The Pittsburgh Press (February 1, 1944)
I DARE SAY —
Offenses, little and big
By Florence Fisher Parry
Sunday evening again we listened to Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr. give another of his performances as a benevolent master of ceremonies, this time featuring the beautiful relationship that has been inspired by the New Deal between management and labor. Our interlocutor was questioning a young Connecticut boy of 16 on his part in the war of production.
“And have you a girl?” asked our Secretary of the Treasury in jocular vein.
“Or maybe,” prompted our Secretary facetiously, “there are more than one?”
The boy answered:
No sir, one is enough to handle at a time.
“You are learning early,” our Secretary of the Treasury told him.
Politicians are not actors. Statesmen are not actors. Presidential aspirants are not actors. When they appear on planned programs, on the radio or stage, they are out of place and out of character, and are very apt to make fools of themselves.
Wendell Willkie on Information Please last night lost immeasurably in dignity and prestige – and no doubt very considerably loused up his chances as a candidate.
O dignity of office, is this too passing from the mortal scene?
I don’t mind so much having Greer Garson telling me what I ought to do for the victims of infantile paralysis, or Ginger Rogers telling me what I ought to do about war bonds. But when our lesser luminaries, who until now have never made anything more impressive than the cover of a dime movie magazine and whose love lives are the Hays Office’s major headache, tell me how I ought to live my life in wartime, I find myself, to say the least, unmoved.
On the other hand, the grand way in which some of our great stars like Eddie Cantor and Joe E. Brown are serving their country at the expense of their very health (for these men are not young and need their every heartbeat) offers us one of the very finest examples of patriotism to be found anywhere.
Nothing that has happened in any war in which this country has been engaged has caused the shock which has swept the nation following the revelation of the Japanese atrocities. One would think that we had never before heard, much less credited, such horrors. Yet hideous as are these latest reports, they are little worse than the authenticated atrocity stories which from the very beginning of the war have come out of Europe, and which, it now seems clear, we simply didn’t believe.
Never, in any war, have we had such access to the facts as since the Nazis began their reign of terror. From the pens of the sufferers themselves, from eyewitnesses and from reliable reporters have come floods of documented atrocity stories quite as revolting, in their way, as the horrible report out of Bataan.
But we didn’t believe them.
Was it that we didn’t want to believe them? I wonder. Is it because, deep within us, there IS a race affinity? We cannot believe that a white man, a German, bearing out features, possessing our own fair skin, could torture, slowly, the body and brain of a fellow mortal.
On Arrival and Departure
In the last book by that excellent writer Arthur Koestler, Arrival and Departure, he documents experiences which, for sheer cold-blooded horror, match anything we have heard out of Bataan.
One story alone, that about the mixed transports which run all over conquered Europe, can be found in the current Reader’s Digest, and I recommend its reading along with the atrocity stories now being given full space in our press.
These mixed transports consist of a couple of dozen cattle trucks, or cars, which make up the trainload. The one described by the author consisted of 17 cars, bolted from the outside and unventilated, containing doomed prisoners.
The last seven carriages contained Jews: two loads of useful Jews who were being taken to dig fortifications and five loads of useless Jews, old and sickly ones, to be killed. Two trucks contained political prisoners, two trucks contained young women who were being taken to army brothels and six trucks with people being taken to labor camps. That’s why it was called a mixed transport.
Why can we not face it? Our enemy, white skin or yellow, is evil incarnate, and there is little difference in his various employments of sadism.