Page 5, 20th September 1940

20th September 1940
Page 5
Page 5, 20th September 1940 — NOTES AND COMMENTS

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THE whole country congratulates Their Majesties on having escaped personal injury during the repeated Nazi attacks on Buckingham Palace. These apparently deliberate attacks on the persons and home of the Royal Family are as incredibly stupid as they are dastardly. If the King or a member of the Royal Family were injured or killed, the country and empire would suffer a deeply felt bereavement and they would lose the services of the first and best of Britain's public servants. But the Crown is an institution that cannot be killed by bombs and, in any event, its vital work of uniting and leading the country and empire would continue. On the other hand, any injury done to the person of the King or Queen or their children would do more than anything else to strengthen and deepen the resistance of the people to an enemy so wantonly and foolishly led. if we were all tiring of the war and weakening in our spirit of resistance—which Germany hopes and perhaps believes, but which is not the case—Hitler could do nothing better to rally our spirits and harden our resolve than aim bombs at Buckingham Palace.


THIS is a time when rumours should be sternly suppressed, and one when any defeatist talk is genuinely treasonable. At earlier stages in the war opinions as to the advisability of opening peace negotiations could reasonably have been made public and discussed, as we have always held in this paper, for the full war had scarcity started, and where the best interests of this country and of Europe lay was by no means clear. But our decision is now irrevocable, and any suggestion of discontinuing the struggle simply because we are being hit hard is mere cowardice. We suspect that it will not be among the moderates of yesterday that occasional cowards will arise to-day, but rather among that section of the Left intelligentsia which was so brave and unyielding when Hitler refrained from

directly attacking them because, as they thought in their ignorance, Hitler could not.

To-day we shall do well to pay no attention to anything in military matters but the official statements of the Prime Minister and the responsible authorities. Mr. Churchill's latest statement in the House is sober and straightforward, and it puts our perils and our hopes in the right perspective. Nor is there any reason whatever to doubt the truth of official reports about air successes and losses, casualties and damage done. As the war touches us more nearly, so does our news become more accurate and more candid. There is no getting away from the magnificent victory in the air achieved during the week-end. So long as news like that is forthcoming, we can face the future with courage and confidence.


THE totalitarian countries have conj. stantly indicated what they call our demo-plutocracy, and there is this much truth in their indictment. The conservative and capitalist Britisher, whether in his private life or as an official, has a deeply ingrained love of his property and of the complex official machinery whereby that property is secured and protected. He will readily and generously give up what he clearly sees to be needed either for his country or for his neighbours whose state of destitution he fully understands, but he insists that all should be done in order or through fully approved and long-standing charities. This conservatism makes him slow to respond to an unexpected situation and it is with difficulty that he perceives the personal link that should bind him to his neighbour in virtue of common manhood and for the love of God. There are too many stories about the slowness with which the homeless are being sheltered and fed; there is too much evidence of red-tape and friction in adapting ourselves to meet the present distress in a thoroughly reckless Christian manner. Fot recklessness in such a situadon is needed, the recklessness of St. Martin who tore his coat in two to protect a beggar. Furnished houses remain empty while men, women and children wander in search of shelter. Difficulties are raised about ration cards when they arc going hungry. In a community like ours we must look to the authorities to plan the relief on hold and generous lines and with wide powers to make use of whatever shelter and food are obtainable; and those plans should be such as to allow and encourage the fullest measure of generosity and selfsacrifice on the part of all. This is no time for sticking to old formulae, however sound they may seem to those experienced in modern philanthropy.


NIO one will he surprised to hear that

M. Blum has been arrested and has taken his place among the French political prisoners being tried by the Vichy Government. As we have said before it is hard to take these trials seriously. Whether directly inspired by Germany or not, it is impossible to see any clearcut issue at stake, nor to differentiate in many cases between those who accuse and those who are accused. Furthermore, the whole business of political trials is a highly controversial one. We do not deny that even in a democracy it would be well if politicians knew that they were liable to punishment if such crimes as gross negligence, feathering their own nests, the pursuit of ends, incompatible with the public welfare, for personal profit or other sordid motives, could be proved against them. But where there is no clear and accepted religious and moral belief it is impossible to find standards by which to judge whether a politician has been serving his country well or badly in pursuing party and ideological ends. Christians know only too well how wrong in themselves and how fatal to France have been many of the policies pursued by M. Blum, and, moreover, they may shrewdly suspect

that not even Blum could have been wholly sincere in his adoption of such mistaken pursuits. But it is quite a different matter when we are asked to sympathise with the largely political motives of his present accusers. the more so as many of them have lived their public lives in support of a political outlook and system of which Blum is but an extreme example. When we are satisfied that the old order is thoroughly purged and that q new one, based upon truly Christian principles, has taken its place, we shall be glad to see the trial of those who work for ends which we know to be evil in themselves and therefore fatal to the country. Blum is a case for the much maligned Inquisition rather than for the present French Government.


