will have on its hands. Delay will serve only to mislead those of a contrary mind into hoping that they can overawe the Council and stay its hand.
Furthermore, a recreational Sunday would be designed primarily for the benefit of people who, under the present order, are hard put to it to pass the long hours of the day in any wholesome, recreational manner. For their sake, in particular for the incoming soldiers at the Air Base, what's going to be done had best be done as soon as possible.
There is one reason more. This new administration is still on its honeymoon. No cross word has yet marred the exalted mood in which the group took office. Unity and accord prevail, and that is the time, precisely, to do equably what later may be done only with dissension.
Caesar Sets Out To Rebuild Busted Status as a Hero
Now Caesar the Bum is to have himself ticketed as a great soldier also.
The armies which he had built and boasted about ran away with all the dispatch in the world when they encountered the Greeks in Albania, the British in Africa. You can hardly blame the poor devils, either. For Caesar seemed to have used up all his efficiency in making the trains run on time.
Anyhow, men were sent to Albania to fight in the snow in Summer clothing, to Libya in wool, half the shells were duds, and supply was a farce.
It didn't take long at that rate for the Italian armies and people to begin finally to get the lowdown on Caesar and to realize what the rest of the world already knew, that he was in fact only a loud-mouthed bum. Caesar, in an effort to dodge the blame, dismissed generals and admirals all over the place. But he fooled nobody.
And in the end, as Italians probably know quite as well as the rest of the world, it was the Nazis who won the victory over Greece for the Italians.
But Caesar is out to try to restore himself as a hero in the eyes of his people. And so he has a little general sit down and write him that it was his (Caesar's) own personal direction of the campaign in Albania which brought glorious victory. Not a word about the Nazis.
The Italians used to have a sense of humor, and it may be that they'll laugh themselves to death over this one.
The Sheep Must Not Be Lumped With Goats In This
The round-up of aliens now being carried out by police in the nation's big cities is undoubtedly justified. Hardships will be inflicted on some people guilty of nothing but an attempt to avoid going back to Germany or Italy. But some of the sailors who have overstayed their time here are certainly dangerous Fifth Columnists.
Even so, the country should be careful not to succumb to any wave of hysterical intolerance, and there are signs that such a wave is in the making. In many cities people with German and Italian names are now finding themselves unable to get or hold jobs, or even to secure apartments in some neighborhoods.
There are disloyal German and Italian elements in the nation, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation knows about most of them and can safely be left to deal with them at the proper time. Meantime, it should be borne in mind that most of the Italians and Germans are here precisely because they didn't like their native countries in the first place, and that great numbers of them have already proved their primary loyalty to the United States by fighting in the forces during the last war.
To lump all Germans and Italians together as Fifth Columnists, and to hound them as such, would be not only unjust--it would be dangerous. For the inevitable result of such a course is going to be to turn a lot of men, women and children whose predisposition is toward loyalty into embittered enemies of the American people.
Energies Are Spread Out too Thin for Defense Speed
One obvious reason why defense preparations are being fumbled is pointed out by the action of the President in naming Fiorello La Guardia as chairman of the new civilian defense board, which will be charged with working out a nation-wide air raid precaution system, co-ordinating local and Federal defense projects, arranging recreation and health facilities, etc.
Mr. La Guardia is a man of great energy and intelligence, and his selection for the place would be an admirable one if it were not for the fact that he will continue to be Mayor of New York, chairman of the U. S. Conference of Mayors, and co-chairman of the Canadian-American Permanent Defense Board.
The Little Flower is, after all, just one man, and one man can't reasonably be expected to do all these things well.
But the President apparently dotes on this kind of arrangement. For example, in the Defense Mediation Board, Chairman Dykstra goes right on being the president of Wisconsin University, and, like Board Member Frank Graham, serving on a hundred other boards beside. And there is no member of the board who gives it more than a casual portion of his time.
All these men are excellent men. But it is obvious that any defense job which is worth doing superlatively calls for undivided attention. To attempt to handle it as the President is now doing is unfair to the men who are named to these positions and who will be blamed for failure. But it is far more unfair to the national interest.
Vichy Seeks To Hide Its Real Motives in Betrayal
The men of Vichy are out to confuse not only their own people but also the American people when they intend to set up to claim that their opening the way for a Nazi drive through Africa to the West Coast is only a move to put down a French rebel, De Gaulle, and so no concern to any third country.
The fact of the matter is, of course, that there is no legitimate French Government. The men who rule what is called unoccupied France are in power because they first seized control of the French army, betrayed the French people in a shameful surrender, and were placed in their present jobs by Adolf Hitler.
Vichy is simply a stooge of the Nazi regime, and Darlan and Laval are quite as vicious as Vidkund Quisling-- are prepared to sell France into any sort of slavery in order to gain power for themselves.
There is not even the excuse for them that they can't help themselves. It might well be true that they couldn't prevent the Germans' landing in Syria, that they cannot prevent them from attempting the march to the West Coast of Africa through Togoland and the Cameroons. Even that seems doubtful in view of the fact that they still control the French navy and Weygand's army--formidable threats to the Nazis if they had been used.
But it certainly is not true, in any case, that they have to collaborate actively with the Nazis in firing on the British in Syria and handing over the French African possessions for an attack on the only Frenchmen still fighting for France.
Hitler's purpose is to get control of the West Coast of Africa in order to win the Battle of the Atlantic and prepare the way for his attack on the Americas. The men of Vichy are energetically co-operating to these ends. That is the plain and simple fact, and all talk of other motives is only a word screen designed to confuse and paralyze resistance.
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