The Charlotte News

Saturday, July 19, 1941


Site Ed. Note: First, from the Winston-Salem Sentinel, always on guard in the nighttime hours, we get the tale of the horse that talked, even if exaggerating a mite in the process.1

Maybe, the owner's name was Wilbob Post.

At least it wasn't in the form of one of those horsified letters to the editor, beginning, as one, in poetic rhythm, as we duly recorded, once did: "O, Mister Ed!"

And between "Too Easy" and the exclamation a few days ago uttered by Popeye from down in Davy Jones's locker, we are prone to inquire: Is it Safe?

Just how the diamonds from South Africa, mined at the behest of Cecil Rhodes, decades after the 1833 abolition of slavery by the Empire, on the backs of the scarcely paid living under Apartheid post the diamond discovery in 1867 along the Vaal and Orange rivers, originally Dutch East India Company territory through the start of the nineteenth century, and at newly-founded Kimberley in 1870, as opposed to other commodities more easily acquired by the plunder of the Nazi in the lands they had conquered, stealing rather than purchasing the booty with hard-earned and ever scarcer Reichmarks, were instrumental in acquiring weapons for Germany is not explained. The British, after all, had intervened immediately after the invasion of Poland to cut off from the West the most valuable war commodity of all, oil. And what of the money from those diamonds to the Empire with which the Empire might build more RAF planes to drop bombs on now sparsely-defended German cities, now reeking vengeance like never before, Mosaic-style, for the bombing of Britain? The trade appears as a wash, at worst; the complaint, as more anti-British propaganda. Indeed, as the piece opines, too easy.

For, ah: Were the diamonds flawless? And were they really a girl's best friend? Were they multi-faceted? Perhaps, only Unity Valkyris Freeman-Mitford, and Lucy, could properly answer the questions.

There is a line in "Mystery", re the hike in local taxes only to provide a surplus budget, which is indeed mysterious: "In fine, nothing in the premises justifies any charges of extravagance or mismanagement." A mystery because "in fine" and "in the premises" are phrases right out of the Cash style manual. Perhaps, again it was Dowd, or maybe even newbie Rabb from staid old tobacco/unaware-rich Winston-Salem, looking back to older editorials, by way of honoring Cash by imitation? Or maybe it was in fact a leftover from Cash which was edited a little for updating?

Maybe instead it was simply beyond-life proof of Dowd's Ides of March comment re Cash's astounding knowledge of numerous topics, including Zuluism?

Speaking of prophecies, "No Brakes" told of the coming tale--perhaps should have been considered for a Pulitzer for its prescience. For the Allies, vis á vis Japan, it tells us, with the elimination from the Japanese cabinet of Matsuoka and his being replaced with Admiral Toyoda, anti-Western hard-line militarist, and the elevation to Vice-Premier of equally Anglophobic Baron Hiranuma, the jig was up:

"Japan now may be expected to provoke a war with the United States."

It concludes by questioning what it would take to stop the "outrageous" petroleum traffic from the United States to Japan.

Of course, the dilemma was that by turning off the spigot on the oil, the Japanese moderates would be placed completely on the outside of the ruling war-counsel clique, and the militarists' plans to proceed south to expand the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere into the Dutch East Indies would become a fait accompli, made necessary in order to sustain the island nation for absence of trade from the United States. What Secretary Hull and the Administration perhaps did not understand at the time was that the policy of aggression, regardless of risk, had already been firmly determined in Japan on July 2, and that there was now no reverse gear in the buggy careering for the cliff. The Emperor had stamped the horses with his royal imprimatur.

The editorial had it right.

Or did the Administration in fact understand all too well the significance of the July 2 conference, as reported that day in the press sans its fateful decisions? Was the effort then to stall at least for as long as possible the inexorable course by holding out the carrot, to buy time to insure maximum military readiness in the frantic defense build-up now at work in the United States? For had the flow of oil been suddenly stanched, would the attack on Mamala Bay have come earlier, by the necessity of the Japanese to move south earlier to obtain war-machine supplies? If so, could the American response have been as strong as it was even so soon as December? As it was, precious little of that precious commodity, time, was bought by the continued trade. But enough, at least, not to be swept to sea by East Wind Rain accomplished in the fog.

Installment 42 of Out of the Night follows Jan into serious straits, in between two powerful forces, the Comintern on his left, the Gestapo on his right. He wishes to sever his spying for the Comintern inside the Gestapo and to that end, to fool the Gestapo, feigns a mission to join a military training school in Russia, while staying the while in Copenhagen. He is quickly commanded by Ernst Wollweber, powerful now in the Comintern and Soviet circles, to continue his spying in the Gestapo. He refuses. Wollweber is angry. Soon, Jan is ordered to the Soviet Union. "It was no secret in our ranks that Stalin's quiet method of eliminating--by intrigue, calumny and cold murder--all rivals and subalterns who retained a spirit of independence had long been adopted by his leading genuflectors throughout the Soviet network." Not wishing to wind up another of the victims of the Great Purge, Jan, at the suggestion of a friend in the Comintern, provides a report to Moscow denouncing Wollweber as having turned 19 Communists over to the Gestapo, at least ten of whom had been executed. He waits. The order to proceed to Russia is apparently rescinded. New orders come to proceed instead to Antwerp where he will be head of the Apparat there. Good, he can now get Firelei out of Germany. As he is departing, however, up steps an internuncio from his old friend and Comintern handler, Jensen. He is taken to an interrogation, with Wollweber, Jensen and others present. Charges are presented: he is accused of disloyalty, aiding the Fascists and Nazis against the Comintern. He makes the mistake of trying to defend himself when contrition is required, regardless of the truth of the charges. The Party is all--loyalty to the Party, not truth, the watchword. He is ordered held in a country house under guard pending the decision, life or death. All the while, he remains concerned about Firelei and his son, still in Germany. His requests for Party help to get them out are treated as personal requests, unworthy of a true comrade. The end is near.

Meanwhile, Granny is still SOBBING over Ellie's leaving home, bye-bye. Skeezix and Nina head to the back of the bus back to Kans to begin their vacation. Pug has a lesson for Nazi Piggies in the barnyard. Superman is about to intervene finally to capture his crooked double, as the electro-dart gun with the telescopic sight is aimed at him from the open window, above where the children play, beneath the lindens.

Comics to some; tragedies of subaltern opposition, perhaps, to and from others, later?

That is to say that if every human has the instinct to do violence, then, under the influence of certain stimuli, and the ready means easily with which to carry it off, some humans will do violence.

Six days from this day in history, Emmett Till would be born into the hostile environment which is, sometimes, the world turning.

Riki-tiki-tivi. Tivi-Tiki-rivi.

Once, in 1992, thanks to a theft of our old beater Ford F-150 pick-up, whilst our attention was distracted writing a novel in October, 1991, which we duly retrieved from East Oakland after the thief called us from jail and told us where it was, we had to drive it, with its automatic transmission, all the way home, all through the Oakland and Berkeley hills, without brakes. For the SOBBER had cut the (SOB!) brake lines. But, we got home safely anyway. We were cautious. We didn't take the (SOB!) freeway.

Because on the streets, for every downgrade, there's an equal and opposite upgrade. And plentiful curves slow that old rascal down, don't they?

That's another true story.


1 Maybe he won the Preakness though--back in our old Kentucky paddock.

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