THE a-morality--or rather sheer im morality—of the Communist mentality is staggering. In an open letter to Sir Stafford Cripps Mr. Pritt accuses the Government of openly parading their affection for the Baltic Fascist regimes by refusing to recognise the decision of those States to enter the Soviet Union. He also complains that " the emigre Government of Poland has proclaimed, without any protest on the British Government's part, that it is at war with the U.S.S.R." In a comment on these and other similar remarks the New Statesman notes that " all of us acquiesce, some of us with satisfaction " in the Russian acquisition of Eastern Poland. Could callousness and sheer indifference to any moral principle whatever go any further? We do not deny that frontier rectification and revision can rightly be discussed in regard to these Eastern frontiers—just as it should have been discussed in the case of German claims, claims which the same Communists then met with a blank and morally indignant refusal—but this is a very different matter from accepting Soviet aggression as simply good and expecting Britain which is fighting a war against aggression by force to condone it. And what is one to say of a mentality which protests against Poland resisting a neighbour who has wantonly and forcefully marched across her frontiers and stolen half her territory?

Let us make no mistake about it. The mentality capable of such a point of view will not hesitate to-morrow to sell our own country to the highest bidder, Germany or Russia or Italy, if thereby it can further its interests or even save its own skin from another bomb.


AN example of practical co-operation between Christians of different denominations was recently given when the President of the Catholic Women's League, Lady Winefride Elwes, added her signature to that of the Central President of the Mothers' Union (Anglican) and the President of the Free Church Women's Council in a statement on behalf of "thousands of Christian women, differing, it may be, in many articles of our faith." "We believe," the statement went on, "in the all-powerful and loving Providence of God our Father, who, in His own good time and way, is working His purpose

out." After expressing confidence in victory, the statement ends:

" So we desire to call upon all Christian women, as our Foreign Secretary did in his truly Christian broadcast to the nation, to help in this great spiritual task : First, by using the spiritual weapon of constant prayer, thus acting as a strong line of defence behind our men; secondly, by bearing active witness in our lives to the faith we hold, in face of all dangers and temptations to weariness, doubt and disbelief."

This particular form of co-operation is directed especially to the needs of the present emergency, We should like to see all Christian women equally united as to the fundamental Christian principles upon which social and economic reform must be based, as to the essence of any educational system that is tolerable in a Christian country, as to action preventing the dissemination of literature, shows, facilities calculated to harm the country's future no less than the souls of our people. It is astonishing that Christians should be divided and even jealous of one another in pursuing ends that are essential and common to all to whom the word "Christianity " has any real significance.


THE Church Times—whose editorship we most deeply regret, since it is calculated irresponsibly to deepen antagonism between Christian Churches at the very moment when all should be done to promote co-operation in many fields—continues, week by week, its bitter and ignorant attacks on the Papacy and the Vatican for not hoisting the Union Jack on St. Peter's. Itself filled with praiseworthy but highly nationalistic sentiments. such as thanking God for being British, this paper reproves the Holy Father because he resolutely keeps spiritual and moral questions distinct from national and political ones. The Pope's condemnation of all international immorality, notably the aggressive and cruel behaviour of the Nazis, has been made amply clear time and again. Equally emphatic have been the words and work of Pius XII to promote what he himself has taken as his motto: "Peace, the Fruit of Justice." But it is possible that, faced with a Europe in ruins through an admixture of complex causes, religious, moral, cultural, economic and political, the Holy Father finds it more difficult to trace the rays of the light of justice than does Sidney Dark who viewed the atheists of the continent as angels of light and could not find a word of sympathy for the martyred Church of Spain because it was "Roman" Catholic and not Anglo-Catholic.

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